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Chicken Drumsticks in the Air Fryer

Make juicy and tender air fryer chicken drumsticks all year long thanks to your favorite kitchen appliance! Chicken drumsticks in the air fryer are simple and full of BBQ flavor.

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Overhead view of BBQ air fryer chicken drumsticks on brown parchment paper on top of a cutting board

Air Fried Drumsticks

Long gone are the days of saying goodbye to perfectly cooked on-the-grill chicken drumsticks as soon as the temperatures drop! My air fryer chicken drumsticks with BBQ sauce will give you the same juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside results as your grill. 

I’m a huge fan of chicken — we eat it at least once a week in my house. Air fryer grilled chicken, air fryer breaded chicken wings, and air fryer stuffed chicken breast are a few of my easy favorites. I also love roasting a chicken for the week to have on hand for sandwiches and salads. It’s such a versatile main ingredient — the side dish options are endless!

My recipe for chicken drumsticks in the air fryer is easy and is made with pantry ingredients that you likely already have on hand. It’s a wonderful weeknight dinner option that comes together in just 30 minutes!

These air fried drumsticks are about to become one of your go-to chicken recipes. All you need are some yummy seasonings, drumsticks, and your favorite BBQ sauce (or use my easy homemade BBQ sauce recipe!).

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Air Fryer I recommend: Large, easy to clean, square basket, burner on top and bottom. Click to see it.

What you’ll need to make Chicken Drumsticks in the Air Fryer

  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Olive oil — extra virgin
  • Seasoning — garlic powder, paprika, onion powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • BBQ sauce
Ingredients needed to make air fryer chicken drumsticks

How to make Chicken Drumsticks in the Air Fryer

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F and prep the drumsticks by patting them dry with a paper towel.

STEP TWO: Add the garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (if using), and olive oil together to a small bowl and mix.

Coat the chicken drumsticks in the mixture and massage for a few minutes — this helps to ensure the seasonings stick!

Raw chicken drumsticks in air fryer basket

STEP THREE: Place the chicken in the air fryer basket in one layer (air fry in batches if necessary) and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for 5 more minutes.

Half cooked chicken legs in the air fryer

STEP FOUR: Baste the chicken with BBQ sauce, flip, then baste the other side. Air fry for another 3-5 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F.

STEP FIVE: Remove your air fried drumsticks from the air fryer and baste them with more BBQ sauce if desired. Serve and enjoy!

BBQ chicken drumsticks in air fryer basket

How long to Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks

You can refer to the recipe card below for my specific cooking instructions, but it typically takes around 20 minutes in total to cook chicken drumsticks in the air fryer. That includes the time it takes to flip the drumsticks, baste, and air fry a second time. 

My recipe for air fryer chicken drumsticks takes around 30 minutes to make from start to finish, including prep time.

Chicken drumstick bitten into

Tips and tricks for Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks

  • Preheat the air fryer to ensure the chicken skin gets a crispy texture.
  • Season the drumsticks evenly and thoroughly to maximize flavor.
  • Lay the air fryer drumsticks in a single layer with space between them to avoid overcrowding.
  • Turn them in the air fryer halfway through the cooking time so they cook evenly and get crispy on all sides.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

How to serve this Chicken Drumsticks Air Fryer Recipe

How to store Air Fried Drumsticks

How to reheat Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the leftover chicken drumsticks in the air fryer basket and cook until warmed thoroughly about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Baste with a little more BBQ sauce then enjoy!
BBQ Chicken Drumsticks cooked in air fryer basket

Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks FAQs

Can You Put Raw Chicken in an Air Fryer?

Yes, you can! No need to worry about pre-cooking your drumsticks before placing them in your air fryer. They’ll come out tender and juicy every time! 
Just make sure to take the time to flip the chicken after 15 minutes. The internal temperature must be 165 degrees F to prevent foodborne illnesses.
You can even put raw turkey legs in the air fryer!

Should I Put Oil on Chicken Before Air Frying?

There tends to be a lot of confusion around oil in the air fryer. For recipes like my air fryer chicken drumsticks with BBQ sauce, you don’t need to add a ton of excess oil before cooking it. 
You’ll notice that you need to add oil to the spices and seasonings before coating the chicken, simply to help them stick to the surface. That’s all the extra oil you’ll need for this dish!

Do You Flip Chicken When Air Frying?

Yes — don’t forget to flip your air fryer chicken drumsticks after 15 minutes so that they cook all the way through. You can use a food-safe thermometer to check that the drumsticks’ internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F before serving.

More BBQ Recipes

More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes

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Yield: 5 servings

Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks cooked in air fryer basket

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...

17 thoughts on “Chicken Drumsticks in the Air Fryer”

    • 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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