The Washington Post

Sweet and Smoky Air Fryer Drumsticks

Sweet and Smoky Air Fryer Drumsticks 2.000

Justin Tsucalas for The Washington Post; styling by Nicola Justine Davis for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Aug 23, 2022

Cookbook author Farrah Jalanbo wrote that these chicken legs taste like they have been “slow cooked in a smoker” — and she’s right. The legs are pierced, rubbed with a sweet-and-spicy paste and then cooked until well charred. An air fryer produces the best result and requires no preheating, but you can get similar results if you cook the chicken in a preheated oven or a toaster oven, using the convection setting. Serve the chicken as an appetizer, or make it a meal by pairing with a green salad and/or a favorite vegetable or grain.

Total time: 30 mins

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

2 - 3

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-3 servings

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons avocado or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 6 chicken drumsticks (about 1 1/2 pounds total)


Place the honey in a large microwaveable bowl and heat it in the microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds.

Remove the bowl from the microwave and whisk in the Cajun seasoning, oil, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, pepper and salt until a smooth, red paste forms.

Using a sharp knife, lightly puncture the chicken all over to allow the marinade to get into the meat. Add the chicken to the bowl and rub the marinade into each piece until well coated.

Remove the basket from the air fryer and lightly rub it with oil. Arrange the drumsticks in the basket in a single layer. It’s fine if they touch, but allow for as much space as possible between the pieces.

Set the air fryer to 380 degrees — there is no need to preheat —- and air-fry the chicken for 8 minutes; then, using tongs or a fork, flip the pieces and cook, flipping every 5 minutes, until the chicken looks dark red with charred spots and has an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 15 more minutes total. Depending on the size of your drumsticks and the air fryer being used, they may need less time.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “The Quick & Easy Spiced Nice Cookbook” by Farrah Jalanbo (Page Street Publishing, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (2 pieces), based on 3: 521

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 25g 38%

Saturated Fat: 6g 30%

Cholesterol: 184mg 61%

Sodium: 788mg 33%

Total Carbohydrates: 28g 9%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 24g

Protein: 45g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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