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Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken

This Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken is easy to make and great for a quick and affordable weeknight meal. These chicken drumsticks are the perfect mix of sticky, juicy, and crispy all at the same time!

Barbecue chicken drumsticks next to a small bowl of barbecue sauce on parchment paper.

The air fryer is a fantastic tool for cooking all your BBQ favorites without heating up your house or slaving away over a hot grill, which means that the summertime is the perfect time to get to know your gadget! 

These BBQ Chicken Drumsticks are not only easy to make, they are also super affordable and delicious! 

Chicken drumsticks are naturally tender and juicy and cooking them in the air fryer gives you the perfect crispy skin. Smother the whole thing in sticky BBQ sauce and you’ve got a main dish everyone will love! 

These drumsticks are perfectly seasoned and take less than 30 minutes to make. No matter what you’ve got going on during the summer, this dish is the perfect one to reach for!

Why Make This Recipe

  1. Affordable: Chicken drumsticks are the cheapest cut of chicken at the grocery store and you can often find them sold in a large value pack.
  2. Quick: The air fryer can preheat in minutes and cook chicken to perfection in about 20 minutes. Throw these drumsticks in the air fryer, toss a quick salad and you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
  3. Flavorful: These drumsticks are layered in seasoning and then sticky BBQ sauce to ensure every piece is bursting with flavor!

Ingredients for Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken

Ingredients shown are used to prepare air fryer barbecue chicken.
  1. Chicken Drumsticks: This recipe is for about 6 bone-in, skin-on drumsticks. The skin keeps the chicken nice and juicy and also provides excellent flavor. You can easily double this recipe if you need to make more.
  2. Olive Oil: A small amount of oil keeps the chicken from sticking to the air fryer.
  3. Spices: Onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper and oregano form the first layer of flavor for the chicken. Feel free to adjust these spices to your liking.
  4. Barbecue Sauce: You can use a homemade BBQ sauce or your favorite from the grocery store.

Recipe Variations

Want to make this recipe with some adjustments? Here are some recommended variations below: 

  • You can customize the flavors by using different barbecue sauce variations according to your preference, such as sweet, tangy, or spicy.
  • Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste, adding more or less smoked paprika, salt, or other spices. You can add some cayenne for a little spice or even some brown sugar or honey to make it a bit sweet. 
  • You can use this recipe with other cuts of chicken. I recommend using bone-in, skin-on thighs or breasts to get the same flavor. Check the temperature of your chicken at the end of 20 minutes to see if it is fully cooked. Breasts and thighs may be larger than drumsticks and may require more cooking time.

Tools

  1. Air Fryer
  2. Tongs: For picking up the chicken when it’s done cooking. It will be hot!

How to Make This Recipe

Step One: Preheat the Air Fryer

Preheat your air fryer to 380°F (193°C) for about 5 minutes.

Step Two: Season the Chicken

Seasonings sprinkled over raw chicken drumsticks in a glass mixing bowl.
Seasonings coating the raw chicken drumsticks in a mixing bowl.

Pat the chicken drumsticks dry with a paper towel. 

In a bowl, drizzle the drumsticks with olive oil, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, and oregano. Use your hands to turn the chicken, making sure the surfaces are evenly coated. 

Step Three: Cook the Chicken

Seasoned chicken drumsticks placed in an air fryer.
Hand brushing barbecue sauce over chicken drumsticks resting in the air fryer.

Place the seasoned drumsticks in the air fryer basket in a single layer, leaving space between each piece.

Cook them in the air fryer at 380°F (193°C) for 18-20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and the skin is crispy. Flip them halfway through.

Once cooked, remove the drumsticks from the air fryer and let them cool slightly. Brush the drumsticks with the barbecue sauce, coating them evenly on all sides.

Return the drumsticks to the air fryer for an additional 2-4 minutes to caramelize the BBQ sauce.

How to Cook Your Chicken Perfectly

It’s pretty easy to get a “perfect” cook on your barbecue chicken when using the Air Fryer, as long as you get a few things right. Follow these steps for great chicken!: 

  • The cooking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken drumsticks. Thicker drumsticks may require additional cooking time.
  • Don’t try to put too many drumsticks into your air fryer at once. They should be in a single layer so air can flow between them easily. This ensures consistent cooking for each piece. If your drumsticks are too big or your air fryer is too small, cook your chicken in two batches.
  • It’s important to preheat the air fryer to ensure even and consistent cooking. A preheated air fryer also ensures the skin on the chicken will get nice and crispy.

