Baked chicken drumsticks that are so good that you will forget any other drumstick recipe! Beautifully browned, richly flavored, juicy and fall-off-the-bone tender. These baked drumsticks are a hit every time. Delicious and so addictive!
The secret to great tasting baked chicken drumsticks
The secret to making these drumsticks is the sweet and savory marinade that is so tasty that you can just drink it on its own. If you want your chicken legs or drumsticks to be flavorful and juicy inside, you have to marinate them. This is what separates a great chicken drumstick from an OK one.
Once you’ve prepared the marinade and marinated your drumsticks, you bake them until they are cooked through and have nice crispy tops. That’s all there is to it. It sounds simple, and it really is, but the drumsticks come out nothing short of exceptional. They are a huge hit every time I make them.
A great tasting marinade makes a great tasting drumstick. If you’ve tried my chicken thigh marinade, you know how amazing it is. It’s perfect for both chicken thighs and drumsticks. I’ve used it for years and always get a ton of compliments for it. For my chicken drumsticks, I slightly tweaked the original recipe to give it slightly more zest and more punch. The results were just what I had been looking for.
How long do you need to marinate chicken drumsticks?
For best results, I recommend marinating chicken legs and drumsticks overnight and up to 24 hours. A marinade needs time to work its way into the meat and flavorize it. I’ve seen many recipes suggesting 15 to 30 minutes marination and that’s just not enough. Chicken drumsticks will need at least several hours of marination to get the seasonings inside the meat.
I found that I get best results when I marinate drumsticks overnight and even up to 24 hours. This works very well with my schedule – I prepare the chicken in the evening, marinate it until the next evening, then bake it. This makes things super easy.
What if I don’t have the time to marinate drumsticks?
I am glad you asked. There is a way! I too often don’t have the time and want to make something real quick without advanced planning. After some experimenting I found a perfect way to beat the need to marinate and get all that flavor inside the meat. What I do is put the chicken in a Ziploc bag, add the marinade, close the bag and massage the chicken for 5 minutes. What this does is it expedites the process of marination where the sauce gets sucked in through the capillaries in the meat.
How long to bake chicken drumsticks and at what temperature?
Baking time and temperature are inversely related. The higher the temperature the lower the baking time will be. I’ve experimented with both higher and lower baking temperatures, and found that 375F gives me the best results in terms of browning and meat juiciness and tenderness. I don’t have to resort to broiling to get proper browning. At 375F, it takes about 45-50 minutes for the chicken to get a nice browning going and the internal temperature to reach 185F.
I recommend using a BBQ thermometer like ThermoPro TP07 or it’s more advanced sibling ThermoPro TP08 to get an alert when your chicken is ready. I’ve been using a BBQ thermometer in the kitchen for years now and love how it makes cooking so much easier and more predictable.
I like my skin-on dark meat chicken parts cooked to about 185F-190F. Cooked to 165F, they taste under-cooked to me. The texture is still tough. This is especially true for drumsticks. When you cook them to 185F, the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender while still being juicy.
Can you use chicken legs in place of drumsticks in this recipe?
Yes, you can use chicken legs and drumsticks interchangeably in this recipe. There are no adjustments (temperature or otherwise) necessary as long as the weight of the chicken remains the same.
Can you use regular soy sauce?
Yes, you can use regular soy sauce. If you do, you will need to reduce the amount of soy sauce to about three tablespoons and adjust for salt. The reason I like using low sodium soy sauce is because I can get the flavor profile I am looking for without over-salting the dish and then adjust the salt level to taste.
Can you freeze marinated drumsticks?
You can absolutely freeze marinated drumsticks and defrost them in the refrigerator. It usually takes about a day to defrost chicken drumsticks in the fridge. The marinade in this recipe is freezer-friendly.
For best results, freeze the meat and the marinade separately. If not, the texture of the chicken may be affected. When the ice crystals form in the meat, they burst cells, which then lose juice when the meat is defrosted. The result is often mushier, less juicy meat.
With what to serve baked chicken drumsticks?
This is an excellent question that I hear a lot. Personally, I love to serve these drumsticks with mashed potatoes. Boil some potatoes, drain off the liquid, add a little bit of butter, cream, salt and pepper, mash then add some chopped chives or scallions on top. It’s quick and delicious. Or you can go with whole young or Fingerling potatoes. Toss them in a little bit of butter and/or sour cream, salt, pepper, caramelized onions and chopped greens. Wild, brown or white rice work very well too. If you like buckwheat or quinoa, they are great accompaniments too. You can also try them with rice or roasted vegetables.
