Chicken drumsticks are hands down my favorite chicken piece. There’s something about that built-in handle that brings out the kid in me. And the meat is dark meat, which is my favorite because it’s so juicy and flavorful.
Chicken drumsticks are typically sold with the skin on, but sometimes you can find them skinless. Whether you have skin-on or skinless chicken drumsticks, this air fryer recipe will work for you. Get ready for easy and delicious air fryer chicken drumsticks!
Scroll down to read more about how it all comes together or click here to jump straight down to the recipe.
Video: How To Cook Chicken In The Air Fryer
What Are Chicken Drumsticks?
The drumsticks are part of the chicken leg. The chicken thighs are the upper section of chicken leg quarters, and the drumsticks are the lower section.
Chicken drumsticks are usually sold bone-in and have juicy dark meat that tends to be more flavorful on its own that the white meat of chicken breasts. They usually have the skin on, which can get crispy and delicious in the air fryer, but I have tips if you’d prefer to eat them without the skin.
How To Remove Skin From Chicken Drumsticks
If your chicken drumsticks have skin on them and you want to remove it, you have two options.
Option 1: Remove the skin before cooking. With drumsticks, the skin is often attached pretty firmly and it can be tough to get off just by pulling. I grip the skin at the plump, rounded end and then pull it back over the meat and towards the bone. It’s like you have a full cylinder of skin that is staying cylindrical as it slides off the meat and then down off the end of the bone. At this point, it is usually stuck to the bone at the very end. I find that clean kitchen shears (these are essentially just sharp scissors) are the easiest way to snip away any spots where the skin is attached to the meat or the bone.
Option 2: Cook the chicken with the skin on, as instructed below. Then let it rest for 2 minutes before using your fingers to pull off the skin. It will come off super easily. If it happens to be stuck somewhere, go in with those kitchen shears as above. Just make sure the shears are clean and have not had contact with raw chicken.
How to choose between option 1 and 2? I prefer option 2 because it’s easier and because you get the flavor and some juice from the skin dripping onto the chicken meat as it cooks. This adds moisture and flavor but doesn’t add much in the way of fat.
How To Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks
To start, get your air fryer preheating and coat the chicken drumsticks in a little bit of oil. Do this whether or not the chicken has skin on it. I use olive oil in an oil sprayer like this one. I love it because I can fill it with my own olive oil, making it much cheaper and more convenient than canned cooking spray. Also, the sprayer works great. I’ve had mine for years!
Next, season the chicken with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. You can use different spices if you’d like, but do make sure you use salt. You can try one of our great seasoning blends if you’d like, or use a tasty BBQ sauce or some hot sauce at the end.
Put the chicken drumsticks into the air fryer basket in a single layer and cook them for 10 minutes. Flip them. My air fryer has a non-stick basket so I use tools that are not metal and thus won’t scratch and ruin the surface. I turn to these kinds of silicone-coated tongs for this.
After flipping them, you’re going to cook them until they reach 165°F inside, as read on an instant read thermometer. It will take 10-12 more minutes.
Finally, you take the chicken drumsticks out of the basket (use those silicone tongs again) and let them rest for 2 minutes before serving.
Then pick them up your air fryer drumsticks by that fantastic handle and take a big bite! These are great with coleslaw and potato salad.
More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
- 2 lbs. (about 5-6) chicken drumsticks with skin*
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil (or use olive oil sprayer)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- Remove chicken drumsticks from refrigerator.
- Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
- Coat chicken on all sides with olive oil.
- Sprinkle on all sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Put chicken in air fryer basket. Cook 10 minutes.
- Flip chicken and cook until 165°F on an instant read thermometer, 10-12 more minutes.
- Remove from basket and let rest at least 2 minutes before serving.
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*For skinless chicken drumsticks, use the exact same method. Nothing needs to be changed.
This post originally appeared in September 2019 and was revised and republished in October 2023.