Expert Tips

Bite missing from barbecue chicken drumsticks being held up with kitchen tongs.
  • Be sure and coat your chicken well in the seasoning mixture, even getting it under the skin if possible.
  • Make sure to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken drumsticks, ensuring they reach the safe minimum temperature of 165°F (74°C) for poultry. 
  • Serve this delicious Air Fryer BBQ Chicken as a main course for a family dinner or as a crowd-pleasing appetizer for gatherings. Enjoy some Air Fryer Corn on the Cob to complete your meal that comes together quickly.

FAQs

Top view of a small bowl of barbecue sauce next to barbecue chicken drumsticks on parchment paper covered serving board.
Can I Double This Recipe?

You can easily double this recipe but how long it takes to cook a double batch will depend on the capacity of your air fryer. I recommend cooking only what can fit in a single layer of your air fryer at one time. When it finishes, place those pieces of chicken on a cookie sheet in a warm oven while you cook the rest. Set your oven temperature to about 200 degrees to keep the chicken warm without overcooking it.

Can I Make Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks Ahead of Time?

You can season the chicken early and let it rest in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. 

These drumsticks also make great leftovers. Allow the chicken to cool and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. 

You can reheat the drumsticks on the bone or take the meat off the bone and use it in wraps, sliders, or salad. 

Can You Put Raw Chicken in an Air Fryer?

Yes, the air fryer does all the cooking for you, so there is no need to cook the chicken before putting it in the air fryer. It is important to check the internal temperature before you eat the chicken.

Do You Flip Chicken When Air Frying?

Yes, it is a good idea to flip your chicken when cooking in the air fryer. Air fryers make it easy to hit pause, flip the chicken with some tongs, and then restart the cooking time. This allows the chicken to cook more evenly.

Did you enjoy this recipe for Air Fryer BBQ Chicken? If so, make sure to check out these other recipes I picked out just for you: 

Close up of barbecue sauce coated air fryer chicken drumsticks resting on parchment paper.

Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken

This Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken is easy to make and great for a quick and affordable weeknight meal. These chicken drumsticks are the perfect mix of sticky, juicy and crispy all at the same time!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fryer barbecue chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 306kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer
  • Tongs

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken drumsticks, bone in, skin on
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat your air fryer to 380°F (193°C) for about 5 minutes.
  • Pat the 6 chicken drumsticks dry with a paper towel.
  • In a bowl, drizzle the drumsticks with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/4 tsp oregano. Use your hands to turn the chicken, making sure the surfaces are evenly coated.
  • Place the seasoned drumsticks in the air fryer basket in a single layer, leaving space between each piece.
  • Cook them in the air fryer at 380°F (193°C) for 18-20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and the skin is crispy.
  • Once cooked, remove the drumsticks from the air fryer and let them cool slightly. Brush the drumsticks with the barbecue sauce, coating them evenly on all sides.
  • Return the drumsticks to the air fryer for an additional 2-4 minutes to caramelize the BBQ sauce.

Notes

Recipe Copyright The Domestic Spoon. For educational or personal use only.
  • Chicken Drumsticks: This recipe is for about 6 bone-in, skin-on drumsticks. The skin keeps the chicken nice and juicy and also provides excellent flavor. You can easily double this recipe if you need to make more.
  • Olive Oil: A small amount of oil keeps the chicken from sticking to the air fryer.
  • Spices: Onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper and oregano form the first layer of flavor for the chicken. Feel free to adjust these spices to your liking.
  • Barbecue Sauce: You can use a homemade BBQ sauce or your favorite from the grocery store.
  • Be sure and coat your chicken well in the seasoning mixture, even getting it under the skin if possible.
  • Make sure to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken drumsticks, ensuring they reach the safe minimum temperature of 165°F (74°C) for poultry.
  • Serve this delicious Air Fryer BBQ Chicken as a main course for a family dinner or as a crowd-pleasing appetizer for gatherings.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 923mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 381IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
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