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Best Grilled Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

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This grilled drumsticks recipe is a simple, delicious, and easy meal! Chicken drumsticks are full of flavor, seasoned with a simple marinade of pantry staples (my grilled chicken thighs uses the same marinade), and easy to prep. They make the best simple grilled dinner and are always a crowd pleaser. Serve with a few veggies like my summer tomato salad or a pasta salad like Greek orzo salad or Mediterranean tortellini pasta.

If you love grilling, be sure to try my grilled tilapia in foil, grilled salmon in foil, grilled shrimp skewers, or grilled trout next time. And when grilling season is over, break out the slow cooker for crock pot chicken thighs and potatoes, crock pot salsa chicken, and slow cooker brats.

Plate of grilled chicken drumsticks on a plate.
Photo Credit: Loren Runion for My Everyday Table.
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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

What You’ll Love About Grilled Drumsticks

  • Simple and easy recipe
  • Fun to eat (food on a stick!)
  • Family-friendly
  • Just 5 minutes prep time
  • Just 25 minutes cook time
  • Made with just 5 basic ingredients
  • Budget-friendly cut of meat

Ingredients to Make Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

  • Garlic – Use fresh for best flavor or frozen garlic cubes for a convenient shortcut. If you need to use garlic powder, use 1/4 teaspoon powder to each clove.
  • Soy sauce – Use high quality for best flavor. Because the soy has salt, we don’t need to add extra salt. You can also use tamari or low-sodium soy sauce if you prefer.
  • Olive oil – Use high quality for best flavor. You can also use any vegetable oil like canola or avocado oil.
  • Red pepper flakes – Use more or less red pepper flakes according to your spice preferences.
  • Chicken drumsticks – Look for skin-on drumsticks. Buy the highest-quality you can afford, it really makes a difference with meat.
Ingredients to make grilled chicken drumstick recipe.

How to Make Grilled Drumsticks

This is an overview on how to make grilled drumsticks, the detailed instructions can be found below in the recipe card.

Mix up marinade for grilled chicken drumsticks. In a small bowl (or right in a plastic bag) stir together garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, red pepper flakes.
Marinate chicken legs. Add chicken legs to the bag. Mix the chicken legs in the bag a bit so they are all covered with the marinade. Let the drumsticks marinate for at least 20 minutes, or overnight.
Chicken drumsticks marinating in plastic bag.
Grill drumsticks. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before grilling. This will help it cook evenly on the grill. Preheat gas grill to medium high or about 375-450 degrees F. Place chicken legs skin side down over direct heat and cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
chicken drumsticks on grill
Rest chicken. Rest chicken for 5-10 minutes and dig in.

TIP: This marinade for chicken drumsticks is great because it’s super-easy to make, and while the addition of soy sauce might make you think that it’s going in an Asian chicken direction, it really just imparts a salty, umami flavor and gives the skin great color. The oil helps ensure that your meat won’t stick to the grill grate.

Tips for the BEST Grilled Chicken Legs

  1. Let the meat come to temperature. Remove meat from the fridge about a half-hour before you plan on grilling. This ensures that it cooks at the proper rate.
  2. Don’t futz with the food! (Futz may not be a technical term, but…)You don’t want to be constantly flipping and turning, put the meat on the grill, and flip it when it’s about half-way done. This will also help make sure the meat doesn’t stick to the grill.
  3. Use an instant-read thermometer. Seriously, it’s hard to know when food on the grill is done, and often times we over-cook because we don’t want foods to be under-cooked. Using a meat thermometer will ensure your grilled meats and fish are done, but not OVER done.
  4. Make sure grill grates are clean. Before you begin grilling chicken drumsticks, clean the grates with a grill brush.
Plate of grilled drumsticks.

FAQs

How long should you grill chicken legs?

Cooking times will vary, but a general guideline is to cook them for about 25-30 minutes in a grill that’s between 300-400 degrees F. I always recommend using a meat thermometer to get it just right. Grill the drumsticks to an internal temperature of 185 degrees F. (See more on this below, it’s interesting!) If your chicken is getting too dark, you can always move it to indirect heat (unlit side or top rack of grill).

Don’t forget to let your grilled drumsticks rest for at least 5 minutes.

What temperature should you grill chicken drumsticks to?

Preheat your grill to medium high heat, about 375 degrees F and be sure you are starting with clean grates.

And as for the internal temperature for drumsticks, this is interesting and something I learned while researching for my grilled chicken thighs. While most chicken recipes are cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, we’re actually cooking legs and dark meat to a final internal temperature of 185 degrees F. This allows the higher fat and collagen content in legs to get a chance to “baste” the white meat, which makes it super juicy, flavorful, and really tender meat. I’m a convert and you will be too!

