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 chicken imaginable all on a hand held delivery system. Protein packed air fryer drumsticks are easy, fast, frugal, and flavorful.
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. And even more so if we’re talking about drumsticks in the air fryer.
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’m 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 back chicken drumsticks in the oven again!
Because drumsticks aren’t as thick as thighs, you can skip the dry brine – patting with paper towels and using baking powder in your dry rub will suffice. This also means fewer carbs than dredging chicken drumsticks with flour or with cornstarch.
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. Usually even cheaper if you go for a family pack.
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 DRY RUB. Combine the baking powder and seasonings in a small bowl.
- PREP CHICKEN. Pat the chicken dry, arrange on a dish in a single layer, and drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil.
- SEASON CHICKEN. Evenly coat the chicken on all sides with the dry rub.
- PREHEAT. Preheat your air fryer if required, then arrange drumsticks in a single layer in the basket.
- AIR FRY. Cook at 400°F for 15-18 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- SERVE. Garnish and serve. See below for sauce suggestions.
Must Know Tips
- Pat the chicken dry before coating in seasoning.
- 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.
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
We tried 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.
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.
Can I use chicken legs for this recipe?
Yes! You may need to cook a bit longer, as thigh meat is thicker. Check the temperature with an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh for doneness.
Simply place drumsticks in air fryer basket and reheat at 350-375°F for 2-3 minutes, depending on size.
It’s not recommended. Patting the chicken completely dry and using baking powder ensures moisture stays in, not leaks out to create steam. The goal is crispy skin, not soggy.
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.
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- 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.