- 12 chicken drumsticks (or 6 chicken legs; about 4 lbs)
For the marinade
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (or lime juice)
- 5 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 inch ginger root (peeled and grated, or use 1/4 tsp powdered ginger)
- ½ tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
- 1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the marinade and mix with a fork. Set aside.
- Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag. Add the marinade. Expel as much air from the bag as possible and close. Marinate overnight and up to 24 hours, or at least several hours.
- If baking drumsticks immediately, massage them in the bag with the marinade for about 5 minutes. This will be sufficient to get a good amount of marinade and flavor inside the meat.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Transfer the drumsticks and all of the marinade into a baking dish.
- Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F for 45-50 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 185°F and the drumsticks are nicely browned on top.
- Carefully remove from the oven and serve hot, with pan juices and your favorite side dish (e.g. mashed potatoes, rice, etc.)
Can you grill the chicken instead of baking it?
Yes, you can grill them. Many of my readers tried it it works well.
This chicken leg recipe was great even though I didn’t have quite enough honey. My Extremely picky eater husband (whom does not care for any chicken) also like them, so thank you. I will definitely double the marinate and marinate longer next time. .
Ah-mazing! My husband who is not a drumstick fan could not quit talking about these. We are out of propane so I looked for a recipe for baked chicken and this was perfect. I reduced the leftover marinade and he put it on his pasta. It’s now on the dinner rotation. So so good. Thank you for a marinade that uses my typical pantry items.
Happy to hear it, Lori. Enjoy! And thank yuo so much for the kind words.
Do you remove the skin before or after cooking?
If you don’t want to eat skin, it’s best to cook with the skin on then remove after cooking. Skin protects the meat during cooking, keeping it moist, tender and juicy.
What is the serving size for the listed caloric break down….one drum stick?
disregard my question. I found it buried in others. thanks
No problem. Enjoy!
Excellent. I marinated for just over 24 hours. Baked to a temp of 180 degree. Fantastic.
Glad to hear that, Joe. Happy cooking!
I’ve made this once and it was amazing! Could you also cook this in the instant pot? Any ideas how long? Thank you!
You are welcome!
My husband has a sesame allergy, what would you suggest for a substitution?
Becca, you can use any other oil in this recipe.
This dish was wonderful!
Made this meal a short while ago, and my family went bonkers over it. Here are some suggestions and observations:
I would highly recommend cilantro (that’s what I used) instead of parsley. Parsley is tasteless, whereas the cilantro enhanced the taste of this dish immensely.
You can remove the skin (especially for health-conscious people like our family) which I did, and the chicken still tasted delicious.
I am huge proponent of brining meat (especially chicken) and while, I did not do it this time, because of time constraints, I plan on doing it next time I make this meal.
Anyone who has not made this meal, should try it.
Thanks for your detailed feedback, Jeremy. Happy to hear that you liked the recipe. Nice tips, especially the one about using skinless chicken…
I cooked this recipe twice now. The first time, I baked it just as the recipe indicated. The second time, I cooked it on the stove and poached/boiled it in the marinade. Once the chicken was cooked, I placed the chicken in a serving dish, reduced the marinade, then poured it over the chicken. Both ways are great! My family loved it. Thank you for sharing your recipe. Next time I will try the recipe on pork chops.
You are very welcome. Happy cooking!
Whats the green stuff you put at the end is it cilantro?
Yes, cilantro or parsley sometimes.
Can you marinate the meat for 48 hours?
Should be fine in this recipe. I wouldn’t if the marinade were too acidic.
Super easy marinade and preparation. We served it with white garlic rice and some roasted veggies on the side — will do again!
Can I put the marinade on frozen drummies??
You sure can but are you still going to marinate the chicken? If not, the meat inside will lack flavor. My favorite method to use frozen drumsticks is to put them in luke warm water (inside a vacuum sealed bag) and defrost, it only takes 30-40 minutes, then marinate.
Great recipe! Thank you! My family loved it!
Depends on where you come from.. drumstick!leg or quarter leg …no big deal…still tastes great
Isn’t a chicken leg and a drumstick one in the same?
Can I make this in a glass baking dish?
