These 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! They're healthy, simple, and oh-so delicious!
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?
🥘 Air Fryer Chicken Legs Ingredients, Notes, & Substitutions
In addition to your chicken legs, all you need is some household spices! I told you this recipe is really simple!
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
- Chicken Legs - 8 chicken legs.
- Sea Salt - 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
- Pepper - ½ teaspoon of black pepper.
- Paprika - 1 teaspoon of paprika (or a paprika substitute).
- Garlic Powder - 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Onion Powder - 1 teaspoon of onion powder (or an onion powder substitute).
*Be sure to see the free printable recipe card below for ingredients, exact amounts & instructions with tips!*
🔪 How To Make Air Fryer Chicken Legs
After coating your chicken legs with oil and seasoning, all you do is pop them into the air fryer! To get started, you're going to need your air fryer, some tongs, a small bowl, and your measuring utensils.
This recipe will make 8 chicken drumsticks.
Preheat the Air Fryer and Prepare Chicken Legs
- Preheat. 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.
- Dry. Pat 8 chicken legs dry with paper towels. If your chicken legs are frozen, make sure that they are completely thawed.
- Coat. In a bowl (large enough to hold your chicken legs) or on a tray, coat the chicken legs with 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of olive oil or spray with olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.
- Mix the seasoning. In a small bowl or plastic storage bag, combine the seasoning ingredients: 1 teaspoon (5 grams) each of salt, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder, as well as ½ teaspoon (5 grams) of pepper. Toss the chicken in the seasoning if using a bowl, or transfer the chicken into your bag of seasoning and shake to coat thoroughly.
- Arrange. 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. Cook the chicken legs at 400ºF (205ºC) for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken drumsticks at the halfway point in the cooking time.
- Finish. Continue to cook an additional 5 minutes to reach extra crispy, fall-off-the-bone yummy chicken legs.
- Serve. 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.
🥗 What To Serve With Chicken Legs
💭 Tips & Notes
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 you cook 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 it 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 quickly read the internal meat temperature. 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.
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 (try my honey BBQ sauce here) and continue to cook the chicken legs. Coat the chicken drumsticks every 5 minutes of the remaining cooking time.
🥡 Storing & Reheating
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.
Freezing Chicken Legs
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, a quick reheat in your air fryer is the best way to reheat your chicken legs. 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.
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Absolutely! Chicken wings can easily be prepared in the air fryer. They can be prepared exactly the same way, but the cooking time may need to be adjusted. Or, you can check out my baked chicken wings for a simple oven version!
At 400ºF (200ºC), it could take anywhere from 15-20 minutes to cook your drumsticks. Time will vary based on your desired level of crispiness.
Yes! Don't forget to flip your chicken legs halfway through your cooking time. This ensures that they cook all the way through and that the skin becomes crispy on all sides.
🍟😋 More Great Air Fryer Recipes
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📖 Recipe Card
Air Fryer Chicken Legs
- Preheat your air fryer to 400°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 for another 10 minutes. An additional 5 minutes may be needed to reach 180°F (82°C) or your desired level of crispiness.
- Check the chicken legs' internal temperature using a digital meat thermometer. The chicken must be a minimum of 165°F (74°C), but I cook my chicken to 180°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!