For a quick, delicious and budget-friendly meal, Air Fryer Chicken Legs are the perfect solution. Dry rubbed and slathered in BBQ sauce.
I use rotisserie chicken a lot in my recipes. And whenever I bring one home, my daughter requests the legs. So I just had to try cooking chicken legs in my air fryer. Chicken legs are considerably cheaper per pound than chicken breasts. BBQ chicken legs are so good made in your air fryer! The skin gets crispy and the meat stays juicy. The BBQ sauce applied at the end provides the perfect glaze to these chicken legs. This easy dinner recipe is a budget-friendly solution for when things might be tight at the end of the month.
Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks Recipe
- Chicken Legs – this recipe is meant for chicken legs (aka drumsticks) with the skin on, which are the most common that I can find at my grocery store
- Smoked Paprika – you can substitute sweet paprika, but I like the extra depth of flavor that smoked paprika adds to the drumsticks
- Salt and Pepper
- BBQ Sauce – use your favorite brand or make your own
How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Legs
- Preheat your air fryer at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes.
- Use paper towels to pat dry the chicken legs. This helps to make them more crispy.
- Mix together the smoked paprika, salt and pepper, then evenly sprinkle it on all sides of the chicken legs.
- Add the chicken legs to your air fryer basket in a single layer. Make sure they are not touching so they cook evenly.
- Air fry the chicken legs at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Flip them over and continue cooking for another 8 minutes.
- Brush the legs with BBQ sauce and air fry again at 400 degrees F for 2 minutes.
- If the chicken legs don’t register a minimum of 165 degrees F with a meat thermometer, continue to air fry for a couple more minutes.
So how long does it take to cook chicken legs in the air fryer?
In total, and depending on your brand of air fryer, about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.
Be sure to check the internal temperature!
This is the most important part. The chicken legs must be a minimum of temperature of 165 degrees F in order to be safe and ready to eat. I always use this meat thermometer in my kitchen. It is quick, accurate and inexpensive.
Can you stack chicken legs in the air fryer?
No. Air fryers cook by circulating hot air around food. If the chicken legs are stacked they won’t benefit from enough heat and air circulation. The goal is safely cooked chicken with crispy skin on the outside. My Philips XXL Air Fryer can fit four chicken legs at one time.
Why don’t you add BBQ sauce at the beginning?
BBQ sauce typically contains sugar. The goal is to get a crispy skin on your chicken legs. Applying the BBQ sauce at the beginning will result in a soggy exterior. Also, the sugars in the sauce are likely to burn before the chicken legs are fully cooked in your air fryer. So save the sauce until the last couple of minutes of cooking time!
What to serve with air fryer chicken legs
I think corn on the cob with some sliced summer tomatoes are the ideal choices to serve with these BBQ’d chicken legs. You can make air fryer corn on the cob too! Here’s some more side dish and dessert recipes to make these chicken legs into a complete meal:
- My Philips XXL Air Fryer tested this recipe
- Always use a digital meat thermometer to check for doneness
- Tongs I use to flip food in the air fryer
- Heat safe pastry brush for applying the BBQ sauce
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Get more of my Air Fryer Recipes!
- Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls
- Air Fryer Orange Chicken
- Easy Chicken Parmesan
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Crispy Chicken Wings
BBQ Air Fryer Chicken Legs
- Air Fryer
- 8 chicken legs
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 cup BBQ sauce
- Preheat air fryer at 400 degrees F for about 5 minutes.
- Dry the chicken legs with paper towels and evenly sprinkle the outsides of the chicken legs with the salt, smoked paprika and pepper.
- Add the chicken legs to the air fryer basket, four at a time. Make sure they are not touching.
- Cook the chicken legs for 10 minutes. Open the air fryer and flip the chicken legs over. Cook for an additional 8 minutes.
- Open the air fryer and brush each chicken leg generously with BBQ sauce. Cook for 2 minutes. Check the temperature. If the chicken legs are at 165 degrees F they are safe to eat. If not, keep cooking.
- Repeat this process with the remaining four chicken legs.
Marie-Charlotte Chatelain says
I dont have an air fryer but this might be the last push I needed – I mean, how perfect can chicken legs look? YUM!!!!
It cooked them perfectly.
Kim Guzman says
That chicken looks so tender and juicy! I’m going to save it for my son. He loves using the air fryer and he will love this one! He can’t resist barbecue anything.
I hope he likes them as much as we did!
I am always looking for new ways to use my air fryer and these look delicious.
Thank you 🙂
Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry says
Nothing can beat BBQ chicken legs – I definitely need to try them in my air fryer. They sound mouthwateringly good.
Thank you so much Bintu!
I was just thinking about making chicken in my airfryer since it’s so hot outside! This is on my menu for tonight!
Glad to hear it. Air fryer to the rescue!
Thank you. My husband is the cook in our family, and he made these today, following this recipe, They were absolutely delicious!
Yay! Love hearing this. Thank you for taking the time to rate and comment!
Amy Wasserman says
Delicious! So easy to make. Juicy and a hit with everyone!
So happy to get this feedback. Thank you!
Taylor Burtis says
Making these right now! They look delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
You’re welcome! Thanks for the 5-star rating!
We are leg people at my house, too and these were SUPER easy and delish! No leftovers!!!!
Happy to hear this. So glad you all enjoyed these air fryer chicken legs!
Tayler Ross says
We make this chicken recipe all the time! It’s a family favorite and it’s so easy in the air fryer!
Love to hear this! Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your positive experience with these Air Fryer Chicken Legs!
I have a smokey BBQ sauce recipe this is amazing on. Excellent recipe, thanks!
Sounds awesome! I would love for you to share your BBQ recipe… do you have a link??
What a fantastic recipe! I love that we can have chicken legs cooked and ready for dinner in 20 minutes. So good with Sweet Baby Ray’s honey BBQ sauce. Thanks for another winner from Foodtastic Mom.
Thank you so much Liza, I appreciate it!
Amanda | The Kitcheneer says
LOVE a good BBQ drum stick! But in the air fryer?! I need to fire up my air fryer!
Yep, get that air fryer going! It’s the most versatile appliance I’ve ever owned!
Diana Reis says
Yum! Yum! Yum! Perfectly cooked skin and a nice sticky barbecue sauce. This is summer comfort food 101 and I didn’t have to clean the grill.
Yes! The clean up is so easy. Just stick it in the dishwasher – that’s what I do with my air fryer basket liner, etc. I’m so glad you enjoyed these chicken legs!
This air fryer version of chicken legs looks fantastic. I will soon try it this way.
Thank you, enjoy!
I love that these are made in the Air Fryer. So easy and delicious!
Thank you Jess. So glad you enjoyed them!
I’m all for quick, easy and family friendly meals. Will be making this ASAP!
This is the best chicken! I did take the suggestion of others and cooked them just a few minutes longer on each side. They are juicy, crispy and flavorful! Thank you for the recipe!
Yeah, based on other comments, I think that my Philips XXL air fryer must run a little hotter than other brands. I’m so glad you had success with your chicken legs. Thanks for taking the time to comment.