Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Legs Recipe

This barbeque chicken recipe takes a classic to the next level. It’s quick, easy, relatively mess free AND packed with that big flavor we think of when we hear the word “barbeque”. Our favorite part?

You get that same crispy skin you might get on the BBQ or using a classic frying method, but WITHOUT the extra oil.

Who says you have to sacrifice your health goals to enjoy delicious, down home barbeque? So go ahead! Grab your favorite barbeque sauce and dust off your apron for a recipe the whole family will love. You’ll only need about 5 minutes of prep time and the rest is history.

This tangy, saucey, crispy BBQ chicken leg recipe is done in the airfryer, which allows you to maintain that extra flavor and crispy texture that pulls you in every time, while skipping the extra oil you might find in classic preparation.

Ingredients

Chicken Legs

This recipe utilized bon- in, skin-on chicken legs…that’s the drumstick + thigh combo that many dark meat lovers covet.

You are more than welcome to use other cuts of chicken, just keep in mind that cook times may vary. We will address this below.

Seasonings

The flavorful tang of BBQ sauce speaks for itself, so we are going to keep the seasoning simple. Salt. Pepper.

That’s it! If you want a little kick, you are welcome to add a dash of smoked paprika as well. Check out our seasoning suggestions below.

Sauce

You can’t have BBQ chicken without BBQ sauce. You are more than welcome to make your own sauce (we have listed our favorite recipes below*), but feel free to use any store bought version that tickles your taste buds. We get particularly excited about Bone Suckin’ Sauce and Stubb’s Hickory Bourbon.

How to Make Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Legs

Step 1: Prep the Chicken

Preheat your Air Fryer to 375°F. Pat the chicken dry (this will allow you to achieve that crispy skin you’re looking for) and place it in a large bowl. Toss with salt and pepper to coat evenly.

Step 2: Sauce it up!

If you are making your own sauce, go ahead and whip that up (see our favorite recipes listed below*). If not, just pull out your favorite BBQ Sauce, give it a hearty shake, and get ready to marinate!

Step 3: Marinate the Chicken

Add your sauce to the bowl of seasoned chicken and toss to coat. You can also do this in a ziploc bag if you plan to refrigerate or freeze. It is ideal to allow your chicken to marinate in this sauce for 20-30 minutes.

Short on time? Just marinate for as long as you can. Keep in mind that you can also do the step beforehand and marinate for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator OR freeze. See below for details.

Step 4: Cook the Chicken

Arrange the marinated chicken in a single layer in the basket of your air fryer. Cook for ~30 minutes total,, flipping pieces half-way through.

Cook times vary depending on air fryer size and the size of your chicken pieces, so make sure to use a meat thermometer to ensure an internal temperature of 165°F.

Check the temperature at the thickest part of the largest piece.

Remove your chicken from the air fryer with tongs, arange on a serving platter, and brush with any remaining BBQ sauce.

Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Legs

Common Question

Can I Spice It Up With Other Seasoning?

Looking for a little extra pizazz? Don’t be afraid to experiment with seasonings. Add any of the following to your chicken in your season process.

  • Smoked paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano

Can I Use a Different Cut of Chicken?

Everyone has their favorite! Use whatever cut of chicken you want, just keep in mind that cook times may vary.

We have given a little breakdown of typical cook times for other cuts of chicken. Always make sure to use a meat thermometer to check that internal temperature reaches 165 F..

  • Bone-in, skin on thighs — Adjust cook time to ~25 minutes total.
  • Bone in, skin on breasts — Cook time will be about the same as the original recipe.
  • Boneless, skinless breasts — Adjust cook time to ~25 minutes total.
  • Boneless, skinless thighs —Adjust cook time to ~22 minutes

Is BBQ Sauce The Only Option?

Nope! This recipe will work well with a variety of sauce substitutions. Here are some of our favorites:

Can I Make this Recipe Ahead of Time?

Yes! Follow the recipe up until you place it in the airfryer. Place your marinating chicken in a ziploc or other airtight container and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Need to store it longer? See below notes on freezing.

What About Freezing?

Yes you can! Place your airtight container of marinating chicken in the freezer for up to 2 months.

When you are ready to enjoy, remove your chicken from the freezer and either (1) allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before following the recipe as is or (2) cook from frozen.

If you are cooking from frozen, we suggest air frying for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.

What Can I Serve It With?

So many things! Think summer BBQ favorites…we suggest:

  • Garlic Bread
  • Grilled Corn
  • Potato Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Simple green salad with your favorite veggies

Tips and Tricks

  • Pat your chicken dry. Looking for that crispy skin? This will get you there.
  • Leave time to marinate. Although you can just pop these babies right in the air fryer, we recommend leaving at least 20 minutes to marinade. The chicken will take up more flavor.
  • Try to buy chicken pieces that are even in size in order to obtain even cooking across all pieces.
  • Reserve some of your sauce to brush over the chicken after cooking.
  • If you are making your own sauce, make a big batch ahead of time. Trust us…this isn’t the only use you will find for it.

Cooking Times By Air Fryer Model

ModelCooking timeTemperature
Ninja Foodi30 Minutes360°F
Philips Airfryer XXL (HD9630)30 Minutes375°F
Nuwave Bravo XL Grill25 Minutes375°F
Power XL 2&3 Qt Vortex25 Minutes375°F
Cuisinart25 Minutes375°F
Cosori30 Minutes370°F
Breville Smart Oven25 Minutes390°F
Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Legs

BBQ Chicken Legs in Air Fryer

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Perfect BBQ chicken…only 3 ingredients! Looking for a chicken dish that will satisfy that barbequ craving…but with WAY less guilt?

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken legs (bone-in, skin on) *
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce ~ Making your own? See a list of our favorite recipes below *

Instructions

    • Preheat the air fryer to 370°F
    • Pat chicken dry
    • Season chicken with salt and pepper in a large bowl
    • Add BBQ sauce to chicken; toss to coat
    • Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer in the basket of your air fryer
    • Cook chicken for 15 minutes
    • Use tongs to flip chicken legs skin side down
    • Cook for an additional 15 minutes
    • Place chicken on a serving plate and enjoy!

    * This recipe utilizes relatively large chicken legs. Please keep in mind that cook times may vary if your chicken pieces are a bit smaller.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 599Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 328mgSodium: 2036mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 23gProtein: 63g
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