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This crispy, saucy, oven baked BBQ chicken legs recipe will please anyone at the dinner table! It’s a sweet take on my popular recipes for baked chicken legs and grilled chicken legs, taken up a notch with your fave barbecue sauce. BBQ chicken drumsticks work for any occasion — grill ’em in the summer, bake ’em or slow cook ’em when it’s cold out. They’re a sure hit anytime of year!
Why You’ll Love This BBQ Chicken Legs Recipe
- Smoky BBQ flavor
- Juicy inside, crispy skin
- 3 simple ingredients (plus salt & pepper)
- Fast 10-minute prep
- Naturally low carb and gluten-free
- Perfect for a healthy dinner or barbecue
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for BBQ chicken drumsticks in the oven or grill, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Chicken – I used chicken drumsticks for this BBQ chicken legs recipe, but chicken leg quarters or whole chicken wings also work, or you can grill chicken thighs, too. I recommend bone-in, skin-on meat for juicy, flavorful results, but technically you can use the same method for boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs as well.
- Olive Oil – Adds flavor and helps the seasonings stick. Avocado oil would also work.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper – I kept it simple with just salt and pepper, because the BBQ sauce provides plenty of flavor. However, you can add other spices to the chicken first, such as paprika or garlic powder, if you like.
- BBQ Sauce – Choose your favorite, because this is the star of this dish! I use my homemade sugar-free BBQ Sauce (made with tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, powdered Besti, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chili powder, and cayenne pepper). You can use any kind you like, though.
How To Make BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
This section shows how to make BBQ chicken legs in the oven or on the grill, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
Whether you’re making grilled or baked BBQ chicken legs, the simple prep is the same:
- Dry. Blot chicken dry with paper towels. (This helps the seasonings stick and also gets the skin more crispy.)
- Season. Brush the chicken on all sides with olive oil. Season all sides liberally with salt and pepper.
BBQ Chicken Legs In The Oven:
I’ll be honest, I make baked BBQ chicken most often, because it’s so hands-off! Use this method when it’s not too hot to turn on your oven:
- Bake. Preheat the oven. Arrange the chicken drumsticks on sheet pan. Bake until nearly cooked.
- Brush. Remove the chicken from oven and brush all over with BBQ sauce.
- Finish. Continue cooking baked BBQ chicken drumsticks until done. If you want them more caramelized, broil for a couple of minutes.
BBQ Chicken Drumsticks On The Grill:
You can’t go wrong with BBQ grilled chicken in the hot summer months! This method is a little less hands-off, but still just as easy:
- Cook. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Place the seasoned chicken drumsticks on the grill grates, meatier side down, and cook over direct heat with the lid closed.
- Flip. Turn drumsticks and cook on the other side.
- Brush. Turn off one side of the grill. Move the drumsticks off of the lit burner, to indirect heat. Brush the chicken with barbecue sauce, close the lid, and cook.
- Flip. Turn the legs and coat with more BBQ sauce. Grill until caramelized and cooked through.
TIP: For juicy results, cook to an internal temperature of 170 degrees F.
Dark meat, like chicken legs or thighs, turns out more tender if you cook it to 170 degrees F instead of the safe temperature of 165 degrees F. If you make this recipe with chicken breast, go with 165 instead. Use a meat thermometer to check (I like this one, which reads quickly to avoid overcooking).
Check my grilled chicken legs post for more grilling tips, too!
- Store: Cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container or wrap tightly in double layers of aluminum foil. Refrigerate for 3-4 days.
- Reheat: Warm in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes, or in a microwave for 1-2 minutes. You can also reheat BBQ chicken legs on the grill over indirect heat.
- Freeze: Place in an airtight container or zip lock freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What To Serve With BBQ Chicken Legs
You can make so many side dishes with this meal! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Salads – Serve this BBQ chicken drumsticks recipe with fresh summer salads, like cucumber tomato avocado salad or Caesar salad. You can also choose a heartier option like potato salad, (or cauliflower potato salad), a roasted cauli salad, or even take the meat off the bone to make BBQ chicken salad.
- Vegetables – While you have the grill on, prep grilled asparagus or grilled broccoli. If you’re making baked BBQ chicken legs, you can roast vegetables at the same time (swap the pans halfway through if they are on different racks), or make Instant Pot corn on the cob, air fryer corn on the cob, or shishito peppers while they are cooking.
- Potatoes – Chicken drumsticks with potatoes make the ultimate pairing! If you want them ready at the same time, make air fryer baked potatoes while you cook the chicken on the grill, or roast sweet potatoes in the oven with the chicken.
More Easy Grilled Chicken Recipes
Looking for more tasty and easy grilled chicken recipes? Try these easy ideas for no-fuss dinners:
BBQ Chicken Legs (Baked Or Grilled)
These easy grilled or baked BBQ chicken legs (drumsticks) need just 3 ingredients! They're crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Use paper towels to blot the chicken dry.
Brush the chicken on all sides with olive oil. Season all sides liberally with salt and pepper.
BBQ Chicken Legs In The Oven:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C).
Arrange the seasoned chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet, meatier side down. Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the chicken legs from the oven and brush with BBQ sauce on top. Flip and brush with BBQ sauce on the other side.
Bake for another 10-20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F (77 degrees C). If you want them more caramelized, broil for a couple of minutes.
BBQ Chicken Drumsticks On The Grill:
Preheat the grill to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C) (medium high to high heat, depending on your grill) for at least 10-15 minutes.
Place seasoned chicken drumsticks on the grill, meatier side down, and cook for 10 minutes with the lid closed. (Adjust burners as necessary to keep the temperature at 450 degrees F (232 degrees C).)
Flip drumsticks, and cook for another 10 minutes with the lid closed.
Turn off the burners on one side of your grill and move drumsticks off of the lit burner. Brush the chicken with barbecue sauce, close the lid, and cook for 5 minutes. (The temperature inside your grill should be 350 degrees F (177 degrees C), adjust the burners that are on if necessary.)
Flip the chicken, brush with sauce, and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid closed. (For the juiciest grilled chicken drumsticks, use a meat thermometer ensure that the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F (77 degrees C).)
If desired, serve BBQ chicken legs with more barbecue sauce on the side, or brush more on top before serving.
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Serving size: 1 drumstick
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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