Do I need to boil chicken legs before grilling?

No, you don’t need to boil chicken legs before grilling drumsticks.

Can you cook chicken drumsticks from frozen?

It’s not a good idea to cook meat from frozen, unless you are using an instant pot or pressure cooker. Cooking meat from frozen results in uneven cooking so some sections will be raw and some will be overcooked.

Are drumsticks healthy?

Yes, unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, chicken drumsticks are a great source of protein.

How many calories in grilled chicken drumsticks?

These grilled chicken drumsticks have 204 calories per serving, but will vary slightly based on size of drumstick. The full nutrition stats can be found below the recipe card.

Is this chicken drumsticks recipe gluten-free?

No, the marinade as written has soy sauce, which is not gluten-free, but it’s easy to make gluten-free. Simply swap the soy sauce for a gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos.

Storage Instructions

Store any leftover crispy grilled chicken drumsticks in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Can cooked chicken drumsticks be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze grilled drumsticks for 2-3 months. Let them thaw slightly before reheating.

How to reheat grilled drumsticks

Reheat the chicken drumsticks in the microwave or a 350 degrees F oven. Or, eat them at room temperature!

Plate with grilled drumsticks and napa cabbage slaw.

What to Serve with Grilled Chicken

These drumsticks need a simple side or two to turn into an easy dinner. Here are a few of my favorite sides:

How to Feed Drumsticks to the Whole Family

I get it, feeding kids can be tough! But following the Division of Responsibility and knowing your job and your child’s job makes it SO much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to feed your kids any meal, which will help ensure that they are eating a variety of nutritious foods – with plenty of play food sprinkled in.

I’ve always thought drumsticks are a great food for kids, because you can pick it up and eat it with your hands! But if it’s a new or learning-to-like it food, serve a small piece the meal with a few items you know your kids will eat, like fruit, milk, and/or bread and butter.

Want More?

Follow Emily on Instagram or TikTok for family dinner recipe videos and tips for feeding kids.

More Easy Grilling Recipes

If you like this recipe for grilled drumsticks, you might also like some of these other easy grilling recipes:

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5 Grilling Secrets You Need to Know!

Get the quick-start guide so you can grill like a pro without going to culinary school.

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Plate of grilled chicken drumsticks on a plate.

Easy Grilled Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

  • Author: Emily Dingmann of myeverydaytable.com
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 drumsticks 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: American
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Description

I’m sharing the best tips so this grilled chicken drumsticks recipe turns out perfectly every time. Easy and delicious!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 6 chicken drumsticks (about 1 1/2 lbs.)

Instructions

  1. Mince garlic and add all ingredients except for chicken to a plastic zip-topped bag.
  2. Add chicken to bag and marinate for at least 20 minutes, or overnight. Flip bag to distribute marinade occasionally.
  3. Remove chicken from refrigerator and preheat grill to medium high, about 375 degrees F.
  4. Place chicken legs skin side down on hot grill and cook for 20 minutes, flip over and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 185 degrees. (See note below.)
  5. Let rest for at least 5-10 minutes and dig in!

Notes

  • While most chicken recipes are cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, we’re actually cooking legs and dark meat to 185 degrees F. This allows the higher fat and collagen content in legs to get a chance to “baste” the white meat, which makes it super juicy, flavorful, and really tender. 

Keywords: grilled chicken drumsticks, grilled drumsticks, grilled chicken legs, grilled chicken drumsticks recipe

Food styling and photography by Loren Runion.

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Comments

  1. MarioEvans

    These look really yummy! Thank you for your Grilled chicken recipe! Worth all the work!! It was yummy and a huge hit! I even added a couple twists of my own! Thanks for your hard work and making the recipe public! Happy day tasty day!

  2. Angie

    This recipe is super easy to make and tastes delicious! We usually make our wings in the oven but my entire family has now decided the BBQ is the way to go thanks to this recipe! Thank you for sharing this super easy recipe with us! We loved it!






  3. Angie Steen

    This recipe was super easy to make, the flavors were delicious! We marinated the wings ahead of time and they cooked up super quick on the BBQ. We will be using this recipe again, super tasty! Thanks for sharing this recipe with us!






  4. Emily Niesen

    Turned out great! We roasted in oven so didnt get crispy like a grill would make them, still delicious and 2 thumbs up from the 4 yr old.






  5. Tut

    We really like this marinade~ tried it last night on boneless chicken thighs and it was delicious. So easy to pull together, and yet so distinctive, and yet not overwhelming despite the extra garlic.

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