This is most confusing. Grew up eating chicken legs which when we had company mother called them drumsticks. One and the same!! Not two separate pieces of bird. A leg and thigh is a chicken quarter. 😂
454 cal per drunk stick?
Ashlee, one serving is (was) more than one drumstick. To make it easier, I recalculated nutrition to per drumstick (12 drumsticks or about 4 lbs). Now its 187 calories per drumstick including the sauce in the pan.
This came out great! My family asked me to make it again for dinner tomorrow! I did add a little extra red pepper flakes. My family likes a little spice!
I was looking for a recipe to use with the drumsticks I have and this one sounds amazing!! However the weight of the chicken I have is only 2.76. What changes would you recommend making for the difference in weight? (Beginner cook here!)
So you will be baking two drumsticks? If so, make 1/4 of the recipe and bake in a small baking dish.
I made this tonight for my family and we all loved it even my pockets eater. It was amazing!! I only got to marinate it for 5 hours but it was still good. I also cooked it on the grill and poured what juice I had in the bag on top of the chicken and let it cook into it and oh my. Thank you for sharing this it is definitely going into my book to fix again.
You are very welcome! Thanks for your feedback.
I made this just now and my family loves it. Going to make it again and again and again. Thanks for the recipe! ❤️
Hi! Any way I can put this in the crock pot??
Yes. Cook them like in this crock pot chicken recipe. Outstanding!
I made this for dinner last night and it was absolutely delicious. This has now become one of our favorites. Thank you.
I did there other day it was awesome I didn’t have sesame oil or the ginger I added Cayenne pepper added little bit more chili red flakes added the parsley flakes after the cook was done came out great
I cook this last night I didn’t have the ginger and it still came out great will do this again
Good to hear it, Victor. Thanks for your comment.
Hi, planning on making this tonight, but could someone tell me what green herb is on top? I cant seem to find that part. Thanks!
Parsley or cilantro. I like both.
The Best! Would also like to try with wings and thighs!
Great tasting chicken drumsticks, made as a freezer meal, came out perfect, Thank you for sharing the receipt.
You are very welcome!
I have a whole chicken cut up .Can I use this recipe for all part of the chicken? I’m assuming this may not work for the white part of the meat.
Yes, this recipe is more suited for dark chicken meat.
I haven’t yet tried this recipe, though I will be later today, but I wanted to commend you on all the wonderful information that you included before the recipe. While it doesn’t bother me when people lead with a story, I really appreciate all the hints that you gave. Thank you!
You are welcome, Tanya and thank you for your feedback. I hope you like the recipe and come back for more recipes.
I’d like to make this recipe but my oven is broken and only my broiler is working at the moment so I can’t bake anything, can I use this same recipe on the stove top some way?
Alexis, sorry to hear about your oven. If you want to cook them on the stove top, follow the same process as for my pan-fried chicken wings. You can use the marinade from this recipe. You will have to cook drumsticks a little longer, use a thermometer to gauge the doneness. They need to reach 185F internal. I have a feeling you will like them a lot.
Hi there – I am very eager to try this recipe but I am trying to cut down on fat and my doctor doesn’t want me eating chicken with the skin on. Has anyone tried this with skinless and/or boneless thighs/drumsticks?
You can do several things. Make the drumsticks as per the recipe and remove skins before serving. Another way is to start with boneless, skinless thighs, marinate and bake at 425F for 20 minutes and crisp up under broiler as instructed in my baked boneless maple chicken thigh recipe. I would cook skinless drumsticks the same way but a little longer, and finish under broiler. I find that skinless meat tastes better when cooked at higher temps for a shorter time.
Hello. We love baked chicken drumsticks in just about any form and normally keep it basic with few spices and lemon. These drumsticks with an Asian twist to them turned out so good last night that we will be making them again today. I was a little unsure about the amount of honey in the recipe but decided not to change and I am glad I didn’t as the taste was great.
Great recipe! I tried it tonight. I didn’t have Worcestershire, so I skipped it. The chicken turned out great and the juice was even better!! Thank you for sharing!
You are very welcome, Jen. Next time try with Worcestershire, I like the savory taste and the tang it adds.
Hey Victor, just made these drumsticks for supper tonight and they were delish! My hubby and two boys devoured them! Hubby said he wants these for dinner every night from now on!
So happy to hear that, Ciara. I can’t blame your hubby, these drumsticks are the bomb. I wouldn’t mind eating them every night.