Menu
30 Minutes Or Less / Air Fryer / Chicken / Main Dish / Recipes / Video

Air Fryer Chicken Legs

These Air Fryer Chicken Legs are incredibly easy and fast to make, but you wouldn’t know it by how crispy and juicy they turn out! Coated in seasonings and brushed with your favorite sauce (we use bbq sauce!), your chicken drumsticks will be bursting with flavor!

Four air fryer chicken legs with sauce sitting on a gray plate.

Air Fryer Chicken Legs

What do you call these? Chicken legs or drumsticks? I have heard them called both, but in this house we call them chicken legs. No matter what you call them, you are going to fall in love with cooking them in the air fryer.

Using the air fryer cuts the cooking time in half when compared to cooking in a traditional oven. Also, with most air fryers you do not have to preheat them, saving even more time! The air fryer also circulates the air around your chicken legs as they cook at a high heat, creating perfectly crispy skin with juicy dark meat underneath!

We give you the perfect basic recipe for Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks to take and make your own. We like to coat these with BBQ Sauce best, but tested it with many different types of sauces. Honey Mustard and Buffalo sauce were our second favorite sauces to flavor our chicken legs with.

Chicken drumsticks are brushed with bbq sauce in an air fryer.

Why cook Chicken Legs in an air fryer?

There are so many reasons to use your air fryer! When we first got our air fryer, we weren’t sure how much we would use it. However, it has come in incredibly handy when making easy dinners for our family. We love it so much, we got a second!

Here are a few of the top reasons to use an air fryer to cook your chicken wings:

  • Half the time. Chicken legs in the oven take about 40 to 45 minutes to bake at 400°. Chicken legs in the air fryer take just about 18 minutes!
  • Crispy Skin. You won’t get crispy skin like this any other way than frying the drumsticks. Air frying requires just a little splash of oil to produce crispy skin because of the hot circulating air and basket design.
  • Easy. Toss your wings in your oil and seasonings and into the air fryer they go, no preheating necessary for most air fryers. Bonus: Air fryers are very easy to clean, most you can even put into the dishwasher.
Ingredients in bowls with a plate of chicken drumsticks.

Ingredients:

You only need these 7 ingredients to make the perfect air fryer chicken legs. Chances are, you already have most of them in your kitchen. You probably only have to grab some chicken legs!

  • Chicken Drumsticks: also called chicken legs, you want the lower leg, not the full leg (which includes the thigh).
  • Olive Oil: can also use avocado oil!  
  • Smoked Paprika: adds great flavor and color, but optional!  
  • Onion Powder 
  • Garlic Powder 
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes 
  • BBQ Sauce 

Can I use a different sauce? Or can I skip the sauce?

Absolutely! You can skip the sauce completely for a great crispy and juicy low carb chicken drumstick recipe. Or you can switch up the sauce to a favorite of yours, these are our favorite sauces we have tried so far:

  • Buffalo Sauce
  • Honey Mustard
  • Hot Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
Chicken drumsticks in a large bag with oil being poured on top.
Chicken legs in a ziplock bag with seasonings all on top.

How to cook chicken legs in air fryer

Step 1: Toss together all ingredients — except your sauce of choice — in a large bowl or bag. You want to make sure you rub the chicken legs well with the spices and oil to evenly coat them.

Chicken drumsticks in a ziplock bag coated with seasonings.
Chicken legs being placed into an air fryer basket with tongs.

Step 2: Place your drumsticks into the air fryer basket or tray, making sure they don’t overlap and they aren’t touching.

Step 3: Cook in air fryer set to 400°F for 15 minutes.

Air fryer chicken legs in a air fryer basket with steam coming off.
Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks being brushed with bbq sauce in an air fryer basket.

Step 4: Flip the legs and continue cooking for 5 minutes more. 

Step 5: Brush on your sauce of choice and continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Serve: Serve immediately as is, or with your favorite dipping sauce or sides.

Chicken legs in an air fryer basket being pulled out of the air fryer.

