Chicken Drumsticks in Air Fryer

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The ultimate recipe for juicy tender air fried chicken drumsticks with an irresistible crispy crunch with just a little oil and some seasonings, no additional breading needed!

The only oil we’re using in this recipe is a tiny bit – about two tablespoons – of heart healthy avocado or olive oil.

picture of a hand holding an air fried chicken drumstick
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picture of 3 chicken drumsticks on a plate with a small bowl of mustard sauce next to them

Chicken Drumsticks (Air Fryer Recipe)

Love delicious, crunchy chicken that is bursting with flavor, crispy when you bite into it, and tender and juicy inside? This recipe delivers big time – with a super-simple method to get addictive tastes-like-fried chicken, with a fraction of the oil (or work!)

If you’ve never had air fried chicken, it might sound a bit funny, because food in an air fryer isn’t actually fried. Air fryer food is more like ultra-convection broiled. This means you can use just a tiny bit of oil and still get delicious crispy chicken. Air fryers are awesomely easy to clean (some even pop into the dishwasher) – and so simple to use, making it the perfect tool to use for cooking drumsticks.

We’re using an air fryer and the natural fat and skin on a chicken drumstick to mimic fried chicken in this irresistible crunchy air fried chicken drumsticks recipe – without using any breading. The high-heat from the air-fryer helps to crisp up the chicken skin and fat, giving it a breaded “crunch” – without any added carbs, gluten, or breading. This is a great reduced calorie way to enjoy crunchy chicken legs – and it can be totally customized to herbs and spices you love!

Simply add chicken legs to marinade, shake, place in basket, and cook – and you’re on your way. If you’re looking for a spicy kick, try our Air Fried Piri Piri Chicken which is a spin off this method, too – or our baked honey mustard chicken drumsticks recipe that is loaded with out of this world flavor.

Try this method with my Air fryer Nando’s wings – the sauce works really well on this recipe, too!

picture of chicken drumsticks on a white plate

Air Fryer Drumsticks Ingredients

To make this recipe, you will need:

  • 8 chicken drumsticks – pick high quality chicken drumsticks that are fresh or thawed. Pat chicken drumsticks dry with paper towels to make sure the oil and herbs stick, as water and packaging liquid can make it harder for them to stick to the chicken.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – you can use olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, or any oil you prefer to cook with. We love the classic olive oil flavor with chicken.
  • 1 tsp celtic sea salt – grab a quality sea salt you love the flavor of. We like using celtic sea salt because it is saltier, so you can use less salt than regular table salt.
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper – using fresh cracked black pepper develops a better flavor and a bit of heat.
  • 1 tsp garlic powder – garlic powder brings a rich, delicious flavor to chicken.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika – paprika gives a hint of color to the chicken, and an earthy, smoky flavor.
  • 1/2 tsp cumin – cumin is earthy and brings out a “meaty” flavor in chicken.

How to cook Drumsticks in Air Fryer

We’re going to follow this method:

  1. In a small bowl, combine herbs and spices.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Place drumsticks in a bowl or a plastic bag and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Toss to coat.
  5. Sprinkle herbs and spices all over drumsticks to coat them.
  6. Preheat air fryer at 400 for 2-10 minutes.
  7. Place drumsticks in air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes on 400.
  8. Remove basket and flip chicken drumsticks.
  9. Cook at 400 for another 10 minutes.
  10. If chicken is not 165 degrees internally, add another 5 minutes of cook-time.
  11. Time can vary based on drumstick size, so do check the temperature with a digital thermometer after cooking to prevent over or under cooking.
  12. When chicken has reached 165 degrees internally, serve immediately.

For more step by step information, see our web story here.

picture of chicken drumstick being dipped into mustard

Tips to Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks

If you love air fryer chicken drumsticks, be sure to check my top tips for perfect air fried chicken below:

Preheat air fryer. Run your air fryer for a few minutes before adding the food so it is hot and ready to go when you go to air fry your chicken. This is optional, but I feel it helps the skin to puff up and get a crispy “fried” texture.

Sauce at the end. If you’re going to sauce your drumsticks, wait until they have cooked and crisped to toss in sauce. You also can layer the sauce on to get a crunchy “crust” throughout the cooking, similar to my baked BBQ Chicken drumsticks.

Don’t peek too often. Since air fryers are completely sealed off, it’s hard to judge your chicken’s doneness by the look of it. Check the temperature of the chicken when you’re already opening the air fryer to flip them – don’t open it just to check the temperature or too much heat will escape.

Use a digital thermometer. When your timer is done, immediately test the temperature of the chicken pieces with a digital thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the chicken drumstick without touching bone. Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees internally. If chicken has not met 165 degrees internally, add another 2-5 minutes to cook time.

Don’t crowd basket. Air fryers help get hot air to circulate around the chicken drumstick to get a heat so high it makes meat taste fried – and to do that, it helps to not crowd the pan. Put the chicken in your air fryer pan in a way they aren’t crowding each other – it makes a huge difference.

picture of a hand holding an air fried chicken drumstick

Recipe FAQs

How Long Should I Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks?

