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Crispy golden baked chicken legs are fall-apart juicy and tender. Quick prep and hands-off baking makes these deliciously seasoned chicken drumsticks a family dinner win!
Why you'll love baked chicken drumsticks
Convenience - Baked chicken legs require 5 minutes of active prep and about 30 minutes of hands-off baking, which gives you time to prepare a salad or side dish. It's perfect for busy people of all cooking levels.
Family-loved - Kids go crazy for crispy chicken drumsticks, which makes everyone happy. Countless people have thanked me for rescuing their last-minute family dinner with these chicken legs.
Budget-friendly - Chicken legs (and thighs) are the most affordable part of a chicken. Since this recipe only requires a few simple pantry ingredients, your grocery dollars go even further.
So much flavor - The dark meat portion of a chicken always cooks up so juicy and tender once, especially bone-in skin-on chicken pieces. Just like air fryer chicken drumsticks and baked chicken thighs, the delectable results are built-in, which makes baked chicken legs a fail proof recipe for beginner cooks.
Minimal planning - You know the saying. Fail to plan,
plan to fail uhhh, rock this dinner! The only plan you need is to have chicken legs on hand. After that, it takes 5 minutes to combine seasonings, coat the drumsticks, and push them into a preheated oven.
Nutritious - Oven baked chicken legs are a naturally low-carb, high protein entree.
You'll find the ingredient amounts in the full recipe below.
- chicken legs - These are also called chicken drumsticks, not to be confused with baked chicken wings (or drummies), or the whole leg and thigh piece together.
- olive oil - You only need a tiny amount because the skin renders fat while they bake.
- paprika - Use sweet paprika for the family-friendly version or use smoked paprika for a bolder flavor. Sweet paprika is the more common of the two.
- garlic powder - If you prefer to use garlic salt, I recommend reducing or omitting the sea salt in this recipe.
- sea salt and black pepper
How to bake chicken legs in the oven
Enjoy these step by step instructions. You'll find the full recipe below.
Step 1: (optional) Let cold chicken legs rest (temper) about 20 minutes at room temperature. This reduces total baking time and brings chicken to the desired temperature more efficiently.
Step 2: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove excess moisture from the surface of chicken drumsticks with a dry paper towel. This helps the skin become crispier as it bakes.
Step 3: Add oil and spices to a mixing bowl, whisk to combine, and thoroughly coat chicken legs. This chicken seasoning adds so much flavor!
Make-ahead tip: At this point, you can refrigerate the drumsticks up to 8 hours in an airtight container. I recommend letting them rest (temper) at room temperature about 20 minutes to remove the chill before baking.
Step 4: To bake, place chicken legs on a prepared baking sheet a few inches apart. Bake on the center oven rack of preheated oven, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, or until they reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit with a meat thermometer.
Step 5: Rest the baked chicken legs about 5 minutes at room temperature while carryover cooking occurs. You can loosely cover them until you're ready to serve.
What is the proper temperature for cooked chicken?
Chicken legs must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving.
Pro tip: Never assume the internal temperature of cooked chicken. Insert a meat thermometer next to the bone for the most accurate reading. The best visual cue is when you cut into the leg meat closest to the bone, the juices should run clear and the meat should easily separate from the bone.
How long to bake chicken legs
In order to reach the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, here's a basic guide of how long to bake chicken legs at different temperatures.
- Bake chicken legs at 425° or 400° for 20-25 minutes
- Bake chicken legs at 350° or 375° for 25-30 minutes
- Bake chicken legs at 300° or 325° for 30-40 minutes
Make a side dish in the same oven
While the chicken legs are baking, I love to bake smashed potatoes or roasted mushrooms. Roasted vegetables usually require a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven temperature, which is my preferred temperature to bake chicken legs.
Cooking tips for success
The size of chicken legs will affect the cooking time, so I recommend selecting legs that are similar in size. However, you can always bake individual chicken legs longer or shorter, as needed.
An accurate oven temperature can make or break intended results. So, I recommend using an oven thermometer to always check the temperature reading before placing food into the oven.
You might like to bake chicken legs longer for crispier skin and deeper golden color. The internal temperature ends up around 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes even juicier meat.
How to make chicken legs crispy
If you like extra crispy chicken legs, you have 2 options with this recipe:
Option #1: Bake chicken legs at a higher temperature – between 400 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. A lower temp like 350 degrees Fahrenheit won't result in crispy skin, but it will still be juicy and delicious.
Option #2: At the end of the baking cycle, switch your oven from bake to broil and place chicken legs 8 inches away from the broiler until the skin is crispy to your liking, flipping as needed.
Yes. According to the USDA, frozen chicken can be baked with about 50% added cook time. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving.
Washing chicken is not recommended because it adds extra tasks and contaminates surfaces in the kitchen. The most effective technique to remove bacteria is to cook chicken to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
No. In fact, baking chicken legs uncovered allows the dry heat to render the fat which makes the skin crispy and keeps the meat juicy.
Chicken legs are done when they reach a safe minimal internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit indicated with a food thermometer. The juices run clear and the meat easily separates from the bone.
Allow chicken to cool completely and refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days. You can freeze these drumsticks up to 90 days (or longer if vacuum sealed). If frozen, transfer to the refrigerator for an overnight thaw before reheating.
What to serve with chicken legs
You'll always win with a pasta side like Instant Pot mac and cheese or macaroni salad. My personal summer favorite is this mouthwatering pesto tortellini salad whereas shaved Brussels sprout salad is a fall favorite!
More chicken recipes for your family dinner
- Juicy Baked Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Air Fryer Rotisserie Chicken
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo
- Chicken Penne Alla Vodka
- Crockpot Chicken Vegetable Soup
Did you make this Baked Chicken Legs recipe? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below. I'll personally respond!
Easy Baked Chicken Legs (Drumsticks)
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil or preferred oil
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 6 Chicken Leg Drumsticks patted dry with a paper towel
- 1 Lemon (cut into wedges) for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together OLIVE OIL, PAPRIKA, GARLIC POWDER, SALT, and PEPPER.
- Add CHICKEN LEGS to the bowl of seasonings and toss to coat.
- Place chicken legs on a prepared baking sheet with at least 1-inch of space between each drumstick.
- Bake chicken legs uncovered 20-25 minutes they reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You are welcome to cook them longer for crispier skin.
- Transfer chicken legs to a serving platter, cover, and rest 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve warm. (optional) Garnish with LEMON WEDGES.
- Allow drumsticks to cool and store in an airtight container up to 5 days.
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- 425°F or 400°F for 20-25 minutes
- 350°F or 375°F for 25-30 minutes
- 300°F or 325°F for 30-40 minutes