Crispy Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Legs

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Looking for an easy chicken dinner with a crispy twist? Try these 30-minute Crispy Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Legs that are packed with flavor and crispy chicken skin!

Pile of chicken legs on a plate.

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Legs

It may be winter, and it may be cold out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy nice, crispy chicken. These Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Legs are made in just half an hour, and they’re just like that perfect grilled chicken you made all summer!

If you’re tired of regular old chicken breast, now is a great time to try out these juicy chicken drumsticks. Seasoned with a little brown sugar, smoked paprika, ground mustard and more, this air fried chicken has flavors like you wouldn’t believe!

The best part? The air fryer cooks these chicken legs in almost half the time they would take in the oven!

Chicken drumsticks on an air fryer tray.

Is Air Fried Chicken Healthier?

Air fried chicken is definitely healthier than traditional fried chicken. It’s prepared with very little olive oil and some brown sugar (you can omit the sugar if you want to) and then placed into the air fryer to cook.

An air fryer is a mini convection oven that imitates the effects of fried chicken, without all of that oil that actually goes into making fried chicken. If you don’t have an air fryer, I highly recommend getting one!

What is the best Air Fryer?

Air fryers are available in two different styles. The most popular type has a drawer/basket that slides in the front and usually doesn’t require preheating. The second type looks similar to a toaster oven and opens with a door, like a mini version of a regular oven. 

I have tried a few different air fryers and these are my three favorites depending on your budget and air fryer style preference:

Chicken legs in a bowl.

Recipe Ingredients

So what goes into preparing these chicken legs? You’ll need the following:

  • Chicken Legs/Drumsticks: you’ll need 8 of them, about 2 – 2.5 pounds total.
  • Oil: use a healthier oil with a high smoke point like avocado oil or olive oil.
  • Brown Sugar: to give the chicken a touch of molasses and sugary sweetness!
  • Garlic and Onion Powder: for seasoning the chicken.
  • More Seasoning: I also used kosher salt, ground mustard, smoked paprika, cumin, and black pepper, but feel free to play around with the seasonings.
Seasoning for chicken drumsticks.

How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Legs

If you’re a fan of quick and easy dinner recipes, you’ll love these air fried drumsticks. After you season them, all you have to do is put them in the air fryer and wait for them to come to crispy perfection.

Remove the Fat: Trim any excess fat from each chicken leg and pat dry. Place chicken legs in a large bowl or plastic resealable bag.

Coat Chicken Legs in Oil: Pour oil over the chicken legs and toss with tongs to fully coat each leg.

Oil poured on chicken legs.

Season the Chicken Legs: Add the spices to the bowl or bag and toss until each chicken leg is well coated in the mixture.

Chicken legs with seasoning rub on them.

How Long Do Chicken Drumsticks Take in the Air Fryer?

Not long at all! Place the chicken in the air fryer, either on trays or in the basket depending on your model, and air fry at 400°F for 20 minutes. Make sure to rotate the chicken halfway through cooking.

You may have to adjust the time depending on what kind of air fryer you have. If you know that your air fryer cooks faster at higher temperatures, consider reducing the cook time.

Uncooked chicken drumsticks on an air fryer tray.

How to Know When Chicken is Done Cooking

When the chicken is done it should be golden-brown, crispy on the outside and have an internal temperature of 165°F when done cooking.

Make sure that it reaches that temperature, with the help of a meat thermometer, so that you don’t undercook the chicken.

Crispy air fryer chicken legs.

Tips for Success

All in all, pretty simple! There’s always little tips and tricks to great chicken though, so make sure to read through the following:

  • Dry Chicken After Trimming Fat: it’s really important that you take the time to complete this step. Removing the excess moisture before applying the oil means that the skin will be extra crispy!
  • Don’t Stack the Chicken Legs: you want the skin directly on the tray so that it can crisp up. This will also ensure that the chicken cooks all the way through.
  • Preheat the Air Fryer: don’t forget to preheat the air fryer, just like you would with the oven! If you put the chicken in before it gets to 400°F, you’ll have to increase the cooking time.
Brown sugar chicken drumsticks on a tray.

What Goes with Fried Chicken Legs?

Now that you have these fried chicken legs, what should you serve with them? Great question! Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Fries: this chicken is great with a side of homemade fries, like these Baked Sweet Potato Fries! Classic Oven Roasted Potatoes are always tasty, too.
  • Mac and Cheese: creamy Mac and Cheese goes perfectly with crispy chicken.
  • Baked Beans: another fun option for more of a bbq feel. Don’t miss my recipe for the BEST baked beans!
  • Salad: if you’re looking to keep it healthy, a nice green salad or even some roasted vegetables would be good sides for this chicken. I personally love a good Greek Salad or Broccoli Salad!
Plate of crispy chicken drumsticks.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Air fryer chicken legs can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days, or frozen for 2-3 months. Make sure to thaw them overnight in the fridge before reheating.

To reheat, you can microwave the chicken, or pop them back in the air fryer for a couple minutes! I prefer to air fry mine again for a few minutes because it revives that crispy skin and makes it crispy once again!

Air fried chicken legs on a plate.

You would never guess after eating these Air Fryer Chicken Legs that they are so easy to make, but they really are! Toss the legs in your seasonings and let the air fryer do the rest.

Looking more more delicious air fryer recipes?

Yield: serves 4

Crispy Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Legs

Pile of chicken legs on a plate.

Bored with your regular chicken dinner recipes? Try these Crispy Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Legs! They're the perfect amount of sweet and savory, and they only take 30 minutes to prep and cook.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken legs/drumsticks, about 2-2.5 pounds total
  • 2 tablespoons oil (avocado oil or olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Trim any excess fat from each chicken leg and pat dry. Place chicken legs in a large bowl or plastic resealable bag.

Chicken legs in a bowl with oil being poured over them.

Pour oil over the chicken legs and toss with tongs to fully coat each leg.

chicken legs in a bowl with spices on them being tossed by metal tongs.

Add the spices to the bowl or bag and toss until each chicken leg is well coated in the mixture.

Chicken legs on an air fryer tray before going into air fryer.

Place the chicken in the air fryer either on trays or in the basket depending on your model and air fry at 400°F for 20 minutes. Rotate the chicken half way through cooking.

Chicken should be golden brown, crispy on the outside and with an internal temperature of 165°F when done cooking.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 537Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 342mgSodium: 662mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 65g

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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