Tips for how to make the best Air Fryer Chicken Legs

  • Don’t crowd the basket. It is important that your drumsticks are in one even layer and do not over lap each other or touch. This ensures an even cooking and crispy exteriors!
  • Do not overcook. If you overcook your legs they will become dry and will no longer be tender inside. If you are not sure if they are done, use a meat thermometer to make sure they have reached an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  • Preheat Air Fryer? Most air fryers do not require preheating. However, please read your manual to know if your air fryer does need to be pre-heated. Follow manufactures instructions if it does to require best results!
  • Dry your chicken legs. Make sure your chicken legs are not wet an are dry. Any water that is left on your chicken will steam the chicken and produce a different texture to the chicken skin. So if your chicken is wet, make sure you pat it with paper towels until dry.

Can I prep these ahead for a party?

YES! These are a great prep ahead party food or game day food. You can season the legs up to a couple of days ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the fridge or even freeze them. If you freeze them, make sure to let them thaw fully before cooking. 

When I prep them ahead, I toss them all together in a ziplock bag with the seasonings and then store them in that same ziplock bag. Super simple and easy!

Up close image of three Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks in a air fryer basket.

Turn up the heat!

These chicken legs are perfectly seasoned with a little touch of light heat from the crushed red pepper. If you want these wings to be extra hot and spicy, I would double (or triple) the crushed red pepper depending on how much heat you like. 

You can also sprinkle in some cayenne pepper too, if you really want to turn up the heat way up! Or toss these drumsticks in your favorite hot sauce upon coming out of the air fryer!

What is the Best Air Fryer?

Air fryers come in two different styles. The more popular type has a drawer/basket that slides in the front and usually doesn’t require preheating. The second type looks like a toaster oven and opens with a door, like a mini version of a regular oven. 

We have tried a few different air fryers and these are our three favorites depending on your budget and air fryer style preference:

How long will the legs stay fresh?

Once cooked, these crispy air fryer wings will stay fresh at room temperature for about 3 hours. If you’re serving them at a party, they’re a perfect finger food!

In an airtight container in the fridge, these wings will last for up to 4 days. To reheat, you can use your air fryer, or the oven.

Chicken leg being held with a bite taken out of it.

If you love chicken legs, you really have to try these air fryer chicken legs! They cook in half the time, when compared to an oven, and are way crispier. If you love this recipe, don’t miss our easy Air Fryer Chicken Wings also!

If you are looking for more easy game day eats to serve in addition to these air fryer chicken legs, we really recommend these reader favorites:

Yield: 6 Chicken Legs

Air Fryer Chicken Legs

Up close image of three Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks in a air fryer basket.

These Air Fryer Chicken Legs are incredibly easy and fast to make, but you wouldn't know it by how crispy and juicy they turn out! Coated in seasonings and brushed with your favorite sauce (we use bbq sauce!), your chicken drumsticks will be bursting with flavor!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (or your sauce of choice!)

Instructions

    1. Place drumsticks in a large bowl or gallon size ziplock bag. Add olive oil, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and red pepper flakes. Toss chicken drumsticks to coat.
    Up close image of chicken legs with seasoning on them in a ziplock bag.
    2. Line drumsticks in air fryer tray making sure they don’t overlap and they aren’t touching.
    Chicken legs being placed inside an air fryer basket with tongs.
    3. Cook in air fryer set to 400°F for 15 minutes. Flip the legs and continue cooking for 5 minutes more.
    Chicken drumsticks being brushed with bbq sauce in an air fryer basket.
    4. Brush on BBQ sauce and continue for an additional 3 minutes. Serve immediately!

    Chicken legs in an air fryer basket being pulled out of air fryer.

Notes

We used a 6 quart air fryer and it can easily fit 6 to 8 standard sized chicken drumsticks.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6 drumsticks

Serving Size:

1 drumstick

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 227Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 210mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 22g

1 Comment

  • Sherri
    April 28, 2021 at 11:17 pm

    Good recipe but definitely needs some salt and pepper in the spice mix.
    Will tweak it next time I make it.
    Also would cut pepper flakes in half.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Skip to Recipe