Baked Chicken Legs

4.78 from 18 votes
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These juicy baked chicken legs (drumsticks) are an easy-to-prepare dinner! Season with flavorful spices and bake until golden brown. Serve with your favorite side dishes for a hearty meal.

Are you looking for more chicken recipes? Try my baked chicken breast or whole roasted chicken.

Several of juicy, baked chicken legs on a white plate.

Recipe Science

  • Baking chicken legs at high temperatures renders the fat from the skin, resulting in a crispy, flavorful exterior while keeping the meat juicy.
  • The connective tissues in chicken legs break down during baking, turning into gelatin and enhancing the meat’s tenderness and moisture.
  • Seasoning the chicken legs before baking allows the spices to infuse into the meat, and the heat helps develop a rich, caramelized crust through the Maillard reaction.

Why It Works

Making a tray of oven-baked chicken legs is one of the easiest meals to prepare for dinner. To make the pieces of dark meat even tastier, I coat them with a flavorful seasoning paste. All you’ll need is a handful of common dried spices and herbs.

Baking the drumsticks at a high temperature in the oven ensures juicy pieces. As the fat from the skin renders, the skin becomes golden brown and lightly crisp. The process only takes about 30 minutes for quick preparation. Serve with mashed potatoes, steamed rice, vegetables, and your favorite dipping sauce for a complete meal.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients needed to make baked chicken legs laid out on a table.
  • Chicken: Chicken drumsticks are a very affordable protein option. They are flavorful due to the extra fat surrounding the meat, which yields juicy, tasty bites. You’ll need eight pieces for the recipe, about 2 pounds.
  • Fat: Use high-quality olive oil. This will help to create a savory paste with the seasonings to flavor the meat. The fat accelerates the browning of the skin’s surface of the meat.
  • Seasoning: I use smoked paprika, dried Italian seasonings, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and coarsely ground black pepper.
  • Herbs: I like to garnish with freshly chopped parsley for a pop of color. This is optional but adds a nice touch before serving.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Chicken: Bone-in chicken thighs can also be used. You may need a few extra minutes of cooking time since it’s thicker and does not need to flip over. Make sure to cook the thigh piece’s skin side up.
  • Herbs: Add fresh or dried herbs to the seasoning mix. Switch up the spices for dried basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, or herbs de Provence. Garnish with freshly chopped thyme, tarragon, basil, or chives.
  • Spice: Cumin or coriander will add earthiness to the seasoning mix. Mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, chili powder, or chipotle powder for a spicy kick.
  • Marinade: To infuse more savory flavor, soak the pieces in a chicken marinade.

How to Make Baked Chicken Legs

Step 1: Preheat the Oven

Set the temperature to 425 degrees. That way, it’s nice and hot when you’re ready to add the tray of chicken.

Person using paper towels to dry the surface of a chicken drumstick.

Step 2: Prepare the Chicken

Dry the legs with a paper towel. This wicks up any surface moisture. We want the chicken to brown instead of steam in the oven. This will add the best flavor to the meat.

Whisk mixing together several seasonings in a bowl.

Step 3: Season the Meat

A spice mix easily enhances the savory taste of chicken drumsticks. The salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, herbs, and paprika instantly add flavor.

Bowl of seasoned chicken legs.

This mixture creates a paste with the olive oil that nicely coats the chicken. You can bake them immediately or store them in the refrigerator for the next day.

Make Ahead Tip: This baked chicken legs recipe is excellent for meal prep!

Golden brown baked chicken drumsticks on a sheet pan.

Step 4: Bake the Drumsticks

Place the seasoned drumsticks on a single layer of a greased, foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 425ºF (218ºC) for about 35 minutes. Cook for 25 minutes until the surface is golden brown, then flip and brown the other side for about 10 minutes.

The chicken is ready when the thickest part of the meat reaches around 170 to 175ºF (77 to 79ºC) on a meat thermometer. If you like crisper skin, broil both sides for a few extra minutes.

Plate of cooked chicken legs served on a white plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you wash drumsticks before cooking?

The chicken does not need to be washed. Doing so can contaminate your sink if not adequately cleaned and disinfected afterward. Dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Should I cover my chicken legs with foil when baking?

No, the drumsticks do not need to be covered with foil. Exposing the skin to the oven’s heat will help the skin render the fat and become lightly crisp instead of steam.

How long does it take to bake chicken legs so they don’t dry out?

Don’t overcook them! It only takes about 35 minutes to bake to 425 degrees—target 170 to 175ºF (77 to 79ºC) after resting. Dark meat contains more connective tissue and fat and needs an elevated internal temperature to dissolve fully. The chicken can also benefit from brining to help retain more moisture.

Can you make the chicken legs in an air fryer?

Cook drumsticks in an air fryer at 380ºF (193ºC) for 10 minutes. Flip and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the thickest part reaches 170 to 175ºF (77 to 79ºC) on an instant-read thermometer.

What is the best temperature for crispy skin?

Bake the chicken drumsticks at 425ºF (218ºC). The elevated temperature quickly dries the skin’s surface so that it can brown and crisp. The oven must be heated above 350ºF (177ºC) to kickstart browning for more flavor and a golden hue. Lower temperatures make for tender drumsticks but with less texture contrast.

Serve This With

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Baked Chicken Legs

Juicy and flavorful baked chicken legs marinated in spices and herbs. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or meal prep. Easy to make and ready in under an hour.
4.78 from 18 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 8 chicken drumsticks, about 2 pounds
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Heat to 425ºF (218ºC). Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Grease with olive oil or cooking spray to help prevent sticking.
  • Dry the Pieces – Thoroughly dry each piece with a paper towel to remove excess moisture from the surface.
  • Season the Pieces – In a large bowl, combine olive oil, salt, Italian seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Add the chicken to the seasoning mix. Turn to coat evenly.
  • Bake the Chicken – Evenly space the pieces on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Flip and continue baking until the skin is golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. The internal temperature should reach 170 to 175ºF (77 to 79ºC) on a meat thermometer. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve – Garnish with parsley and transfer to a serving platter.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Serving Size: 2 drumsticks
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Reheating: Cover and reheat in the microwave on the high setting in 15 to 30-second increments until hot.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 365kcal (18%)Carbohydrates 1gProtein 27g (54%)Fat 28g (43%)Saturated Fat 6g (30%)Polyunsaturated Fat 4gMonounsaturated Fat 16gTrans Fat 0.1gCholesterol 139mg (46%)Sodium 1322mg (55%)Potassium 366mg (10%)Fiber 0.5g (2%)Sugar 0.1gVitamin A 287IU (6%)Vitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 28mg (3%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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7 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Ghislaine says

    Those chicken legs are so good and so tasty! I made this recipe with organic meat and this make as well a difference compared to the non-organic.

  2. Jessica Lee Flory says

    Jessica, these were absolutely delish and so easy! My 8-year-old chose this meal and helped me make them. His face was glowing as everyone around the table devoured them! Thank you for the fantastic recipe 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      A budding young chef! I’m so thrilled that your son helped prepare dinner and the family enjoyed the recipe. Keep it up!