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Finger-Lickin’ Baked Chicken Legs

5 from 44 community reviews

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My recipe for baked chicken legs is a keeper! With only 5 minutes of prep time, the drumsticks are coated in a spicy-sweet spice rub, arranged on a sheet pan, and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes. The skin turns out crisp and the meat is succulent and juicy. I promise they are so good everyone will lick their plate (and fingers)!

Baked chicken drumsticks lined up on a sheet pan, with a spatula serving them up.
Sprinkle the tender baked chicken legs with chopped cilantro or parsley. Serve them warm with the pan juices and eat with your hands!

I have to confess that I’m not usually a fan of chicken legs (give me all the chicken thigh recipes, please!), but after I tested batch after batch of these drumsticks I am HOOKED.

Like a perfect beer can chicken, baked chicken drumsticks turn out with savory, crispy skin and are extra-juicy. Every bite is packed with flavor, another one of my delicious chicken recipes you can cook with ease using everyday ingredients, like simple chicken thigh marinade and crisp-skin bone-in chicken thighs.

Recipe ingredients

You can use ingredients straight from your pantry to make these chicken legs.

  • Chicken legs: Also called drumsticks, this meaty part of the bird is attached to the chicken thighs — all the tasty dark meat. They’re usually the most economically priced chicken part you can buy. The best chicken leg recipes use bone-in, skin-on chicken for flavor and juiciness.
  • Spices: The spice rub for chicken legs creates just the right amount of seasoning, a combo of sweet-salty-spicy that makes you want to take another bite. Along with salt and black pepper, the blend includes brown sugar (which is also delicious in rubs for pork chops) ground cumin, garlic powder, crushed red chili, dried oregano, and paprika. You can substitute smoked paprika if you like its flavor.
  • Olive oil: You don’t need to use fancy extra-virgin olive oil. Choose a good-tasting olive oil or use another neutral oil like sunflower, canola or avocado.

Steps for baking chicken legs

  • To make clean-up easy, first line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper (or foil). I prefer to use a non-stick ceramic baking sheet so I don’t create more waste.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, with the rack placed in the center of the oven. This will help the chicken to brown evenly.

Additional cooking tips

  • Air fryer option: To cook the chicken in using an air-fryer: Place the seasoned chicken in the air fryer basket, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding them. Cook 20-25 minutes, turning them halfway.
  • Chicken thighs: Substitute bone-in, skin-in chicken thighs. Depending on their size, they might need an additional 5-10 minutes baking time.
Juicy browned, spice-rubbed chicken legs on a white baking sheet.

Finger-Lickin’ Baked Chicken Legs

Karen Tedesco
My recipe for baked chicken legs is a keeper! With only 5 minutes of prep time, the drumsticks are coated in a spicy-sweet spice rub, arranged on a sheet pan, and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes. The skin turns out crisp and the meat is succulent and juicy. I promise they are so good everyone will lick their plate (and fingers)!
Print Pin
5 from 44 community reviews
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Chicken
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings

Ingredients

Serves 3-5 people

    Spice rub

    • 1 tablespoon Diamond kosher salt, or 2 teaspoons table salt or other brand of kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Chicken

    • 8-10 chicken drumsticks, 3½-4 pounds total
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, or parsley

    Instructions 

    Make the spice rub

    • Put all the ingredients for the spice rub in a small bowl. Mix together well, using a fork or small whisk to incorporate, breaking up any clumps of sugar. See note below.

    Season and bake the chicken

    • Arrange an oven rack to the center position. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (220 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil, or use a non-stick sheet pan.
    • Pat the chicken legs with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet so they don't touch. Drizzle with the oil, turning to coat.
    • Sprinkle half the spice rub on one side of the chicken legs, then turn them over and sprinkle them with the remaining rub. Turn them over a few times to coat them evenly in the spices and oil. At this point, you can bake the chicken immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature while the oven preheats.
    • Bake 20 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to flip the chicken legs over. Return to the oven. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes. The meat should feel tender when pierced with a fork or tip of a knife, and the skin should be crisp and starting to pull away from the meat. You can use an instant-read thermometer if you're not sure — it should read anywhere between 165-175 F (75-80 C).
    • Scatter the cilantro over the chicken. Serve warm, with the pan juices and lots of napkins!

    Karen’s Notes and Tips

    • The spice rub can be prepped ahead and doubled or tripled — store it in a spice jar at room temperature for up to 3 months.
    • To prep ahead, apply the oil and spice rub to the chicken and refrigerate them overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.
    • Heat leftover chicken on a baking sheet at 350 F until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
    • Air fryer option: To cook the chicken in using an air-fryer: Place the seasoned chicken in the air fryer basket, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding them. Cook 20-25 minutes, turning them halfway.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 463mg | Potassium: 150mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 82IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

    Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest
    Recipe developer Karen Tedesco of the popular website Familystyle Food in her kitchen making a kale salad.

    Hey, I’m Karen

    Creator of Familystyle Food

    I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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    10 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      It was delicious! Nice & crispy!
      Only complaint is, It was a bit salty.
      I will definitely make again but cut back on the salt.

    2. R Jenkins says:

      5 stars
      Just tried last night. I will never fix drumsticks any other way. The taste is so good and the prep time makes it so quick and easy!

    3. Linda Johnson says:

      What side dishes would you recommend to accompany these chicken legs?
      I’m planning to cook some tonight!

    4. Hi. Question: How would this be without the red pepper? My daughter doesn’t like any heat (sigh) so don’t want to waste the chicken if the recipe will lose something too important without it.

      1. Hi Audrey – It’s totally fine to leave out the hot pepper! If you enjoy some heat, try adding a drop or two of hot sauce on the adult portions )

    5. 5 stars
      Actually was restaurant level of flavors amazing, this tasted like the perfect spice blend without requiring uncommon ingredients or “too many” ingredients.

    6. 5 stars
      There’s only space for 5 stars but I give this 10 — one star for each drumstick I personally consumed. Lest anyone doubt my bona fides, when it comes to poultry, I am an inveterate finger-licker. The rub mellows nicely in the oven, and the crisp skin to juicy meat ratio is spot-on. Great with a beer alongside, even better with a rosé.