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These air fryer chicken legs (more specifically, air fryer chicken drumsticks) make a quick and easy dinner! Baked chicken drumsticks are my go-to, but I’ve been pulling out my air fryer more and more lately. And just like air fried chicken wings, air fryer whole chicken, air fryer chicken thighs, and air fryer chicken breast, making chicken legs in the air fryer crisps the outside better (and faster!) than the oven, and the inside gets incredibly juicy.
Why You’ll Love This Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe
- Juicy and flavorful
- Crispy chicken skin
- Just a few simple steps to make
- Ready in less than 30 minutes
Ingredients For Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for this air fryer chicken drumsticks recipe, what each one does, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Chicken drumsticks – Buy bone-in, skin-on drumsticks. Look for ones that are close in size as well, so they cook evenly.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter, we’ll use sea salt to customize the saltiness.
- Parsley – Flat or curly.
- Garlic – Freshly minced garlic has the best flavor, but jarred is also fine for convenience.
- Smoked paprika – I prefer the smoky flavor, but regular paprika will work as well.
- Sea salt & black pepper
VARIATION : Use poultry seasoning
If you want to give the chicken legs a savory, earthy flavor, use poultry seasoning instead of the other spices.
How To Cook Chicken Legs In The Air Fryer
This section shows how to cook chicken drumsticks in the air fryer, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Preheat the air fryer. It heats up quickly, but it’s an important step! Pat the chicken dry while you do this.
- Make compound butter. Use a fork to mash together butter, garlic, parsley, and sea salt. (You can also find variations to try in my tutorial for how to make compound butter.)
- Season underneath the skin. Run your hand under the skin of each chicken leg to separate it from the meat, then place a dollop of butter underneath and press gently so that it spreads out.
- Season over the skin. Sprinkle smoked paprika, pepper and more salt on the drumsticks.
FYI: We’re putting the butter underneath the skin so that it won’t burn. It’s what makes the meat super juicy!
- Air fry chicken. Place drumsticks in the air fryer in a single layer, skin side down. Air fry for 10 minutes, flip, and air fry for another 8-10 minutes.
TIP: Use a meat thermometer to confirm doneness. The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long to cook chicken legs in the air fryer?
This air fryer chicken drumsticks recipe takes 18-20 minutes at 380 degrees F, flipping halfway through.
What temp to cook chicken drumsticks in the air fryer?
380 degrees F is the perfect air fryer temperature for crispy drumsticks. This is a bit lower than baked chicken legs, due to the added air circulation.
Can you cook frozen chicken legs in the air fryer?
Yes, you can cook frozen chicken legs in the air fryer. You’ll need to add on 5-7 minutes cooking time. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
However, note that you won’t be able to get the compound butter underneath the skin if the chicken is frozen solid. Instead, you can drizzle with olive oil and only use the spices on top.
Can you use this method for other cuts of chicken?
Yes, this method will work for other cuts of chicken that have skin, like thighs or bone-in breasts. Try it for yourself with these air fryer chicken thighs!
Tips For The Best Air Fryer Chicken Legs
Follow these tips for the best air fryer chicken drumsticks:
- Pat the chicken skin dry. This ensures the chicken will get crispy.
- Push garlic butter underneath the skin. It’s the key to juicy, flavorful chicken.
- Don’t crowd the air fryer. Leave enough room in between the chicken to allow it to get crispy. Six drumsticks was a good number to fit in my air fryer comfortably.
- Use a meat thermometer. It ensures your meat is cooked perfectly.
- For leftovers: Store leftovers in refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- To reheat: Reheat drumsticks in the air fryer again, or in a 350 degree F oven.
- To freeze: Wrap chicken legs tightly to prevent freezer burn, and freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
What To Serve With Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
Serve up these air fried drumsticks with a simple side:
- Pasta – Make your favorite dish, I prefer healthier zucchini noodles.
- Salad – Easy options are spring mix salad, Greek salad, or BLT salad.
- Veggies – Try stir fry vegetables, sauteed asparagus, or roasted broccoli.
More Easy Air Fryer Recipes
If you like cooking drumsticks in the air fryer, you might also like some of these other air fryer recipes:
- Juicy Air Fryer Pork Chops
- Air Fryer Salmon
- Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
- Chicken Wings In The Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Zucchini Chips
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries
Tools To Make Chicken Legs in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer – This is my favorite one, from a familiar brand. It has a large basket, it’s easy to use, and cooks evenly.
- Meat Thermometer – Get temperature readings in just one second!
Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe
Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe
The BEST air fryer chicken legs, ready in 30 minutes! Cooking chicken drumsticks in the air fryer makes them juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 380 degrees F (193 degrees C). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
In a small bowl, make the compound butter by mashing together the butter, garlic, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt with a fork.
Run your hand under the skin on each chicken leg to separate it from the meat. Place a dollop of compound butter under the skin and press the skin gently so that it spreads out underneath.
Season the chicken drumsticks (over the skin) with smoked paprika, pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Place the chicken drumsticks in the air fryer in a single layer, skin side down. Air fry for 10 minutes. Flip over, then air fry for 8-10 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
Last Step: Leave A Rating!
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Serving size: 1 drumstick
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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Can I use olive oil instead of butter?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Shirley, There wouldn’t really be a way to get olive oil under the skin since it’s liquid. You could just use olive oil over the skin, but they come out a lot more juicy using the method with butter under the skin.
Delicious!! Thank you!
O YES. I cut through the drumstick and fanned it out at the top. Marinated in olive oil, garlic and lemon for the day. Best thing is to dry off the marinade, sprinkle w spices, and just air fry. Crisp and great source of protein. and interreingly different. Don’t know what got. into me, but it is sensational. Just cut the drumstick from the top down and flatten it out a bit. YUM.
Thanks for an easy and great recipe, Maya. My Air Fryer oven arrived Saturday. Made these on Sunday. The best chicken drumsticks I have ever made. This is a keeper.
Easy to make and very delicious. Served it with chicken sauce.
Loved this recipe. Really like that the serving size can be adjusted. The chicken legs turned out just right. Will be making this more often.
Definitely going to try this. Also, need a recipe for hot and spicy chicken breast.
Amy L Huntley0
These Air Fryer Chicken Legs were cooked to perfection! So juicy and tender.
Just the way we like them! They are perfectly seasoned & juicy! Great any night of the week & with any side dish!
Your pictures have me drooling!! Time to make these! We could eat chicken every day & this recipe is super simple!
I love how crispy these turn out! They’re always done perfectly and I love how they are no fuss.