Crispy baked chicken legs (drumsticks) are a quick and easy meal the whole family will love. Just trim and pat dry some chicken legs, add simple spices, and bake them in the oven—perfectly crispy, moist, and tender.
Everybody needs great chicken recipes, and this baked chicken legs recipe is one of the easiest and best for the home cook. With only 10 minutes of preparation and simple seasoning, you will have an economical meal that kids and adults love after cooking in the oven.
😊Why you will love this recipe
- Easy and quick to prep in only 10 minutes, then into the oven to cook for about 35 minutes.
- Baking at a high temperature gives you crispy skin without frying and is faster in your busy household.
- Simple seasoning but easy to change to what you love.
- An economical meal.
- Everybody loves baked chicken drumsticks, even the pickiest kids.
👨🍳How to bake chicken legs
- Preheat oven to the temperature of your choice— 400° or 425° suggested.
- Prepare a baking sheet with sides like a sheet pan with foil and a rack if you have one.
- Pat dry and trim the chicken drumsticks.
- Season any way you want. Some Kosher salt and black pepper are good, or the seasoning of your choice.
- Cook the chicken legs in the oven until an internal temperature of 185° or more—about 35 minutes.
⏰How long to bake chicken legs (drumsticks)
It takes about 35 minutes at 425° to cook chicken legs in the oven to 185° internal temperature. The variables: the chicken leg size and the oven temperature.
- Chicken legs at 350°F convection or 375°F conventional – about 45-50 minutes
- Chicken legs at 375°F convection or 400°F conventional – about 40-45 minutes
- Chicken legs at 400°F convection or 425°F conventional – about 35-40 minutes
- Chicken legs at 425°F convection – about 35 minutes (I don't suggest 450°F conventional, do 425°F conventional and add a few minutes)
The lower the temperature you use, the less crispy your chicken legs will be.
Always use an instant-read thermometer. COOK TO A FINAL INTERNAL TEMPERATURE. PLEASE, NEVER BY TIME ALONE.
- Chicken legs (chicken drumsticks)-Skin-on bone-in chicken legs. Pat dry with paper towels and trim.
- Seasoning-we always use All Purpose Seasoning - 7:2:1 and 7:2:2, which is salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. But use the seasoning you love. Even marinade is fine. If using BBQ sauce, skip other seasoning and brush on near the end of cooking.
- Oil is optional and if used, brush on before seasoning. It will change the final texture of the skin from thin and crispy to a little thicker but moister.
🌡️What is the best final temperature for chicken legs
The best final internal temperature for Baked Chicken Legs is 185° or higher when the connective tissue melts and the meat becomes moist and tender.
The connective tissue will start to melt at 175°. By 185°, you are getting moist and tender results. America Test Kitchen takes it a step further for both thighs and drumsticks and suggests 190° to 195° as the target internal temperature range. American Test Kitchen—For Perfectly Tender Chicken Thighs, Overcook Them.
Many want to cook chicken legs to 165°, the minimum safe internal temperature for chicken for the FDA, but they will be tough and stringy from connective tissue.
- DO NOT SKIP THE PAT DRY, or you will not have crispy skin. Please see Chicken: To Rinse or Not To Rinse?
- Check the cut joint area for loose parts. You may be handing this to a child and don't need loose bone aspirated.
- Cooking on a rack gets the meat off the pan, and with convection, all sides of the legs will be cooked evenly. But if you don't have a rack, use parchment paper to prevent sticking.
- Cook at high temp, and you must use a meat thermometer to be sure you get to 185°. Do not guess.
- Spice as you want. Just salt and pepper are enough.
- Scale to any amount you need.
A lot of the fat and fluid drains while cooking chicken drumsticks. You can cook drumsticks without a rack, but you will be happier with a rack. The cooking will be more even, quicker, and have easier cleanup.
You can if you wish. Without oil, the skin will be dry and crispy, but with a bit of olive oil or cooking spray, it will be thicker and less crispy.
No, it will interfere with the cooking.
The best oven temperature to bake chicken legs is 400° to 425°. It will give crispy skin, and the meat reaches 185° or higher when the connective tissue melts and the meat becomes moist and tender.
Lower temperatures, like 350° or 375°, can be used, but the skin will not be as crispy, baking time will increase, and the meat may be dryer.
How to store leftovers?
Good refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Also, they should freeze fine for 3-4 months. Reheat by thawing first, then reheat in an oven.
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This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Preheat oven to 425° convection. Pat dry the chicken legs with paper towels.
Trim off any extra skin and any loose joint pieces.
Spice to taste with salt and pepper. Use other seasonings if you wish. Here I'm using All Purpose Seasoning - 7:2:1 and 7:2:2.
Place the legs on a prepared sheet pan with the thicker part of the chicken legs to the outside. Line the tray with aluminum foil to help clean up. A rack elevates the chicken to allow all sides to cook evenly. You can cook without the rack but better with it. Of course, a heavy spray of PAM on the rack or foil.
Cook to 185°+ internal temp—about 35 minutes. DO NOT STOP SHORT of 185°. But up to 195° is fine.
Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. They are way too hot to eat right away and will be better after a rest.
Baked Chicken Legs - Quick and Easy
- 6 legs Chicken legs - about 1 ½ lbs-Scale to as many as you want
- salt and pepper to taste - or 7:2:1 or 7:2:2 seasoning
- Preheat oven to 425° convection. Pat dry the chicken legs with paper towels.
- Trim off any extra skin and any loose joint pieces.
- Spice to taste with salt and pepper. Use other seasonings if you wish.
- Place the legs on a prepared sheet pan with the thicker part of the chicken legs to the outside. Line the tray with aluminum foil to help clean up. A rack elevates the chicken to allow all sides to cook evenly. You can cook without the rack but better with it. Of course, a heavy spray of PAM on the rack or foil.
