If wings are your usual thing, it may be time to beat a bigger drum. Get more bang for your buck with Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks. Tender, perfectly cooked meat and the crispiest skin imaginable all on a hand held delivery system. Protein packed air fryer drumsticks are easy, fast, frugal, and flavorful.
- The Crispiest Chicken is Made in the Air Fryer!
- Why You’ll Love Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
- How to Make Chicken Drumsticks in the Air Fryer
- Must Know Tips
- Sauces for Chicken Drumsticks
- What’s the Best Cooking Temperature for Air Fryer Drumsticks?
- What’s the Best Internal Temperature for Chicken Drumsticks?
- What’s the Difference Between Drumsticks and Chicken Legs?
- Storing and Reheating
- More Meaty Air Fryer Recipes
For what it’s worth, I stand behind all previous declarations that bone-in chicken is better than boneless, but even I understand the “added” annoyance of eating it. Unless, of course, we’re talking about chicken drumsticks.
Grilled chicken drumsticks are great for dipping, and sticky baked chicken drumsticks with honey garlic sauce are definitely a conversation starter at dinner with kids (go ahead and try telling them not to eat with their hands!).
And now we can happily add air fryer chicken drumsticks to the list!
Sure, you could just pick up a whole chicken thigh and eat it with your hands, but apparently in polite society that’s considered bad manners. But even in the courts of kings and queens, anyone can nosh on a crispy chicken leg with their bare hands. (Or so the Ren Faire would have you believe…)
So, since we now know it’s allowed in presumably the politest of societies, what’s stopping you? Assuming you don’t have a spit to roast them on, you can get super crispy, less messy chicken drumsticks in an air fryer that are perfect for jousting matches or just family dinner.
The Crispiest Chicken is Made in the Air Fryer!
I learned this when I was blown away by air fryer chicken thighs. The convection oven-like nature of the air fryer cooks chicken legs evenly and ensures super crispy skin. Unless you’re getting really saucy (literally – as in our honey garlic baked chicken drumsticks), I can’t think of a single reason to bake chicken drumsticks in the oven again!
For a condensed post with “just the facts!”, click through to view the web story for this recipe.
Why You’ll Love Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
Fast: leave your stove alone – cook drumsticks in the air fryer to get juicy meat and crispy skin in half the time. Plus, this hand held meaty main dish requires no cutlery for faster eating too!
Frugal: drumsticks are always less expensive and (frequently) on sale.
Flavorful: air fryer chicken legs cook evenly, stay juicy on the inside, and are super crispy on the outside. No soggy skin here!
Healthy: because you don’t need a pool of cooking oil for shallow or deep frying, they have far less fat than other cooking methods.
How to Make Chicken Drumsticks in the Air Fryer
Forget white vs. dark. The chicken skin is always the best part. Cook chicken drumsticks in the air fryer for the crispiest skin possible using our foolproof recipe and tips below. No added broiler time or guesswork needed for crispy bone-in chicken without flour – set your timer and let ’em crisp!
Our Secret Ingredient: Baking Powder (NOT soda)! There is a complex scientific reasoning behind this, and you can read more about that here and here. But for our purposes, know this: a bit of baking powder will yield extra crispy, browned skin.
- Make the dry rub. Combine baking powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and ground pepper in a small bowl.
- Prep the chicken. Pat the chicken dry, then drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil; work the oil evenly into each piece of chicken.
- Season the chicken. Evenly coat the chicken on all sides with the dry rub.
- Preheat. Preheat your air fryer if required, then arrange the drumsticks in a single layer in the basket.
- Air Fry. Cook at 400°F for 15-18 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Check in the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer – aim for a internal temperature of 180-185°F, but absolutely no lower than 165°F.
- Serve. Serve as-is, or with your favorite dipping sauce (keep scrolling for suggestions!).
Must Know Tips
- Pat the chicken dry before coating in seasoning. Moisture (in the form of water) is the enemy of crispiness, so make sure they’re nice and dry before you lightly oil and season the chicken pieces.
- Preheat your air fryer if needed – check manufacturer instructions.
- Don’t crowd the basket. Arrange chicken in a single layer with bit of space in-between. Air fry in batches, and keep cooked chicken in a 200°F oven to stay warm.
- Always check the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer. It should read at least 165°F in the thickest part of the drumstick, but we prefer dark meat in the 180-185°F range for extra tender meat.
- Dip it! While these chicken drumsticks are delicious solo, dip ’em into a sauce for even more flavor.
Sauces for Chicken Drumsticks
- Buffalo Sauce: toss cooked drumsticks in Buffalo sauce, then return to the Air Fryer and cook for 2 minutes.
- BBQ Sauce: brush cooked drumsticks with BBQ sauce on all sides, then return to the Air Fryer and cook for 2 minutes. Want to make your own? Try our strawberry BBQ sauce.
- Honey Mustard or Ranch Dressing: serve alongside air fryer drumsticks for dipping.
- Hot Honey: add your favorite hot sauce to honey and dip or drizzle.
What’s the Best Cooking Temperature for Air Fryer Drumsticks?
We tested a range of temperatures, including 350° and 370°F, but ultimately liked these best cooked at 400°F for the right balance between crispy skin and juicy, tender meat.
What’s the Best Internal Temperature for Chicken Drumsticks?
If you’ve ever bitten into a chicken drumstick and thought “ugh, too tough, I’m going back to chicken breasts!” it’s probably because the chicken wasn’t cooked long enough.
Cook chicken drumsticks to 180-185°F for fall-off-the-bone texture. Dark meat has more connective tissue, and requires a higher temperature in order for it to break down and become tender.
What’s the Difference Between Drumsticks and Chicken Legs?
Though colloquially, people may refer to drumsticks as chicken legs, technically, a chicken leg includes both the lower (drumstick) and upper (thigh) portions of meat.
You can definitely substitute chicken legs for chicken drumsticks in this recipe, though! You’ll need to add 3-5 minutes to the cook time, depending on how thick the thigh portion is. We also suggest scaling up the seasonings by 50%, as you’ll need more dry rub to coat the entire leg. Be sure to check the internal temperature for doneness in the thickest part of the thigh, without the temperature touching the bone.
Storing and Reheating
Store leftovers in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days. Reheat leftovers in the air fryer at 350°F for 3-5 minutes.
More Meaty Air Fryer Recipes
Did you make chicken drumsticks in your air fryer? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Crispy Seasoned Air Fryer Chicken DrumsticksPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Air Fryer
- 8 chicken drumsticks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- hot sauce, for serving, optional
- chopped chives, for garnish
- Combine the baking powder, italian seasoning, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.
- Pat the chicken dry, then arrange in a casserole dish or large plate in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and work into the skin.
- Sprinkle half the dry rub evenly over the chicken, then rub in with your hands to ensure good, even coverage. Flip the chicken and rub the remainder of the mixture evenly over the skin.
- Preheat air fryer if required. Arrange four drumsticks in a single layer (or as many drumsticks as your machine can accommodate in a single layer).
- Cook 10 minutes at 400°F. Flip and cook 5-8 minutes longer depending on the size of the drumsticks, or until the internal temperature registers 165°F using an instant read thermometer.
- Garnish with chives if desired, and serve with hot sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.
- Cooked chicken keeps in the fridge for about 3 days.
- To reheat, place drumsticks in air fryer basket and cook at 350-375°F for 2-3 minutes, depending on size.