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Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Baked chicken legs are so simple to make and likewise delicious to eat. You can throw on a small or large amount of any spices that you like. They make a good, quick dinner for the family, along with some hot veggies or a green salad and you have a well-balanced, nutritious meal that your family will love.

Chicken Legs in the Oven

Baked chicken drumsticks are a recipe I’ve been cooking my entire life and one of the easiest dinners to make and to get kids to eat. Mothers love drumsticks because it has a “handle” on it which is the perfect size for a child to hold onto and eat their yummy dinner. 

Everyone in our house prefers dark meat, and so, therefore, fights over the drumsticks when we make a whole chicken. We wish that every chicken we buy should have a few more drumsticks! 

Chicken legs are very inexpensive to buy but at the same time pack a lot of flavors. They are just as popular as our Baked Chicken Thighs recipe and you can’t go wrong with either!

What Are Chicken Drumsticks?

Chicken drumsticks are considered dark meat. They are the bottom half of the entire leg, which consists of the drumstick and the thigh. 

The dark meat of the chicken is softer, juicier meat that has more flavor than white meat, which makes it a favorite of many.

Chicken drumsticks are inexpensive to buy which makes them a good choice for your budget, and they cook quickly, which makes them a favorite weeknight meal that you can make in so many yummy, yet different ways.

Best Chicken Legs Recipe

a bowl full of Baked Chicken Legs

The best chicken leg recipes are the ones that add some spices or sauces to them but at the same time, you can still taste the yummy, juicy flavor of the chicken itself. 

When you bake the chicken legs in the oven, the skin gets real crispy which is an added plus. After all, who doesn’t like crispy baked chicken? Isn’t that why we all love fried chicken? If you are like me I leave the skin on my plate till last cause it’s my favorite part because of the spices and the crisp.

Do You Cook Chicken Drumsticks with the Skin On or Off?

When we bake chicken drumsticks, we cook them with the skin on. By leaving the skin on you get a couple of benefits. 

  • It helps keep the chicken legs tender and juicy during the baking process.
  • The skin of the roasted chicken legs gets so crispy and flaky which makes it even more delicious.

Ingredients in Oven Baked Chicken Legs

Baked Chicken Legs Ingredients
  • Chicken legs – Drumsticks with skin.
  • Salt – An essential spice to enhance the flavor.
  • Pepper – Black pepper which will give the baked chicken drumsticks a little kick.
  • Garlic Powder – Who doesn’t love garlic, it is delicious with it.
  • Onion Powder – Onions are another favorite flavoring.
  • Paprika – I use regular paprika, but if you want it to be smokey tasting you could use smoked paprika.
  • Olive Oil – This coats the chicken legs for tenderness and also helps the spices stick better to the chicken.

How Long to Cook Chicken Drumsticks in the Oven?

In my opinion, it is best to bake your chicken drumsticks at a high temperature so that they will bake quickly and will also get nice and crispy. 

We recommend baking them at 400-425 degrees for about 25 minutes. The time and temperature could vary slightly  depending on how hot your oven runs.

It’s also possible to cook chicken legs at other temperatures besides 425 degrees, but you will have to adjust the cooking time.  Here is a chart that will help you:

  • Bake chicken legs at 325-350 degrees for 30-35 minutes
  • Bake chicken legs at 350-375 degrees for 25-30 minutes
  • Bake chicken legs at 400-425 degrees for 20-25 minutes

These cooking times and temperatures are just averages and will depend on your oven, and the size of the chicken legs.

Cooking Time Depends On These Factors

  1. Chicken Size: Cooking time will depend on the size of the drumsticks because they seem to come in 3 sizes, small, medium, and large. It only makes sense that the larger ones will take longer to cook than the small ones.
  2. Oven: All ovens are not exactly the same and some run hotter than others.
  3. Temperature: The higher the oven temperature, the faster the chicken legs cook, the crispier the skin will be.
  4. Full Oven: Cooking time will also depend on whether there are other things cooking in the oven at the same time as your chicken. If so, all of the heat doesn’t just go to the chicken, it gets dispersed throughout all of the different foods. As a result, your baked chicken drumsticks will take longer to bake than if they were in the oven alone.
Chicken Drumsticks baked in the oven

Chicken Leg Internal Temperature

Cooking chicken legs to the right temperature is crucial to avoid getting salmonella bacteria poisoning.

What Temp Do Chicken Legs Need to be Cooked to? 

