Grilling Chicken Drumsticks – The Art of Drummies

Grilled Chicken Legs - The Art of Drummies from 101 Cooking For Two

Super easy, never fails, grilled drumsticks for the whole family. Pat dry, spice and cook over medium high heat. Then you will have crispy goodness for all.

The “art” of the grilled chicken legs (drumsticks)… that is what I have been working on for several weeks. All the recipes I looked at said things like until “fluid runs clear” or 30 minutes over medium high heat. I need more precise. Plus overnight marinades and lots of other magic cooking stuff. Not good for me.

My mistakes or at least the ones I remember. First I cooked them to 165 just like I love chicken breast. They weren’t done. They were tough and stringy. Then I went to 180-190, yep just the right temp. But I cooked it too fast on high heat. Burnt skin. Char is good, burnt is bad.

I tried several spice mixes and settled on the one below. Just some kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper (but not too much of kids but just enough for taste for adults).


rating system 5
An easy and tasty 5.


  • DO NOT SKIP PAT DRY or you will not have crispy skin. (See
  • Check the cut joint area for loose parts. You may be handing this to a child and don’t need loose bone aspirated.
  • You must use a thermometer to be sure you get to 185 plus. Do not guess.
  • Spice as you want. I frequently add the Cayenne but if you have little ones, skip it.
  • Scale to any amount you need
  • Skip the seasoning and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce the last 5 minutes to make great  BBQ drumsticks.

Update: (June 23, 2012) rbeland asked a question in a comment below. Specifically, what temp on the grill surface? Well I did a test cooking tonight on my new super-duper Weber which is a much “hotter” grill then my previous grill. I chose a surface temp of 450 which is what I estimated was the surface temp of my old grill. To get that stable temp on my Weber, the burners were at about 50%. The drummies were done in 32 minutes and were great. I now use a done temp of 185-190 and they are fall off the bone tender with great skin. I have update the description to reflect there facts.

Another Update on grill temperature( October 10,2014). 450 is the suggest surface temperature on the grill grates. NOT the temperature on that useless thermometer in the grill hood. You can get a $8 thermometer from Amazon, Lowes or Home Depot and it will save you many times the cost in meals you won’t ruin. Don’t blame me when you burn your drummies.

washing the chicken legs
Preheat grill to get a surface temp of about 450. That is medium high on a standard gas grill and medium on a hot gas grill. Clean and oil. Pat dry the drumsticks.
trim the joint of loose bones
Trim of excess skin and any loose bones/tissue especially in the joint area.spices for the recipe
Mix spices. 1 T kosher salt, 1 t pepper and garlic powder and 1/2 t cayenne pepper. This is more than you need. Keep it for next time. You can also use my 7:2:2 spice mix. You may want to skip the cayenne if cooking for little ones. Or use the seasoning of your choice.applying spices to the chicken legs
Lightly sprinkle chicken on all sides to taste. Let rest at room temperature until grill is on grill over direct heat
Check grill temp if possible and place chicken on grill.
the chicken drumsticks are almost done
Flip every 5-7 minutes until internal temp of  185-190 degrees. About 30-35 minutes.
a pile of drumsticks
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. They are way too hot anyways.

4.7 from 7 reviews
Grilling Chicken Drumsticks- The Art of Drummies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Super easy, never fails, grilled drumsticks for the whole family. Just pat dry, spice and cook over medium high heat. Then you will have crispy goodness for all.
Serves: 6
  • 6 Chicken drumsticks
Season - makes more than you need - keep for next time
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • ½ t cayenne pepper
  1. Pat dry the drumsticks. Trim of excess skin and any loose bones/tissue especially in the joint area.
  2. Now preheat grill to get a surface temp of about 450. That is medium high on a standard gas grill and medium on a hotter gas grill. Clean and oil.
  3. Mix spices. 1 T kosher salt, 1 t pepper and garlic powder and ½ t cayenne pepper.This is more than you need. Keep it for next time. You can also use my 7:2:2 spice mix. You may want to skip the cayenne if cooking for little ones. Or use seasoning of your choice.
  4. Lightly sprinkle chicken on all side to taste. Let rest at room temperature until grill is ready.
  5. Check grill temp if possible and place chicken on grill.
  6. Flip every 5-7 minutes until internal temp of 185-190 degrees. About 30-35 minutes.
  7. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. They are way too hot anyways.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 6 drumsticks

Last Updated

September 9 2014


  1. says

    These look great! We use a charcoal grill, so getting our heat just right is a little harder. But looks like the results are well-worth it.

