Crunchy Baked BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
Feb 07, 2022, Updated Dec 28, 2022
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Easy and delicious Crunchy baked bbq chicken drumsticks – the best recipe for crispy baked BBQ chicken legs right from your oven, without added breading or extra steps!
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The Best Baked BBQ Chicken Legs
I love to grill anytime of year – summer, spring, fall – and even winter. There is something about delicious smoky, crunchy, and savory foods right off a hot grill that is so crave-able – but grilling can easily become a giant pain.
Thankfully, when I’m craving crunchy, smoky, and delicious chicken drumsticks, I can make them anytime of year, fuss-free!
This amazing baked chicken legs recipe isn’t done on the grill- we’re getting the crunchy, sticky, bark-covered chicken drumsticks from heaven – made right in your oven! This easy baked chicken drumstick method is then coated in layers of bbq sauce to develop a crunchy bark straight from the oven – as well as rich, smoky flavors.
If you’re on a keto or low carb diet – this recipe can be made with any keto bbq sauce you love.
Don’t Miss: For a crunchy baked chicken drumsticks recipe in an air fryer, check out my Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks recipe.
And if you’re looking to make drumsticks from frozen – with no defrost time – check out my Instant Pot BBQ Legs recipe! If you’re a mustard lover, don’t skip my Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Drumsticks Recipe!
How to Bake BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
This method relies on developing a crispy baked crust on the chicken legs, which isn’t labor intensive, but you will need to watch your chicken drumsticks carefully and “mop” them with BBQ sauce, much like you would smoked chicken drumsticks.
- First off, I prefer to add chicken to oven on a cooling rack – not directly on a baking sheet. This helps to lift your chicken off the baking sheet, so air can move evenly around the chicken and crisp it instead of getting soggy.
- Let chicken bake about 40 minutes before adding bbq sauce- until skin is crispy, and fat around the drumstick has started to render and melt away.
- Try to flip chicken drumsticks every 10 minutes to ensure it crisps evenly on all sides.
- I prefer using tongs coated with heat resistant silicone coated tongs so they don’t stick to the chicken skin and BBQ sauce.
- With a silicone brush, lightly brush chicken with bbq sauce, flipping its side each time you add another coat of sauce, about every 10 minutes until sauce is used up (which will take about 30 minutes.)
- When chicken is fully cooked, turn on broiler, and broil for two minutes on each side to give a little extra crunch to chicken skin.
- Remove chicken when skin looks bubbly and shiny – watch closely to make sure it doesn’t burn!
This recipe for baked chicken drumsticks is one of my favorites – but if you’re looking for how to make addictively delicious chicken drumsticks in an air fryer, be sure to check out my Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks Recipe.
Crispy drumsticks are so delicious in the air fryer – and you can use the basting BBQ method we use here, but in the air fryer!
And don’t forget my favorite way to make french fries at home – my Air Fryer French Fries recipe goes perfectly with delicious chicken legs!
Tips to Perfect Baked BBQ Chicken Drumsticks & FAQs
This recipe is simple, but following a couple tried and true tips will help your baked chicken legs turn out perfect every time:
- Add Sauce Slowly Over Time. Layering bbq sauce slowly over chicken drumsticks as the chicken drumsticks bake helps the crust become crunchy and delicious.
- Don’t Rush the Magic! It’s hard to let chicken drumsticks cook for a while, especially when they smell as good as these BBQ Chicken Drumsticks do, but for the fat to render and the skin to become crunchy and irresistible, they need time! Let the chicken develop flavors and fight the urge to rush it too quickly, and let the fat and tendons break down on their own, resulting in perfect baked chicken legs.
- Layer the flavor! Adding layers and layers of flavor helps bring out the rich, smoky flavor you’d normally only get from a hot grill!
- Let it crisp. Let the sauce crisp a bit and develop a lovely crunchy bark by layering sauce on as it cooks – don’t just coat it with all the sauce at once.
To reheat on the grill:
- Get coals lit and arranged, or light gas grill and set to high, and bring to 350 degrees.
- Baste chicken drumsticks with BBQ sauce.
- Place chicken drumsticks in foil pouch.
- Add to grill and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until chicken is piping hot.
- Finish directly on grill for crunchier chicken drumsticks.
To Reheat in a Pan:
- To reheat chicken drumsticks in a pan, use a heavy nonstick pan.
- Melt 1-2 tbsp butter on high heat until frothy.
- Add chicken to hot nonstick pan over medium high heat.
- Pan fry chicken legs, moving frequently, until crispy.
Chicken drumsticks can keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days.
This recipe can be made to be 100% keto compliant, since it just involves a spice rub and sauce.
If macros are too high in the spice rub, omit garlic and onion powder (though only do this if you are very strict with intake – as they provide so much flavor).
Use any keto approved BBQ sauce you love – or try a spicy sauce like Nando’s Peri Peri Sauce.
One of the most frequent questions I get about these crunchy baked chicken drumsticks is what type of BBQ sauce to use. This recipe was actually developed to work with ANY BBQ sauce you like – with one small caveat.
This recipe works best with slightly thicker sauces – anything too watery might make a big mess as it will roll off the chicken instead of coating it.
This is entirely up to you – but I personally love the crispy crunch from chicken skin and prefer to leave it on and let it crisp when baking.
Cook chicken drumsticks at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chicken is fully cooked when it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a digital meat thermometer to probe the fattest part of the chicken drumstick, taking care not to touch the bone, to gauge the temperature.
For extra crunch, broil for 3-5 minutes per side, taking care not to let chicken burn under broiler.
What to Serve With BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
This recipe is fabulous with classic BBQ sides like Sour Cream Cornbread and Baked Beans – as well as my favorite Easy Rice Pilaf – but I’m sharing my favorite other dishes to serve with baked chicken legs as well:
You can find our complete side dish recipe archives here.
Crunchy Baked BBQ Chicken Drumsticks Recipe
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- 4 lb chicken drumsticks (about 12)
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 cups bbq sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Thoroughly pat chicken dry with a paper towel.
- In a small bowl, mix together spices (all ingredients but chicken and bbq sauce)
- Coat chicken in dry rub, let sit 30 minutes to overnight.
- Add chicken to oven on a cooling rack sitting atop a baking sheet.
- Let chicken bake about 40 minutes before adding bbq sauce- until skin is crispy and fat has started to render. Flip chicken drumsticks every 10 minutes to ensure it crisps evenly on all sides.
- With a silicone brush, lightly brush chicken with bbq sauce, flipping its side each time you add another coat of sauce, about every 10 minutes until sauce is used up (about 30 minutes.)
- When chicken is ready, turn on broiler and broil for two minutes on each side to give a little extra crunch to chicken skin.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1 drumstick
Amount Per Serving Calories 175Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 192mgSodium 1060mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 2gSugar 16gProtein 38g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.