This easy chicken lollipop recipe uses the air fryer for the crispiest skin and most juicy, flavorful meat. Chicken drumsticks are coated in a honey BBQ marinade before air frying for just 10 minutes – so they’re both easy and quick to prepare! Everyone is sure to enjoy these unique, delicious, and handy chicken lollipops as a fun dinner or party snack.
If you are looking for a comforting meal with a bit of flair, look no further! My chicken lollipop recipe is quick and easy to make in the air fryer, but seems super impressive and is sure to please.
This standout dish features inexpensive chicken drumsticks and a “homemade” honey BBQ sauce… Basically, we combine bottled BBQ sauce with honey and ta-da, you “made” the marinade! These 3 simple ingredients come together in snap, and together are the perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and savory flavors.
The drumsticks are prepared with the lollipop method, which includes the meat being pushed up and away from the main leg bone. This creates the appearance of a lollipop, with the exposed bone serving as a handy, well, handle! Perfect for enjoying as a casual kid-friendly weeknight dinner, and to serve at parties or on game day.
Now, if you haven’t noticed, I am a big fan of air frying: from snacks to baked goods, whole fish, chops, traditional fried foods, and MUCH more, this magical countertop appliance can do (pretty much) it all.
For this recipe, the prepped legs are placed right in the basket to cook. 10 minutes later you have tender, fall-off-the-bone moist and amazingly flavorful pieces of chicken ready to devour with your side dishes.
Keep reading for the complete steps and top tips to air fry the most mouthwatering chicken lollipops every time!
- Chicken Drumsticks: This is the main ingredient of the recipe. The drumsticks will be converted into a lollipop shape. They offer a good balance of meat and fat, yielding juicy and flavorful bites.
- BBQ Sauce: This will be used as a marinade and glaze for the chicken. It adds a sweet, tangy, and smoky flavor. You can use store-bought or homemade sauce. Feel free to choose your favorite variety—whether it’s hickory, honey, or spicy, it’s up to you!
- Honey: Honey enhances the sweetness of the BBQ sauce, helping to create a sticky, caramelized exterior on the chicken as it air fries. It also balances the tanginess of the sauce.
How to make air fryer chicken lollipop
- Prep the Chicken: Start by taking each chicken drumstick and making cuts around the base of the bone. Try to cut through the tendons and skin, but avoid cutting into the bone itself. Hold the bone end of the drumstick and push the meat downwards to form a lollipop shape. This might take a bit of force, but keep pushing until the meat forms a round shape at the bottom. Repeat with all drumsticks.
- Prepare the Marinade: In a separate bowl, combine the BBQ sauce and honey. Stir until they’re fully mixed. This mixture will add a sweet and tangy flavor to your chicken. Honey not only enhances the sweetness but also helps to create a beautiful glaze on the chicken when it cooks.
- Marinate the Chicken: Dip each chicken drumstick into the marinade, ensuring that the meaty part is thoroughly coated. You can use a pastry brush to help spread the marinade evenly. After marinating, place each drumstick in the air fryer basket, ensuring they’re not touching. For the exposed bone part, wrap a small piece of foil around it. This will prevent the bone from burning while cooking.
- Cook the Chicken: Close the air fryer and set the temperature to 400°F. Cook the chicken lollipops for about 15 minutes. However, don’t just set and forget! Halfway through the cooking time, take a moment to open the air fryer and baste the chicken with more of your marinade. This not only adds more flavor but also keeps the chicken moist. Close the air fryer and let it finish cooking.
What is the point of chicken lollipop
Also known as Frenched chicken, turning drumsticks into lollipops is a way to enhance the presentation of the leg. Many people consider the clean look of exposed bone and uniform “lollipop” top to add an elegant touch to an otherwise rustic dish.
Additionally, lollipop chicken pieces are easier to hold and eat with one hand versus traditional drumsticks. And they’re also less messy! This makes them great for gatherings where guests are more likely to stand while eating.
Frequently asked questions
Chicken lollipops are made with chicken drumsticks. So they are the same part of the chicken, but the term lollipop simply describes the preparation method.
Yes, they are rather healthy. Although chicken legs are dark meat and therefore more fatty than white meat, they are still chockfull of protein and essential nutrients. Air frying chicken uses far less oil than traditional pan frying or deep frying; so this recipe is a good bit healthier than other cooking methods.
It is best to cook chicken lollipop in the air fryer with non-frozen drumsticks. Mainly, it is nearly impossible to lollipop a frozen leg. So let them thaw in the fridge overnight before patting dry and preparing.
Take care to pat the legs dry with a clean towel to remove and excess moisture before basting the the marinade. When you place the pieces in the air fryer basket, make sure that they do not touch each other and every leg has a bit of room. Also, let the air fryer preheat before adding the prepared drumsticks to the basket.
Check the leg meat with a meat thermometer to test for doneness. The internal temperature should register 165 degrees.
It is a good idea to line the bottom of the air fryer with a piece of parchment paper. However, do not add the parchment until after the air fryer has preheated, right as you are ready to add the chicken.
Storing Cooked Chicken Lollipops:
- Let the cooked chicken lollipops cool completely to room temperature. However, don’t leave them out for more than two hours to prevent bacterial growth.
- Once cool, place the chicken lollipops in an airtight container or zip-top bag. You could also wrap them tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
- Store the container or wrapped chicken in the refrigerator, where they can last for up to 3-4 days.
- For longer storage, freeze the chicken lollipops in a freezer-safe bag or container, where they can last for up to 3 months. Make sure to press out as much air as possible from the freezer bag before sealing to avoid freezer burn.
Reheating Chicken Lollipops:
- If frozen, thaw the chicken lollipops in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350°F for a few minutes.
- Place the chicken lollipops in the air fryer basket without crowding them. Heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until they’re heated through. You might want to turn them halfway through to ensure even reheating.
- Fries: Classic potato fries, sweet potato fries, or even zucchini fries for a healthier twist.
- Mashed Potatoes: Creamy with butter and a touch of garlic or cheese for extra flavor.
- Coleslaw: A crunchy mix of cabbage, carrots, and a tangy dressing.
- Green Salad: Mixed greens with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a vinaigrette.
- Corn on the Cob: Grilled or boiled, brushed with butter and sprinkled with some seasoning.
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper until crispy.
- Macaroni and Cheese: Creamy and cheesy, always a hit with chicken.
- Steamed Asparagus: With a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
- Baked Beans: Sweet and tangy, they complement the savory flavor of chicken.
- Potato Salad: Chilled and creamy with bits of celery and onion.
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Hope you will like this chicken lollipop air fryer recipe as much as we do. Please rate the recipe if you made it and let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in comment section below.
- 6 drumsticks
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Start by taking each chicken drumstick and making cuts around the base of the bone. Try to cut through the tendons and skin, but avoid cutting into the bone itself. Hold the bone end of the drumstick and push the meat downwards to form a lollipop shape. This might take a bit of force,
but keep pushing until the meat forms a round shape at the bottom. Repeat with all drumsticks.
- Mix honey and BBQ sauce. Cover each chicken piece in marinade mixture and place in the air fryer. Wrap exposed bone with a piece of foil.
- Cook for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Baste with more marinade in the middle of cooking time.
Great side dishes to serve it with:
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 259Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 573mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 19gProtein: 22g