    Do you have a recipe for the grilled ears of corn?

    Thanks, as always! -Juli

  2. says

    Looks like a great recipe. Do you use a thermometer on the grilling surface to get a temp reading? Med and high are somewhat vague & vary between grills.

  3. says

    Good question. This is on my old grill and High on that would get to about 500. My new grill is 600 at times. If you are measuring, I would aim for 400 to 450. I need something for dinner tonight so I think I will try it and post an update.

  4. says

    The 450 is the right surface temp. I also have been using 190 as the finish temp for a while. I have updated the post to reflect these changes. Thanks for the comments.

  5. says

    Perfect!!! 425 to 450 degrees on our Weber for 35 minutes did the trick. Brushed on BBQ sauce and flipped twice in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Legs were crispy, juicy and full of flavor. Thank you for all the great tips.

  6. says

    I am so indebted to you and this recipe. I am really new to grilling and need details like you mentioned! These were seriously some of the best chicken legs I have ever had. I was a little reserved on my heat (guessed, no surface thermometer), so they took forever and a day. Next time I will crank it up a wee bit more. But WOW. Thank you!

  7. Kathy says

    Just BBQ’d drumsticks for the first time EVER and, following your recipe (with one added seasoning), they turned out PERFECT! Everyone loved them and they were so juicy with a just-right crispy skin. YUM! Thank you for your grilling advice. SO glad that I clicked on your link. I was always afraid to buy drumsticks because I wasn’t exactly sure what to with them. Now I do and I see many more drumsticks in the future. THANKS!

  8. says

    When I told my boys I was going to do chicken on the grill, one of them suggested “indian food chicken” instead, because the chicken on the grill is boring. Well I’d planned to grill, so that’s what I did, using your recipe. I made 12 drumsticks and left the two boys home while I drove my daughter to gymnastics. When I returned 20 minutes later, 4 drumsticks were left. Out of 12.
    The boys claim the dog got one of them, but I think they were so good they just couldn’t control themselves, even though my daughter, husband and I had yet to eat : 0 The grilled veggies are good, so we won’t starve, but this is the best grilled chicken I’ve made to date.

  9. Harry Newhall says

    We invited some great friends over for grilled chicken wings n legs.I will cook with your recipe tomorrow.Thank you very much.,,

  10. says

    I have never done wings on a grill but would think they would be faster and since they are “white meat” maybe a 165-170 end point.

    Good luck with the cookout


    • says

      Actually I just did this recipe again tonight. Yep flames are always bad and always be avoided in any grilling. You should not have flames…

      A couple of possible issues. Some fat from the drummies causing the flames. And be sure to know the surface temp of your grill and that the thermometer is accurate. My grill has two hot spots. They are small but I was cooking 14 drumsticks so it was hard to avoid completely but I was able to work around them.

      If you are getting burning anyways, flip at 4-5 minutes and move them around some. Also a little lower surface temp since you are cooking to an internal temperature and not by time here. Never by time…

      Hope that helps some and please let me know if you have more problems.


  11. Sandra says

    I did exactly as you said and the drumsticks were perfect !! Used the cayenne too. I can’t thank you enough. We have cooked a lot of chicken on the grill in 68 years and this was the best. Crispy outside and moist inside!!

    • says

      Thanks for the note Sandra. I thought it was relatively simple but some are having issues. As we say in science, it needs to be reproducible.
      Again thanks for the support.

  12. Eric says

    I’m giving your recipe a shot tonight. Doing 40 burgers, 24 drumsticks, 8 Brats and 8 weenies. I will start the drumsticks 1st.

  13. Roger Williams says

    I only use a charcoal grill, and mainly indirect heat. I’m a recipe junkie so I would love to know if you have any charcoal grill tips and recipes. I have bookmarked this site and will check in often. Keep up the great job. I gave it a 4 rating mainly for the responses from those that have tried it.

  14. deb says

    Thanks for the recipe. I had a problem with the skin getting blackened and burnt. Can you help? ( I have a gas grill that does not indicated temp so I set the heat on medium. ) Thanks.

