Air fryer chicken drumsticks make a budget-friendly and delicious entree.

Tender and juicy chicken drumsticks are coated in a seasoned buttermilk breading and air-fried to crispy perfection!

Once you’ve tried chicken drumsticks in the Air Fryer, this will be the only recipe you’ll use!

breaded air fryer chicken drumsticks

Amazing Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

  • The Ninja or Nuwave Air Fryer is the best way to get tasty chicken that’s hot and ready to serve in no time with minimal cleanup!
  • The air fryer makes this classic fried chicken recipe so easy; you’ll want to make extra to enjoy all week!
  • Make air fryer chicken drumsticks any time you need a crowd-pleasing main dish or appetizer in an instant!
  • For large get-togethers, keep batches warm in the oven until ready to serve. Serve them with a classic bacon cauliflower macaroni and cheese or some air fryer baked potatoes.
ingredients assembled to make breaded air fryer chicken drumsticks

Ingredients and Variations

Chicken – Choose drumsticks that are fresh with intact skin. While you can cook drumsticks from frozen, the breading won’t adhere evenly, so for perfect results, thaw drumsticks first. Chicken thighs can also be used well.

Buttermilk – Few kitchens have buttermilk on hand, but here’s why it’s important for fried chicken: buttermilk gently tenderizes the chicken without letting it become tough and chewy. If you don’t have any buttermilk, simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk (whole or 2%). This creates a mildly acidic liquid similar to buttermilk. Easy peasy!

Seasoning – A dash of hot sauce or buffalo sauce along with salt, pepper, and seasoned breadcrumbs creates a perfect balance of flavor for fried chicken. However, you can create a signature seasoning blend by whisking in a store-bought BBQ seasoning or make your own with spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. try a spice mix like adobo, lemon pepper, or Italian seasoning.

For a low-carb or gluten-free option, try swapping the bread crumbs and Panko for crushed pork rinds.

How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

  1. Marinate chicken in buttermilk and hot sauce.
  2. Prepare the breadcrumb mixture in a small bowl per the recipe directions below.
  3. Roll marinated chicken in breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Spray breaded chicken with cooking spray and place in a single layer in the preheated Air Fryer.
  5. Air fry until chicken reaches 165°F, flipping halfway through. Serve hot.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce like bbq sauce, ranch dressing, or honey mustard. Add some vegetables as a side dish or some french fries or potato salad.

two breaded air fryer chicken drumsticks on a plate

Tips & Tricks

  • Always preheat the Air Fryer before making fried chicken. This ensures a crispy coating on the outside and juicy, moist chicken on the inside.
  • Avoid overcrowding the Air Fryer so the hot air can circulate evenly around each piece and be sure to flip the pieces over halfway through cooking.
  • A meat thermometer is the best way to tell if the chicken is cooked to the proper temp (this also prevents overcooking). Chicken should read 165°F at the thickest part of the drumstick.
  • Keep leftover air fryer chicken drumsticks in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and reheat them in the air fryer. Or pop them into the freezer in zippered bags for up to 3 months and reheat them from frozen in the air fryer.

More Delicious Air Fryer Recipes Chicken

breaded air fryer chicken drumsticks on a plate
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Breaded Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

These air fryer chicken drumsticks have crispy skin and juicy meat.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Marinate Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings



  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce optional

Breadcrumb Mixture

  • ¾ cup panko
  • ¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • cooking spray


  • Combine chicken, buttermilk, and hot sauce in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 370°F.
  • In a shallow dish combine panko, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.
  • Remove chicken from the buttermilk and roll each drumstick in the breadcrumb mixture. Press to coat.
  • Generously spray with cooking spray.
  • Place chicken in the air fryer basket and cook for 18-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, flipping halfway through.
  • Serve immediately.


  • Ensure chicken reaches 165°F.
  • Bone-in chicken thighs can be used interchangeably in this recipe.
  • Do not use cooking spray in the air fryer, it can damage the coating on the basket. Spray the chicken on a separate plate or pan.
  • Keep leftover air fryer chicken drumsticks in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze them in zippered bags for up to 3 months.
5 from 16 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 146mg | Sodium: 807mg | Potassium: 479mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 418IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

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About the author

Holly is a mom of 4 with a love for all things air fryer! Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making recipes for the everyday home cook!
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