This is just a great, simple baked chicken drumsticks recipe you can get in the oven quickly. A 3-ingredient seasoning adds terrific flavour and colour. Meanwhile, the secret to a lovely crispy skin is a touch of baking powder. Don’t believe me? Read the reviews in my Truly Crispy Baked Chicken Wings which uses the same trick!
Crispy Baked Chicken Legs
If you ask me, on a sheer scale of munchability (new word) chicken drumsticks beats out chicken breasts any old day. I’d rather be grabbing a drumstick with my fingers and chomping that meaty flesh off the bone than daintily nibbling a chicken breast with a knife and fork!
But, maybe that’s just me.
So if you’re in my camp – or actually, even if you’re not (!) 😇 – here’s a terrific everyday chicken drumsticks recipe to try. It’s flavoured with a simple, BBQ rub-like seasoning made with just paprika, onion and garlic powder (bet you’ve got all 3 in your pantry!!) bulked out with flour to coat the legs all over.
As for a little trick to get the skin nice and crispy? A touch of baking powder. Yep, really. Read on!
Seasoning for Crispy Baked Chicken Drumsticks
Here’s what you need to make these drumsticks. Baking powder is the secret ingredients that makes the skin crispy. Meanwhile flour is used to bulk out the seasoning mix so we can coat the chicken legs all over.
Chicken drumsticks – While I’m using chicken legs for this recipe, chicken wings and skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs can also be used.
Baking powder (for crispy skin!) – NOT to be confused with baking soda / bi-carb which is different! Baking powder is a tried and proven ingredient used in my baked chicken wings to make chicken skin crispier. There’s a bunch of science behind why it works, but all you need to know is that it does!
For complete transparency, I will be upfront in saying the skin in this recipe isn’t as shatteringly crisp as it is in the wings. This is because the wings have just plain skin whereas these legs are coated in seasoning, which does inhibit crisping (in return for more flavour coating!) However, without any baking powder at all, the drumstick chicken skin is just borderline soggy. Non-crispy chicken skin is fine in itself if you’re baking drumsticks with a glaze, like my Sticky Honey Soy Baked Chicken or Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Drumsticks. But for this recipe, it is SO much nicer when the skin is a little crisp!
Spice mix – We’re using a combination of smoked or plain paprika, onion and garlic powder here. These 3 spices are a classic, American barbecue rub-like seasoning combination I use in many dishes (such as my rub for pork chops and baked chicken breasts). Onion and garlic powder can be substituted with more of the other, if you don’t have both.
Flour – This is used to bulk out the seasoning so we can coat the chicken legs evenly all over.
How to make Crispy Baked Chicken Drumsticks
The trick to crispy baked drumsticks is to stretch the skin over the drumsticks as much as possible (because flesh won’t go crisp!) and then coat the skin evenly all over with the seasoned flour.
Seasoning – Mix the spices and flour together in a bowl. Use a shallow bowl as it’s easier coat the chicken legs in the seasoning.
Coat drumsticks in oil – The oil makes the seasoning stick to the chicken as well as helping the skin go nice and brown as it bakes. I find it’s easiest to rub it all over using my hands to ensure each drumstick is well-coated.
Stretch skin – The more skin that stays put over the flesh, the crispier your drumsticks! So pull and stretch the skin to cover the flesh as best you can. Some of the skin will still shrink back as it bakes anyway, but if you skip this step totally you’ll end up with a mostly naked drumstick 😭
Coat legs in the seasoning – Dip, turn, use fingers for sprinkling on top as needed. Then shake off the excess, otherwise you end up with quite a thick layer of pasty-ish coating on the chicken legs.
Rack on tray – Place the legs on a rack on a foil-lined tray. Why foil-lined? It makes your clean up life easier. Why rack? For crispy undersides! Don’t have a rack? Line with paper instead and turn the drumsticks halfway, and expect to add an extra 5 to 10 minutes to the bake time to make the top crispy.
Spray with oil – Then spray the legs with oil. Be generous! It makes them more crispy and golden, almost like a frying effect!
Bake for 30 minutes at 200°C/390°F (180°C fan), rotating the tray once to help them cook evenly. Then crank the oven up to 220°C/430°C (200°C fan) and bake for a further 15 minutes until they’re crisp and golden. You might find you need an extra 5 minutes to get the skin crispy, depending on how evenly the heat is distributed in your oven.
Once they’re ready, serve them up straight away while they’re nice and hot!
What to serve with Crispy Baked Chicken Drumsticks
These drumsticks are pretty universal in character and friendly with a wide range of other dishes. Try these drumsticks with Fried Rice and a simple Garden Salad, as pictured above. Else, make up a big batch of Macaroni Salad or Potato Salad – these are great big batch sides that keeps in the fridge for days. For something different, there’s also my marinated Vegetable Pasta Salad (excellent starch + veg side), a Quinoa Kale Salad (the kale is marinated!) or a big Sweet Potato Salad.
For more ideas, have a browse through my collection of Side Dishes (potato, pasta, rice, salads, veg!).
Love to know if you try this – let me know what you think! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Crispy Baked Chicken Drumsticks
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Servings5 – 6 people
Tap or hover to scale
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F (180°C fan-forced). Line a tray with foil then place a rack on the tray (makes the underside of the drumsticks crispier, Note 4).
Seasoning: Mix the Seasoning ingredients in a shallow bowl.
Coat in oil: Toss the drumsticks in the olive oil. Stretch and pull the skin on each drumsticks to cover as much of the flesh as possible.
Coat in seasoning: Coat a drumstick in the Seasoning then shake the excess off well. Place on the rack. Repeat with remaining drumsticks.
Spray with oil: Spray the legs generously with oil.
Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through. Increase the oven to 220°C / 430°F (200°C fan) then bake for a further 15 minutes or until the skin is crispy. Enjoy!
2. Substitute for spices:
Garlic powder: more onion powder
Onion powder: more garlic powder
Smoked paprika: more ordinary/sweet paprika
3. Baking powder purpose – Not to be confused with baking soda / bi-carb which is like triple strength baking powder and will NOT taste nice!!
Baking powder is a secret trick to make chicken skin crispier, a tried and proven method with chicken wings (very popular recipe on my website!). It doesn’t make these drumsticks shatteringly crispy because they’re seasoned rather than being plain skin (like the wings) but if you make these drumsticks without, they are noticeably less crispy. You can’t taste the baking powder.
4. Tray prep – Why foil-lined? It makes your clean up life easier. Why rack? For crispy undersides! Don’t have a rack? Line with paper instead and turn the drumsticks halfway, and expect to add an extra 5 to 10 minutes to the bake time to make the top crispy.
5. Nutrition per serving (ie 5 servings, 2.4 drumsticks per person 😂)
Calories: 395cal (20%)Carbohydrates: 10g (3%)Protein: 33g (66%)Fat: 24g (37%)Saturated Fat: 5g (31%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 167mg (56%)Sodium: 893mg (39%)Potassium: 745mg (21%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 1073IU (21%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 138mg (14%)Iron: 2mg (11%)
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