This easy air-fryer chicken recipe is my favorite quick dinner, and I usually have most of the ingredients in my pantry

  • I love a nice crispy chicken dinner, and my air-fryer is the perfect way to make it.

  • When I want something quick but finger-licking good, I make this easy recipe.

  • It only calls for a few ingredients, you can marinate it overnight, and it cooks in just 30 minutes.

I might have a slight obsession with my air fryer, and I find a way to use it to cook practically anything, from toasting bread to reheating pie. But I also use it to make my favorite, quick dinner.

With just chicken drumsticks, a few spices, a plastic bag, and my trusty air fryer, I make what I would argue is the tastiest, easiest dinner that will surely be your next go-to.

Here's how I make it.

First, the recipe calls for eight dry ingredients, including ground mustard and brown sugar. You might have them in your pantry already.

Ingredients for air-fryer chicken recipe in bowl.
Ingredients for air-fryer chicken recipe in bowl.Melissa Wells/Insider

The recipe — which is by the Recipe Teacher, with some minor tweaks — calls for ingredients I almost always have on hand: kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, and — what I think makes it really stand out  — brown sugar and cayenne pepper.

The recipe uses the following dry ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon of ground mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Additionally, it needs:

  • 6 chicken drumsticks

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Of course, it also requires chicken. The recipe works for six drumsticks, but it can easily be doubled or tripled.

Trader's Joes chicken legs.
Trader Joe's chicken drumsticks.Melissa Wells/Insider

As most of the ingredients are spices you likely have on hand, you just need to spend a few bucks for a set of six drumsticks, like these from Trader Joe's, to make this no-fuss recipe. In this case, I only paid $3.96 for this purchase.

Once you've measured out all of the ingredients, put everything into a large plastic bag.

Chicken legs in plastic bag with ingredients.
Chicken drumsticks in a plastic bag.Melissa Wells/Insider

The last wet ingredient is 2 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, which you can pour into the plastic bag with the chicken and dry ingredients.

In the only real effort you have to put into this recipe, close the bag and give it a good shake until all of the drumsticks are coated with your concoction.

Ideally, you'd leave the chicken to marinate overnight, but, in a pinch, you can just leave it for a half-hour.

Mixed ingredients with chicken legs in plastic bag.
The chicken marinating.Melissa Wells/Insider

If you've prepped the chicken in the marinade and left it to sit in the fridge overnight, you will definitely taste the difference.

But if you didn't make this the day before, just let it marinate for as long as you can.

Place the chicken into your air fryer and drizzle the remaining marinade over the drumsticks.

Side-by-side of marinated chicken in air-fryer
Marinated chicken in the air fryer.Melissa Wells/Insider

Now it's time for the main attraction: the air fryer in action.

I put the chicken in paper trays to stop the juices from spilling out, saving me from needing to clean the baskets later. I also pour on any remaining marinade for extra flavor.


I set the air fryer to cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Melissa's air-fryer set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Air fryer set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.Melissa Wells/Insider

But I check it about halfway through to flip the chicken over to ensure 360-degree crispiness.

If you have a meat thermometer, you should check that the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating, according to the Recipe Teacher's instructions.

And there you have it: crispy, juicy chicken without so much as a grill or a mess.

Chicken legs out of the air-fryer.
Chicken out of the air fryer.Melissa Wells/Insider

I love the crispy outer texture and the juiciness as soon as I bite into the chicken. I like it without any dips or sides, although I occasionally pour out any remaining marinade to put it on top of the finished drumsticks.

From start to finish, it only takes 15 minutes to mix the dry ingredients and chicken together. Obviously, it takes longer depending on how long I want to leave it to sit, but if I make it immediately after making the marinade, it's a 45-minute endeavor in total — 15 minutes to actually put it together and 30 minutes in the air-fryer.

If I have it at the ready from sitting overnight in the fridge, all I have to do for dinner the next day is pop it in the air-fryer for 30 minutes, which is even faster.

Either way, it's easy, it's quick, and it's delicious.

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