These air fryer chicken leg quarters roast to perfection in under 25 minutes. With crispy skin, a mouthwatering spice rub and tender, juicy meat, you will love this easy dinner!
Recently, I made these chicken leg quarters in the Instant Pot and got hooked.
Not on the method as much as the preference for the cut of meat.
Chicken leg quarters are severely underrated!
They’re incredibly economical (and hey, that’s kind of important these days) and you get both the thigh and drumstick combined as one.
It’s a win no matter how you look at it in my opinion.
So of course, because it’s my new favorite kitchen appliance, I had to roast some up in the air fryer.
Knowing how amazing air fryer Cornish hens turned out with their delicious crispy skin, I knew these chicken leg quarters roasted in the air fryer wouldn’t disappoint either.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS IN THE AIR FRYER
Besides the chicken itself, all that’s needed is a high smoke point neutral oil and some seasonings:
- chicken leg quarters (1.5 pounds which is about 2 total)
- avocado oil
- smoked paprika
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- ground mustard seed
The spice rub is a great crowd-pleasing mixture. It’s got that familiar “chicken rub” flavor and really livens up the meat without being overwhelming in any direction, including heat.
It’s a goldilocks of a rub if you will.
HOW TO COOK CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS IN THE AIR FRYER
Start by preheating the air fryer at 400°F.
The only time I bother preheating the air fryer is when cooking meat like this. I do it when making air fryer skirt steak and air fryer lamb chops too. It helps the outside of the chicken get nicely golden brown and crispy.
While the air fryer preheats, brush the avocado oil all over the chicken leg quarters.
Combine the spices in a small bowl then rub onto the chicken using your hands making sure to coat the entire surface area.
Place the seasoned chicken skin side up into the air fryer either on the trays if you have an oven model like I do or into the basket.
Chicken leg quarters have the skin intact and therefore release a decent amount of drippings as they cook. You may want to use aluminum foil on the bottom tray of the air fryer to make clean up easier.
Roast for 20-25 minutes in the air fryer until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the skin has turned golden brown.
Using an instant read meat thermometer is the easiest way to gauge if the chicken leg quarters are fully cooked. When inserting the thermometer avoid the bones in the chicken legs making sure the metal probe is centered in the flesh for an accurate reading.
From oil sprays to muffin cups and from pizza pans to racks, we've got them all, and they make fantastic Christmas presents, too!
Once the chicken is finished air frying, remove and let rest for 5 minutes before serving to let the juices settle.
CAN YOU COOK FROZEN CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS IN THE AIR FRYER?
For this recipe I suggest starting with thawed chicken leg quarters that are brought to room temperature before transferring to the air fryer.
However, if you’d like to use frozen chicken leg quarters instead, you can with a few alterations.
If starting from a frozen state, place the chicken leg quarters in the air fryer and cook for 5-8 minutes until they’re mostly thawed.
Remove and then season with the rub. Return the chicken legs to the air fryer and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
The total cooking time will be longer than if thawed so it’s best to use a meat thermometer to know when they’re safely cooked.
You can also make frozen chicken breasts in the air fryer if you prefer.
CAN I USE THIGHS OR DRUMSTICKS INSTEAD?
Yes, absolutely! The beauty of chicken leg quarters is that both of those cuts are still connected so you get a 2-in-1 type of deal.
If you only have thighs or drumsticks on hand though, you can still use this exact recipe and method to cook the chicken in the air fryer.
The cooking time will likely be a bit shorter since the cut of chicken is smaller so again, gauge doneness using a meat thermometer.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH AIR FRYER CHICKEN LEGS
This chicken recipe is one of those easy dinners everyone will love. It’s got delicious flavor from the spice rub that’s not polarizing for any palate and pairs perfectly with just a squeeze of fresh lemon.
For sides, it’s best to continue along those lines and think simply.
Choose a vegetable everyone likes.
For a starch, you could do a simple baked potato or try some fries like the purple sweet potato fries shown here.
Jicama fries are a fun alternative fry option as well.
Craving something mashed? We love this creamy mashed yuca recipe!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
Firstly, your wallet will likely love these chicken leg quarters the most!
Once you start looking for them and paying attention, you’ll notice how much more affordable this practical cut of meat is compared to more popular chicken cuts like thighs, drumsticks and especially breasts.
I also find that chicken leg quarters go on sale quite often. More so than any other cut. So stock up when you see them if you have room in the freezer!
Secondly, the seasoning blend is mouthwatering. It’s what takes a normal chicken dinner to the next level and it’s only 7 spices including salt and pepper!
Lastly, crispy chicken skin. Need I even say more?
The air fryer is amazing in this regard and takes on crispy golden brown chicken skin like a champ while rendering the meat itself juicy and incredibly tender.
All this in under 25 minutes. It’s a weeknight dinner that can’t be beat!
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES TO TRY:
Air Fryer Chicken Leg Quarters
- 1.5 pounds chicken leg quarters, usually about 2 quarters, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard seed
- Preheat air fryer at 400°F for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, brush the avocado oil onto all sides of the chicken leg quarters.
- Combine the spices in a small bowl and rub all over the chicken until fully coated.
- Place chicken in the air fryer either on the trays or in the basket depending on model and roast for 20-25 minutes until skin is golden brown and crispy. Internal temperature should reach 165°F with an instant read meat thermometer.
- Remove the chicken from the air fryer, let it rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve and enjoy as desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.