These crispy air fried chicken drumsticks are succulent and flavorful, the best option for those who love dark meat. With their crispy skin and juicy flesh, they make a delicious crowd-pleasing dish that can easily be prepared in no time and with minimal seasonings.
Related: Oven-roasted chicken breasts
All About Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks
Air fried chicken drumsticks are a delightful and healthier alternative to traditional deep-fried chicken legs. With their irresistibly crispy skin and tender juicy meat, air fried drumsticks and these air fried chicken thighs are my favorite chicken parts.
The air fryer uses hot circulating air to cook the chicken legs, resulting in a perfectly golden brown exterior while still keeping the meat juicy on the inside.
I used simple and easy-to-find seasonings for this recipe however, you can use your favorite aromatic spices and herbs to impact the chicken flesh with fragrant and delicious flavor.
Air fried chicken drumsticks are incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed as a main meal, added to salads, used in tacos or sandwiches, or served alongside a variety of side dishes.
Ingredients for Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
- Chicken drumsticks are the primary protein source in this recipe; they’re flavorful and juicy, perfect for cooking in the air fryer.
- Garlic adds a delicious aroma and kick to the chicken drumsticks.
- Paprika powder adds a mild and slightly sweet flavor to these air fryer chicken drumsticks. It also contributes to the beautiful reddish-brown color of the cooked chicken.
- Brown sugar acts as a natural sweetener and caramelizes during cooking, creating a slightly sweet and savory glaze on the chicken drumsticks.
- Italian seasoning is a blend of dried herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. It adds depth and complexity to the seasoning mixture.
- Olive oil is used to coat the drumsticks to prevent them from drying out during the cooking process. It also aids in browning the skin.
- Red chili flakes provide a hint of spiciness to the chicken drumsticks. You can adjust the amount based on your preference for heat.
- Salt enhances the taste of the chicken drumsticks and balances the overall seasoning.
- Fresh Parsley- I used it to garnish these delicious air fried chicken drumsticks towards the end and it adds a pop of freshness and color to them.
How to Cook Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks
Preheat your air fryer- Set the temperature to 400°F (200°C) and allow it to preheat for about 5 minutes.
Prepare the drumsticks- Pat the drumsticks dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. This helps the skin become crispy. You can also trim any excess fat if desired.
Season the drumsticks- In a bowl, mix garlic powder, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, paprika, red chili flakes, and salt. You can customize the seasoning blend to suit your taste.
Coat the drumsticks- Brush the drumsticks with a little bit of olive oil to help the seasoning stick on the surface then sprinkle the seasoning mixture evenly all over the drumsticks, turning and massaging them to ensure they are coated on all the sides.
Place the drumsticks in the air fryer- Arrange the drumsticks in a single layer in the air fryer basket, making sure they are not overcrowded. If you are preparing a larger batch make sure to cook them in two batches for a better result.
Air fry the drumsticks- Cook them at 400°F (200°C) for about 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through for even cooking. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the size of the drumsticks and the specific model of your air fryer.
Check for doneness- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest part of a drumstick. It should register at least 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.
Rest and garnish- Once they are cooked, remove them from the air fryer and let them rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. This helps keep the meat juicy for a longer time.
Serve- Serve the air fried chicken drumsticks hot with your favorite side dish or dipping sauce and enjoy.
Why you will love this air fried chicken thighs recipe
- It uses a healthier cooking option- Air-fried chicken drumsticks are a guilt-free option, they require very little oil and are great for those who want to satisfy their cravings without compromising their health condition.
- Quick and easy- Preparing these air fried drumsticks only takes a few minutes, giving you more time to enjoy your meal or engage in other activities while your dinner practically cooks itself.
- Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside- The hot circulating air in the fryer creates a delicious golden brown crust while leaving the inside tender and moist. This gives you that satisfying crunch with every bite.
- Versatile flavor possibility- You are not limited at all when it comes to the seasoning. You can use rosemary, oregano, thyme, or any spice blend of your choice to season the meat. You can even use your favorite tangy BBQ sauce, zesty lemon pepper rubs, or marinade to coat the chicken pieces just before air frying.
- Easy cleanup- Nobody enjoys scrubbing greasy pans after a meal. Thankfully, using an air fryer significantly reduces so much mess in comparison to traditional frying methods since there is minimal oil splatter involved. Most importantly, some parts of an air fryer are dishwasher safe, which makes cleanup very easy.
Ways to Serve Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks
- Tacos or wraps- Shred the meat from the cooked air fried drumsticks and use it as a filling for tacos, burritos, or wraps. Add your choice of toppings like shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado slices, and a drizzle of creamy sauce for a flavorful handheld meal.
- Picnic or party snacks- Serve your air fried drumsticks as finger food at picnics or parties. They’re easy to grab and enjoy on their own, but you can also provide various dipping sauces to make it more fun.
- Roasted Vegetables- Roast some colorful vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini in the air fryer alongside the chicken drumsticks. Season them with the same seasoning blend and serve as a flavorful and nutritious side dish.
- Mashed Potatoes- Serve your creamy mashed potatoes as a classic and comforting accompaniment to these air fryer chicken drumsticks.
- Coconut rice- This fragrant and creamy coconut rice also complements your crispy drumsticks perfectly.
- Salad- Create a fresh garden salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and your favorite vegetables. Toss it with a homemade vinaigrette or dressing of your choice and pair it with the flavorful drumsticks.
- Brown stew chicken– You can use your leftover air fryer chicken drumsticks as a base for this Jamaican brown stew chicken.
