Making BBQ chicken legs in air fryer is such an easy meal that goes with just about any side dish! Coat the chicken drumsticks in a homemade rub, air fry them to perfection, then toss in a sweet and tangy homemade barbecue sauce. The outsides are crispy, while the insides stay tender and juicy!
Air fryer bbq chicken drumsticks are a total game-changer when it comes to weeknight meals! No need to fire up the grill the next time the craving strikes for barbecue chicken. Don’t forget you can use the same blend of seasoning and ingredients for the honey bbq sauce on chicken breasts and chicken thighs!
We love serving these with traditional sides like potato salad, instant pot corn on the cob, mac and cheese, and buttermilk cornbread. You can also pair these with game day snacks like jalapeno poppers, buffalo chicken fries, and meatball sliders.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Air Fryer Chicken Recipe
- Can be made for a party appetizer or main course meal.
- A family favorite that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.
- Ready in 30 minutes with minimal cleanup.
- A great alternative to grilling.
What Ingredients do I need for Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Legs?
- chicken legs
- cornstarch – this helps to get that crispy outside that everyone loves
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- black pepper
- Cooking spray
- barbecue sauce
- honey – could also swap for maple syrup if needed
- brown sugar
- orange juice
- soy sauce
Pro Tip: Pat the drumsticks with paper towels well before coating. This gets rid of extra moisture and helps to get them crispy.
How to Make BBQ Chicken Drumsticks in the Air Fryer
PREP: Preheat the air fryer and dry off the chicken. Combine the seasonings and cornstarch in a large bowl.
RUB: Place the chicken in the bowl of seasoning, and toss to coat. Rub each drumstick well so it sticks. Spray generously with cooking spray.
COOK: Add the seasoned chicken legs to the air fryer basket in a single layer and air fry for 9-12 minutes on each side.
SAUCE INSTRUCTIONS: While the chicken is cooking, combine the sauce, honey, brown sugar, orange juice, soy sauce, and ketchup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
TOSS: Coat the chicken legs in the sauce and serve!
- You can use the air fryer barbecued chicken recipe with thighs as well as chicken wings. Use a meat thermometer to be sure the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees before serving.
- If you don’t want to use all of the seasonings, a blend such as Nature’s Seasoning will do the trick!
- Adding a parchment paper liner to the bottom of the basket makes cleaning up a breeze!
- Do not overcrowd the basket or tray. The chicken will not get crispy and it will take longer to cook.
- If you are making a large batch, you can turn your oven to warm and keep the drumsticks in there until you are ready.
- This recipe is great for meal prepping, and if needed you can peel the leftover chicken off the bone for salad, tacos, or a wrap.
- Feel free to add your favorite seasoning to the rub such as smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, or a dash of cayenne for more spice.
- You can use the rub and barbecue sauce on a whole chicken in the air fryer. Yum!
- Swap the barbecue sauce for the pineapple enhanced version in our huli huli chicken recipe.
Air frying can reduce the fat content in some recipes by up to 75 percent!
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. To reheat, warm them in the air fryer or oven until they are warm through.
Yes, you can add a little oil to a small bowl and brush it on each chicken leg.
While you can cook frozen meat and poultry in the air fryer, we do not recommend it for this recipe. You need the legs to be thawed so you can rub and season them for the best flavor. They also will not get as crispy.
Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Legs
- 6 chicken Legs
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Cooking spray
- ¼ cup barbeque sauce
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- Chopped parsley optional garnish
- Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees Fahrenheit and pat dry all the chicken legs with a paper towel.
- Stir together the cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper in a large, shallow bowl.
- Toss the chicken legs into the seasoning mixture and coat thoroughly. Rub seasonings in to make sure they stick to the chicken. After the legs are well covered in seasonings, coat the legs with cooking spray.
- Place legs in the air fryer and cook for 9-12 minutes on each side. Do not overcrowd the air fryer. Make sure the chicken’s internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it comes out of the air fryer.
- While the legs are cooking, bring the barbeque sauce, honey, brown sugar, orange juice, ketchup, and soy sauce to a simmer in a medium sized saucepan. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside for now.
- As soon as the chicken comes out of the air fryer, toss it in the waiting honey barbeque sauce until coated.
- Serve warm with chopped parsley as a garnish, optional.