Frozen Chicken Legs in Air Fryer? Here’s How!

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Cooking frozen chicken legs in an air fryer – can it be done? As it turns out…yes! Putting frozen chicken legs in air fryer is a great way to get dinner on the table without needing to do too much prep work. Whether you’ve forgotten to thaw the chicken beforehand or you simply need something quick and easy to cook, putting frozen chicken legs in air fryer can produce a delicious meal in almost no time at all. Ready to find out how? Then, let’s go!

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Frozen Chicken Legs In Air Fryer

Table of Contents

Can I Cook Chicken Drumsticks From Frozen?

You may be shocked to know that you can put frozen food in your air fryer. But you absolutely can! And chicken drumsticks are no different.

Chicken drumsticks are a budget-friendly option that can be dressed up with sauce or a blend of savory spices. It’s considered dark meat meaning it contains about 50% red fibers and tends to be more juicy and flavorful than white chicken meat. 

Chicken legs can be enjoyed boiled, fried, baked, grilled, roasted…or yep, air fried – even from frozen!

air fried chicken

Can You Put Frozen Chicken in an Air Fryer?

Cooking frozen chicken in an air fryer is simple. But there are a few steps you’ll want to take to ensure that your air-fried chicken legs taste the way you want them to.

For starters, you’ll want to ensure that all pieces of chicken are separated before placing them in the frying basket. Chicken legs that are placed in the air fryer in “clumps” won’t cook evenly. 

The second thing you’ll want to ensure is that you deglaze your chicken if there is too much ice on them before cooking them. This will help them cook faster and more evenly. To do this, simply run your frozen chicken legs under the warm tap until the large pieces of ice start to melt. Remember, that you aren’t thawing the chicken at this point. So, be sure to only do this for a few minutes at best, and to only do this step if you really need to. 

Air Fryer Frozen Drumsticks

The final thing you’ll want to do is to ensure that your air fryer frozen drumsticks get the flavor added to them needed to make them worthwhile.

This can be hard to do for several reasons. Not only is your chicken frozen solid, but most seasonings you try to apply to frozen chicken won’t stick.

Thus, you’ve got the following four options:

  1. Leave the Chicken Plain: If you don’t mind plain chicken, or if you wish to use the chicken leg meat as a part of another entrée (like chicken noodle soup, for example), then going through the extra step of seasoning may not be necessary for you.
  2. Add the Seasoning Midway: This is a common strategy that people use when they want to cook seasoned chicken legs from frozen in the air fryer. To follow this method, you’ll need to apply your seasoning after you’ve turned your chicken over. This is because once turned over, the chicken will be thawed on one side. Any seasonings you apply at this point may stick better than before. Still, it is best to apply chicken seasoning along with lemon juice, oil, or butter, as these components will help your seasoning adhere better to the meat.
  3. Use a Marinade: This is our personal favorite method by far. By preparing a flavorful marinade and rubbing your deglazed chicken in it beforehand, you’re already saving yourself some time. Not only will the seasoning adhere better to the chicken, but it will also keep you from having to fiddle with seasonings halfway through cooking the chicken legs. (If you do choose to use oil to slather your seasonings on with, opt for olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola. These oils will help crisp up the chicken in the air fryer. Later on in this post, we’ll be breaking down one of our tastiest marinades for frozen chicken legs in air fryer. So, be sure to stay tuned!)
  4. Use a sauce: Finally, you may use a yummy chicken sauce on your air-fried chicken legs to impart more flavor. To do so, simply apply the sauce about 5 minutes before the chicken is done cooking before returning the chicken legs to the air fryer to finish up. The reason you don’t want to air fry chicken covered in sauce the entire time is that it may burn up in the process. This may create a sticky, burnt, and unappetizing mess on your chicken legs and within your air fryer. To eliminate this, add the sauce close to last. 

Note: You may add sauce to plain chicken legs or you may add them to seasoned or marinated chicken legs. Which you choose will depend on the amount of flavor you’re going for. 

Frozen Breaded Chicken Drumsticks in Air Fryer?

Can you air fry frozen breaded chicken drumsticks in air fryer? Yes and no. 

