Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken Drumsticks In The Air Fryer Without Flour

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Do you and your family love fried chicken drumsticks? 

Do you order them much? Undoubtedly, it can be tempting to order your favorite food or go out to eat. Still, it can be expensive and not as healthy, especially for kids. 

I know I’m always looking for quick and easy meals – you know, Magical Meals In Minutes!

But, unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to find quick meals that everyone will like. That’s where air fryer chicken drumsticks come in! 

Bored with your regular chicken dinner recipes?

Air fryers allow you to cook delicious air fried chicken drumsticks without any mess or splatter caused by deep-frying. You won’t even need a paper towel because there’s no oil or grease!

Plus, air fryer drumsticks only take about 20 minutes to cook! That’s less time than it takes me to get through an episode of my favorite TV show (The Real Housewives)!

Air frying drumsticks is a delicious way to cook up something new without having to put in too much work. 

Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Southern fried chicken in the air fryer without flour

Air fryer chicken drumsticks kitchen equipment

Here are a few of my favorite air fryer models:

Vortex air fryer  | Air fryer oven  |  Air fryer lid

Can you air fry chicken without batter?

In this post, you’ll learn how to prepare crispy air fryer chicken drumsticks like fried chicken drumsticks – but without the batter! 

Pro tip: It’s all in the soul food seasoning!

Your family will ask where they can order them! So let’s surprise picky eaters at home with these finger-licking good crispy air-fryer drumsticks!

Can you cook frozen drumsticks in the air fryer?

You can cook frozen chicken drumsticks in the air fryer, but it will take longer (approx 35 minutes instead of 20 minutes). 

There’s also typically an uncertainty of the inner parts of the chicken reaching a proper temperature to eat safely.

So while you technically can make air-fried chicken from frozen, it’s best if your chicken is thawed before air frying.

And since batter won’t stick to frozen chicken, it’s best to prepare battered chicken when it’s thawed.

Can you put raw chicken in the air fryer?

Yes, you can put raw chicken in the air fryer, and here’s the recipe if you’re only using an air fryer for cooking your drumsticks (without an Instant Pot).

Follow the instructions below:

How do you make air fryer chicken drumsticks?

Ingredients for fried chicken in the air fryer without flour

  • 8-10 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of your favorite all-purpose seasoning (I use this oxtail seasoning HERE.)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¾ teaspoon of ground red pepper
  • 1 cup of buttermilk (or 1 cup of whole milk + 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to yield 1 cup of buttermilk)

Instructions for fried chicken in the air fryer without flour

  1. Optional – soak the drumsticks in a buttermilk marinade overnight or for 24 hours in the refrigerator. To make homemade buttermilk use 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Stir the two ingredients together and let them sit for 5 minutes. 
  2. Combine the all-purpose seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and red pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Evenly distribute the seasoning mix as a rub all over the chicken. You may choose to add the chicken pieces and seasonings in a 1-gallon resealable food storage bag to shake and evenly coat the chicken.
  4. Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil or coconut oil, and place the chicken in the air fryer basket.
  5. Place the seasoned chicken in the air fryer basket and make sure the chicken is skin-side up. It’s okay if the chicken pieces touch; just don’t overcrowd them.
  6. Air fry at 350 degrees for a total of 20 minutes.
  7. Halfway through, after about 10 minutes have passed, flip the chicken over in the air fryer and return to cooking.
  8. Air fry at 350 degrees for the remaining 10 minutes.
  9. Serve right away and enjoy!

See the instructions below for making crispy air fryer chicken drumsticks using the Instant Pot for a quick 20-minute buttermilk marinade instead of overnight or 24 hours marinating!

Marinated Chicken In Air Fryer

Instructions for the air fryer chicken drumsticks buttermilk brine

  1. To make buttermilk marinated air fryer chicken drumsticks using the Instant Pot: To make homemade buttermilk use 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Stir the two ingredients together and let them sit for 5 minutes. 
  2. Combine the all-purpose seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and red pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Evenly distribute the seasoning mix as a rub all over the chicken. You may choose to add the drumsticks and seasonings in a 1-gallon resealable food storage bag to shake and evenly coat the chicken.
  4. Open the Instant Pot lid and pour the buttermilk into the stainless-steel inner pot.
  5. Add the seasoned chicken legs to the pot with the buttermilk, skin-side up.
  6. Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is in the sealing position – up) and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes.
  7. When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural release of pressure for at least 10 minutes.
  8. To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  9. To give your chicken drumsticks a fried chicken-like/air-fryer crisp, pour out the buttermilk from the inner pot. Then return the stainless-steel inner pot to the Instant Pot to use the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid. 
  10. If using an air fryer basket or Instant Pot Air Fryer Oven, remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and spray the air fryer basket with olive oil or coconut oil. Then place the chicken in the air fryer basket. 
  11. Make sure the drumsticks are skin-side up. It’s ok if they touch; just don’t overcrowd them.
  12. Air fry at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  13. Halfway through, after about 10 minutes have passed, flip the chicken over in the air fryer and return to cooking.
  14. Air fry at 350 degrees for the remaining 10 minutes.
  15. Serve right away and enjoy your healthy, air fryer chicken drumsticks!

