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Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

These juicy Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks are seasoned with a dry rub of  spices before brushing liberally with barbecue sauce and cooking in the air fryer. The result is finger licking deliciousness ready in no time flat. Oven instructions, too!


Easy Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Looking for a delicious chicken dish that’s easy to make? Look no further than air fryer chicken drumsticks! These drumsticks are tender and juicy on the inside, and they only require a few simple ingredients. Plus, they are perfect for busy weeknights when you’re pressed for ideas and time.


How to Make the Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

The taste and texture of the air fryer chicken drumsticks are excellent! They are tender on the and juicy on the inside, and they have a great earthy flavor from the spices and barbecue sauce

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make barbecue Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks: Chicken drumsticks, salt, chili powder, granulated garlic, oregano, onion powder, lemon pepper or black pepper, cumin and prepared barbecue sauce. You can use any brand you prefer but a thicker sauce works best.
  • Kitchen gadgets you’ll need: A 6 or 8 quart air fryer, mixing bowl and measuring spoons. A silicone pastry brush and a pair of tongs are helpful to turn the chicken pieces and for removing from the air fryer after cooking.
  • You can use any chicken for this recipe, but I find that drumsticks work best. Depending on your preference, you can also use bone-in or boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs. Simply adjust the time depending on the size of the chicken breasts and if the chicken thighs are boneless or without the bones.
  • The amount of salt and pepper is up to you. You can adjust the amount of sodium depending on the brand of barbecue sauce used.
  • I find that 380°F works well for these chicken legs. If you want darker and crispier skin, you can increase the temperature to around 400 ˚F for a couple of minutes at the end of cooking to char. Should you choose to do so keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn.
  • The cooking time will vary depending on the drumsticks’ size, so check the chicken’s internal temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure that it’s cooked through. The recommended internal temperature for chicken is 165 °F.
  • To save prep time, you can definitely make this recipe ahead of time. Just mix the spices, olive oil, and BBQ sauce in two separate bowls. Coat the chicken in the seasoning mixture, and store it in the fridge covered with plastic wrap. When you’re ready, allow a few minutes on the counter then cook according to the instructions.
  • There are so many delicious variations of this recipe. You can adapt using different seasonings such as ancho chili powder or cayenne pepper for kick. You can also swap out the barbecue sauce for buffalo sauce or teriyaki sauce.
  • Make sure to coat the chicken evenly with the sauce. This will help ensure that every bite will be perfectly coated and cook evenly.
  • To avoid sticking, make sure to spray the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray before adding the chicken.
  • The best way to keep air fryer chicken drumsticks, is to store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will last for up to three days.
  • You can freeze the drumsticks. Just place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They will last for up to three months. When ready to eat them, simply thaw in the fridge and gently reheat in the air fryer until heated through.
  • How long do you bake chicken drumsticks in the oven? About 35-40 minutes. To bake these barbecue chicken drumsticks in the oven, see the Cook’s note for instructions.


Southern Side Dishes to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken

There are so many delicious options for side dishes to serve with these barbecue chicken drumsticks. A big dish of Buttermilk Ranch Mashed Potatoes and a simple Southern Style Cole Slaw. You could also serve them with Cajun Dirty Rice or Air Fryer Loaded Baked Potatoes. My family would always be happy to see a dish of Double Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese or Homestyle Green Beans on the table, too. The possibilities are endless.


More Easy Chicken Recipes to Make

Chicken is affordable and can be transformed in so many ways. It also has the bonus of cooking quickly for busy day meals, More chicken recipes to try:


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Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course, Poultry
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air-fryer-chicken-drumsticks, sticky-sriracha-barbecue-chicken-drumsticks
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 145kcal


  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dark chili powder
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper OR black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup prepared barbecue sauce (your favorite, thick works best)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley for garnishing


  • Use a paper towel to pat dry the chicken pieces. In a small bowl, mix together salt, chili powder, granulated garlic, lemon pepper, onion powder and cumin. Rub on all sides of the chicken reserving 1 teaspoon for the barbecue sauce.
  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, olive oil, and reserved seasoning. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix until the drumsticks are well coated with the sauce or brush on all sides with a pastry brush.
  • Spray basket of air fryer with cooking spray. Arrange chicken drumsticks in the basket leaving room between for air to circulate.
  • Cook at 380°F for 20 minutes turning halfway through cooking. (Depending on the size and weight of the drumsticks, the time may vary. Cook until juices run clean and the internal temperature of the chicken is at 165°F.)
  • Let stand 5 minutes then serve garnished with fresh parsley.


How to Bake Chicken Drumsticks: 
  • Follow recipe for prepping and seasoning. (Reserve sauce mixture)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a broiler pan or sheet pan fitted with an oven safe rack with cooking spray.
  • Arrange seasoned drumsticks on the rack. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  • Brush liberally with barbecue sauce on all sides and continue to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, brushing with sauce periodically and turning once. Bake until juices run clear or an internal temperature of 165°F is reached.
  • Turn the oven to broil for 2-3 minutes at the end of baking to char.
  • Rest for 5 minutes, then serve. 


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 473mg | Potassium: 193mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 197IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!

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