Undercooked chicken for instance poses health risks because of salmonella bacteria, causing food poisoning. In order for chicken to be considered safe to eat, it needs to be cooked to 165 degrees.

Use a Thermometer

When we cook meat it is necessary to use a thermometer to make sure that the meat does not overcook or undercook. You want it to reach 165 degrees for the correct doneness. To avoid potential contaminants due to undercooking it, use a thermometer. 

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the biggest drumstick, without touching the bone, and that way if one is done then they are done.

When you buy yourself a simple thermometer, it will become your best friend in the kitchen, otherwise, it is just a guessing game that can ruin your dinner if it’s not cooked properly.

Is It Ok if Chicken is a Little Pink?

Pink chicken is safe to eat if the chicken reached the right temperature with the thermometer. If you get a temperature of 165 degrees or more in the thickest part of the chicken but the drumstick is a little pink, it is safe to eat.

How to Bake Chicken Legs in the Oven

We are going to show you step by step how easy it is to bake chicken legs in the oven.

STEP 1: Prepare the Chicken

It is not recommended to rinse off the chicken pieces before baking them but it is a good idea to dry off the existing moisture that may be on the chicken pieces, individually because the skin will crisp up better if it’s not wet.

  1. Lay the chicken legs out on a plate or tray.
  2. Now take some paper towels and pat the chicken legs until it’s completely dry.

STEP 2: Seasoning Chicken Legs

  1. The next step is to mix up the spices together. Get a small bowl and spoon, then add all of the spices and blend together thoroughly. That way the drumsticks will get covered evenly.
  2. Rub olive oil, or melted butter if you prefer, all over the chicken legs.
  3. Take your spices and spoon them all over the drumsticks on all sides until well covered.

STEP 3: Baking in the Oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 400-425 degrees.
  2. Line a baking tray with a piece of foil or parchment paper which will make for an easier clean-up as the oil and grease from the baked chicken drumsticks drip off during the baking process.
  3. Next, place a wire rack about the same size as the tray, on top of the paper.
  4. Layout your prepared pieces of chicken one at a time on the rack, spacing them apart so that they are not touching one another, because you need the air to circulate totally around them so that they will crisp up.
  5. Place them in the middle of the oven for a more even airflow around the tray to also help the chicken pieces to crisp up.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes or so. The only true way to know how long to bake the chicken drumsticks for is to use a thermometer. Make sure that the chicken legs reach 165 degrees.
  7. When the chicken drumsticks in the oven are done baking, let them rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the crispy baked chicken legs from the rack and serve on a platter or plate.

Rest Chicken Legs After Cooking

When your oven roasted chicken legs are done cooking, let them rest for about 5 minutes. It is usually a good idea to let the meat rest before cutting into it so that the juices have time to absorb into the meat instead of running out. 

5 minutes is enough since the drumsticks are so small and do not need to rest for as long as larger cuts of meat do.

However, if your kids are so hungry that they can’t wait to grab a drumstick and bite right in, no worries, they will enjoy them anyway.

How Do You Know When Chicken Drumsticks are Done?

The most accurate way to see if the drumsticks are done is of course to use a thermometer.

You can also cut into one of the legs at the thickest part to see if it’s cooked all the way through. The juices that come out should run clear and not bloody looking.

How to Keep Chicken Legs from Drying Out?

Chicken will dry out if you overcook it, so the best thing to do when baking chicken legs is to set the timer for the appropriate time and then check it for doneness with a thermometer and bring it up to 165 degrees. This will take approximately 30 minutes.

Get the Skin Extra Crispy

Roasted Chicken Legs

Crispy skin is a must when making baked chicken legs. It’s the best part because it has all of the spices on it and when it’s crispy it makes it seem like you are eating fried chicken without all of the fat from fried chicken. After all, who likes limp, chicken skin?

Here are some helpful tips to get crispy skin:

  1. Make sure to dry the drumsticks with a paper towel.
  2. Use a baking rack to place the chicken on which will allow the air to circulate under the chicken legs in the oven for a more even cooking.
  3. Cook with high heat, 400-425 degrees.
  4. Brushing the chicken legs with oil or butter will also help to crisp them up.
  5. If you want your chicken drumsticks to be extra crispy, then stick them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, just be careful not to burn them in the process.

