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Chicken Legs

The new religion around our house is Air Fryer Chicken Legs. Staggeringly crispy outside and succulent within, they’ll make a bone-in, skin-on chicken believer out of even the biggest holdouts.

Flavorful air fryer chicken legs on a plate

I know because I was one.

Ever since cooking these bone-in, skin-on Air Fryer Chicken Thighs, I have been converted to the dark side.

As in, dark meat.

I’ve long loved bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for their juiciness, affordability, and nutrient density.

Lean and higher in many vitamins and minerals than chicken breasts, chicken legs are healthy folks! Easily made gluten-free and low-carb!

But forced to choose on taste alone, I leaned towards white meat like Air Fryer Chicken Breast.

And then…I experienced bone-in, skin-on dark meat chicken, like these chicken legs in the air fryer.

W-O-W.

Ben called air fryer chicken drumsticks and thighs “the best chicken I’ve ever had.”

He does not issue compliments lightly, particularly when it comes to meat.

The air fryer is miraculous for creating healthy versions of foods that are typically deep-fried, like Air Fryer French Fries and Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast.

In the case of bone-in, skin-on air fryer chicken drumsticks, the way the fat renders, the skin crisps, and the meat becomes lush and juicy is enough of a reason to buy an air fryer (this is the model I have; it’s on sale!).

Air fryer chicken is also fast!

Drumsticks take 18 to 20 minutes in the air fryer at 400 degrees F. Turn once halfway through.

The chicken legs can be ready in the time it takes you to throw together a quick Arugula Salad or side of Sautéed Brussels Sprouts. Simple prep time and cooking time!

Dinner (or lunch), done.

Crispy air fryer chicken legs with seasonings

How to Make Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Legs

My inspiration for seasoning for these chicken legs is a barbecue potato chip (YUM).

It’s sweet and smoky (and yes, would be great served with chips or Sweet Potato Fries).

Follow this recipe for a stellar chicken flavor, or try swapping a different rub (that includes garlic powder and onion powder), marinade, or sauce (such as ranch, buffalo sauce or bbq sauce). See the “Ways to Season Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks” section below for suggestions.

Tip!

No need to make air fryer chicken legs with flour or cornstarch. While that trick works well for certain ingredients, like Air Fryer Tofu, the chicken gets very crispy on its own without the extra mess.


The Ingredients

  • Chicken Legs. Commonly overshadowed by chicken breasts and thighs, chicken legs need a moment in the spotlight. Not only are they incredibly succulent and flavorful, but they’re also packed with nutrition. Chicken legs are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. An easy dinner recipe, total time is less than 30 minutes!!
  • Dark Brown Sugar. Dark brown sugar is richer in flavor than regular brown sugar and has more molasses. This makes the chicken caramelize more easily and gives it delightful flavor.
  • Smoked Paprika. The ideal combination of smoky and sweet.
  • Dry Mustard Powder. Adds a hint of tang to the chicken legs.
  • Salt + Pepper. The classic, must-have seasoning duo.
  • Cayenne. For the perfect amount of heat.

The Directions

  1. Dry the chicken legs and place them in a large bowl. Drizzle oil over the top.
Raw meat with spices in a bowl
  1. Stir the sugar and spice mixture together, then sprinkle the mixture over the chicken.
Five chicken legs in an air fryer
  1. Place the chicken legs in the air fryer basket.
  2. Air fry at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Flip them over, then cook for another 8 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then DIG IN!
Easy air fryer chicken legs on a white plate

Wine Pairing

Serve your chicken legs with Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, or Pinot Noir.

Ways to Season Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

  • Easy Chicken Marinade. My light and bright Chicken Marinade would taste delicious on these drumsticks.
  • Sweet and Savory Marinade. My easy Chicken Thigh Marinade is the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Try it on these chicken legs!
  • Orange Chicken Marinade. Lovers of Healthy Orange Chicken, this Orange Chicken Marinade is the one for you!
  • Honey Garlic Chicken Drumsticks. A crowd-pleaser! Use the honey garlic marinade from my Honey Garlic Chicken Wings recipe.
  • Cajun Air Fryer Chicken Legs. Sprinkle your favorite Cajun seasoning over the chicken legs, omitting the spices listed in this recipe (add salt and pepper to taste).
Meat on the bone being cooked at a high temperature

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave. 
  • To Freeze. Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, stir the seasoning mixture together. Keep it in an airtight storage container at room temperature until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

The best air fryer chicken legs on a white plate

What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Legs

Side Dishes

Roasted Broccoli

40 mins

Crispy chicken legs in the air fryer

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Air Fryer. This is the air fryer I own and love.
  • Measuring Spoons. These measuring spoons stack neatly for easy storage.
  • Instant Read Thermometer. The most reliable way to check chicken for doneness.

