These air fryer lemon pepper chicken drumsticks are juicy and full of flavor. You will need only a few ingredients and 30 minutes to make this delicious and healthy meal.
It is not easy to keep up with cooking full meals every night, as it requires time, energy, and creativity to make sure everyone will enjoy it.
There is a reason why these crispy air fryer chicken drumsticks have been our family's favorite. I also recommend trying our Greek Yogurt Marinated Chicken Drumsticks.
Air fryer chicken legs can be prepared to last enough for 2-3 days and you can serve them with so many sides to have a different dinner every night.
They have crispy skin and remain juicy inside. Made with simple seasoning and real lemon juice to create the most flavorful and tender meat, these lemon pepper drumsticks will be a hit on your dinner table.
You can also bake them, but the air fryer creates a super crispy skin while cooking it so much faster than in the oven.
By the way, while you air fry the chicken, use the oven to make Sheet Pan Potatoes and Broccoli to go with it.
Ingredients notes and substitutions
Check out the recipe card below, for the ingredients' quantities.
- Chicken drumsticks: I used 5 medium chicken drumsticks. That is approximately 1.5 pounds. They all perfectly fit in my Ninja air fryer. 5 drumsticks are enough to serve about 2 people.
- Olive oil: olive oil has the best flavor to cook lemon and pepper chicken. But you can also use avocado oil instead.
- Lemon: I suggest fresh lemon juice from half of the lemon for the best results. But you can also use 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning instead. Use the other half of the citrus for serving.
- Salt: I used ½ teaspoon of salt per 5 drumsticks. Add more by taste if needed.
- Black pepper: I used a store-bought ground black pepper as it is finely ground and is great for marinades. You can grind whole peppercorns too, but I suggest saving those for serving as they have a more pungent flavor.
- Garlic powder: it goes well with lemon and pepper to create the best taste.
- Paprika: It is optional, but I like to use it for extra flavor and color.
How to make crispy lemon pepper chicken legs in the air fryer
Step 1 - Season the chicken: first, pat dry chicken drumsticks with paper towels for extra crispy skin. In a medium bowl, add chicken, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Use your hands or a large spoon to mix until each leg is evenly coated with the seasoning.
Step 2 - Let it rest: for the best results, let the chicken sit in the marinade for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Cold, straight from the fridge meat will cook unevenly.
Step 3 - Cook: preheat your air fryer for about 3 minutes at 400°F. Place the chicken drumsticks in a fryer basket without overcrowding it. Chicken pieces can touch, just do not overlap them. Air fry at 400°F for about 20-25 minutes, flipping it once halfway through. Chicken legs are ready when the internal temperature reaches 170°F.
Note: add 5 more minutes of cooking time if the chicken's internal temperature is not 170 degrees after 25 minutes.
Step 4 - Serve: enjoy it right away with fresh lemon wedges and extra black pepper on top.
What to serve with
Luckily, lemon pepper chicken goes well with many vegetables, grains, and salads.
Meal-prep: chicken drumsticks reheat well and are great for your meal prep to pair with any side or a crispy fresh salad.
- double the recipe if serving more than 2 people.
- if your air fryer does not have a preheat function, do it manually for 3 minutes at 400°F
- room temperature meat will cook more evenly.
- cook in batches if needed, do not overcrowd the air fryer basket.
- cooking times may vary depending on the air fryer model. I used my Ninja XL to make this recipe.
Cook it from frozen
To make lemon pepper chicken legs from frozen:
- Preheat the air fryer. Arrange seasoned frozen chicken legs in the air fryer basket and cook for about 35-45 minutes at 375°F or until the internal temperature reaches 170°F.
To Marinade: you can keep the chicken in lemon and pepper marinate for up to 24 hours in the fridge. When ready to cook, simply let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes to bring it to room temperature.
To Refrigerate: place any leftovers in an air-tight container and refrigerate them for up to 3-4 days. Do not let the cooked chicken sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
To Reheat: you can reheat the legs in the air fryer or the microwave.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken drumsticks for up to 3 months.
Yes. Bake them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper for about 50 minutes, flipping them once.
Sure, follow the recipe instructions to cook thighs or even wings. The cooking time will need to be adjusted accordingly.
Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Drumsticks
- 1 medium bowl
- measuring spoons
- 1 Air fryer I used Ninja XL
- 5 medium chicken drumsticks about 1.5 pounds
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- In a medium bowl, add chicken drumsticks, 2 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon paprika. Mix well to coat. Let the chicken marinade at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the air fryer. Arrange the chicken legs in the air fryer basket. Air fry at 400°F for about 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 170°F, flipping the chicken once halfway through. Add more cooking time if needed.
- Serve right away with some extra freshly ground black pepper and lemon wedges.
- double the recipe if serving more than 2 people.
- use the meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through.
- adjust time depending on your air fryer model and type.
- you can keep raw chicken in marinade refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
- the nutrition facts are only for information purposes only.