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How to Cook Buttermilk Chicken Legs in Air Fryer

How to cook buttermilk chicken legs in air fryer with flour are crispy on the outside but tender and juicy on the inside. Copycat air fryer Kentucky Fried Chicken without the oil! You can even do this without breading using frozen drumsticks in air fryer too.

How to Cook Buttermilk Chicken Legs in Air Fryer

Ready for some buttermilk chicken legs in air fryer that are juicy and delicious without having to be deep fried??!! I know, we thought they’d be a great dinner idea too. Find this and tons of other air fryer recipes here on The Typical Mom blog. (post may contain affiliate links present)

Air Fryer Chicken Legs with Flour

I don’t know about you but I am obsessed with how to air fry everything nowadays! It keeps food healthy but you still get that crispy fast food or fair food taste we all love.

You can use any brand electric air fryer you have, or Ninja Foodi chicken legs with barbecue sauce are great. Make these super crispy chicken in the air fryer basket this week and let us know what you think.

If you love easy air fryer recipes too, here are some resources to start with:

cosori review

Air Fryer Chicken Legs and Thighs

You could follow these same instructions for both cuts. You would need to cook all the thighs together so the cook time would be the same for all. Legs would not take quite as long since there’s less meat. I kid you not, this is a great copycat Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe that is much faster than heating up your oven.

This requires defrosted legs but if you forgot you can quickly make some Instant Pot frozen drumsticks instead. Then once they’re done air fry them with some bbq sauce on top and enjoy. This first step is key to making these moist drumsticks for sure. It’s all about the buttermilk.

air fryer buttermilk chicken

How to cook buttermilk chicken legs in the air fryer

Yes we’ve made Instant Pot chicken legs too but if you want that crunch (I know you do), a large air fryer is a must! That is right, grab a container when you’re at the store getting the rest of your ingredients. You probably have a gallon freezer bag in the drawer but you’ll need that too for the marinating process.

  1. Chicken drumsticks
  2. Buttermilk
  3. Panko bread crumbs
  4. Flour
  5. Baking powder
  6. Butter
  7. Lots of seasonings so they taste amazing
    1. way beyond salt and pepper, add garlic powder and smoked paprika is great
  8. Olive oil spray is great to get REALLY crispy skin when you cook air fryer chicken recipes those last few minutes
  9. A meat thermometer is handy to ensure the meat has reached a safe 165 degrees
  10. Barbecue or hot sauce to add on the outside of your air fryer chicken drumsticks before serving

Or you could use teriyaki instead of bbq if that is your favorite flavor. But wait because we added a second option from rock solid too.

air fryer chicken legs recipe

Ninja Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

We have made whole chicken in the air fryer in it’s whole form before. That one had no breading on the outside and yes it’s a great recipe you should try as well. BUT when you’re ready for delicious crispy chicken skin and meat in less than 30 minutes yourself:

  • Soak your chicken legs in a freezer bag or large bowl filled with buttermilk for at least 2 hours in your fridge.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees.
  • In a shallow dish or bowl combine together your breadcrumbs, flour and seasonings.
  • Roll each drumstick into the flour mixture, shake off excess, and place inside your air fryer basket. Keep in a single layer always when cooking in the air fryer basket.
  • Cook at 390 degrees for a 15 minute cooking time.
  • Then remove each one, brush with melted butter on all sides, flip over, and continue to cook in an air fryer for 10 more minutes or until they’re as crispy as you’d like and internal temperature is 165 F.
  • To create a REALLY crispy skin you can lightly spray outside with olive oil spray.

Oil crisps all the things you make, that is the secret sauce if you will. Every time you flip you should give the top a quick spray to get as crunchy as you desire.

Air Fryer Buttermilk Chicken

Air Fryer Buttermilk Chicken

If you are interested in a faster, easier recipe for air fryer fried chicken you can use a pre made chicken batter mix like we have in the past. 

I would say both are good. It just depends on whether you want to go the extra step to make your own coating. It isn’t hard to do so but sometimes right off the shelf is nice too. Tips to remember whether you use your own crispy breading or a container full:

Can you stack drumsticks in air fryer?