- Cooked white rice or quinoa- Serve your fluffy white rice or nutty quinoa as a side to absorb all the flavorful juices from the chicken drumsticks. You can also add some herbs or spices to the grains for extra taste.
- Rice pilaf– Plate the air fried chicken drumsticks alongside a generous portion of rice pilaf. You can also add some steamed vegetables or a fresh salad on the side for a complete and satisfying meal.
Other Variations of Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
- Buffalo-style-Toss the cooked drumsticks in your preferred buffalo sauce for a spicy and tangy twist. Serve them up with celery sticks, blue cheese, or ranch dressing for a classic Buffalo chicken experience.
- Barbecue-style air fried drumsticks- Brush the drumsticks with your favorite barbecue sauce before air frying, and cook them until the sauce caramelizes and forms a sticky glaze. This creates flavorful and finger-licking BBQ chicken legs.
- Asian-inspired air fried chicken drumsticks- Marinate the drumsticks in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a touch of honey or brown sugar. After that, air fry them until they develop a deliciously sticky glaze. Serve with boiled white rice and stir-fried vegetables for an Asian-inspired dish.
- Lemon Herb air fryer chicken drumsticks- If you prefer lighter flavors but still crave boldness in your dish, try coating the drumsticks with lemon juice or zest along with paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Add some olive oil for moisture before popping them into the air fryer.
- Garlic parmesan chicken drumstick in air fryer- Create a mouthwatering blend by combining grated Parmesan cheese, minced garlic cloves (or garlic powder), paprika, dried parsley flakes salt, and black pepper. This seasoning option adds an irresistible cheesy and garlicky taste to your drumsticks.
- Smoky Cajun rub– You can replace the Italian seasoning with the Cajun seasoning mix in this recipe for a spicy Cajun twist.
Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks
- A pair of thongs
- 1 Mixing bowl
- Measuring spoons
- Meat thermometer
- 4-6 pieces bone in, skin on chicken drumsticks (chicken legs)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- ¼ tsp red chili flakes
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat your air fryer- Set the temperature of your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) and allow it to preheat for about 5 minutes.
- Prepare the drumsticks- Pat the drumsticks dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture from the skin. This helps the skin become crispy. You can also trim any excess fat if there is a need for that.
- Combine the seasonings- In a bowl, mix together your seasonings, salt, red chili flakes, garlic powder, paprika, Italian seasoning, and brown sugar. You can use any other herbs or spices that you enjoy most.
- Coat the drumsticks- Brush the drumsticks with a little bit of olive oil to help the seasoning stick on the surface. Then, sprinkle the seasoning mixture evenly over the drumsticks, turning and massaging them with your fingers to ensure they are coated on all sides.
- Place the drumsticks in the air fryer- Arrange the drumsticks in a single layer in the air fryer basket, making sure they are not overcrowded. If you are making a large batch, be sure to cook them in multiple batches for a better result.
- Air fry the drumsticks- Cook them at 400°F (200°C) for about 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through for even cooking. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the size of the drumsticks and the specific model of your air fryer.
- Check for doneness- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest part of a drumstick. It should register at least 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.
- Rest and garnish- Once cooked, remove the drumsticks from the air fryer and let them rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. This helps keep the meat juicy and moist.
- Serve- Serve your air fryer chicken drumsticks hot with your favorite side dish or dipping sauce.
Storage TipsTo store in the refrigerator- Place the drumsticks in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with foil to keep them fresh and sealed from water. Store the drumsticks in the refrigerator for up to 4 to 5 days. Consume them within this time frame for the best quality. To store in the freezer- If you have made a large batch of air fryer drumsticks that can’t be consumed within a few days, the best you can do is to freeze them. To do this, place the drumsticks in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag making sure they are wrapped tightly to prevent water from sipping in. Freeze for up to 3 months.
How to reheat leftover air fried chicken drumsticksYou can reheat them in the air fryer for about 5-8 minutes, at 375°F (190°C) until they are heated through. If you want the skin to be crispy again, increase the temperature to 400°F (200°C) for the last couple of minutes of cooking to help restore their crispiness again.
How long do you cook drumsticks in the air fryer?
Air fried chicken drumsticks typically takes about 18-20 minutes to cook in an air fryer at a temperature of around 400°F (200°C). The total time it takes for drumsticks to be fully cooked in the air fryer can vary depending on the size of the drumsticks and the specific model of your air fryer. However, if after reaching the above time your drumsticks are still undercooked, you can adjust the cooking time slightly to help it cook properly.
Do you have to flip drumsticks in an air fryer?
It is important to flip the drumsticks halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning and cooking on both sides. This helps to achieve a crispy exterior and tender interior too. It’s also a good practice to let the drumsticks rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute and the flavors to settle into the meat.
Can I use chicken wings instead of drumsticks?
You can make use of chicken wings instead of drumsticks when making air fryer chicken drumsticks. Chicken wings are a popular choice for air frying and can be equally delicious and crispy too.
Can you put frozen drumsticks in an air fryer?
If you only have frozen drumsticks, you can still cook them using this air fried chicken drumsticks recipe, just know that they will take a bit longer to get ready depending on the thickness or how long they have been in the freezer. To cook frozen drumsticks, there is no need to thaw them or pat them dry. Go ahead and season the frozen drumsticks with the listed seasonings above.
Cook them in the air fryer for approximately 30-35 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking time. You can use a meat thermometer to check if they are fully cooked before taking them out of the air fryer.