Air fryer chicken drumsticks are so easy to make and only take about 20 minutes.
Create the perfect crispy, juicy chicken every time. No breading needed, the skin gets crispy and crunchy!
I promise once you try this recipe, you are going to want to put these air fryer drumsticks on your menu each week! Serve with your favorite side dish for a quick and easy meal!
Why you will love this recipe
- The air fryer really shines with this recipe. The hot air circulating around the chicken drumsticks causes the skin to get crispy while not drying out the meat. This leaves you with a juicy, tender drumstick and crispy skin. The perfect combination!
- Who doesn’t love finger food! Kids love these drumsticks, as they can eat them with their hands and dunk them in their favorite sauces! Ranch or barbeque are always a big hit around here!
- This recipe is so easy to make, Whole30, keto friendly and paleo and only needs a few ingredients. You can also make these chicken legs in the oven.
- Budget friendly: These air fryer chicken legs are extremely budget friendly – in fact it’s one of my “go to” meals each week to help keep our budget down. Typically I can get organic drumsticks for $1.99 a pound!
- Chicken drumsticks – I love this ingredient because it’s so budget friendly. Note: the larger the drumsticks, the longer they will cook. You want to make sure your drumsticks are similar size to ensure they all cook evenly.
- Olive oil or avocado oil – you need just a little bit of oil to help the spices stick to the chicken and ensure the skin can get nice and crispy! Just a tablespoon though!
- Spices: Paprika, Salt, Garlic Powder (optional) – the spices help to elevate the chicken and take it to the next level of deliciousness! Use whatever spices you love here!
How to make air fryer drumsticks
- Start by placing the drumsticks in a large bowl. If you are making more than 5-6 at a time, I recommend doing this in batches to make it easier to stir.
- Add the olive oil and spices to the chicken and stir well, ensuring everything is well coated.
- If your air fryer requires preheating, preheat it until it reaches temperature.
- I like to add foil to the bottom of the air fryer to make clean up easier. If you do this as well, be sure to pull the foil from the sides, ensuring that air can circulate easily around the foil.
- Place the drumsticks in the air fryer basket in a single layer (no overlapping). For most air fryers this means that you may need to cook your drumsticks in batches to ensure they can cook through and get crispy.
- Cook the drumsticks at 400F for 18-22 minutes (depending on how big your drumsticks are).
- After the chicken has been cooking for 13 minutes, pause the air fryer and carefully flip the drumsticks (I use tongs for this). This will ensure that the chicken is crispy on all sides.
- Continue to cook for 5-8 more minutes. Check the temperature at 18 minutes with an instant read thermometer (you want 165F for chicken). Be sure to stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat without hitting the bone.
NOTE: If you want your chicken to be so tender it’s falling off the bone, cook the chicken until 180F (this may take a few more minutes).
- Serve immediately. The drumsticks are the crispiest right out of the air fryer.
Other flavors you could try
I love this recipe because it’s simple and uses easy to find ingredients. You could change the recipe up very easily though.
- Ranch: Add 1 tbsp. ranch seasoning with the rest of the spices
- Taco: Add 1 tbsp taco seasoning and omit the paprika
- Chinese 5 spice: Add 1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder and ½ tsp. ground ginger (omit the paprika)
- Smoky: Replace the paprika with smoked paprika and add ½ tsp. cumin
- Spicy: Add ½ tsp. dried chipotle powder to the rest of the ingredients
- Buffalo: Combine ¼ cup hot sauce + 2 tbsp avocado oil or melted ghee + ¼ tsp. mustard powder + ½ tsp. garlic powder in a bowl. Pour it over the drumsticks at the 13 minute mark or immediately after cooking.
- To ensure the crispiest skin, place the chicken drumsticks directly on the air fryer basket (without the foil). This will make for more clean up but will ensure the most air flow in the basket, making the skin even crispier!
- Be sure to cook in batches so you don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. The air fryer works it’s magic by circulating very hot air around a small area. If you overcrowd the basket, the air will not be able to get all the way around the chicken, and the result will be soggy skin.
