The OG Meat on a Stick is making a summer comeback! Grilled Chicken Drumsticks make for an easy summertime suppertime. They’re crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and downright finger lickin’ fun to eat. Grab one for each hand and dip on demand – sauce suggestions below.
- One Trick for Super Crispy Grilled Chicken
- How to Grill Chicken Drumsticks
- Chef’s Tips!
- How Often Do You Turn Chicken Drumsticks on a Grill?
- Internal Temperature for Grilled Chicken Legs
- Chicken Thighs vs. Chicken Legs
- Can I Grill Chicken Leg Quarters for this Recipe?
- Are Grilled Chicken Drumsticks Healthy?
- Sauces for Grilled Chicken Legs
- How to Store Grilled Chicken Drumsticks?
- More Ways to Enjoy Grilled Chicken
Hi. My name is Danielle. And yes, I am that person. That person who has a history of yelling across the street “You guys should totally come over this weekend. We’re gonna grill out,” and meaning it. I am also that person, who, when you casually say over the backyard fence “Oh, swing by. We’re just gonna be in the back yard, hanging out, grilling…” I am coming to your house. Yeah. That person.
Cause I don’t care if it was just politeness – like when you suggest grabbing a coffee with someone you haven’t kept in touch with for 20 years, but you both know it’ll never happen? Yeah. That’s not me when it comes to a casual invite in the summertime. On either side. One of us is going to the other’s for a cookout whether we like it or not.
If there is a meal situation in which (a) grilled meat and/or (b) summer fruits and veggies are happening, there’s no way I’m not in. Even if I have to invite myself or spontaneously host my own pop-up picnic.
So, if you also have this slight seasonal addiction, here’s a pro-tip: Grilled Chicken Drumsticks.
Sure, have your go-to summer side salad or dessert on deck, but bringing a protein to complement the burgers and dogs without overshadowing is an expert move. It’s also expert level at your own house because drumsticks are still the cheapest chunk-a chicken you can get, but they work perfectly for casual gatherings.
This recipe for cooking dry rubbed chicken legs on a grill is easy, tasty, healthy, cost-effective, and for some reason, almost feels downright elegant at a basic backyard bbq. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, you’ve got a crowd pleaser on (and in) your hands.
One Trick for Super Crispy Grilled Chicken
If you’re wondering if you should pat your chicken legs dry before grilling, yes, absolutely do that, but that’s not the real trick. Unlike saucy baked chicken drumsticks, grilling drumsticks are addictive for their texture contrast of super crispy skin and tender, fall-apart meat.
Pro-tip: Coat your chicken drumsticks with baking powder! Well, more accurately with a mixture of baking powder and salt for a double duty dose of drying power – this is called a dry brine, and it’s our favorite method for ensuring crispy skin and adding extra flavor.
Baking powder helps draw out moisture and aids in browning for cracklin’ good crispy skin, while kosher salt seeps into the meat and seasons the chicken from the outside, in. This tip is brought to you by science. (And by the way – you can use this same trick for extra crispy grilled chicken wings or chicken drumsticks in the air fryer!).
How to Grill Chicken Drumsticks
Tossing BBQ chicken legs on the grill is an easy way to bolster the menu at any cookout without breaking the bank. These Grilled Chicken Drumsticks get super crispy thanks to a coating of our baking powder blend, and super flavorful from our subtle, smoky dry rub. Perfect for picnics and potlucks, with so many options for dipping and saucing.
- Pat the chicken dry, then sprinkle with kosher salt and baking powder. Cover, then chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- When you’re ready to grill, heat a gas grill to medium high (400°F) or prepare a charcoal grill for high, but not super-hot, heat (read more here about how to maintain heat on a charcoal grill).
- Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix until well combined.
- Again, pat the chicken very dry with paper towels – for one, you want to remove most of the remaining salt and baking powder. For two, they will have wept a ton of moisture while chilling (as intended!).
- Oil drumsticks a bit, then coat them with dry rub and work it in on all sides.
- Arrange the chicken on the grill grate, spacing about 1” apart. Grill for 30 minutes with the lid closed. Turn the drumsticks every 5-6 minutes, and cook until internal temperature reaches 180-185°F.
- Open grill lid for the last five minutes and cook, turning once, until the skin is very crispy. Optional – if saucing, brush on skin at this point.
- Remove the chicken from grill, rest 5 minutes, and serve hot. Enjoy!
