Air fryer turkey legs are delicious, with a crispy skin outside and juicy meat inside. This is my favorite way to cook turkey drumsticks. Try it and you will have a new family favorite recipe!
For me turkey legs always remind me of big gatherings like a carnival, state fair or Renaissance festival. But the huge drumsticks at those events are almost always deep fried, making them calorie laden and unhealthy!
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When you make turkey legs in the air fryer you get the fair taste at home fast, without the deep frying. It takes less than 40 minutes to make these easy air fryer drumsticks.
Why You Will Love Air Fryer Turkey Legs
- They are a low effort dinner.
- No grease, no oil and no mess makes for easy cleanup.
- They shake up a boring dinner routine! And kids love to eat them because they are fun and the kind of meal they don’t usually get at home.
- If you need a little more dark meat for Thanksgiving or Christmas throw a few legs in the air fryer to add to your holiday table.
Check out my recipes for air fryer turkey breast or air fryer turkey burgers!
Turkey drumsticks – You can find these in the poultry section of most grocery stores. My grocery store usually has them in packs of 2 or 3.
Butter or olive oil – This is used to help hold the spices on the meat and make sure the skin gets extra crispy.
Spices – These are seasoned with paprika, garlic powder, salt and black pepper. There are lots of different ways to season these, check out some suggested seasoning variations here.
How to Cook Turkey Legs in Air Fryer
If you are using butter put it in a microwave safe dish and microwave it until it is melted. Then stir all your desired seasoning into the butter or oil.
Pat the legs dry with a paper towel, then use a pastry brush to brush the seasoned butter all over the them. Pull the skin back and brush some underneath the skin so the meat is nicely seasoned.
2. Air Fry
I prefer to line the air fryer basket with parchment paper, because it makes the cleanup easier. You can buy parchment paper that is precut to fit inside the basket.
Put the legs in the air fryer basket. My 5.8 quart Cosori air fryer can fit 3 drumsticks without crowding them.
You need to leave space for the air to circulate, so if you have a smaller basket or a circular one you might not be able to fit as many.
Air fry the legs at 390 degrees for 25 minutes. You don’t have to flip them over half way through, although you can if you want them to be more evenly browned all over.
3. Check the Temperature
Use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the drumsticks. They are done when it reaches 165 degrees F. There really isn’t a way to tell when they are done without checking the temperature.
Always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, don’t try to cook based just on time. A thermometer is not expensive and the peace of mind they give you is priceless. Food poisoning is not fun! This is my favorite inexpensive meat thermometer, which you can buy on Amazon.
If they need more time put them back in the air fryer, cook for another 5-10 minutes and recheck the temperature.
How to Serve
Let the drumsticks rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. This will let the juices reabsorb and make the meat even juicier.
You can serve turkey legs with almost any side dish. If you are going for a Thanksgiving feel make mashed potatoes and cornbread stuffing.
Or make it more like a picnic with potato salad and broccoli salad. You could even go all out on the fair theme and add an air fryer blooming onion with fried Oreos for dessert!
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How to Store
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or foil to keep the meat from drying out.
You can eat the leftovers cold or reheat them in the air fryer at 360 F for about 10 minutes. I love to use leftovers on sandwiches like a turkey club sandwich or in turkey soup.
You can vary the seasoning based on your taste, just use about 2 teaspoons of spices. Some of my favorites:
- Cajun – 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Old Bay – 1 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Montreal – 2 teaspoons Montreal spicy steak seasoning
- Classic – 1 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Using the air fryer to reheat these keeps the skin nice and crispy. Cook them at 360 degrees F for 5-10 minutes to warm them up.
Turkey is generally a healthy meat, which is high in protein and nutrients. Air frying the drumsticks is a healthy way to cook it, since it requires minimal added fat.
The safest and most reliable way to know if they are done is to check them with an instant read thermometer. They are done when they have a temperature of at least 165 degrees F.
Cooking them in the air fryer is an excellent way to keep turkey legs from drying out. The high heat cooks them quickly and the meat under the skin stays moist and juicy.
Brining turkey legs is great for a slow cooking method like smoking. For air frying it isn’t necessary to brine them since they stay juicy. If you are looking for a great turkey brine anyway check out my apple cider brine recipe.
Find More Air Fryer Turkey Recipes
Air Fryer Turkey Legs
Make turkey legs in the air fryer for fair taste at home.
- 3 Turkey Legs
- 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- If using butter put it in a small microwave safe bowl melt microwave it until it is melted.
- Add the seasonings to the melted butter or oil and stir to combine.
- Pat the legs dry with a paper towel. Brush the seasoning mixture all over the drumsticks. Pull the skin back and brush a little bit underneath.
- Use parchment paper in the bottom of the air fryer basket if desired to make cleanup easier.
- Put the legs in the air fryer basket and air fry at 390 for 25-30 minutes.
- The legs are done when they reach an internal temp of 165 degrees F. Always check the temperature with a meat thermometer, don't just go based on cooking time.
- If the drumsticks need more cooking time return them to the air fryer for another 5-10 minutes additional time and check the internal temp again.
- Let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Suggested seasoning variations:
- Cajun - 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Old Bay - 1 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Montreal - 2 teaspoons Montreal spicy steak seasoning
- Classic - 1 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Reheat leftover drumsticks in the air fryer at 360 degrees F for about 10 minutes to warm them up.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 541Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 278mgSodium: 587mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 58g
Nutrition facts are estimates.