Yes, you can stack homemade or frozen french fries in air fryer, but other foods like chicken and burgers should not be. The most important thing you need to remember when using your air fryer is that this machine cooks food by circulating hot air around it. In order for the cooking to happen effectively all the surface of your food needs to be exposed.

Your best bet to get really crispy chicken legs in air fryer is to cook in several batches so you can keep each one in just one layer.

air fryer chicken legs with flour

Do you have to preheat an air fryer?

That is something I have experimented with and here are my findings, okay my opinions:

No, at the end of the day the air fryer does not have to be preheated. BUT, when you do not preheat it, you will most likely need to leave your meal in slightly longer. The preheating process only takes about 5 minutes and is worth it to do. If you forget though don’t fret, just add an additional minute or two for chicken wings or or larger pieces.

Can I put frozen chicken in air fryer?

I have a few answers to this. I’ve done this with legs (linked at the top of this post) and have made a tender air fryer frozen chicken breast too! Amazingly enough it comes out really delicious with just salt, pepper and some seasonings.

From there you can add any sauce you like and serve with a healthy side dish like our air fryer fried zucchini and…….

air fried zucchini 2

What should I serve with drumsticks?

There are so many possibilities. I usually use the same machine for side dishes so everything has a nice texture to them.

You should try our easy baked teriyaki chicken legs with homemade sauce next. Here are more Ninja Foodi chicken recipes too.

How long is leftover fried chicken good for?

Eating leftovers saves a lot of time and money. All foods spoil though if you leave it in the refrigerator too long. In general, if stored correctly in airtight containers it is safe to eat for three to four days. Then try adding it to a chicken casserole and enjoy the next day.

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chicken drumsticks air fryer
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4.80 from 5 votes

Chicken Legs in Air Fryer

How long to cook buttermilk chicken legs in air fryer are crispy on the outside but tender and juicy on the inside. Copycat Kentucky Fried Chicken without the oil!
Course Entree, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer, buttermilk, chicken, chicken legs, crispy, ninja foodi
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 347kcal
Author The Typical Mom




  • In a gallon freezer bag add buttermilk and chicken legs. Allow to soak at least 2 hours to overnight in fridge.
  • Preheat air fryer when ready to 390 degrees.
  • Mix together bread crumbs, flour, baking powder and dry seasonings in a shallow dish.
  • Take one leg out at a time and roll in panko mixture so coating sticks well, shake off excess.
  • Spray air fryer basket with non stick spray and put coated chicken legs inside so they are not overlapping.
  • Cook at 390 for 15 minutes. Then remove each one one at a time, brush with melted butter and flip over, placing it back into your air fryer basket.
  • Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, timing will depend on how large your legs are.
  • Remove one leg after 10 minutes and check with thermometer to ensure it is 165 degree internally. If not add a few more minutes until it is done thoroughly.
  • Keep batch warm when done and put second batch in.


Nutrition Facts
Chicken Legs in Air Fryer
Amount Per Serving (3 oz)
Calories 347 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Cholesterol 94mg31%
Sodium 388mg17%
Potassium 235mg7%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 533IU11%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 73mg7%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Chicken Legs in Air Fryer
air fryer drumsticks with flour
4.80 from 5 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating

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Matt S

Thursday 27th of January 2022

Fun recipe to try and the drumsticks were on sale. With the 390 temp my coatings got too burned. I’m tempted to try a bit lower to see if that would help.

For fun, I made half our the coating ingredients in recipe. I made the other half with those plus some red berry special K flakes pulverized and added. I’ll report results if notable. Also the second batch I reduced the temp to 375 after 15 min. Less burned, but I still think the 390 is creating bitter tasting burned coating in spots.

Welcome the thoughts of others. Thanks!


Sunday 23rd of January 2022

Are you using plain panko bread crumbs or the seasoned ones, in this recipe?

Cheri Gauthier

Thursday 31st of December 2020

I made this tonight. OMG so good. Just got the air fryer for Christmas and have been practicing. So far, use more seasoning and decreased cooking time a little for most recipes. Much easier to use than the InstaPot.


Wednesday 22nd of January 2020

So...on the Ninja Foodi would this be 390 on Air crisp, bake, or broil mode? Asking for a friend. 😀


Wednesday 22nd of January 2020

Air crisp = air fryer

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