Can you cook Southern fried chicken in the air fryer with flour?

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Do air fryers work for soul food Southern fried chicken?
Yes, and you won't believe how good and crispy chicken is when it's air fryer Southern fried chicken! A soul food Southern fried chicken recipe is a unique, flavorful dish that Black folks created and perfected – and here's how to cook it in an air fryer!
Check out this recipe!
Black Folks Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken Recipe In The Air Fryer

How to cook fried chicken the traditional way?

How To Fry Chicken
How do you make fried chicken from scratch? 
Cooking perfectly fried chicken with extra crispy skin is not as hard as it seems. 
Use these step-by-step how to fry chicken instructions to cook the most delicious fried chicken from scratch with homemade Southern fried chicken seasoning!
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What do you serve with these air fryer chicken drumsticks?

There are countless serving options when it comes to air-fried chicken drumsticks. The list will go too long, so let me mention some of them, and you can choose your favorite ones.

  1. Ranch sauce
  2. Blue cheese sauce
  3. Hot sauce
  4. Buffalo sauce
  5. Southern BBQ sauce
  6. Teriyaki sauce
  7. Ranch oyster crackers
  8. Southern cabbage
  9. Southern coleslaw
  10. Black folks baked mac and cheese
  11. Southern creamed corn casserole
  12. Soul food sweet cornbread

FAQs: Soul food Southern fried chicken drumsticks in the air fryer without flour

How long do chicken drumsticks take in the air fryer?

Chicken drumsticks take a total time of 20 minutes to air fry at 350 degrees. 

Do you have to flip the chicken in the air fryer?

Keep in mind you must flip your drumsticks halfway through so that it cooks evenly on all sides.

Instant Pot Drumsticks Soul Food Seasoning

What’s in the seasoning mix for these air fryer chicken drumsticks?

You can use any of your favorite all-purpose seasoning mixes in this recipe. Still, my favorite and The Soul Food Pot way is to use oxtail seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and red pepper for air-fried drumsticks.

Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken Seasoning
Homemade soul food Southern fried chicken seasoning is a unique soul food specialty blend!
Use the recipe ingredients and step-by-step instructions for cooking the most flavorful and delicious fried chicken from scratch!
Check out this recipe!
Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken Seasoning How To Instructions

Should you marinate chicken drumsticks before air frying?

Marinating is a process that involves soaking the meat in a mixture of herbs, spices, and oils for several hours. Marinating your chicken drumsticks helps to infuse them with the flavors you want on your meat while also tenderizing it to be easier to eat.

Before marinating, you should season the chicken drumsticks with all-purpose seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and red pepper. My favorite is to add oxtail seasoning to drumsticks, enhancing the dish’s flavor and giving them a more soulful taste. 

Why do you marinate chicken in buttermilk?

Along with the soul food seasoning mix I recommended for air fryer drumsticks above, I highly recommend marinating your chicken in buttermilk for extraordinarily moist and flavorful chicken.

Buttermilk is a secret ingredient to making chicken that’s soft and tender. 

The buttermilk’s acidity helps break down protein structures in the chicken. After marinating for hours, it becomes way less chewy and retains better moisture.

It’s recommended to soak chicken in buttermilk either overnight or for 24 hours. Instant Pot pressure cooking the chicken before air frying can cut this process from 24 hours to 20 minutes!

Buttermilk Marinade For Chicken | How To Make Buttermilk
How do you make chicken soft and tender when cooking?
The simple answer to that age-old question is to use a buttermilk marinade for chicken. It's the easiest and effortless way to get restaurant-quality tender, juicy chicken!
Check out this recipe!
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How do you make buttermilk?

I’m not a gambling gal (even tho I’m an all things Las Vegas connoisseur). But I’d bet money that you don’t just keep a carton of buttermilk in your refrigerator! 

So you’re probably looking for a buttermilk substitute, right? 

In that case, I’m breaking down how to make buttermilk with only two pantry ingredients you probably already have at home.

1 cup of milk + 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar = 1 cup of buttermilk

Black Folks Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe
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Is there a substitute for buttermilk?

You can make homemade buttermilk simply with 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. 

Stir the two ingredients together and let them sit for 5 minutes. 

The milk will react with the acidity of the vinegar and curdle slightly, creating the same tangy creaminess of store-bought buttermilk!

