Instructions for how to Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks are actually really simple. With just a couple of easy tips and tricks, this economical cut of chicken leg will come out the air fryer with perfect crispy skin and juicy meat every time. Quick, easy, delicious and super adaptable, what more can you ask for?!
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Chicken drumsticks are a buffet classic and a kids favourite. I won’t believe you if you tell me you haven’t at some point pretended to be Henry VIII gnawing on a chicken leg at a banquet. Oh really? It is just me? Never mind, as you were.
Using the air fryer to cook simple cuts of chicken, either highly flavoured or simply seasoned, is the gateway to a delicious meal, or even snack. You can be tucking in in under 25 minutes and the crispy skin that you get in the air fryer is the stuff of dreams.
I’ve mentioned in the intro that drumsticks are a really economical cut of chicken – even in this day and age, they are still a really budget friendly choice. Don’t let that put you off either, the dark meat of chicken drumsticks and thighs is the tastiest part of the bird.
How to Serve
As with almost all chicken cuts, air fry chicken drumsticks can be enjoyed hot or cold. As with almost all chicken cuts, I prefer them served hot!
You can add whatever flavours and seasonings you like to chicken and it works with pretty much every cuisine around the world. Why not try using a tandoori seasoning mix and serving as part of an Indian feast, just add a few sides and sauces:
Drumsticks are often mistakenly called chicken legs (including me, its very common) but really a chicken leg includes the drumstick and the thigh. So in this post I’m only talking about the drumstick part of the leg. Whole legs and thighs require different cooking times.
I’ve started with plain raw drumsticks here and added oil and seasoning but you can also use these cooking times and instructions to cook pre flavoured drumsticks. However, if they’re breaded, they may need different cooking times/temps.
Oiling the meat and not the air fryer is one of my top tips when air frying (for most ways of cooking actually!). This prevents any oil being wasted or creating unnecessary smoke.
You can use any cooking oil which works with your seasoning flavours. Olive and vegetable oil are the two that I most regularly use. For this simper recipe I used olive oil.
Please don’t skimp on the oil. It helps to make the skin gloriously crispy. It also ensures that the seasoning distributes evenly and sticks to the chicken in all the right places.
You can season your air fried chicken drumsticks however you like. The only rule is that you must include salt. I used a 50/50 mix of garlic salt and paprika for these images.
You can flavour the drumsticks very simply with just sea salt and a neutral oil or go heavy with a seasoning mix. You can add sauces or add the chicken to other already flavoured food after cooking.
I’ve your cooking a pre flavoured drummers then you won’t need to add any extra seasoning (unless you want to).
This recipe is free from egg, dairy, gluten and nuts.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
How to Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks From Frozen
It may sound crazy but frozen drumsticks cook in the air fryer in exactly the same amount of time as they do from fresh. And at exactly the same temperature. I’ve tested this extensively, and I know it makes no sense whatsoever from a science point of view it is the truth.
You should of course check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked through in exactly the same way that you would when cooking from fresh.
This makes cooking pre seasoned and pre flavoured chicken drumsticks really easy.
Leftovers – Storage & Reheating
You can store the cooked fried chicken drumsticks in a airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Or they can of course be frozen.
I use the rule of cooking for one third of the original cooking time to reheat. So to reheat an already cooked chicken drumstick, I would recommend cooking at the same temperature for around 5 to 7 minutes. You should check that the chicken meat is piping hot throughout and cook further if needed.
You can also reheat in the microwave but you will lose some of the crispiness of the skin.
Common Air Fryer Questions – A Brief Guide to Air Frying
- What exactly is an air fryer?
- What are the benefits of using an air fryer?
- Are all air fryers the same?
- Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
- Do air fryers need to be pre-heated?
- What is the best temperature to air fry at?
- Can food be cooked from frozen in an air fryer?
- Can I reheat food in an air fryer?
- Are air fryer liners a good idea?
The Air Fried Feast Community
Come on over to Facebook and join my community discussing all things air fryer. Get involved in sharing your experiences and trials, help out others and find out what wonderful things everyone is cooking in their air fryers!
What Exactly is an Air Fryer?
Very simply, an air fryer is a small convection (fan) oven. The benefit is that the hot air is circulated all around the food being cooked which speeds up the cooking time and cooks the food more evenly.
What are the Benefits of Using an Air Fryer?
Size, time and energy usage. Air fryers are ideal for cooking smaller quantities. Heating up a space that the food just fits into requires less energy and means that the heat source is much closer to the food. Combining these two things can speed up the cooking time.
Are all air fryers the same?
Nope! The term air fryer is now used very broadly. I consider there to be 4 main types:
Basket Air Fryers
These are what I would consider to be the most common, especially in the UK. A boxy type unit has a pull out drawer/basket. Food isn’t usually visible whilst cooking.
Some larger models have two drawers so different items can be cooked at different temperatures or for different times.
This is the type that you’ll see in the images in this recipe. I mostly use a Cosori Lite 3.8L (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal. It isn’t an overly expensive or fancy model.
I’ve also recommended to several friends and family the model with a slightly larger basket. This is the Cosori 4.7L (CAF-L501) with a 4.7 litre basket. The unit is no larger than the 3.8 litre model on the outside but does have a larger internal basket capacity. I’ve since bought this version to use for some recipes where my smaller model was just too small. I’ll always note this in the recipe.
Rotary Air Fryers
Round air fryers with a paddle in the centre that rotates to move the food. This is the type I used for years – the most common is a Tefal Actifry.
Rotary types are not usually good for recipes where the food is breaded, glazed, likely to break up or in a tray/container. They do however make the best chips and roasted veg.
