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Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe

The BEST air fryer chicken legs, ready in 30 minutes! Cooking chicken drumsticks in the air fryer makes them juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Full ingredients + instructions are on the recipe card at the end. Before you scroll or jump down, don’t miss the useful tips in the post!

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These air fryer chicken legs (more specifically, air fryer chicken drumsticks) make a quick and easy dinner! Baked chicken drumsticks are my go-to, but I’ve been pulling out my air fryer more and more lately. And just like air fried chicken wings, making chicken legs in the air fryer crisps the outside better (and faster!) than the oven, and the inside gets incredibly juicy.

Why You’ll Love This Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe

  • Juicy and flavorful
  • Crispy chicken skin
  • Just a few simple steps to make
  • Ready in less than 30 minutes
Chicken legs in the air fryer finished on a plate

Ingredients For Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for this air fryer chicken drumsticks recipe, what each one does, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.

  • Chicken drumsticks – Buy bone-in, skin-on drumsticks. Look for ones that are close in size as well, so they cook evenly.
  • Butter – Use unsalted butter, we’ll use sea salt to customize the saltiness.
  • Parsley – Flat or curly.
  • Garlic – Freshly minced garlic has the best flavor, but jarred is also fine for convenience.
  • Smoked paprika – I prefer the smoky flavor, but regular paprika will work as well.
  • Sea salt & black pepper
Ingredients for air fryer chicken drumsticks on plates and in bowls

How To Cook Chicken Legs In The Air Fryer

This section shows how to cook chicken drumsticks in the air fryer, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, see the recipe card below.

  • Preheat the air fryer. It heats up quickly, but it’s an important step! Pat the chicken dry while you do this.
  • Make compound butter. Use a fork to mash together butter, garlic, parsley, and sea salt.
Compound butter mixed in a bowl
  • Season underneath the skin. Run your hand under the skin of each chicken leg to separate it from the meat, then place a dollop of butter underneath and press gently so that it spreads out.
  • Season over the skin. Sprinkle smoked paprika, pepper and more salt on the drumsticks.

FYI: We’re putting the butter underneath the skin so that it won’t burn. It’s what makes the meat super juicy!

Raw chicken legs with compound butter underneath
Chicken drumsticks seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika
  • Air fry chicken. Place drumsticks in the air fryer in a single layer, skin side down. Air fry for 10 minutes, flip, and air fry for another 8-10 minutes.

TIP: Use a meat thermometer to confirm doneness. The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.

Cooked chicken drumsticks in the air fryer basket

Frequently Asked Questions

How long to cook chicken legs in the air fryer?

This air fryer chicken drumsticks recipe takes 18-20 minutes at 380 degrees F, flipping halfway through.

What temp to cook chicken drumsticks in the air fryer?

380 degrees F is the perfect air fryer temperature for crispy drumsticks. This is a bit lower than baked chicken legs, due to the added air circulation.

Can you cook frozen chicken legs in the air fryer?

Yes, you can cook frozen chicken legs in the air fryer. You’ll need to add on 5-7 minutes cooking time. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

However, note that you won’t be able to get the compound butter underneath the skin if the chicken is frozen solid. Instead, you can drizzle with olive oil and only use the spices on top.

Can you use this method for other cuts of chicken?

Yes, this method will work for other cuts of chicken that have skin, like thighs or bone-in breasts.

Air fryer chicken drumsticks recipe on a platter

Tips For The Best Air Fryer Chicken Legs

Follow these tips for the best air fryer chicken drumsticks:

  • Pat the chicken skin dry. This ensures the chicken will get crispy.
  • Push garlic butter underneath the skin. It’s the key to juicy, flavorful chicken.
  • Don’t crowd the air fryer. Leave enough room in between the chicken to allow it to get crispy. Six drumsticks was a good number to fit in my air fryer comfortably.
  • Use a meat thermometer. It ensures your meat is cooked perfectly.

Storage Instructions

  • For leftovers: Store leftovers in refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • To reheat: Reheat drumsticks in the air fryer again, or in a 350 degree F oven.
  • To freeze: Wrap chicken legs tightly to prevent freezer burn, and freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Air fryer chicken drumsticks stacked on a plate

What To Serve With Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Serve up these air fried drumsticks with a simple side:

More Easy Air Fryer Recipes

If you like cooking drumsticks in the air fryer, you might also like some of these other air fryer recipes:

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Juicy and crispy air fryer chicken legs close up

Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe

The BEST air fryer chicken legs, ready in 30 minutes! Cooking chicken drumsticks in the air fryer makes them juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 18 minutes

Total Time 28 minutes

Ingredients

Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.

Instructions

Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.

  1. Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 380 degrees F (193 degrees C). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

  2. In a small bowl, make the compound butter by mashing together the butter, garlic, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt with a fork.

  3. Run your hand under the skin on each chicken leg to separate it from the meat. Place a dollop of compound butter under the skin and press the skin gently so that it spreads out underneath.

  4. Season the chicken drumsticks (over the skin) with smoked paprika, pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  5. Place the chicken drumsticks in the air fryer in a single layer, skin side down. Air fry for 10 minutes. Flip over, then air fry for 8-10 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

Recipe Notes

Serving size: 1 drumstick

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above.

Calories 191

Fat 14.7g

Protein 13.5g

Total Carbs 0.6g

Net Carbs 0.5g

Fiber 0.1g

Sugar 0.1g

Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.

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