If you plan to bread your chicken whilst it is still frozen, then the answer is no.

If, however, you’ve already breaded the chicken and have frozen it in its breaded state, then yes! You can air fry your breaded chicken in the air fryer. 

Keep reading to find out how!

Frozen Chicken Legs In Air Fryer

Chicken Legs in Air Fryer Time

So, just how long does all of this take? Not long at all!

However, it may take a little more time to cook frozen chicken legs in the air fryer since they are – well – frozen.

In this segment, we’ll review how long you can expect your chicken legs to take to cook in the air fryer at a specific temperature.

So, let’s jump in.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Frozen Chicken Drumsticks in an Air Fryer?

Generally speaking, you should cook your frozen chicken legs on 360 °F/180 °C for 30-40 minutes total

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How Long Do You Cook Frozen Drumsticks?

When cooking your frozen chicken drumsticks in the air fryer, the amount of time it will actually take will depend on a few factors. 

Frozen chicken legs may take a longer or shorter amount of time depending on how frozen they are, how thick they are, and how many chicken legs you put in the frying basket at once. Different air fryers also perform differently. 

To know for sure if your chicken legs are done, be sure to use a meat thermometer. Chicken legs should register at 165 °F before being considered safe for consumption.

Pro Tip: Don’t overcrowd your air frying basket. You should allow at least 1-2 inches of space between each chicken leg to ensure proper airflow. This is what allows your chicken to brown properly and achieve that crunchy yet juicy chicken texture we all know and love. 

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How to Cook Frozen Chicken Legs in Air Fryer

The following is a great smokey and savory frozen chicken legs in air fryer recipe your whole family will love!

Ingredients

  • 7 frozen chicken legs
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons oil of your choice

Instructions

Making Frozen Chicken Legs in Air Fryer

  1. Prep chicken

    Remove your chicken legs from the freezer. Deglaze the chicken, if needed, by running them under warm tap water for a few seconds. Set aside.

  2. Make marinade

    Make the marinade by mixing the smoked paprika, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper, salt, and oil.

  3. Rub onto chicken

    Rub the chicken over with this marinade, making sure that all pieces are fully covered. 

  4. Basket up

    Place your marinated chicken in the air fryer basket. Make sure not to overcrowd your basket; no parts of the chicken should be touching.

  5. Cook

    Set your air fryer to 360 °F/180 °C. Cook the drumsticks for about 15 minutes before flipping them over and cooking for an additional 15-20 minutes. Check the internal temperature (165 °F/74 °C) to make sure the chicken drumsticks are cooked through.

  6. Add sauce

    Once the proper internal temperature has been achieved, you may add a sauce to your chicken legs and return them to the air fryer at the same temperature for an additional 4-5 minutes. If applying no sauce, skip this step and plate up your chicken. 

  7. Serve

    Sprinkle with additional parsley if desired, for presentation.

Note: If you’re frying frozen breaded chicken in the air fryer, cook the chicken on 360 °F/180 °C for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. As always, if the chicken isn’t fully cooked through, you’ll need to continue cooking it. Check the breaded frozen chicken legs at 5-10 minute intervals for doneness past the recommended cook time. 

Are Frozen Chicken Legs in the Air Fryer a “Thing”? Totally!

So, now that you know that you can easily have a chicken leg dinner on the table with little to no effort, we hope you’ll consider trying our recipe. This quick and easy way to prepare a chicken leg dinner in the air fryer is a real-time saver when you’ve got nothing planned. Just remember to add a little seasoning or marinade to your frozen chicken legs to make the flavor pop! 

FAQ

How long to cook frozen chicken legs in air fryer?

Chicken legs should be cooked at 360F/180C for 30-40 minutes in the air fryer. You’ll need to turn them halfway through. To ensure that your chicken legs are fully cooked, use a meat thermometer to read the internal temperature.

What goes well with chicken legs? 

Chicken legs can be paired with many side dishes as they are incredibly versatile. Consider fresh lemon asparagus, scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese, a snappy salad, or creamy potato salad. The options are virtually endless!

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Categorized as Journal

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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