The Best Air Fryer

If you’re in the market for an air fryer, this one does it all! It has multiple cooking functions and gets food crispy every time.

Flavorful air fryer chicken legs on a plate

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Welcome to the dark side!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are these Spicy Air Fryer Chicken Legs?

Since there is 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in the seasoning mixture, this air fryer chicken drumsticks recipe will have a little kick to them. If you want them to be extra spicy, you can add a pinch more of the cayenne. If you need them to be less spicy, reduce the cayenne to 1/8 teaspoon or omit it completely.

  • 8 to 10 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs/drumsticks (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley or serving

  • With paper towels, pat the chicken legs dry, and place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with the oil.

  • In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, mustard, and cayenne. Sprinkle over the chicken, then toss to evenly coat.

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Arrange a single layer of the drumsticks in the basket.

  • Air fry chicken legs for 10 minutes, then slide out the basket and flip the legs. Return to the air fryer and cook for 8 additional minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165 degrees F when a meat thermometer is inserted at the thickest part without touching the bone (I remove mine around 190 degrees F and it is still very juicy. The extra time ensures the skin is nice and crisp). Transfer to a plate and let rest 5 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped cilantro or parsley as desired.

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 359kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 24gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 135mgPotassium: 330mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 680IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I’m Erin Clarke, and I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that’s affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I’m the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

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Frequently Asked Questions About how long do you cook drumsticks in an air fryer

If you have questions that need to be answered about the topic how long do you cook drumsticks in an air fryer, then this section may help you solve it.

How long does drumsticks take to cook at 400?

about 35 t

How long does it take for drumsticks to cook?

around 40-45 minutes

How long do drumstick take in the air fryer?

Place drumsticks in air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes on 400. Remove basket and flip chicken drumsticks. Cook at 400 for another 10 minutes. If chicken is not 165 degrees internally, add another 5 minutes of cook-time

How long does it take for an air fryer to cook chicken?

Spray the air fryer basket with non-stick spray then air fry the chicken for 18 to 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

Is it better to bake chicken legs at 350 or 400?

Option #1: Bake chicken legs at a higher temperature ? between 400 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. A lower temp like 350 degrees Fahrenheit won’t result in crispy skin, but it will still be juicy and delicious.

What temp should you cook chicken drumsticks at?

How long to cook baked chicken drumsticks. Baked chicken drumsticks take about 45 minutes when baked at 400 degrees. This cooking time is typically the same when baking at any temperature between 350 and 425 degrees.

What’s the best temperature to cook drumsticks at?

Usually it takes about 40 to 45 minutes to cook average size bone-in chicken legs in a pre-heated 400º F oven although the time may vary depending on the size of the drumsticks and how hot your oven runs. I always recommend you take a quick peek after 35 minutes of baking to make sure the legs aren’t browning too fast.

What temp should I cook drumsticks?

At what temperature should I cook drumsticks in the oven? You can cook them at any temp between 180C/356F ? 220C/425F, you’ll just need to adjust the timings accordingly. For the best ratio of juiciness and crispiness I like to roast them nice and hot (220C/425F), just to get a slight charring and extra crispy skin.

What temperature do you cook chicken drumsticks?

How to Check the Internal Temperature of Chicken Legs. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken leg. The official temperature for chicken that’s safe to eat is 165F. However, for dark meat that’s flavorful and tender, 175F is the way to go.

Do you flip chicken when air frying?

The Best Air Fryers of 2022

This all may sound self-explanatory, but it’s an important fact to remember: Even if your air fryer has top-notch air circulation from its fan, you need to give most larger pieces of food (such as pork chops, burgers, and chicken cutlets) a turn about halfway through cooking.

Can you put chicken straight in the air fryer?

Brush a simple layer of olive oil over boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pop them in the air fryer in a single layer, and the cooked chicken will have such a crispy surface that it’ll taste like deep fried skin-on chicken.

Why isn’t my chicken crispy in the air fryer?

You’re overcrowding the basket of your air fryer.

He said putting too much food in the basket could have a negative impact on the quality of your finished dish because some of the items in the basket could end up becoming soggy instead of crispy.

Why is my air fried chicken soggy?

If you allow it to sit for a while, it will start to turn soggy. That’s perfectly normal because the chicken stays so juicy when cooked in the air fryer! It will start to release its juices once it’s cooked and then the breading will become affected after a while. So please, serve ASAP!

Do I have to put oil on chicken in air fryer?

Yes, even air fryers need a little oil!

Why does my chicken come out rubbery in the air fryer?

What is this? Just follow the instructions and make sure you keep an eye in the temperature of the chicken in the final minutes. Since the Air Fryer works with convection heat, there is no need to cook chicken at very high temperatures, as it may quickly dry out and turn rubbery.

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