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Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks with BBQ Sauce

It may be getting colder out and our grill is covered for the winter, but that won’t stop me from getting my barbecue flavor. I put together this Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks with BBQ recipe for that very reason.

I used to think you could only get barbecued foods in the summer. Now, I’m getting them year-round.

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks on a white plate

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While this won’t taste like a charcoal grill because, well there’s no charcoal involved, you will get that nice grill flavor from the gas grill.

I cooked this recipe using my Cosori Air Fryer. I love the basket-style air fryers and this square basket gives me a little extra room to cook more chicken legs at once.

You can read more about my personal review on the Cosori Air Fryer here.

I find the circle air fryers are a little more tough to place bigger foods into. It’s like trying to play Tetris.

Also, if you’re an air fryer newbie, you’ll be happy to know chicken is an easy food to make in the air fryer.

Recipes like an Air Fryer Chicken Breast involve basically no ingredients and yet taste so delicious when air fried.

I love to pair this recipe with a baked potato and some baked beans. If you have a second air fryer or extra time, you can pair this with some Air Fryer Roasted Carrots or Air Fried Asparagus.

This recipe is made with skinless chicken drumsticks, but you can also use chicken legs (with the thighs attached).

To make with chicken thighs, just double the amount of oil mixture if cooking the same amount of chicken legs as drumsticks as stated.

You will also need to increase the cooking time of this recipe as chicken legs are bigger than just the drumstick part.

And if you love chicken thighs, try our air fryer chicken thighs recipe marinated in honey soy sauce here!

Title and Shown: Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

How to Make Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks with BBQ

Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees.

Take your skinless chicken drumsticks best as possible and set aside. This allows the oil mixture to stick to the chicken better.

Mix together the olive oil, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using) in a bowl.

Coat the chicken drumsticks with the oil mixture and massage into the drumsticks for a few minutes. This helps the flavor really get into the chicken instead of just staying on the skins and falling off in the air fryer.

Add the chicken drumsticks into the air fryer in one single layer and cook for 15 minutes. It’s important the chicken doesn’t touch and is not layered so it will cook evenly.

If your air fryer does not allow for enough room, you will need to cook in batches.

This is why I say a bigger air fryer is usually better to go with. You can say that to my first little Bella Air Fryer sitting in the basement.

Flip chicken and cook for 5 more minutes.

Check the internal temperature of the air fried chicken drumsticks.

If it’s at 165 degrees or almost at that temperature, baste the chicken with your BBQ sauce, flip the chicken and baste the other side.

Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the chicken reaches the internal temperature above.

Remove from air fryer and baste with more BBQ if desired. Enjoy!

Want an easy 2 ingredient bbq sauce to make at home? Try out this recipe!

Holding an Air Fryer BBQ Drumstick in Hand

How Do I Preheat My Air Fryer?

Preheating your air fryer is super simple. Simply turn your air fryer to the required temperature of the recipe you’re making and let it run empty for 3-5 minutes.

Do not place foil or parchment paper in the air fryer without any food to weigh it down. It will fly up and hit the fan causing it to burn and possibly catch fire.

For this Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks with BBQ recipe, turn your air fryer to 400 degrees and let it preheat, or run empty, for about 5 minutes.

BBQ Drumsticks on a white plate

How Long Do You Cook Drumsticks in the Air Fryer?

I find that cooking chicken drumsticks in the air fryer take approximately 20 minutes to cook.

Once almost cooked thoroughly, you can add your favorite BBQ sauce on top and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Air Fried BBQ Drumsticks on a white plate

How Do I Reheat Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks?

Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees and cook until warmed thoroughly about 5-8 minutes.

It’s important to keep an eye on your food when reheating it. If you notice your chicken turning brown on the outside, drop the temperature 20 degrees and let it cook longer at the lower temperature.

This allows the chicken to cook from the inside out without burning the outside.

Baste with a little more BBQ sauce then enjoy!

Love BBQ Chicken? Try out these other delicious BBQ chicken recipes!

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Yield: 5 servings

Air Fryer BBQ Drumsticks

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks on a white plate

Crispy air fried chicken is basted with BBQ sauce to create a flavorful chicken meal.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 5-6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I prefer Sweet Baby Ray's)


  • pinch of cayenne pepper to add spice


  1. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees.
  2. Pat drychicken drumsticks.
  3. Mix together the olive oil, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  4. Coat the chicken drumsticks with oil mixture and massage into the drumsticks for a few minutes to help keep the flavor in.
  5. Add chicken drumsticks to the air fryer in one single layer and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Flip chicken and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Baste chicken with BBQ sauce, flip, then baste other side of chicken with BBQ sauce.
  8. Cook until chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 3-5 more minutes.
  9. Remove from the air fryer, baste additional BBQ sauce if desired and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 297Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 503mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 27g

This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

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About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

Leave a Comment

13 thoughts on “Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks with BBQ Sauce”

    • Hi Diane, it looks the chicken legs were throwing off the nutrition. I have updated this to show just drumsticks in the recipe card and is now showing the correct nutrition. Thank you!

  1. Great recipe. A bit on the small side.

    I tripled it, did ten thighs. Fantastic!

    Doing twelve drumsticks as i type this….


    • Thanks, Michael! I’m so glad you loved it! The recipe serving size is planned around having a few side dishes as well, but all recipes are able to be doubled as needed.

      I’ve found it’s easier for people to double recipes than half them.

  2. Thanks for a great chicken recipe! I made this last night in my new 5.8 Cosori air fryer. The chicken drumsticks were so juicy and tender i cooked five drumsticks ,when they were done i cooked 3 small breast. The family loved the chicken and my grandson ask if i could make some more today.
    I first purchased a 2qt.air fryer, i wasn’t sure if i would like it, well i love it, I’ve made French fries, chicken nuggets,shimp and home made potato wedges in the 2.qt. air fryer and they turned out so good. My husband said i needed a bigger one and of course i agreed, so i decided on the 5.8 cosori and it got here real fast from Amazon. And its awesome! I can’t wait to try all the air fryer recipes that you have posted especially the veggie ones, thanks again for a great recipe that i know i will make again and again. Oh and my daughter was so happy that i love air frying, i gave her the 2 qt air fryer, perfect for one.

    • So glad your family loved the chicken, Sandra! The Cosori was a great pick. That’s the air fryer I use as well and love it! Vegetables are amazing in there as well, so I know they are going to love those too. 🙂

  3. I am not sure I have ever seen skinless chicken legs……do you buy them that way or do you take the skin off yourself? is it necessary to use skinless legs? Thanks.

  4. Absolutely love this recipe! It has become my favorite BBQ Chicken recipe! 2 weeks ago I did 6 drumsticks in my Ninja Dual air fryer and they turned out totally awesome!! Tonight I’m going to try doing just 4 thighs with no changes to the recipe or instructions, and hoping I can get the timing right. Thank you for an awesome recipe. Looking forward to more!!!

  5. I have very picky waters in my house one thing we all enjoy is BBQ chicken. We have switched to air frying because of my health. Thanks for a delicious take on BBQ chicken

  6. I adapted this for mini chicken fillets too (with less cooking time, obvs) and was delicious. Have also done this as is with drumsticks. Amazing recipe, thank you (I’m UK) X



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