Sweet & Sticky Baked Chicken Drumsticks are the perfect appetizer! This easy drumsticks recipe makes crispy, juicy chicken legs covered in a sticky Asian glaze – so addicting. These just might be the BEST baked chicken drumsticks ever. You decide!
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The Best Sticky Baked Chicken Drumsticks
I only know one way to introduce this incredible Baked Chicken Drumsticks recipe, and that’s with a mathematical equation. Yep, you heard (read?) me right. Here it is: Delicious Crispy Skin + Juicy Dark Meat + A Wonderfully Sticky Sauce = Happy Eating.
Once you try these easy, sticky chicken drumsticks, your favorite chicken wings recipe will be in danger of replacement. Seriously! The meat is perfectly juicy and tender – as in, fall-off-the-bone tender – and the skin is crackly and crispy. Mouth watering yet? Good, that’s the goal here!
The last thing I want to talk about is this Asian marinade/glaze. It’s got honey, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and a couple of other really tasty ingredients. Basically, there’s savory, there’s sweet, and above all, there’s pure deliciousness!
Ready to dig in?
What Makes this Recipe So Good?
There’s no shortage of baked chicken recipes, or even baked chicken drumstick recipes, to choose from on the internet. So why this one?
Allow me to convince you with just a couple of reasons:
- It’s Easy: I hesitate to say that this recipe is ‘quick and easy’ because you’ll want to let the chicken marinate for 8 hours for the best results. However, I can assure you that it’s easy! You’ll need just 5 minutes of prep work to get this recipe started, and then it just comes down to sauce stirring and baking time.
- It’s Relatively Healthy: These chicken drumsticks taste fabulous, but you don’t have to feel guilty about it! They’re baked instead of being fried, for one thing, and there’s also no added salt. I’m not saying they’re the healthiest meal you’ll ever eat, but they’re not too bad calorie-wise.
- It Can Be an Appetizer or a Dinner: I like to serve these drumsticks as an appetizer because they’re small, and usually gone within a couple of bites, but you could also make a bunch and serve them for dinner! Totally up to you. (Also, if chicken dinners are your jam, this Oven Baked Chicken recipe is always a hit as well!)
What You’ll Need
Okay, time to round up the chicken, the marinade ingredients, and the garnishes. Here’s what we’re working with:
- Chicken Drumsticks: Chicken legs will probably work too – see section below for more information.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Putting this in the marinade helps to tenderize the chicken.
- Honey: To add sweet flavor.
- Brown Sugar: I like to use packed light brown sugar when I make this recipe.
- Soy Sauce: I typically add in low-sodium soy sauce, but you can use whatever kind you have on hand.
- Garlic: Mince fresh cloves of garlic for the best flavor.
- Seasoning: Use a mix of minced fresh ginger and fresh cracked black pepper.
- Garnishes: I like to add sesame seeds, lightly toasted, and a few pinches of chopped fresh parsley. These are optional, but I highly recommend them!
What’s the Difference Between Chicken Legs and Chicken Drumsticks?
Most of the time chicken legs and chicken drumsticks are the same thing. However, sometimes drumsticks are sold while still attached to the thighs, under the label chicken legs (aka chicken quarters). Because I like to stick with just drumsticks, I try to avoid buying chicken quarters, but you could use them in this recipe if you so choose.
How to Make Sticky Chicken Drumsticks
Sweet and sticky chicken drumsticks are a super low-maintenance recipe. First you’ll whip together the marinade, then you’ll let the drumsticks marinate. Next the chicken goes into the oven to bake, and finally you’ll drizzle the thickened marinade over the now-crispy chicken.
Here are all of the details:
Make the Marinade/Let the Chicken Marinate: In a medium bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and cracked black pepper. Pour into a large ziplock bag and add chicken drumsticks. Shake to coat chicken and refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight, giving the bag a shake whenever you think about it.
Preheat Oven to 400°F: Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top.
Remove the chicken from the bag, reserving the marinade, and place the drumsticks on the rack. Bake the drumsticks, on the middle oven rack, for 25 minutes.
Heat the Leftover Marinade: While the chicken is baking, place the leftover marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cook over low heat, stirring as needed, for about 15 minutes or until thickened.
Apply Marinade and Bake Again: Remove the drumsticks from the oven (after the first 25 minutes of cooking) and heavily coat with the thickened marinade, using a silicone pastry brush. Return to the oven and cook for 10 more minutes. Coat the drumsticks again and return to the oven to cook for 5 more minutes, or until an internal temperature of 165°F is reached.
Garnish and Enjoy: Coat the drumsticks one last time, with any remaining sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and parsley. Serve immediately.
Tips for Success
Looking for some tips and tricks on how to get the best results with your homemade sticky chicken drumsticks? You’re in the right place:
- Can I Use Chicken Breast? Sure! I used a chicken breast instead of drumsticks for my dinner and loved this sauce with it. So, feel free to change the recipe up to fit your tastes!
- How to Know if the Chicken is Done: When you cut into the drumstick to test for doneness, there should be no pinkness. The best way to know if your chicken is done, though, is to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should reach 165°F, as mentioned above.
- If You Just Use a Baking Sheet and Foil: If you don’t have a cooling rack, or prefer to just lay the chicken on a baking tray, that’s totally fine. Make sure you use a lot of cooking spray, though, so that the chicken can be easily removed. The drumsticks will be super sticky, so a generous amount of cooking spray helps a lot!
Should you decide to serve these baked chicken drumsticks as a dinner instead of an appetizer, I’ve got some side dish ideas for you:
- Potatoes: Potatoes in any form complement this meal really well! Feel free to go with mashed potatoes, oven roasted potatoes, fries, etc…
- Salad: Again, salads of all kinds are welcome additions to these chicken drumsticks. I’ve done coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad, and (most often) a simple green salad.
- Vegetables: I like to serve roasted vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms) with my chicken drumsticks.
- Bread: It’s never a bad idea to have a basket of fresh rolls or buttery garlic bread on the table when these drumsticks are around.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
These chicken drumsticks can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat them by preparing a baking tray and preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until warmed through (this can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes, but be sure to check on the chicken often so that it doesn’t burn).
Can I Freeze Extras?
Sure! Freeze your extra chicken legs in an airtight container. I would suggest eating them within 1-2 months.
Sweet & Sticky Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 6 chicken drumsticks, about 1.25 pounds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- a few pinches chopped fresh parsley
- In a medium bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and cracked black pepper. Pour into a large ziplock bag and add chicken drumsticks. Shake to coat chicken and refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight, giving the bag a shake whenever you think about it.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a Cooling Rack on top.
- Remove the chicken from the bag, reserving the marinade, and place the drumsticks on the rack. Bake the drumsticks, on the middle oven rack, for 25 minutes.
- While the chicken is baking, place the leftover marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cook over low heat, stirring as needed, for about 15 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove drumsticks from oven (after first 25 minutes of cooking) and heavily coat with the thickened marinade, using a silicone pastry brush. Return to the oven and cook for 10 more minutes. Coat the drumsticks again and return to oven to cook for 5 more minutes, or until an internal temperate of 165°F is reached.
- Coat the drumsticks one last time, with any remaining sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and parsley. Serve immediately.
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