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Air Fryer Fried Chicken Legs

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These air fryer fried chicken legs have tender meat on the inside with crispy skin on the outside. They’re a great option for the fried chicken lover who wants the taste of traditional fried chicken with less oil.

cooked Fried Chicken Legs at the bottom of an air fryer

Why Make These:

  • No flour or deep fryer require: this crispy chicken legs recipe (like my air fryer whole chicken wings) uses baking powder, the secret ingredient for crunchy skin without deep frying your chicken legs in a seasoned flour mixture or pot of oil.
  • Easy dinner recipe: this easy chicken recipe uses simple ingredients and is ready in less than 30 minutes, making it perfect for weeknight dinners.
  • Pairs with any side dish: these cooked chicken legs pair so well with any side dish. These fried chicken sides are some of my favorite sides to make delicious meals.

Ingredients Needed

These easy air fryer chicken legs require just a few ingredients. Be sure to get the exact ingredient amounts from the recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Chicken legs – I’m using raw chicken legs with the skin on.
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Smoked paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Baking powder – for best results, be sure to use baking powder and not baking soda.
  • Olive oil – You can use any type of oil that you like, but I prefer olive or avocado oil. You can also use these oils in cooking spray form.
ingredients needed for air fryer fried chicken legs: smoked paprika, garlic powder, baking powder, black pepper, olive oil, sea salt, and chicken legs in separate bowls and dishes

How to Make Fried Chicken Legs in an Air Fryer

There are four main steps for this easy recipe:

  1. Make the spice rub. Mix the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and baking powder in a small bowl. This will help the spices coat the chicken evenly.
  2. Prepare the chicken legs: Use a paper towel to remove extra moisture from the chicken legs. Then, season the meat with the spice mix. Be sure to use all of the spice mix since it helps the chicken get its crispy exterior and flavor.
  3. Add the chicken legs to the air fryer: Place the chicken legs in the air fryer basket in a single layer – this helps the hot air circulate. I tend to drizzle my oil on the chicken, but you can also use oil that is in a spray mister.
  4. Cook. Air fry the chicken at 400F for 12-15 minutes, then flip it. Air fry for another 12-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked all the way through (a digital meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees.)
step-by-step instructions for how to make air fryer fried chicken legs - four photos showing mixing the seasoning, adding it to raw chicken legs, adding the chicken legs to the air fryer basket, and flipping the chicken legs halfway through cooking

Cooking Tips and Tricks

To make the best air fryer chicken legs, use these tips:

  • Coat the chicken with the spice mixture: Be sure to use all of the spice mix and coat the entire surface of the chicken since it helps the chicken get its crispy exterior and adds delicious flavor.
  • Start with the meat at room temperature: cooking chicken that is closer to room temperature helps it to have juicy meat.
  • Cook until crisp: Chicken legs typically take 20-25 minutes in the air fryer. But, this recipe requires that you cook the meat longer. This allows the chicken skin have a crispy texture. Since it is dark meat, the five extra minutes is not enough to dry it out.
  • Let the chicken rest: Before serving your chicken, make sure you let it rest for 5-10 minutes. That will allow the meat to reabsorb all of its tasty juices, making it moister and more flavorful.

How to Store and Reheat Leftover Chicken Legs

This air fryer chicken will last in the fridge for at least 3 days. Make sure to store it in an airtight container. Reheat in a 375F air fryer for 5 minutes, or a 375F oven for 10 minutes. 

FAQs

How long should I cook chicken legs in an air fryer?

It depends on the size of the chicken legs, the temperature of your air fryer, and how you want the skin. Generally, you should cook chicken legs in an air fryer for 20-25 minutes at 375°F (190°C). However, I use 400 degrees and a longer cooking time to get fried chicken results without flour.

Do I need to marinate the chicken before air frying it?

No. For this recipe, you do not want to marinate the chicken. It will actually create moisture that will keep the chicken skin from becoming crispy. For added flavor, be sure to use the entire spice mixture.

Do I need to preheat my air fryer before cooking the chicken legs?

You should preheat your air fryer before cooking the chicken legs. This helps ensure even cooking and crispy skin. Preheat your air fryer to the desired temperature for 3-5 minutes before adding the chicken legs.

How can I get crispy skin on my air fryer fried chicken legs?

To get crispy skin on your air fryer fried chicken legs, make sure to pat the chicken dry before seasoning it with the baking powder spice mix and cooking it. You also want to lightly coat the chicken in a thin layer of oil or cooking spray to help it crisp up. Finally, be sure to flip the chicken legs halfway through cooking to ensure that both sides get crispy.

Fried Chicken Legs plated with slices of lemon

Best Air Fryer Fried Chicken Sides

Make an easy meal with these air fryer fried chicken legs using the following side dish recipes:

Fried Chicken Legs at the bottom of an air fryer

Air Fryer Fried Chicken Legs

Crispy Air Fryer Fried Chicken Legs recipe with simple ingredients. Perfect way to make fried chicken without a deep fryer, flour mixture or pot of oil.
5 from 34 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 27 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 143 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 lbs Chicken Legs this was about 4-6 drumsticks
  • 1/2 tsp Natural Ancient Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1.5 tbsp Baking Powder
  • Olive Oil about 2 tbsp of regular oil or 3-4 sprays of cooking spray. You can also use avocado oil.

Instructions
 

  • Remove the chicken legs from the refrigerator and pat them dry with paper towels. Removing as much moisture as possible helps to have crispy chicken leg skin.
  • Mix the sea salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and baking powder in a small bowl or ramekin.
  • Sprinkle the seasoning mixture on the wings and toss to coat evenly – it’s important to get the spices all over the chicken legs – not only does it season the meat, but it also helps with crisping the skin from the top to the bottom.
  • Place the chicken legs in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Drizzle half the olive oil on top. If they don’t all fit, please put just enough of the chicken so that they are flat.
  • Cook the chicken legs for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Use tongs to turn the chicken. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top.
  • Cook for 12-15 minutes more, depending on how crispy you prefer them.

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 11gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 761mgPotassium: 145mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 142IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 184mgIron: 1mg
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