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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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.