- Cook to 185°+ internal temp—about 35 minutes. DO NOT STOP SHORT of 185°. But up to 195° is fine.
- Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. They are way too hot to eat right away and will be better after a rest.
Your Own Private Notes
- DO NOT SKIP THE PAT DRY, or you will not have crispy skin.
- Check the cut joint area for loose parts—you may be handing this to a child.
- Cooking on a rack to get the meat off the pan, and with convection, all sides of the chicken legs will be cooked evenly. If no rack, then flip at 20 minutes.
- Cook at high temp and you must use a thermometer to be sure you get to 185°+. Do not guess.
- Spice as you want.
- Scale to any amount you need
- Skip the seasoning and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce for the last 5 minutes to make great oven-baked BBQ chicken legs.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days. Or will freeze well for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally published September 9, 2012. Updated with discussion and photos updated to improve the presentation and add more information. The recipe remains the same. Please enjoy the update.
Don't know how I missed this recipe. Tried your chicken thigh recipe. It is the best and so simple to do. Drum sticks come out equally wonderful. Hubby loves pepper so really apply fresh ground pepper liberally. Me not so much. I grind a moderate amount of sea salt on his and mine. For mine, I go light on the pepper. I have sprinkled a bit of rosemary on mine and loved it. I think they taste best fresh out of the oven. I usually pull the skin off but not on these. The skin is so crisp and not oily tasting. The first time I tried the recipe I did enough for a few nights. The skin wasn't crisp when reheated. Since this is so simple to do and doesn't take that long now I only cook as much as we will eat for one meal. Thank you so much for sharing.
I did this and they turned out delicious. I used preseasoned legs that were huge from Costco. The seasoning burned like crazy and the bits that dropped in the pan smoked up my house. The meat was juicy and delicious, but next time, I will season with your mix and perhaps I won't get smoked out. The time allotted on the package said cook 20 minutes, turn the drums, and cook 15 more. They needed 10 more minutes to get to 185.
I followed recipe to the T, and I usually do my own thing. But this is absolutely the BEST ever drum recipe I have ever had in all my 46 years. Thank you!!!!
I made this for dinner tonight and it was really good. I cooked it on a rack and didn’t turn them halfway. When it was done I noticed the bottoms of the legs were a little wet despite using the rack. To remedy this I simply turned them over and put it back in the oven on broil for 2 min. Worked Great!
Thanks for the clear and thorough instructions. I'm wondering why you call for an internal temp of 185 when food safety sources say 165. Is it for assured crispness or just personal preference? About to try these so I'd love to know.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
This is covered in the post. See https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/the-art-of-drummies-oven-baked-chicken/#best-final-internal-temperature
Basically it is texture.
Chicken is Indeed safe at 165-170 but often is still too wet. 185 is just enough to make it extra crispy without tasting burnt or dry.
Worked well-- 30 minutes at 220C for us. Appreciate the simple recipe, drumsticks turned out moist with crispy skin.
how about hot air fryer instructions
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
I don't have specific instructions for an air fryer. BUT an air fryer is just a mini convection oven so if you follow the convection instructions, I would expect good results. As always, you are cooking to a final internal temperature and you are "plowing new ground" so check the internal temperature frequently as you get close to done.
If you do this, please post your results back here. Somebody else may benifect from your experence.
I used an air fryer for drumsticks and it worked well. However, it did not give enough time automatically. I had to do another 10-15 mins. It’s easy and they were delicious!
How about Ir fryer instructions tions
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Hopeful a reader can pop in with something. I don't have an IR oven or grill.
I do know they cook faster but as I always say, you are cooking to a final internal temperature and never by time. So it should be possible, just watch the internal temperature very closely.
If you try it, please come back and report.
I always rinse chicken in cold water & pat dry before cooking. I never contaminate anything. We have Clorox wipes, soap & hot water. I wash my hands before, during & after. How "hard" is that? Chicken must be rinsed to get rid of bone bits, blood & juices or it gets an unpleasant "poultry" taste which I can't really explain, but it tastes off.
Bake with chicken skin is so delicious, I love it.
Pork is fine to eat at 145 degrees. I always cook my pork to that temperature
and it is perfect
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Pork is fine at 145° for safety and most cuts are excellent at that temp. But the sentence ends with "you sure won't want your pulled pork to be cooked to 145°" referring to pulled pork from the butt that needs to get to 185° to start to melt the connective tissue. For good pulled pork butt, you need 200°+. 145° would be horrible, like chewing rubber.
I have no thermometer, how do I know my chicken has reached the suggested internal time... since I’m not supposed to go off time alone?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
I have no good answer. You really need to get one. Even the $10 instant-read ones from the hardware stores/Amazon do fairly well. You need one to cook most meat dishes correctly. Your cooking will instantly improve and there will be less waste, so it will pay for itself.
Hi! I made these last night for the family. The meat was good, but I wasn't happy with the skin. It was more papery than crispy. It was hard to chew. I did everything according to the recipe, except I used a store bought seasoning blend. It's mostly salt and pepper, but it does have a bit of sugar and some onion and garlic. I might try brushing the legs with a little oil next time. Any other ideas?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
A brush of oil will change the texture to a little thicker (think turkey skin). Oil will do better than butter. Just a brush of good vegetable oil.
Shake and bake was my nickname on the football field. Also use it to cook chicken sometimes.
This is the only recipe I use for making chicken legs! I stumbled upon it a few months ago and have it saved on my phone now :-). The higher temp and cooking to 185 produces the best skin!
My wife loves BBQ chicken.. She's had a rough day at the office so tonight I'm gonna follow these instructions and surprise her with her favorite meal.. Thank you for posting, I am definitely a fan!!