Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, made with only a few simple ingredients with minimal prep time and ready in only 30 minutes!

If you love this recipe, you may also like my other favorite chicken recipe, Air Fryer Chicken Tenders! They’re great when served with Air Fryer Potato Wedges or Air Fryer Red Potatoes

Three fully cooked chicken drumsticks in an air fryer basket.

These drumsticks are tender and juicy on the inside, with crispy chicken skin on the outside that’s coated in a really flavorful marinade. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner recipe, because it’s quick and the air fryer is really easy to use! 

I’ve broken out the spice mixture for the marinade, but you can also make it easier by using a teaspoon or two of Italian seasoning, ranch seasoning, or try my rotisserie chicken seasoning blend! Use this drumsticks recipe as a guide, but don’t be afraid to get creative!

This is sometimes called air fryer chicken legs, too. But air fryer chicken leg quarters would also include the thigh meat, and take longer to cook.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Individual ingredients for air fryer chicken drumsticks on a table.

Chicken Drumsticks. This recipe is for chicken drumsticks, but you can definitely make this with other chicken pieces. Try chicken breast, chicken thighs, or chicken wings! Just remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as it may change with different cuts.

Olive Oil. I like to use extra virgin olive oil for most of my recipes. You can also use canola oil, vegetable oil, or avocado oil. You’re looking for an oil with a medium to high smoke point for the air fryer. 

Spices. For this recipe we’ve kept it simple, while also having some great flavor. The spices are where all of the flavor is coming from. You can use your own blend of spices, or give this recipe a try.

You’ll need a teaspoon paprika for flavor and color, a teaspoon garlic powder and teaspoon onion powder for flavor, and of course 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper. You can also add the salt and pepper to taste.

How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Step by step photos for how to make chicken drumsticks.
  1.  Preheat the air fryer at 400°F for 2-5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together spices and olive oil. Add the chicken drumsticks to a large bowl, or to a large ziplock bag. 
  2. Pour the oil over the drumsticks, and toss to coat (or seal the ziplock and move the drumsticks around until completely coated). You can either marinate the drumsticks in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or get right to cooking. If you marinate, wait until the last 5 minutes to start preheating the air fryer.
  3. Place the drumsticks into the air fryer basket, leaving room between each one. You may have to work in batches, depending on how large your air fryer is.
  4. Air fry chicken for 10 minutes at 400°F. Remove the basket and carefully flip chicken drumstick over, then return the basket and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until they are done and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put raw chicken in an air fryer?

Yes, you can definitely put raw chicken in the air fryer! Depending on what cut of chicken you use, it may take more or less time to cook. Larger or thicker cuts of meat will take longer, and smaller cuts will be less cook time. 

For example, air fryer chicken wings would be about 8 minutes on each side, or until crispy.

How long do I cook drumsticks in the air fryer?

At 400°F, chicken drumsticks typically take about 20-30 minutes to finish cooking in an air fryer recipe. Make sure to stop half way through to flip them over, then continue until they’re fully cooked.

Flipping them half way allows all of the surface of the drumstick to spend time in the air, making it crispy and sealing in the juices on the inside. Cooking them an additional 5-10 minutes will make the skin more crispy.

How do you know when drumsticks are done in the air fryer?

Chicken drumsticks are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. A good indicator of this is that the juices of the cut are clear and no longer pink or cloudy, but the only way to really know is with a meat thermometer. 

Make sure not to overcook, or you’ll get dry chicken instead of juicy meat.

Storage

Refrigerate leftover drumsticks for 2-3 days in an airtight container. 

Freeze cooked drumsticks for 2-3 months in an air-tight container. 

More Air Fryer Recipes

Recipe Variations

  • Make these spicy with some red pepper flakes, a bit of cayenne pepper, chili powder, or hot sauce.
  • Instead of the spice mixture, make air fryer chicken legs with just oil, salt, and pepper. Then coat in your favorite gluten free bbq sauce! Or serve it on the side as a dipping sauce. 
  • Use Italian seasoning with extra garlic powder, then add some parmesan cheese when it’s hot out of the fryer for garlic parmesan chicken drumsticks!
  • For extra crispy skin, add an additional 5 minutes to the air fryer. You also need to use enough oil to achieve crispy skin, so make sure you add the full amount. 
  • If the air frying isn’t an option for you, you can also spread the drumsticks out on a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes on each side, or until done. Like the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Cooking Tips

  • Air fryers come in all different sizes. You may have to cook the chicken in batches, depending on how big your air fryer is.
  • Discard any leftover marinade when you remove the chicken. The rule is if it’s had raw meat in it, you have to throw it away for food safety.
  • Kosher salt is the standard for most recipes, but you can also swap it out for sea salt here. 
  • If the meat is dripping, you may want to dab it with a paper towel to remove any excess before cooking. 
  • You need a tablespoon olive oil in the seasoning because the air fryer still requires a small amount of oil to work. It’s still significantly less than a traditional fryer. If you use a dry rub instead, spray the chicken pieces with cooking oil, or you won’t end up with crunchy skin.
  • If you use frozen drumsticks, they will require minimum 10-15 minutes per side. Make sure they’re completely cooked through, or add more time as needed. 
  • The key to juicy chicken drumsticks is not over-cooking them. Watch the time, and once they hit 165°F remove them from the heat. Drumsticks are dark meat, so they are more juicy in general than leaner cuts.
Three fully cooked chicken drumsticks in an air fryer basket.

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Three fully cooked chicken drumsticks in an air fryer basket.

Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

These are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, made with only a few simple ingredients with minimal prep time and ready in 30 minutes!
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Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Jacqui
Yield: 6 drumsticks

Ingredients
 
 

  • 6 medium chicken drumsticks, with skin
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Equipment

  • 1 Air Fryer

Instructions
 

  • Preheat air fryer at 400°F for 5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together spices and olive oil. Add the chicken drumsticks to a large ziplock bag. Pour the oil mixture over the drumsticks, seal the ziplock and move the drumsticks around until completely coated.
  • Remove the drumsticks from the bag and discard any extra marinade. Place the drumsticks into the air fryer basket, leaving room between each one. You may have to work in batches, depending on how large your air fryer is.
  • Air fry chicken for 10 minutes on each side (for a total of 20 minutes), removing the basket and carefully flipping over halfway through. Add an additional 5 minutes if needed, or until drumsticks are done and reach an internal temperature of 165°F.

Notes

Click on the time in the instructions to start a timer!
Storage
Refrigerate leftover chicken drumsticks for 2-3 days in an airtight container. 
Freeze cooked drumsticks for 2-3 months in an air-tight container. 
Cooking Tips
  • You may have to cook in batches, depending on how big your air fryer is.
  • Discard any leftover marinade when you remove the chicken for food safety.
  • The air fryer still requires a small amount of oil to work. If you use a dry rub instead, spray the chicken pieces with cooking oil, or you won’t end up with crunchy skin.
  • For extra crispy skin, add an additional 5 minutes to the air fryer.
  • For more flavor, add the marinade to the chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.

Nutrition

Calories: 186kcal (9%)Carbohydrates: 1gProtein: 13g (26%)Fat: 14g (22%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 70mg (23%)Sodium: 273mg (12%)Potassium: 188mg (5%)Fiber: 0.3g (1%)Sugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 200IU (4%)Vitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 11mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
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