Best Tips for Baking Drumsticks

  • For crispy baked chicken legs, be sure to dry the chicken first before seasoning it.
  • Coat the legs in oil which will hold the spices on better and help to make the skin crispy.
  • Make sure to lift the skin to season the chicken underneath too.
  • You can marinate your chicken drumsticks for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight, using the olive oil and spices that you are planning to use in the recipe in the first place.
  • If you are going to marinate the drumsticks, work the oil and spices into the chicken so that they pick up the flavors better.  
  • If you use lemon juice as a marinade, you will also need to add olive oil. The combo of the 2 together will make your baked drumsticks more tender and juicy, whereas lemon juice alone is an acid and will make them tough.
  • After making oven-roasted chicken legs, If you want them extra crispy, stick them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, but be careful not to burn them.
  • For an easy clean-up, line the baking tray with foil or parchment paper, then place the wire rack on top of that.

What to Serve with Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Baked Chicken Leg on a plate with broccoli

There are so many things that you can serve with your roasted chicken legs. Here are just a few ideas:

Different Variations

When making the chicken drumstick recipe, you can flavor them in so many different ways, and here are a few ideas:

  • Chili powder, cajun, or cayenne for spicy chicken
  • Smoked Paprika (for a smokey taste)
  • Lemon or Lemon Pepper

Dipping Sauces:

FAQs

Best Baked Chicken Legs

Should You Wash Chicken with Water? 

It is not recommended to wash your chicken, because when you do the chicken germs splash in your sink and on the counters, which is counterproductive. It’s better to bake chicken without washing it. 

Baking chicken drumsticks in high heat will get rid of any germs that you may be worried about.

Do You Turn Chicken Legs when Baking?

You do not have to turn chicken legs in the oven when making them. You should bake them on a rack so that they are elevated up off the pan. The air will circulate underneath the chicken legs which will help them get crispy.

Should I Cover My Chicken Legs when Baking?

If you want to have crispy baked chicken legs, then don’t cover them when baking. If you cover them the steam will build up under the foil which will make the skin soft and tender.

Why are Chicken Legs Cheap?

I have often asked this same question about why chicken legs are so cheap because I love dark meat more than white meat. Chicken is one of those things that some people have a definite taste for. 

The most expensive part of the chicken to buy when it’s sold separately is the white meat. Chicken legs are less expensive because people have been conditioned to think that the dark meat on drumsticks and thighs is unhealthy and will make you fat. That’s why they are so cheap.

If I have my choice, the first piece that I will go for is the drumstick because they are much more flavorful than white meat and are also healthy to eat. I’m glad that they are cheap!!

Do Chicken Legs Cook Faster Than Thighs?

Chicken drumsticks are usually a little smaller than thighs, so typically they do take just a few minutes less to cook. However, there have been times when the drumsticks that I buy are really big and they take longer than some thighs. 

If the drumstick and thigh are still attached together then yes the drumstick part may be cooked before the thigh, but only by a few minutes, not enough to worry about.

How Many Drumsticks Per Person?

When I cook chicken drumsticks in the oven I figure 2 pieces per person, but if I have big eaters I plan on extras, and if there are any small children I only figure 1 each.

Make-Ahead and Storing Options

Baked Chicken Leg Recipes

Making Ahead: Season up the chicken drumsticks a few hours ahead or even the day before, and then when you are ready to bake them it will only take you a few minutes to do so. While they are baking you can throw a vegetable in the oven or saute it on the stove. 

You can also whip up a nice tossed salad while the chicken drumsticks in the oven are cooking, which will give you a quick weeknight meal after working all day.

Storing Leftovers: Leftover chicken legs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days when kept in an airtight plastic container.

How to Reheat Chicken Drumsticks?

In the Microwave – This is the quickest way to heat up your baked chicken drumsticks. Place them on a plate and then place a paper towel over the top. It should only take 1-2 minutes to end up with hot chicken legs!!

In the Oven – Your leftover chicken legs will not be as crispy the next day as they were when you first made them, but they will be just as tasty. You can put them on a baking tray or oven-safe dish and cover them with foil so that they will not dry out. Bake them for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

You can also heat up the previously baked drumsticks under the broiler. Make sure not to put the drumsticks too close to the broiler otherwise they will burn on the outside and still be cold on the inside. If you broil them slowly then they will heat on the inside and crisp up again on the outside.

Can You Freeze Chicken Legs?

Freezing is a great way to keep your chicken legs fresh, as long as you wrap them properly. Write the date on the package so that you can use it before it spoils. 

Freezing Raw Chicken Drumsticks: Wrap your raw chicken in freezer paper and then double protect it by putting it into a Ziploc freezer bag. It will stay fresh for at least 6 months or even longer.

