Oven baked drumsticks are about as simple as a recipe can get with these easy step by step how-to photos. Just pat dry the drumsticks, spice, and cook in a high oven. Then you will have crispy goodness for the family.
Editor’s Note: Originally published September 9, 2012. Updated with discussion and photos updated to improve presentation and add more information. The recipe remains the same. Please enjoy the update.
Everybody loves great drumsticks. Kids, grandparents, and mom and dad all love a crispy chicken leg. Now you can have them anytime you want.
Last year I took several weeks working on grilled drumsticks to get them just right. We were having a large retirement party for several family friends, and I was providing the meat course for a hundred people.
I initially wanted to grill all 150 pieces of chicken, but after I got the smaller batch perfected, it was obvious that mass cooking that large was not possible on a home grill. See Grilling Chicken Drumsticks – The Art of Drummies.
But the grill recipe work did show that the secret of a great chicken leg (drumstick) was in the internal temperature of 185. Not 165 which is the safe chicken temperature but 185 produces the moist tender chicken legs you will ever have.
So I switched my attention to the oven with excellent results. See Chicken for a Hundred. Since then I have done mainly oven drummies. Here is the scaled down version.
Just excellent. It always brings a child-like smile to my wife’s face.
Pro Tips: Recipe Notes for Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- DO NOT SKIP THE PAT DRY or you will not have crispy skin. (See https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/chicken-rinse-not-rinse/ about rinsing the chicken)
- Check the cut joint area for loose parts. You may be handing this to a child and don’t need loose bone aspirated.
- I like cooking this on a rack to get the meat off the pan, and with convection, all sides of the drumstick will be nice.
- Cook at high temp and you must use a thermometer to be sure you get to 185. Do not guess.
- Spice as you want. I often 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 oven baked BBQ drumsticks.
How long to cook drumsticks?
There are three variables: drumstick size, oven temperature, and desired internal temperature. I’m aiming for 185 (see next section), so at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes.
At 375 to 400 degree for 40 to 45 minutes to get the right internal temperature, but the skin will be slightly less crisp.
Comment on the final internal temperature of drumsticks
Many want to cook drumsticks to 165 which is the minimum safe internal temperature for chicken for the FDA. There is a difference between safe and done. Pork is safe at 145, but you sure won’t want your pulled pork to be cooked to 145. It would be terrible.
Also, a lot of recipes cook “until fluids run clear.” Excuse me but what does that mean? You should be standing there poking it with a knife and losing all the moisture. Not a good idea. Also, I suspect that may even be below the safe minimum temperature.
While I cook my chicken breast to 165, there is way too much fibrous tissue in drumsticks. They will be tough and stringy. Just plan not done. Please use 185 as you finish temperature. Check the comments if you need confirmation.
Preheat oven to 425 convection. Pat dry the drumsticks with paper towels.
Trim off any extra skin and any loose joint pieces.
Spice to taste. Here I’m using a light sprinkling of my 7:2:1 seasoning.
If you don’t have that the just some salt and pepper to taste. Other seasonings at your option. A touch of cayenne is nice.
Placed on a prepared cooking pan with the thicker part of the drumstick to the outside. I usually line with aluminum foil to help clean up. A rack elevates the chicken to help all sides cook evenly. You can do it without the rack but better with it. Of course, a heavy spray of PAM on the rack or foil.
Cook to 185 plus internal temp. DO NOT STOP SHORT of 185. About 35 minutes in my oven. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. They are way too hot to eat right away and will be better after a rest.
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January 24, 2018