My 2 in 1 version like the one I’ve linked also has a rotating tray for things that could be broken up by a paddle, but the height clearance with the lid isn’t deep enough to use it to cook some items like sausage rolls. I’ve now actually retired by Actifry in favour of having my two basket type fryers.
Mini Oven Air Fryers
These usually have a glass door, shelves and overall are really quite large. You can cook quite a decent quantity of food in them so are best if regularly cooking for multiple people. They often come with extra features like a rotisserie spit or kebab skewers.
Multicookers with Air Fryer Functions
Some like Ninja 11 in 1 and some of the earlier versions with a few less functions, have an air fryer option. They mostly operate the same as a basket fryer but the basket drops in the top rather than sliding in like a drawer.
Some electric pressure cookers like Instant Pots can also air fry when used with a specific lid.
Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
As much as I do love air frying, the honest answer to this is no. And the more detailed answer is that it will always depend on what you’re cooking, how much of it you’re cooking and what type and size of air fryer you have.
Once you need to cook in more than 2 batches, it often makes more sense to use an oven. If you already have the oven on to cook other items, it may make more sense to throw one more item in rather than using an additional appliance.
I don’t think either method is often necessarily better than the other. The important point to note is that there is absolutely no difference in the finished product.
Do Air Fryers Need to Be Pre-Heated?
The answer to this is rather annoying – it depends. It depends entirely on your model and type of air fryer. The best advice I can offer is to check your manual and follow their guidance. My Cosori models have a preheat function. I press a button and it heats at 205c/400f for 4 minutes.
It’s also worth noting that regardless of whether you are supposed to pre-heat or not, if you are cooking in batches, it is quite likely that anything after the first batch will cook a little quicker because of the retained heat. It is best to check on them before the cooking time is completed.
What is the best temperature to Air Fry at?
It will always depend on what you are cooking and from what state. All of my air fryer recipes don’t use temperatures above 200c/390f because many of the most common fryers in the UK don’t go above this. Mine goes to 230c/450f and I use this temperature a lot but it is no help for me to share recipes which many people can’t use.
Can Food Be Cooked From Frozen In An Air Fryer?
Absolutely! To cook from frozen you usually will need to reduce the cooking temperature and increase the time to make sure your food is cooked right through to the middle.
It is best to check my individual recipes for cooking from frozen advice as some items are a little different. And there are occasionally exceptions to the rule.
Can I Reheat Food In An Air Fryer?
Yes. As a general rule I reheat food for roughly 1/3 of the original cooking time at the same temperature. Or at 10 degrees lower for half the time for larger items.
Are Air Fryer Liners a Good Idea?
Unless otherwise stated, I do not use liners when air frying. Basket and rotary type air fryers are designed to be used without liners. Mini oven types will generally require some kind of tray like with a regular large oven although most come with crisper racks to use.
There are many air fryer liners available including quite thick silicone ones. These will affect the cooking times and possibly temperatures of your cooking/baking. I also don’t like how cooking juices are prevented from dripping through the basket rack. This can stop food from crisping all the way around.
When I do want to collect the juices, I mostly use some foil, or occasionally a foil tray which can be washed and reused.
If you do prefer to use them, once you have got a feel for how they affect your cooking and baking, you may need to make adjustments to the recipe accordingly.
More Air Fryer Recipes
All my recipes with instructions for how to cook or bake them in the air fryer can be found in my Air Fryer Recipe Index.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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How to Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks
- 6 Chicken Drumsticks - roughly 125g each
- 2 tsp Oil - see notes
- 1 tsp Seasoning - see notes
- If your air fryer requires pre-heating, Start this setting now.
- Thoroughly dry 6 Chicken Drumsticks.
- Use a sharp knife to cut deep slashes in the fleshy parts of each drumstick – roughly 4 slashes in each, 2 on each side.
- Drizzle over 2 tsp Oil and 1 tsp Seasoning and toss to thoroughly coat the chicken.
- Place the chicken into the air fryer basket. Leave a little space between each drumstick so the air can circulate.
- Cook for 22 minutes at 200c/390f.
- If you want to turn them after 15 minutes, you can do – I don't need to using the rack in my air fryer.
- Check the chicken is cooked through, you can see this by making a cut and checking that the meat is white in the centre of the thickest part. If there is any pink showing, Continue cooking for 2 minutes at a time.
To Air Fry From Frozen
- Cook for 22 minutes at 200c/390f.
- Check that the chicken is cooked through in exactly the same way as if you are cooking from fresh.
- Oil – Choose your oil to match your flavouring. For example use garlic, salt and rosemary with olive oil or for a more neutral flavour, sea salt and black pepper with vegetable oil.
- Seasoning – Choose any seasoning mix, spices or dried/fresh herbs. Make sure that salt is included in the mix. You can also add a little citrus juice.
- I used vegetable oil with a 50/50 mix of garlic salt and paprika.
- The air fryer version of this recipe is tested in a Cosori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal.
- Not all models advise preheating is required. Please follow the recommended instructions for your model. Mine has a specific preheat setting which is 4 minutes at 205c.
- For this recipe, I can easily fit 6 drumsticks in the basket at a time. This gives plenty of room to allow air to circulate – I could probably squeeze in one or two more if I really needed.
- As all air fryer models are a little different, you may find that you can fit more or less in at a time. Some models include stacking shelves which will increase capacity.
- Required cooking times and temperatures can also vary between models and brands. If you know that your air fryer runs a little hotter than most recipes suggest, use a lower temperature. And vice versa. Equally if you find that food cooks more quickly in your machine than instructions usually state, reduce the cooking time (or check it earlier) and vice versa.