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

At what temperature should you cook air fryer chicken drumsticks?

350 degrees F is the temperature you need to maintain for air fried chicken drumsticks.

Can you stack chicken in an air fryer?

No, it’s not a good idea to stack or overcrowd your drumsticks in the air fryer. It’s completely ok if they touch, but you risk improper cooking if you stack or pile them.

When using an air fryer, does the chicken have to be flipped over?

It’s a good thing if you flip your chicken in an air fryer halfway through. It ensures even cooking on all sides since air fryers only cook from the top.

What’s the difference between chicken drumsticks and chicken legs?

Chicken drumsticks are the meat from near the chicken’s knee joints. Chicken legs are meat from near the chicken’s hip joints. In a chicken leg, both the thigh and the drumstick are attached as a single piece. A drumstick is the part of the leg located just below the chicken thigh.

You can make air fryer chicken legs with this same recipe.

How many chicken drumsticks does this recipe make?

This recipe is perfect if you are making 8-10 drumsticks. 

Cooking more or fewer drumsticks than the recipe calls for?

You can use the dynamic recipe card below to adjust the serving size for the proportionate amount of ingredients!

How long do chicken drumsticks last?

The shelf life of a chicken drumstick is typically about 3-5 days. Of course, this can vary depending on the type of packaging. But in general, they have a short lifespan. 

Once opened and thawed, they should be cooked immediately to avoid any risk of bacterial growth.

What makes these keto air fryer chicken drumsticks your favorite recipe?

Air fryer drumsticks are delicious, healthy (keto-friendly even), and easy to prepare. 

And they’re healthier than oil-fried chicken because the air fryer cuts out a lot of the calories that come with deep-frying food. 

You don’t have to be afraid when serving these drumsticks to kids as they are an all-natural, gluten-free meal with no preservatives!

Air Fryer Drumsticks

Do you leave the skin on the chicken leg or remove it?

Here are the two options:

Option one: Leave the skin on for a more crispy, flavor chicken drumstick similar to traditional fried chicken. The skin also helps seal in moisture to keep your meat nice and juicy!

Option two: Remove the skin and cook the drumsticks with the soul food seasoning ingredients. This will still give the meat a flavorful exterior while maintaining that juicy, tender interior.

With either option one or two, soaking your chicken in buttermilk is still recommended.

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What is the secret to good fried chicken?
The answer is a soul food Southern fried chicken recipe that Black folks created and perfected!
Check out this recipe!
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Does an air fryer require any oil at all?

The beauty of air fryers is that they do not use oil, yet air fryers can be used to make a variety of dishes! 

Here’s how to make your food taste more like deep-fried foods or frying something with breading (like chicken nuggets, Southern fried chicken, or chicken drumsticks). 

First, spray the air fryer basket (just a little bit) will olive oil to help make them crispy outside while cooking through on the inside.

Spraying the air fryer basket first also avoids food sticking to the basket while cooking.

How to reheat chicken drumstick leftovers

To reheat leftover drumsticks, you simply air fry the leftovers for 5-10 minutes on the warm setting (150 degrees) to reheat them.

Pro tips for air fryer drumsticks

The one thing I have found about cooking chicken in the air fryer is to pay attention to the time and temperature. 

  • The average time for cooking air fryer drumsticks is 20 minutes.
  • But, air fryer models vary, so pay attention to your drumsticks while cooking until you have your cooking time and temperature down – usually 350 or 360 degrees.
  • Adjust the cooking time accordingly so you don’t overcook or undercook. 
  • Watch your drumsticks until you’ve got it figured out – which doesn’t take long when it comes to air fryer cooking!

Did you enjoy this recipe for Southern fried chicken drumsticks in the air fryer without flour?

Have you had it?

Would you make it? 

Comment below and lemme know. 

Then subscribe HERE for all the soul food!

The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
What is soul food? Soul food recipes are African-American recipes full of flavor! A legacy of Southern cooking the Black way. Check out this collection of the best soul food recipes!
Check out this recipe!
The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide

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Soul Food Air Fryer Chicken - Drumsticks
Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken Drumsticks In The Air Fryer Without Flour

Air fryers cook crispy air fryer Southern fried chicken without any mess, oil splatter, or flour. In only 20 minutes, cook something new without putting in too much work! 
Here's how you can make crispy air fryer fried chicken drumsticks with a soul food Southern fried chicken seasoning!
Cook Time: 20 minutes
*Optional – Instant Pot Buttermilk Marinade: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Soul Food, Southern Food
Keyword: air fryer chicken, air fryer chicken drumsticks, air fryer crispy chicken, air fryer fried chicken, air fryer recipe, buttermilk chicken, chicken, chicken recipes, fried chicken in the air fryer without flour, gluten-free, Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid, Instant Pot chicken recipes, Instant Pot recipe, keto, soul food, southern food, Southern fried chicken in the air fryer without flour, Southern fried chicken recipe
Servings: 8
Calories: 143kcal
Author: Shaunda Necole

