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Air Fryer Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks

These air fryer barbecued chicken drumsticks are super quick and easy to make for dinner. All you have to do is assemble the ingredients, put them in the air fryer, and enjoy a delicious meal in a matter of minutes.

air fryer barbecued chicken on a plate

You can also make air fryer chicken leg quarters the same way. However, you’ll need to increase the cooking time to accommodate the thicker meat. 

I highly recommend reading this entire post before you begin preparing the recipe. However, if all you want is the list of ingredients with full directions, please either click on the jump-to-recipe button above or scroll to the bottom of this post.

Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Have you ever heard the term, “Winner winner chicken dinner?” I’m not positive, but I suspect the term came from someone who appreciates the combination of easy cooking, flavor, and nutrition in this fabulous meat.

I love using my air fryer, so it has a place of honor on my kitchen countertop. It’s good for crisping up the outside of almost any dish while keeping the inside moist. It’s also quick and easy to use. 

Speaking of crispy air fryer foods, if you haven’t tried this chicken thighs recipe, it’s time to change that. This is now my absolute favorite way to cook them.


Gather all of your ingredients and measure them before you begin. Otherwise, you might find yourself fumbling for things you might not have.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Cooking oil (avocado oil, canola oil, or olive oil)
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Barbecue sauce (whatever kind you like)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
chicken drumsticks, avocado oil, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and barbecue sauce

For exact measurements of each ingredient and full directions, go to the recipe card at the bottom of the page. You can even print out the card by using the “print” button.

As is the case with most of my recipes, you can add more ingredients if you want. In fact, you might enjoy sprinkling a little cayenne into the mixture. As soon as you make this recipe, it becomes yours to do what you want. 

How to Cook Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks in an Air Fryer

The preparation of this recipe isn’t difficult, but it takes a few minutes. Before you begin, I recommend spraying the basket of your air fryer with olive oil. You can use nonstick cooking spray, but it’s not typically recommended on a nonstick surface.

Secondly, preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees F. While it’s heating up, you can work on getting the chicken ready.

Combine the chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and stir.

Next put the drumsticks in a large bowl and drizzle them with oil. Turn the chicken over until it is well coated with the oil. You can use your hands or tongs.

raw chicken in a bowl

Then, rub the dry seasonings over the chicken.

I use my hands for this, but you can wear gloves if you don’t want the ingredients on your fingers.

dry-rubbed chicken in an air fryer basket

Place the chicken in the air fryer basket in a single layer and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the basket and brush the chicken with barbecue sauce.

brushing barbecue sauce over dry-rubbed, cooked chicken

Return the basket to the air fryer and cook for another 5 minutes.

Turn the chicken over and brush the other side with barbecue sauce. You can use bottled sauce or this delicious homemade barbecue sauce.

barbecue sauce on chicken in an air fryer

Cook for the last 5 minutes or until the thickest part of the chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

After it’s done, it should be crispy on the outside and juicy in the center.

barbecued chicken on a plate

If you want to barbecue other chicken parts in the air fryer, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Remember that the thicker the meat the longer it will take to cook.

air fryer barbecued chicken on a plate beside dry-rubbed chicken drumsticks

Oven Fried Barbecue Chicken

If you don’t have an air fryer, you can make this same recipe in the oven. It will take a tad longer, but the chicken will still be delicious.

Use the same ingredients listed above. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165˚ F.

Side Dishes to Serve with Air Fryer Barbecued Chicken

This delicious chicken goes with almost any side you like. So I’m going to list some of my favorites.

First of all, Mama’s potato salad is perfect with chicken cooked any way you like it. That’s why I like to make it often.

This creamy coleslaw is another delicious side dish that goes with any kind of barbecue.

Or if you prefer more color, make this broccoli slaw. It delivers a boatload of health benefits as well as great flavor.

If you have an ounce of southern in you, there’s a good chance you enjoy a buttered biscuit with your chicken. My 2-ingredient biscuits can be made with regular or gluten-free ingredients and come out good every time.

For those who prefer cornbread, this southern-style cornbread is pretty wonderful. It’s easy to make in an iron skillet, and it’s delicious to crumble into a glass of milk later.

If you want moist cornbread, then follow the tips in this post about how to make cornbread moist. All of the suggestions are tried and true, so you can be confident that you’ll get excellent results.

My friend Jennifer has a fabulous recipe for garlic parmesan fries on her Plowing Through Life blog. You’ll love the blend of flavors in this great side dish, and fries are always good with chicken.

Some folks save sweet potatoes for certain times of year, but not me. I eat them year-round because they’re so good, and they’re good for you. These sweet potato patties are perfect to go with any chicken recipe.

Questions You May Have About Chicken and Air Fryers

From the moment I brought my air fryer home, I could tell that it was perfect for cooking chicken. There are so many different recipes that actually come out better in the air fryer.

Does Chicken Cook More Quickly in an Air Fryer Than in the Oven?

Yes, you can shave off at least 1/3 of the time when you cook chicken in an air fryer. The other thing you’ll enjoy is that you use less electricity for 2 reasons.

First, you’re not having to heat as large of a space. And second, the air circulates around the food, which cooks it so much more quickly.

Is an Air Fryer Difficult to Clean?

Most of the air fryers you’ll find on the market today are very easy to clean. I fill the air fryer basket with soapy water and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes.

Then I clean it with a sponge and rinse it out. Dry it off, and it’s ready for your next meal.

If you would like to know more about chicken, check out these frequently asked questions about chicken.

Here’s more information about oven times vs. air fryer cooking times.

Yield: 4 servings

Air Fryer Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks

chicken legs on a plate

Air frying delivers crispy, juicy, and flavorful chicken that the family will love!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 5-6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (avocado, olive oil, or canola oil)
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and give them a quick stir.
  3. Put the drumsticks in a large bowl and drizzle with oil. Turn the chicken over until it is well coated with the oil.
  4. Rub the chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper mixture over the chicken.
  5. Place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer. Cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Brush the barbecue sauce over the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  7. Turn the chicken over and brush the other side with barbecue sauce. Cook for 5 minutes or until the thickest part of the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  8. Serve hot.


If you cook chicken breasts, thighs, or leg quarters, you'll need to adjust your cooking time to allow the thickest part of the chicken to reach 165 degrees F.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 411Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 173mgSodium 991mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 2gSugar 24gProtein 34g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

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See this recipe shared at Full Plate Thursday and Weekend Potluck.

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Miz Helen

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

Your Barbecued Chicken drumsticks look fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday, 552 and come back to see us real soon! Miz Helen

Helen at the Lazy Gastronome

Saturday 4th of September 2021

These look awesome! Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party. Hope your weekend is wonderful!

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