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Crispy air fryer fried chicken drumsticks marinated in buttermilk and dredged in seasoned flour with no deep-frying necessary!
To be completely honest with you, fried chicken is rarely anything but yummy. It is one of those comfort foods that you can’t say no to and never regret. So, why would you pass up the chance to have a quick and easy version that’s healthier, too?
There is no reason and I won’t tell you to look for one. Instead, I’ll tell you to scroll down and find my recipe for crispy air fryer drumsticks made with buttermilk and all the best fried chicken spices.
- Chicken Drumsticks
- All-Purpose Flour
- Smoked Paprika
- Dry Mustard Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Celery Salt
- White Pepper
Cooking Chicken Legs in Air Fryer – How to Do It Right and Safe
A chicken leg recipe that cooks in the air fryer might raise some questions but don’t worry, I am here to answer all of them for you.
If you’ve been on my blog a few times, you probably noticed my strong preference for preparing food in an air fryer. It is my trusted sidekick and my kitchen would be incomplete without one.
But I wasn’t born with air fryer instincts. I’ve had to experiment and adjust air fryer recipes to get to the exact texture and flavor that I want. Let me let you in on all my air fryer chicken leg secrets.
How to Cook Chicken Drumsticks in an Air Fryer
This is a super simple recipe but there are a few steps that could do with troubleshooting support. These are my quick tips to make the 30 min cooking time fly by.
- Don’t Marinate the Chicken in Buttermilk Too Long
It’s not a question about how long can you marinate chicken in buttermilk. Food safety-wise, 24 hours is still okay but I don’t recommend it.
You would think that the longer you let the buttermilk soak in the juicier the chicken meat gets. Well, that’s not quite true – the chicken will taste chalky. Stick to the 30 minutes and you’ll have tender moist drumsticks.
- Don’t Go Too Thick on the Coating
Heat distributes differently in an air fryer which means a different technique is needed to get the same satisfying crunchy bite. Although this recipe doesn’t call for any extra layers like breadcrumbs or cornflakes, the skin still gets crispy.
The key here is to shake off the excess flour because too much makes the chicken a little soggy. When making fried chicken in an air fryer you want the skin to crisp up, not just the coating.
- Use Your Thermometer
It may seem like a luxury but a kitchen thermometer is a great investment. Birthday coming up? Put it on your wishlist! The ideal core temp for chicken legs (and most bone-in chicken) is 165 degrees Fahrenheit – not much more and definitely nothing less.
- Fresh Buttermilk or Homemade Substitute Only
I’m a strong believer that buttermilk makes all the difference in fried chicken recipes. What does buttermilk taste like? Honestly, most people don’t like drinking it but in this recipe it is unmissable.
If you’re scrounging for a buttermilk substitute for fried chicken, use my buttermilk recipe instead of experimenting. I have made it a million times and it is the best way to go each time.
How Long to Cook Chicken Legs in Air Fryer
Chicken generally cooks quickly but when you are preparing a bone-in chicken leg piece recipe, you may need a little more time.
For this recipe, I find that 18-20 minutes is the golden window of time when it reaches the right chicken leg internal temp: 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Go ahead and cut into one of the pieces until you reach the bone. If you see any pink, it goes back into the air fryer. Looking perfectly done? That piece is all yours – I won’t tell anyone.
What to Eat with Drumsticks
A bucket full of these would be heaven but in the spirit of lighter and healthier alternatives to deep-fried foods, I have a few suggestions for what to serve with these air fryer buttermilk fried chicken legs.
Let’s start with the carbs. For a hassle-free dinner, make this No-Peel Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes but replace the sour cream with ½ cup vegan butter and ¼ cup plant-based milk.
You can also never go wrong with air fryer baby potatoes. They have a great bite and the seasoning perfectly complements the fried chicken. Or make it even easier for yourself and use the same seasoning mix on the potatoes as your chicken.
As mama said, we have to get in our greens for the day. I’m hoping everyone acknowledges broccoli and button mushrooms as a classic combo one day soon. Air Fryer Broccoli with Mushrooms & Onions should convince you.
Another veggie combo that’s a winner for me is this recipe calling for green beans, carrots, and mushrooms. Okay, the original version throws in some bacon bits but you can always leave that out. Or just leave it in…. a little bacon makes a big difference.
That being said, the more you use your air fryer the better you get at judging how to long to cook something. So even if your first time isn’t flawless, keep trying! Going through a recipe over and over again and making small adjustments is the best way to master your cooking skills.
Recommended Air Fryer Recipes
Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
- 3 pounds Chicken Drumsticks, about 10 drumsticks, thawed
- 2 cups Buttermilk
- 1 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
- 4 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Dry Mustard Powder
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon Celery Salt
- 2 teaspoons White Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons Thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoons Basil
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- Add drumsticks to a dish and pour buttermilk over top so that each one is coated in buttermilk. Rotate in the dish if needed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Combine flour with all spices and seasonings in a shallow dish.
- Dredge each drumstick in flour and shake off any excess.
- Lightly spray air fryer basket with cooking oil.
- Add a single layer of chicken drumsticks to the basket and lightly spray with cooking oil.
- Cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-20 minutes, flipping halfway and spraying with additional cooking oil as needed on dry areas to allow them to crisp up.
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