This recipe was designed to work with different types of air fryers – so the time listed is an estimate. Your air fryer might take a bit longer than time listed. Aim for around 15-20 checking at 10 and 15 minutes to see how the temperature is progressing.

What Air Fryer Should I Use?

This recipe was designed after testing in the Instant Pot Air fryer, Instant Pot with Crisping Lid broiler function, Ninja Foodi + Broiler lid, and the Phillips Air Fryer.
Cooktime was slightly different with each appliance, but each resulted in perfect air fryer drumsticks. Check chicken legs as you cook to make sure they are done to your preference!

Should I Marinate Chicken Drumsticks Before Air Frying?

I personally always marinate chicken before cooking – even just 30 minutes in some olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs can infuse a ton of flavor into your chicken. This recipe was designed to boost flavor regardless, so if you don’t have time to marinate, no worries!

How long do chicken drumsticks last?

Chicken drumsticks can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days, or frozen for up to four months.

When are drumsticks cooked?

Chicken is fully cooked at 175 degrees internal temperature. You want to be sure you’re measuring the thickest part of your drumstick to be sure all of the meat is cooked through – but don’t hit the bone when using a thermometer, as it will throw off results.
Chicken drumstick meat pulls away from the bone slightly when it is cooked, if you see this, your chicken is likely done.

Can I add sauce to drumsticks?

Adding sauce is a great way to layer flavor onto your chicken legs- there are two ways to do this. We love to cook our chicken first, getting a crispy, crunchy skin, and then toss in sauce – similar to chicken wings. You can also crisp chicken, toss in sauce, and continue cooking in the air fryer, to build a “crust” of the sauce as the chicken cooks. Do not add sauce early, as it will keep chicken flabby.

picture of air fryer chicken drumsticks on a white plate

What to Serve With Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken goes with just about everything – so it’s easy to pick a delicious, easy, and flavorful side dish to pair with this meal!

We love serving chicken with spicy beans, air fryer french fries, roasted potatoes, quick-pickled beets, rice pilaf – or really, any of our delicious easy side dishes.

You can find more of our easy side dishes here:

And for more air fryer recipes, you can find our entire air fryer recipe index here.

picture of chicken drumsticks on a white plate

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picture of a hand holding an air fried chicken drumstick

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picture of air fried chicken drumsticks on a white plate with mustard dipping sauce next to it
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Air Fryer Drumsticks

Easy, crunchy, and juicy chicken drumsticks that are bursting with fried chicken flavor straight from the air fryer.
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine keto
Keyword air fryer, air fryer chicken, chicken drumsticks, chicken legs, keto, keto chicken, low carb, main dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 201kcal
Author Courtney ODell

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine herbs and spices.
  • Set aside.
  • Place drumsticks in a bowl or a plastic bag and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle herbs and spices all over drumsticks to coat them.
  • Preheat air fryer at 400 for 2-10 minutes.
  • Place drumsticks in air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes on 400.
  • Remove basket and flip chicken drumsticks.
  • Cook at 400 for another 10 minutes.
  • If chicken is not 165 degrees internally, add another 5 minutes of cook-time.
  • Time can vary based on drumstick size, so do check the temperature with a digital thermometer after cooking to prevent over or under cooking.
  • When chicken has reached 165 degrees internally, serve immediately.
  • (Optional) To make a dipping sauce mix the ranch dressing and hot sauce, add more for a spicier sauce. Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 381mg

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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110 Comments

  1. Ignacio says:

    I don’t see any herbs in the list of ingredients…

    1. Katherine says:

      By herbs its referring to the herbs and spices – garlic powder, paprika, and cumin.

  2. Bradley D McCoy says:

    I have some pretty good size drum sticks and they keep coming out undercooked. I air fried one at 400* for 6 minutes and flipped it and cooked it for 6 more. Then I cooked my next one at 400* for 11 minutes per side, and it was still slightly undercooked. I wish I could send you a picture showing how big it is. I just need to know how long I should cook big drum sticks so they will hopefully come out full cooked, with no red in the middle at all. I hate wasting chicken.

    1. Courtney ODell says:

      Do you have a rapid read digital thermometer? If they are really big and not cooking to done, leave the lid on tightly and let it continue cooking (the air fryer will still be really hot) until done – or keep cooking, but at 350. The thermometer is the best way to tell.

  3. Gilly Bear says:

    Thank you. You made this whole process so simple to understand. I did this for myself yesterday at home. It’s so delicious, I love this

  4. Ellen M Edgerly says:

    I want to make these but need to cook for a family of 5. Obviously cannot fit all of the drumsticks in the fryer at the same time. So are they still going to be as good if I keep them warm in the oven. Seems that is my only choice unless I have 8 air fryers?

    1. Katherine says:

      Yes! I usually put them on a sheet pan in the oven on the lowest temperature my oven can be set to. Enjoy!

  5. Robin says:

    This was easy and delicious. Will cook again

    1. Katherine says:

      Thank you for the comment!