Crispy Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Legs

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

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!

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.

More Easy & Delicious Air Fryer Recipes

Pile of chicken legs on a plate.
4.7 from 52 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 4 servings

Crispy Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Legs

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 Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken legs/drumsticks
  • 2 tablespoons 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.
  • Pour oil over the chicken legs and toss with tongs to fully coat each leg.
    Chicken legs in a bowl with oil being poured over them.
  • Add the spices to the bowl or bag and toss until each chicken leg is well coated in the mixture.
    chicken legs in a bowl with spices on them being tossed by metal tongs.
  • 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 legs on an air fryer tray before going into air fryer.
  • Chicken should be golden brown, crispy on the outside and with an internal temperature of 165°F when done cooking.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1Chicken Drumstick, Calories: 531kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 65g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 342mg, Sodium: 500mg, Sugar: 1g

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I don’t have ground mustard. What can I use as a substitute?

can i do it in the oven?

Just wondering if you could use same recipe using chicken wings? And if so, how much time?

This is the best chicken recipe I have tried with my air fryer. Thanks for sharing!!

Very good…cooked for 35 minutes in air fryer oven not basket type. Will make again!

It was delish! My legs were pretty big so I barely had enough to coat but the flavor was spot on! I followed the recipe to a tee. Next time I will increase the measurements of the ingredients and also hold back a tad on the salt. Thanks for the recipe.

Husband loved this recipe. Will definitely make again.

We did not have dry mustard, but all other ingredients were used. Oh my! They were delicious! Even better than teriyaki chicken that I adore!
I will definitely be making them again and will add the dry mustard.
As someone else said, I think I will also add the garlic and onion powder.
A winner for sure!!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hii these came out delicious! I’m
On keto so I used my brown sugar substitute, and they came out great.

Your nutrition facts are for all 8 drumsticks?

what about using a regular oven

Yes thank you, I realized that afterwards! When I actually had a few minutes to read through everything . That’s perfect, I’m sure it’s close enough for me to use as a guide. Only difference is my brown sugar.
Again, thank you for sharing this recipe, they came out delicious! I’m actually making them again tonight with brown sugar bacon wrapped asparagus

This was my first air fryer recipe. So delicious & easy! We’re hooked! Thank you

Easy and delicious! My 9- year old son devoured two pieces. I made half the batch with bone-in chicken thighs. They cooked about 5 minutes more than the drumsticks and were also delicious.

Good one

Looks good

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.