These quick and easy Air Fryer Chicken Legs are super tasty with wonderfully crisp skin and juicy, tender meat that practically falls off the bone! Since these air fried chicken drumsticks are so simply perfect, they have become a family favorite for effortless weeknight dinners!
Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe
Everyone in my family loves a fried chicken dinner, and I love serving this super easy healthier version any night of the week! It takes the staple oven-roasted chicken up a notch by adding this wonderfully crispy air-fried skin!
Seriously, most of my air fried goodies rival the deliciousness of their deep-fried counterparts! For me to get this level of crispiness in oven baked chicken legs, I would have to really crank the oven heat up and cook all of the moisture out of my chicken. No thanks!
So they’re super tasty, the chicken meat is absolutely tender, and it’s a really simple chicken seasoning. What’s not to love?
But wait…there’s more! Lol. I have to add that cleaning up air fryer components is a snap. Making your family dinners that much easier!
How To Cook Chicken Legs In An Air Fryer
There are a few simple tips for cooking the best air fryer chicken legs. No matter your air fryer size, model, or style these things are true:
- Preheat your air fryer – especially anything that you will be cooking for 20 minutes or more. Smaller, quicker snacks and such can skip preheating at times, especially in smaller air fryers that heat QUICKLY.
- Avoid overcrowding your food – every time I’ve written up one of my air fryer recipes, I always note that foods should be placed on your air fryer racks or in the baskets in a single layer. Never stack or pile foods into your air fryer ( if it can be avoided ) as it will prevent even, rapid cooking.
- Prepare foods as instructed – whether it’s patting the chicken dry, coating or spraying with oils, slicing into evenly-sized pieces, etc. These are usually important steps to recreating something wonderful at home with minimal frustration or disappointment.
- Use a digital meat thermometer – that can read the internal meat temperature quickly. Cook the chicken legs to a minimum safe temperature of 165ºF ( 74ºC ) as recommended by the USDA. Or follow my rule of thumb with chicken and cook it to an internal temperature of 180ºF ( 82ºC ) to avoid the bloody looking areas next to the bone.
Preheat Air Fryer & Prepare Chicken Legs
- Preheat your air fryer to 400ºF ( 205ºC ) or set your cooking time if the preheat is built in. With my Instant Pot Vortex Plus, I would select ‘AIR FRY‘ for 20 minutes and allow it to preheat.
- Pat the chicken legs dry with paper towels. If your chicken legs were frozen, make sure that they are completely thawed.
- In a bowl ( large enough to hold your chicken legs ) or on a tray, coat the chicken legs with olive oil or spray with olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.
- In a small bowl or plastic storage bag, combine the seasoning ingredients: salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Toss the chicken in the seasoning if using a bowl, or transfer the chicken into your bag of seasoning and shake to coat thoroughly.
- Place seasoned chicken legs onto air fryer trays or into your air fryer basket. Leave space between each and arrange the drumsticks in a single layer for even cooking.
Air Fry Your Chicken Legs
- Cook the chicken legs at 400ºF ( 205ºC ) for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken drumsticks at the halfway point in the cooking time.
- Continue to cook an additional 5 minutes to reach extra crispy, fall-off-the-bone yummy chicken legs.
- Check and make sure that your chicken has a minimum safe internal temperature of 165ºF ( 74ºC ) before removing it from the air fryer and serving immediately.
Can I Add BBQ Sauce
Yes, most definitely! There are two ways to add your barbecue sauce. The first is to wait until your chicken legs are completely cooked, then coat them with the BBQ sauce. This is my suggested method for cooking the chicken legs best.
The second option will get a nice bbq crusting to the chicken drumsticks. However, you will need to open the air fryer door more than I would suggest normally.
With the second option, cook the drumsticks for the first ten minutes as directed. Coat the chicken legs with your favorite bbq sauce and continue to cook the chicken legs. Coat the chicken drumsticks every 5 minutes of the remaining cooking time.
Storing & Freezing Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks
Store any remaining air fryer chicken legs in an airtight container. The chicken legs will keep refrigerated for up to 3 -4 days but they are best used within 2 – 3 days. *No cooked chicken should be refrigerated for more than 3 – 4 days.
To freeze your FULLY COOLED cooked chicken legs, wrap each leg tightly in aluminum foil. I recommend heavy-duty aluminum foil whenever you are freezing cooked foods or baked goods.
Freezing the chicken as quickly as possible is the best practice for food safety. I usually place my aluminum foil-wrapped chicken legs onto a baking sheet to freeze individually.
Once frozen, transfer the drumsticks to a freezer storage bag or airtight container. Your frozen air fryer chicken drumsticks can be stored in the freezer for up to 4 – 6 months, but are best used within the first 2 – 3 months.
Reheating Air Fried Chicken Legs
Before reheating your air fryer chicken legs, transfer the aluminum foil-wrapped pieces to your refrigerator to thaw overnight. Make sure that your chicken is fully thawed for easy reheating.
The crisp chicken skin is hard to maintain after refrigerating! Therefore, the best way to reheat your chicken legs is a quick reheat in your air fryer. Set the air fryer to preheat at 400ºF ( 205ºC ) then place chicken legs back into the basket or trays in a single layer.
Reheat for 6 – 8 minutes, or until the chicken has reached your desired temperature.
More Great Air Fryer Recipes!
- Air Fryer Potato Skins
- Air Fryer Rotisserie Chicken
- Air Fryer Hot Dogs
- Air Fryer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Air Fryer Chicken Legs
- 2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin or olive oil spray - for trays and chicken drumsticks)
- 8 chicken legs
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F (make sure to fully preheat, about 5 minutes) and lightly spray or coat your air fryer basket or trays with olive oil.
- Pat the chicken dry and then either spray with olive oil spray or place the chicken legs into a small bowl and coat with olive oil.
- Combine salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl or plastic bag.
- Sprinkle spices over the chicken and toss to coat evenly.
- Place chicken legs in the air fryer basket or onto air fryer trays in a single layer with adequate spacing for even air circulation. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the chicken and continue cooking another 10 minutes. An additional 5 minutes may be needed to reach 180 degrees F (82 degrees C) or your desired level of crispiness.
- Check the internal temperature of the chicken legs by using a digital meat thermometer. The chicken must be a minimum of 165 degrees F (74 degrees C), but I cook my chicken to 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Serve immediately when done.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma’s kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!