What to Make with Chicken Legs
Chicken breasts might be one of the most popular cuts of meat in America – but it’s high time we stopped overlooking chicken legs. Darker, cheaper, and more flavorsome than white poultry meat, chicken legs (also known as chicken drumsticks) make an excellent focal point for a wide range of delicious meals.
If you’d like to start cooking chicken legs but don’t know which recipes to choose, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll be sharing our top 3 easy dishes to make with this tasty – and much underrated – cut of meat.
How To Bake Chicken Legs
Looking for a low-hassle mid-week meal? Our recipe for oven baked chicken drumsticks takes just 10 minutes of prep time and is easy to make, but the results will leave everyone asking for more. You will need:
- Chicken drumsticks (we recommend 2 per person)
- Salt and pepper
- Your favorite spice mix
- Butter, softened
Now you’re ready to make baked chicken! Always read through the steps before starting, to make sure you have all the equipment you’re going to need.
- First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. You’ll need a high temperature as this helps to crisp up the skin of your baked chicken.
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminium foil and then place a wire rack on top of the sheet. The rack will ensure the heat can surround each leg and cook them evenly.
- Now it’s time to open the meat. Using a paper towel, dry off each chicken drumstick to remove surface moisture from the skin (otherwise the skin won’t crisp up as nicely).
- Prepare your seasoning. You can stick to salt and pepper if you like, but we recommend choosing your favorite spice mix.
- Before adding your spice, lightly brush each leg with softened butter. This will give the spice mix something to stick to.
- Add your seasoning. You can sprinkle on as much as you like, but remember that if you add too much, it could overwhelm the flavor of the meat.
- Place the chicken legs onto the wire rack. Make sure they aren’t too close together because you want the heat to be able to surround each leg evenly.
- Put the meat into the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. The chicken legs won’t be ready when the timer goes off – this is the half-way point. When the timer goes, carefully turn each chicken leg over, using a pair of oven-safe tongs if possible.
- Set the timer for another 20 minutes. This will give the chicken legs a cook time of 40 minutes overall.
- Once the second timer has gone off, it’s time to check your meat. For the perfect baked chicken, you want the meat to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. If you have a meat thermometer, great – you can double check this before taking your chicken out of the oven. If you don’t have a thermometer, simply check that the juices are running clear as this will mean your baked chicken is cooked.
- Now, you’re ready to enjoy your meal! These oven baked chicken legs are fantastic served with a range of sides, from fries and salad to mashed potatoes and sweetcorn.
How To Grill Chicken Legs
Slathered in your favorite barbecue sauce, these grilled chicken legs are a wonderful addition to a summer BBQ. Some people are worried by the idea of grilling their chicken drumsticks: because the skin is quite thin, it’s quite easy to be left with blackened, burnt skin with uncooked meat beneath. But follow our simple recipe and you’ll get perfect chicken drumsticks every time!
The key with grilling this meat is to cook it ‘low and slow’. Grilled with a cook time of over an hour, you’ll get tender and juicy chicken without having to crack out your slow cooker. You will need:
- Chicken drumsticks (around 2 per person)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Ready-made or homemade barbecue sauce
To make our recipe for grilled barbecue chicken, follow the steps below:
- Take your meat out of the refrigerator about half an hour before you plan to start cooking. This will ensure it is at room temperature, which helps it to cook through more thoroughly.
- Preheat one half of your grill to 425 degrees F. It’s important to leave the other half off, for now.
- Pat the meat down with a dry paper towel and lightly rub it with olive oil. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper to taste.
- Lightly oil the grates of your grill with the olive oil too. Check the grates are clean beforehand and that your grill pan is under to collect the olive oil and juices – otherwise you’ll have a mess on your hands!
- Transfer your chicken drumsticks to the hot half of the grill, making sure that the skin is closest to the grill wires.
- After roughly 15 minutes, turn the legs over using a pair of oven-safe tongs. This will make sure that each chicken drumstick is cooked evenly.
- Now, it’s time to close your grill cover. Turn down the heat so that only one of your grill burners, on the half of your grill which doesn’t have the chicken on, is left. Get the temperature as close to 275 degrees F as you can.
- Once you’ve lowered the temperature, your chicken drumsticks should take roughly 1 hour to cook, making it faster and more effective than your slow cooker.
- Check that the internal temperature of your meat has reached 155 degrees F. You’ll need to change the grill temperature again, so turn up the heat from low to medium-high (roughly 350 degrees F).
- While the grill is heating up, prepare your barbecue sauce. Using an oil brush or spatula, make sure that the top (skin side) of each drumstick is coated in the sauce, being careful not to burn yourself on the grill as you do so.
- Leave the chicken legs on the grill until your meat thermometer is reading 165 degrees F. Then, remove your meat, cover it with aluminium foil, and allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes.
How To Cook Chicken Legs In The Oven
Requiring about 20 minutes of prep time, this recipe for oven-fried chicken legs is an easy (and healthier) alternative to using a deep-fat fryer. You will need:
- Chicken drumsticks (around 2 per person)
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
These ingredients will make enough mix to cover around 10 chicken drumsticks, so feel free to double the amounts if you’re cooking enough for a party (or halve them if you’re making dinner for two).
Once you’ve assembled all of your ingredients, it’s time to start cooking. Follow our method below for crispy fried chicken that’s cooked to perfection in your oven.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Make sure the sheet is big enough to hold all of your drumsticks. If you’re cooking for a party, you may need to use two sheets.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all your dry ingredients – the ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon curry powder, and ¼ a teaspoon black pepper. Make sure it’s mixed thoroughly.
- Cut up ¼ cup unsalted butter into small chunks and place these on your foiled baking sheet. Put it in the oven to melt the butter, being careful to check that it’s not burning. (You can use salted butter if it’s all you have, but bear in mind that it burns far more easily than unsalted butter and may start smoking).
- Roll each chicken leg in the mixing bowl, making sure that they’re thoroughly coated in the flour mixture.
- Place your chicken drumsticks onto your buttered baking sheet, turning them over to make sure they are coated in the butter.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes. Once the timer goes off, turn your drumsticks over to ensure they have browned evenly. Return them to the oven for around 20 minutes.
- Check that your chicken is 165 degrees F before taking them out of the oven and serving with your favorite sides.
We hope this blog post has given you some new ideas to take your meal plans to the next level. Chicken breast might be America’s favorite cut of meat, but we think these recipes might just make chicken drumsticks the number one choice in your home!
Our favorite recipes for chicken legs are easy to make, don’t require lots of expensive ingredients, and are sure to be a hit with your friends and family. Whether you’re looking for a simple evening dinner or a fail-safe recipe for a summer barbecue, we hope you found something here to whet your appetite.
Want more tasty recipes like these? Check out our full guide on how to cook a whole chicken now!