Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

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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

 

 

Air fryer chicken drumsticks kitchen equipment

  • Air fryer
  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker (optional for a quicker buttermilk chicken marinade)

 

Here are a few of my favorite air fryer models:

 

 

Instant Pot Vortex air fryer  | Instant Pot air fryer oven  |  Instant Pot air fryer lid

 

Instant Pot Convenience Cooking Appliances
I wish everyone knew how easy Instant Pot cooking is for busy households – one-pot… straight to plate!
Are you ready to save time, money and eat well with high-quality meals that don’t require stewing over a hot pot all day?
Check out this post to learn more about my favorite Instant Pot convenience cooking appliances!
Check it out!
The Pioneer Woman Instant Pot

 

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!

 

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Meal prep for your family Madam VP's sunshine state-inspired dish quick and easy with Instant Pot!
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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

  • 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)

 

Air fryer chicken drumsticks recipe

Instructions 

  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

 

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 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!

 

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You’ll never want another dry slice of bread again!
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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

 

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Black folks, Southern green beans are not just another bland green vegetable!
And with Instant Pot, they're ready in only 2 mins with no compromise to the irresistible Southern soul food flavors!
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Southern Green Beans

 

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.

 

Instant Pot Whole Chicken Recipe – The Southern Way
How to make a whole chicken in the Instant Pot - the Southern way! 
It's more than just a traditional chicken recipe - flavorful, tender & juicy - it's more of a soul food kick!
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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!

 

No Mayo Coleslaw Recipe
How do you make healthy coleslaw from scratch without mayo?
Easy, with the help of one of my favorite heart-centric ingredients - olive oil!
While there’s no keto, vegan or vegetarian need to swap lettuce for cabbage (more thoughts on that idea in this post), you can choose this low-fat coleslaw recipe with olive oil instead of mayonnaise in your slaw mix.
Check out this recipe!
Coleslaw Recipe For BBQ No Mayo | The Soul Food Pot Southern Recipes

 

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

 

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.

 

Black Folks Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken In The Air Fryer
People ask, "What is Southern fried chicken?"
Instead, they should ask, "What is the secret to good fried chicken?"
Because the answer is a soul food Southern fried chicken recipe 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

 

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.

 

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Blueberry chicken is a sweet blueberry brine made easily in the Instant Pot for tender, juicy & delicious chicken - sweet & savory with every bite!
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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.

 

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This Southern BBQ sauce is perfect for slathering your favorite meats for Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, or any other holiday!
You'll have enough leftover sauce to store in a mason jar and share!
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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.

 

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An exceptional addition for your soul food Thanksgiving menu.
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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.

 

Black Folks Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken Recipe
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!
Black Folks Soul Food Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

 

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, 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.

 

Ranch Oyster Crackers
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Here's one of the easiest homemade appetizers - ranch oyster crackers. A simple yet delicious snack made in an Instant Pot, air fryer, oven, or with a simple no-bake recipe!
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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!

 

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I’ll also answer frequently asked questions with helpful Instant Pot user tips. 
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Like this post? Pin the below picture to your “Soul Food Recipes” Pinterest Board!

Soul Food Air Fryer Chicken - Drumsticks

Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Bored with your regular chicken dinner recipes?
Air fryers allow you to cook delicious air fryer chicken drumsticks without any mess or oil splatter. In only 20 minutes cook up something new without having to put in too much work!
Here's how you can make crispy air fryer chicken with The Soul Food Pot flavors & 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 recipe, buttermilk chicken, chicken, chicken recipes, gluten-free, Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid, Instant Pot chicken recipes, Instant Pot recipe, keto, soul food, southern food
Servings: 8
Calories: 143kcal
Author: Shaunda Necole

Equipment

  • Air fryer
  • Optional: Instant Pot electric pressure cooker

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
Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
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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