- If you are using a larger air fryer (like the Breville) that can fit 4+ pounds of chicken legs at once, you will probably find that the air fryer actually needs to be about 15-20 degrees hotter. I usually run mine at 415F for 18-22 minutes.
- If you want to add a sauce to the drumsticks, add it when you turn the drumsticks after 13 minutes (so the sauce doesn’t burn). You could add barbeque sauce, buffalo sauce or your favorite marinade at this time. However this is not necessary for the best air fried drumsticks!
- If you have to cook the drumsticks in separate batches, reheat the colder batch for 3-4 minutes at 400F to crisp the skin back up while the other drumsticks are cooling down.
- Keep the bones to make bone broth! I like to keep the bones in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer until I have a full bag of bones or leftover bones from cooking an entire chicken. All you have to do is add all the bones to a instant pot and fill with 8-12 cups of water and cook on high pressure for 2 hours (let pressure naturally release).
What to serve along side
These drumsticks are super versatile and delicious! Serve them with your favorite comfort foods for a super comforting meal! Some of my favorites include:
- Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Rosemary Garlic Potatoes (made in the Instant Pot)
- Cauliflower Potato Salad
- Pasta Salad
- Broccoli with Breadcrumbs
- Instant Pot Yellow Rice
- Creamy Kale
- Moroccan Potato Salad
What is the best sauce for chicken drumsticks
Can you use frozen drumsticks
To ensure the chicken cooks through completely without burning the skin, the best option would be to defrost the drumsticks in the fridge overnight before cooking.
With that being said, others have mentioned having success with cooking the drumsticks from frozen for 26-28 minutes at 400F in the air fryer.
What if you don’t have an air fryer
You can make crispy chicken drumsticks in the oven! All you need is a baking sheet and a cooling rack that fits on the baking sheet. I actually recommend using the oven method if you are making a large batch of drumsticks, as they will cook faster than doing 3-4 batches in the air fryer.
How to store air fryer chicken drumsticks
Fridge: Store leftover drumsticks in the fridge for up to 3 days. You will likely want to reheat these in the air fryer 400F for 4-5 minutes to re-crisp the skin.
Freezer: You can freeze the drumsticks after cooking, however the skin will not be crispy when defrosting. You will likely want to reheat these in the air fryer for 4-5 minutes (or more) at 400F to crisp the skin up again (after defrosting in the fridge overnight).
If you don’t plan on reheating the drumsticks, you can always remove the skin and the chicken from the bone and discard the skin. Store the chicken in an air tight container for 3 days, using it in tacos, chicken salads or in soups or casseroles.
Chicken drumsticks – Drumsticks are really so easy to find, but you could also make chicken thighs in the air fryer. They will likely need to cook longer (24-30 minutes) to cook all the way through.
Olive oil – you can also use avocado oil, melted coconut oil or melted ghee in place of the olive oil.
Spices and salt – you can substitute any of the spices listed above to change the flavors or you can use no spices at all and simply sprinkle with salt.
Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks$4.33 Recipe/$2.16 Serving
- Add the drumsticks to a large bowl. Pour olive oil, spices and salt over the drumsticks and stir well (I use tongs) to ensure the chicken is fully coated.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400F (if necessary for your brand).
- Add foil to the bottom of the air fryer basket (optional). Make sure the foil does not reach all the way to the edge, you want air to flow around the foil still.
- Add the drumsticks to the air fryer basket in a single layer. Do not stack, instead cook in batches.
- Cook at 400F for 18-22 minutes (depending on the size of the drumsticks).
- After 13 minutes of cooking, pause the air fryer and carefully flip the drumsticks (I use clean tongs). Continue cooking at least 5 more minutes.
- After 18 minutes, use a digital thermometer and check the temperature of the thickest part of the chicken, without hitting the bone. You want at least 165F.
- If you want to ensure the chicken is super tender and falling off the bone, cook to 180F (this may take a few more minutes depending on the size).