Ingredients

  • 8-10 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 ½ teaspoon seasoning salt (your favorite all-purpose seasoning, or I use this oxtail seasoning HERE)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper ,ground
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup of whole milk + 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to yield 1 cup of buttermilk)

Instructions

  • Optional – soak the drumsticks in a buttermilk marinade overnight or for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
    To make homemade buttermilk use 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. 
    Stir the two ingredients together and let them sit for 5 minutes. 
  • Combine the all-purpose seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and red pepper in a small bowl.
  • Evenly distribute the seasoning mix as a rub all over the chicken. You may choose to add the chicken pieces and seasonings in a 1-gallon resealable food storage bag to shake and evenly coat the chicken.
  • Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil or coconut oil, and place the chicken in the air fryer basket.
  • Place the seasoned chicken in the air fryer basket and make sure the chicken is skin-side up. It's okay if the chicken pieces touch; just don't overcrowd them.
  • Air fry at 350 degrees for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Halfway through, after about 10 minutes have passed, flip the chicken over in the air fryer and return to cooking.
  • Air fry at 350 degrees for the remaining 10 minutes.
  • Serve right away and enjoy your healthy, air fryer chicken drumsticks!
  • See the instructions below for making crispy air fryer chicken drumsticks using the Instant Pot for a quick 20-minute buttermilk marinade instead of overnight or 24 hours marinating!
    Marinated Chicken In Air Fryer

Video

Notes

Instant Pot air fryer chicken drumsticks recipe

Instructions

  1. To make buttermilk marinated air fryer chicken drumsticks using the Instant Pot: To make homemade buttermilk use 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Stir the two ingredients together and let them sit for 5 minutes. 
  2. Combine the all-purpose seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and red pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Evenly distribute the seasoning mix as a rub all over the chicken. You may choose to add the drumsticks and seasonings in a 1-gallon resealable food storage bag to shake and evenly coat the chicken.
  4. Open the Instant Pot lid and pour the buttermilk into the stainless-steel inner pot.
  5. Add the seasoned chicken legs to the pot with the buttermilk, skin-side up.
  6. Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is in the sealing position – up) and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes.
  7. When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural release of pressure for at least 10 minutes.
  8. To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  9. To give your chicken drumsticks a fried chicken-like/air-fryer crisp, pour out the buttermilk from the inner pot. Then return the stainless-steel inner pot to the Instant Pot to use the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid. 
  10. If using an air fryer basket or Instant Pot Air Fryer Oven, remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and spray the air fryer basket with olive oil or coconut oil. Then place the chicken in the air fryer basket. 
  11. Make sure the drumsticks are skin-side up. It’s ok if they touch; just don’t overcrowd them.
  12. Air fry at 350 degrees for a total of 20 minutes.
  13. Halfway through, after about 10 minutes have passed, flip the chicken over in the air fryer and return to cooking.
  14. Air fry at 350 degrees for the remaining 10 minutes.
  15. Serve right away and enjoy your healthy, air fryer chicken drumsticks!

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Pro tips for air fryer drumsticks

The one thing I have found about cooking chicken in the air fryer is to pay attention to the time and temperature. 
  • The average time for cooking air fryer drumsticks is 20 minutes.
  • But, air fryer models vary, so pay attention to your drumsticks while cooking until you have your cooking time and temperature down – usually 350 or 360 degrees.
  • Adjust the cooking time accordingly so you don’t overcook or undercook. 
  • Watch your drumsticks until you’ve got it figured out – which doesn’t take long when it comes to air fryer cooking!
Soul Food Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 983mg | Potassium: 223mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 128IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg
Save it so you can make it!Pin this recipe to remember it later.
Nutrition Facts
Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken Drumsticks In The Air Fryer Without Flour
Amount per Serving
Calories
143
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
2
g
13
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Cholesterol
 
73
mg
24
%
Sodium
 
983
mg
43
%
Potassium
 
223
mg
6
%
Carbohydrates
 
2
g
1
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Protein
 
14
g
28
%
Vitamin A
 
128
IU
3
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
45
mg
5
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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2 Comments

  1. Cyrene
    August 30, 2021 / 3:28 am

    5 stars
    Last night, I marinated the chicken drumstick using your milk + apple cider vinegar as an alternative to buttermilk. So this morning, I cook the chicken for breakfast. It was so tasty, plus the chicken meat inside is so tender. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes! 😉

    • August 30, 2021 / 11:15 am

      Thanks for sharing! I’m so happy you enjoyed buttermilk chicken!

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