Our air fryer fried chicken recipe will help you make the perfect crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside chicken drumsticks. All you need to do is coat them nicely and cook them in the air fryer for 30 minutes.
Even better, we’ll show you how to store chicken drumsticks in the freezer so you can cook them whenever you want. They’re just the answer for “What to cook today?” and “What to make on National Fast Food Day (November 16)?” especially if you’re busy and want a low-fat take on fried food.
Is Air-Fried Chicken Healthy?
Compared to deep-fried chicken, air-fried chicken is far better for your health.
Deep-frying means submerging the food in hot oil for a long time until it’s cooked. This adds plenty of fat (and thus, calories) to your food, and also creates the cancer-promoting substance, acrylamide.
With an air fryer, you don’t need to use a lot of oil, yet you’ll still end up with similar results. Your crunchy, juicy chickens now don’t come with excess fat or calories, and little to no acrylamide.
If you want to cook chicken in your air fryer (without any batter), have a look at our how to cook chicken in an air fryer. We’ll show you how to properly cook all parts of the chicken, with crispy skin and everything.
How Our Air-Fried Chicken Is Made Better
According to the USDA, we should all try to limit our saturated fats, sodium, and processed sugar intake. This is the key to healthy eating and the base of our healthy eating guidelines.
Since fried chicken is often high in saturated fat and sodium, we had to make several adjustments:
- We made a coating with fewer eggs to lower the saturated fat content.
- We went easy on the salt and then gradually increased the amount until the flavor was right but the sodium level was still acceptable.
- We served them with the right amount of ketchup, to keep the sodium within the limit.
As a result, one serving of this air fryer fried chicken recipe contains 4.3 g saturated fats and 525.2 mg sodium. These are the sorts of levels a main dish should contain (click here to learn more).
The USDA also defines healthy eating as including a variety of fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. Embracing this, we mixed a colorful salad to serve with the chicken, upping your day’s micronutrient intake.
If you’re interested in other chicken recipes as healthy as this one, this delicious chicken roundup or best air fryer chicken recipes have bunch of ideas.
What You Will Need to Make Air-Fried Chicken
Make sure that you’ve read this section before running your errands:
For this recipe, we picked the drumsticks. They’re juicy and easy to grab to take a large bite.
If you prefer chicken breasts or wings, feel free to use them in place of the drumsticks. You might want to cut the breasts into bite-sized pieces to make things easy.
2. Seasoning for Chicken
Powdered seasonings are the norm for fried foods. Unlike the fresh ones, they stick to whatever you’re cooking and have concentrated flavors.
For chickens, you can go for this fail-proof blend: garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and dried thyme. Since there are already plenty of aromas, we decided to cut out the thyme this time.
3. The Coating
The coating for fried foods is often made with two components: the dry and the wet (the batter).
The dry coating is simply all-purpose flour, and it acts as a medium to help the batter stick to your food. Sometimes the seasonings are added to the dry powder and sometimes they are put directly on the food, as we do in this recipe.
For the wet batter, we used eggs, milk, and flour instead of just eggs like most recipes would. This batter sticks better and is crispier when fried.
For more air fryer recipe ideas, have a look at our delicious air fryer dinner roundup.
Tips for Making Crispy Fried Chicken in an Air Fryer
Fried foods can be tricky if you’re not used to making them. Here are some tricks that experience has put up our sleeves:
First, the drumsticks must be thawed out or they’ll be pink in the center. If you haven’t thawed them, we suggest purchasing new chicken at room temperature or having fried chicken on another day after your meat has thawed.
Next, it’s important to clean your drumsticks well with water and then pat them dry. If you don’t, the excess moisture will cause the dry flour to clump up — definitely not what you want.
To achieve a crispy crust, you need to coat the chicken in two layers of flour. Dip them in the flour first, then in the batter, then the flour one more time.
Lastly, spray some oil over the top of the chicken because the crust won’t be crispy without a little grease. Halfway through cooking, flip them and spray some oil again to make the other side crispy as well.
While the air fryer is working, any excess oil will drip down to the bottom, leaving you with satisfying, guilt-free eats.
How to Fry Chicken in an Air Fryer
Here’s what to do after gathering the ingredients:
For the ingredients list and detailed instructions, check out our full recipe below.
Can You Cook Frozen Chicken in an Air Fryer?
For bone-in thick cuts like drumsticks, cooking them while they’re still frozen is a no-no. There’s a strong chance the outside will be overcooked while the inside is still raw.
If you often forget to thaw foods before cooking, here is what you can do.
After purchasing the drumsticks, coat them and cook them (without oil) in the air fryer at 350°F for about 15 minutes. What we want to do is cook the chicken thoroughly and firm the coating up.
Then, allow them to cool down to room temperature and pop them in your freezer.
When you want fried chicken, simply spray some oil over this frozen poultry and cook them at 350°F for 10 minutes. There is no raw center to watch out for because they’re already cooked.
In this case, it’s important not to use oil the first time — only the second time. We want them to be crispy when we eat them, but not when we store them.
How Long Does Fried Chicken Last?
Fried chicken is fast food, meaning it’s best to make just enough and leave no leftovers.
Still, if you happen to have leftovers, you can store them in the refrigerator for 5 days. Be sure to wrap them up with cling wrap, or place them in an airtight container before storing.
When you want to reheat, allow the chicken bits to warm up to room temperature first. Then, place them into your air fryer and cook at 400°F for 10 minutes.
Making frozen fried chicken using our method above, however, can keep the chicken good for months. Ziploc bags are the perfect containers to keep plenty of them.
Side dishes for this recipe
Similarly Tasty Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Here are some tasty, easy air fryer chicken meals that we just couldn’t help but fall in love with:
- Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe
- Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Recipe
- Air Fryer Greek Chicken Recipe
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings Recipe
Air Fryer Fried Chicken Recipe
This air fryer fried chicken recipe is easy to follow and yields the best fried chicken — moist on the inside, crisp on the outside.
- cook TIME 25 mins
- prep TIME 5 mins
- total TIME 30 mins
- COURSE Main Course
- CUISINE American
- SERVINGS servings
- CALORIES 505 kcal
- 40 ozbone-in chicken drumsticks (which contain approximately 26 oz meat)
- 0.3 tspsalt
- 1 tspblack pepper
- 0.5 tspgarlic powder
- 0.5 tsponion powder
- 1 tsppaprika (divided)
- 1 medium egg
- 0.3 cupwhole milk
- 2 tbspcornstarch
- 1 cupall-purpose flour (divided)
- 3 tbspolive oil (divided into 3 parts)
- 2 tsplemon juice
- 0.5 tsphoney
- 4 ozarugula (washed thoroughly)
- 6 ozcherry tomatoes (halved)
- 0.5 ozricotta cheese (broken into pieces)
- 3.5 tbspHeinz ketchup
Preheat the air fryer to 350°F.
Wash the drumsticks and pat them dry with paper towels. Season them with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/2 tsp paprika.
In a bowl, whisk together egg, milk, cornstarch, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Place the remaining flour into another bowl/dish.
Dip each drumstick into the flour, then the wet batter, and finally the flour one more time. Shake off excess flour and set aside.
Place the coated drumsticks into the air fryer. Spray them with 1 tbsp oil and cook for 10 minutes. Flip, spray them again with 1 tbsp oil, and cook for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a salad bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, and honey. Add arugula, halved cherry tomatoes, and ricotta, and toss to coat well.