    • says

      I frequently use a surface thermometer… About $8 on Amazon. I do that frequently so I can tell people what temperature to have. So pick one up somewhere. Second, flip and reposition more often. My old grill had many “hot spots” that ran much higher temp then other spots. Lastly make sure you have no “flair ups”
      Hope that help

  15. DaisyCat68 says

    O.M.G.! First time grilling chicken w/ the bone. Did not have any thermometers, but followed your advice & comments. Made half w/ Lawry’s & onion powder, the other half w/ s/p & Herb de Provence (my husband is obsessed w/ that stuff). Dried the chicken! Took about 40-45 minutes, but then I was opening that lid every 5 mins, so maybe I’ll be better next time! Skin was beautifully crispy. My 11-yr-old, who shuns meat of any kind almost always, ate FOUR. At one sitting. Best directions for grilling ever!

  16. Kim says

    Could I prep the chicken the day before or a few hours before then refrigerate until ready to cook?
    Also, would a spray bottle be suitable for flare ups?
    Also again, sorry. I want to make a lot, could I put

  17. Kira1965 says

    I am so glad I came across this- I usually bake my drummies in the oven, but it is close to 40 c. here today, so too hot to have an oven on. I cannot wait to try this tonight and give feedback. It’s just my mom and I tonight so a good time to test the technique. I do not have a surface temp gauge so will preheat the BBQ and will know within a few turns if it is too hot/cold.
    Will let you know how we liked them a little later!!!

  18. Claire says

    WOW! I just found your recipe and made it tonight, my husband said this was the best chicken ever and wanted to know how I seasoned it. The cayenne pepper kicked it up a notch. It was spicy so I would definitely leave it out or minimize for kids. Thank you for giving detailed instructions, my chicken turned out perfect.

    • says

      Some days I want the cayenne, some days not so much. But is is just a little touch anyways.
      Thanks for the note

  19. Melody says

    This is the third time I’ve used this recipe and each time the chicken just gets better and better(or I just better at grilling)! I’m somewhat new to grilling but with these results I’m encouraged to try more things. My boyfriend raved about them, thanks so much!

  20. Ethan says

    I have never cooked drumsticks on the grill before. Using your guidelines, I was very pleased with the results. Crispy skin, good an moist. I just need to dial in the burners on my grill and they will be perfect. Also used (roughly) your spicing recommendations and I was very pleased with the flavor. Thanks for the right up.

  21. Whippy says

    Thanks for the recipe! I tried your method a little while back and (like others) ended up with burned drummies, but I think I understand where I went wrong.

    When you say, “surface temperature,” I translated that to mean the temperature that the thermometer in the hood of my grill reads, when I am now thinking that is NOT what you mean and that you actually mean “surface temperature” like you said! lol

    The only way I can think of to get an actual surface temp would be to use a laser thermometer (which I don’t have) so I’m going to try this again tonight and just cook on low/medium setting (Ducane 3100) to see what happens.

    Your tip of drying the skin is good and works really nice for baked drummies too!

    • says

      Thanks for the note.
      I use a $8 grill surface thermometer from Amazon but also they are also at Lowes and Home Depot. You are right about the thermometer in the grill lids… usually useless at best or miss leading at worse. Mine seemed right on the first few times only.

      I now do the surface temp for posted recipes to helps problems with grill variations.

      Thanks again for the note and tonight when I have time I may re-edit a little to be sure other avoid that issue.


  22. Johnny says

    Tried your recipe last week, first time grilling drumsticks. On new grill. Turned every 5 min. Med high heat. Put on top rack after 4th turn kept turning every 5 min for total of 40 min .With your recipe and barbecue sauce, they turned out fantastic. Making a bunch again tonight.

  23. jules says

    Never knew so much in the details.. I learned to use indirect heat in the grill – do you do yours over the flames ? or indirect ?

    • says

      This is direct heat with the top down. You could do indirect but would need the temp in the 450 plus range and a lot of grills can’t handle that. Also a lot of people have issues with doing indirect. Since I don’t do this indirect I really can’t give instructions but would think it would be about 35 minutes give or take some. As always cook to the final internal temperature.


  24. Steve Walker says

    I tried this last night. Turned out pretty well, but I did singe them a bit. Had a lot of flare ups when I first started cooking.
    Any way to avoid that?

    • says

      Flare ups are usually from draining fluids with fat hitting flame. So to prevent it generally, trim all fat that is possible and be sure that your flames are covered. The later depends on the grill. My old grills needed lava rock or something similar. I now have metal covering the burners. Also if the drummies were frozen, then they are more juicy so more drainage.
      Hope that helps.

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