- Pat the chicken very dry after the dry brine – they will weep quite a bit of moisture, and moisture is the enemy of crispiness!
- Grill with the lid CLOSED – conventional wisdom is that if you grill anything thicker than ¾″, close the lid.
- Watch the heat! If using a gas grill, make sure you’re maintaining a steady temperature of 375-400°F – anything higher and the skin will char too much.
- Cook chicken drumsticks on a grill for a bit longer than than you would boneless chicken – aim for an internal temperature of around 185°F for extra tender, fall apart meat.
How Often Do You Turn Chicken Drumsticks on a Grill?
Cook chicken drumsticks for about 30 minutes with lid closed, turning the pieces every 5-6 minutes (for a total of 4-5 times). In the last 5 minutes, open the lid and just turn once more, halfway through.
Internal Temperature for Grilled Chicken Legs
Always check the doneness of chicken legs on the grill with an instant read thermometer. Once your grilled drumsticks reach 180°F, they’ll be lightly-charred and ready to eat. Take them up to 185°F for extra tender meat.
Chicken Thighs vs. Chicken Legs
While the term “chicken leg” is regularly used interchangeably with the term “drumstick,” technically the leg can refer to the full leg quarter, consisting of both the thigh and drumstick. For the purposes of this post, if we’re talking about a chicken leg, we’re talking about a chicken drumstick, and vice versa.
Can I Grill Chicken Leg Quarters for this Recipe?
You certainly CAN, but the cooktime will be longer as the pieces are substantially bigger with more bone. But honestly? I don’t ever bother. Chicken drumsticks are easier to eat and cheaper to come by in a pack.
Are Grilled Chicken Drumsticks Healthy?
Short answer – yes. Grilled chicken in any form is a protein powerhouse (with around 18-20 grams per drum). With the skin on, grilled chicken drumsticks still have the lowest fat content of any cut of chicken, and grilling allows you to eliminate a bit more fat, because anything rendered drips away from the meat.
And even with the added brown sugar for the dry rub, grilled chicken drumsticks are still pretty darn low carb (coming in at around 7 grams for 2 drumsticks).
Sauces for Grilled Chicken Legs
When grilling chicken drumsticks a marinade isn’t necessary, but these are great if you wanna get saucy. Brush sauce onto the chicken legs in the last 5 minutes of grilling with the lid open – coat both sides right before and after the final turn.
These “naked” grilled chicken legs are flavorful as-is, if you’d rather “take a dip” with a variety of sauces. I’m also partial to combining local honey with my favorite mustard – or even hot sauce for hot honey – to dip or drizzle on grilled drumsticks.
How to Store Grilled Chicken Drumsticks?
Grilled drumsticks will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. They’re still great cold, but if you want to reheat them, spread them out on a baking sheet and place in a 375°F oven for about 15 minutes, or until warmed through.
More Ways to Enjoy Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Wings
- Grilled Chicken Tacos
- Grilled Chicken with Avocado Salsa
- Grilled Lemon Thyme Chicken Skewers
- Grilled Chili Lime Chicken
- Grilled Teriyaki Chicken
Did you make these chicken legs on the grill? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Extra Crispy Grilled Chicken DrumsticksPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Casserole Dish
- Small bowl
- 8 chicken drumsticks
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Pat the chicken very dry and arrange on a platter or in a casserole dish.
- Combine the kosher salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the drumsticks. Rub the mixture into the skin with your (clean and dry) hands. Transfer to the fridge and chill at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.
- When you’re ready to grill, heat a grill to medium high (400°F).
- Combine the dry rub ingredients – brown sugar, Italian seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper – in a small bowl.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge, then pat very dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel; it may be easier to transfer the chicken to a clean, dry casserole dish as the skin will weep quite a bit of moisture.
- Pour the olive oil over the drumsticks, then rub into the skin. Sprinkle the drumsticks with the dry rub, then work into the skin on all sides.
- Arrange the drumsticks on the grill, spacing about 1” apart. Close the lid and grill 30 minutes, turning every 5-6 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 180-185°F using an instant-read thermometer (grill to a higher temperature than boneless chicken for more tender, fall-apart meat). Open the grill for the last five minutes and grill, turning once, until the skin is very crispy. Optional – you may also brush the skin with your favorite sauce at this point.
- Remove the chicken from the grill, rest 5 minutes, and serve hot. Enjoy!