Freezing Cooked Chicken Legs: Leftover chicken legs can also be stored in the freezer, as long as you wrap them properly to keep the air out. Wrap them in freezer paper and then double up the protection by putting them in a Ziploc bag. 

Or you could also put them in an airtight plastic container and then in a Ziploc bag. They will stay fresh for 3 months.

Crispy Baked Chicken Legs

What to Do with Leftovers?

The good thing about making this baked chicken leg recipe is that if you make extra chicken the first night, you can have leftovers the second night. I love leftovers because it’s like doing the work once and then reaping the benefits later on too, which is helpful for busy people like yourselves.

  • Chicken Salad: Chop up the leftover baked chicken and add some mayonnaise, onion, celery etc.
  • Caesar Salad: Put some leftover baked chicken right on top of a green salad, add some bacon bits, shaved parmesan cheese and caesar dressing.
  • Chicken Soup: This is an all time winter favorite. Add some veggies and chicken broth and have yourself a great low carb and easy dinner.
  • Mexican Dishes: It’s easy to make some mexican dishes with the leftover baked drumsticks, like tacos, enchiladas, fajitas..etc.

Chicken Leg Nutrition

Chicken in general is considered a lean choice of meat. Everyone knows that the white meat chicken is the leanest, but don’t underestimate the dark meat of the drumsticks and thighs. They are both still lean and a great choice when you are on a diet

Baking the chicken legs in the oven is a healthy way to cook them. They are a good source of essential amino acids, along with several important vitamins and minerals.

They are a good choice for a low carb diet and also for Whole30 and Paleo as long as you use olive oil instead of butter.

A baked chicken leg has about 225-250 calories, with 20+ grams of protein, depending on their size.

Drumsticks and thighs are similar in nutrition since, when put together, they form the entire chicken leg.

Easy Baked Chicken Legs

Tools to Use

Baking tray – For baking chicken drumsticks.

Foil or parchment paper – For easy clean up of the pan.Wire rack – To raise the chicken up off the pan to allow air to circulate underneath which will add to achieving crispy skin.

Wire rack – To raise the chicken up off the pan to allow air to circulate underneath which will add to achieving crispy skin.

More Easy Chicken Recipes

If you are looking for more dinner ideas please check out some of our other delicious chicken recipes. 

All of them are easy to make and will have your friends and family raving!

Best Baked Chicken Thighs
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Best Baked Chicken Legs

Baked Chicken Legs (Drumsticks)


  • Author: Leigh Oskwarek
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 Servings (1 Drumstick Per Serving) 1x
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Description

Baked Chicken Legs are so simple to make and delicious to eat. There are so many different spices and flavors to use with this chicken leg recipe and tons of side dishes that can be eaten with them. They are cheap to buy and if your family is like ours, we all fight over the dark meat. Your family will love this chicken drumstick recipe and it will be one of your favorite healthy meals for years to come.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 chicken drumsticks (approx. 3 ½ lbs)
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

Prepare the chicken:

 

Seasoning chicken legs:

 

Baking:

Notes

The best thing about baked chicken legs is the crispy skin. Make sure to dry off the chicken before seasoning it up.

If you want to prepare your chicken ahead of it, you can oil and season the drumsticks at least 30 minutes ahead or even overnight if you choose to.

Be sure to line the baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.

By using a wire rack underneath your chicken it will allow the air to circulate underneath the chicken so that the skin gets crispy.

If your chicken legs are not crispy enough, then broil them for 3-5 minutes, but be careful not to burn them.

Storing: Leftover chicken legs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days when kept in an airtight plastic container.

Reheating: Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Freezing: You can freeze raw chicken in freezer paper and a Ziploc freezer bag for at least 6 months longer. Leftover cooked chicken legs can be stored in the freezer for about 3 months.

  • Category: Main Courses
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Baked Chicken Legs, Drumsticks, Chicken Drumsticks, Baked Chicken Drumsticks, Chicken Leg Recipe, Chicken Legs, Chicken Drumstick Recipe, Baked Drumsticks, Chicken Drumsticks in the Oven, Baking Chicken Legs, Baked Chicken Leg Recipes, Drumsticks in the Oven, Chicken Legs in the Oven, Baking Chicken Drumsticks, Roasted Chicken Legs, Crispy Baked Chicken Legs, Oven Roasted Chicken Legs, Healthy Dinners, Healthy Chicken Meal

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