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Learn How to Grill Chicken Drumsticks that are super juicy and perfectly cooked through.
Hi everyone – it’s Jack. Today we’re teaching you How to Grill Chicken Drumsticks. It’s a big batch recipe that is perfect for a summer cookout, a game day party in the fall, or anytime you have a hungry, chicken-loving crowd to feed.
Why can’t I just throw my chicken drumsticks on a hot grill to cook?
Bone-in, skin-on chicken legs can be tricky when you try cooking them on the grill. All too often, the skin burns, the outer meat dries out, and the inside of the drumstick is undercooked. Nothing worse than biting into a chicken leg that is still pink in the middle.
Some people recommend pre-cooking the drumsticks – boiling them first until cooked through, then grilling the drumsticks just enough to crisp up the skin and caramelize the barbecue sauce. That can work – but more often than not, the outer meat of the chicken leg often dries out using that method, because the fat from the skin has already rendered out by the time you get to grilling.
The best way to grill chicken drumsticks
The secret to a really good, juicy chicken drumstick that’s fully cooked through without burning or drying it out is to grill using the LONG AND SLOW method over indirect heat.
First – make sure your chicken drumsticks are at room temperature before you start to grill. Pat dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture from the skin, then rub the chicken legs with extra virgin olive oil, and simply season with salt and pepper.
Heat half of your grill to a high heat, leaving the other half off. Make sure your grill grates are clean, then use tongs and a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil to oil the grill grates.
Place the drumsticks (skin-side down) on the hot side of the grill. Once the skin starts to brown and loosen from the grates, turn with tongs, allowing the skin to begin to brown and crisp up all over the drumstick. This will take about 15 minutes. As each leg is browned, move it to the cool side of your grill.
Once the last chicken leg is moved over, close the cover and leave only one of the grill burners on – on the opposite side of the drumsticks. Adjust the flame on that one burner, trying your best to regulate the grill’s temperature to stay right at 275 degrees F.
Now – just let the grill do its magic and go about making the rest of your dinner. We cooked 7-ounce chicken drumsticks for today’s recipe – and they cooked through in about an hour and 15 minutes. Smaller chicken legs will take less time.
Use a probe thermometer like this – and once the internal temperature of your chicken drumsticks reaches 155 degrees F turn up the heat on the hot side of the grill to medium high.
While the grill heats up, slather your favorite barbecue sauce on the drumsticks (we used this sauce in our photos), then move the chicken to the hot side of the grill, turning to brown and char all over.
At this point, test the internal temperature again – and remove the drumsticks from the grill once they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Cover with foil and rest for about 5 minutes.
Grab some extra napkins & dig in
Once you learn this method for grilling chicken drumsticks, I predict it will be your go-to method from now on. Your patience will be rewarded with grilled chicken drumsticks that are so tender and juicy, you’re going to need some extra napkins to wipe your mouth and hands. Enjoy!
You may enjoy these other grilled chicken recipes:
- Marinated Grilled Chicken
- Citrus Grilled Chicken
- Mediterranean Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Honey Lime Chicken
- Grilled Basil Garlic Chicken Breasts
Drumsticks vary in size but usually run between 6 ounces and 10 ounces. Smaller drumsticks will obviously cook in less time than larger drumsticks so the time below can change based on the size of your drumstick and the accuracy of your grill. The time listed is for 7-ounce drumsticks.
Bring the drumsticks to room temperature and pat dry with paper towels.
Lay all of the drumsticks on a sheet tray and slather on the olive oil all over both sides of each drumstick.
Sat and pepper one side, turn and repeat with the remaining salt and pepper.
Heat one half of your grill to high and leave the other half off.
Clean and oil the grill grates (use long handles tongs to hold a folded papertowel dipped in oil) then set the chicken drumsticks on the hot side. There will be a quick flare up as the oil burns off.
Brown and turn for about 15 minutes, or until the skin is crisp all the way around, then move each drumstick to the cool side of the grill.
Once the final drumstick has moved to the cool side, close the cover and turn off all burners except one on low (opposite side of the chicken). Then try to regulate the inside grill temperature to stay at 275 degrees F. If you cannot, feel free to transfer to your home oven at the 275 degrees F temperature.
The drumsticks will take between 60 and 75 minutes to cook at that low temperature. Use a probe thermometer, test as you get close to an hour by inserting into the thickest part of the drumstick without touching bone. (Larger drumsticks will take longer, smaller drumsticks will take less time.)
Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees F, turn the hot side up to medium high.
While that side is heating, slather the chicken all over with your BBQ sauce and once ready, move to the hot side and char both sides. The sugar in the BBQ sauce will burn quickly so be careful here and check often. Once I moved mine to the hot side, they took just shy of ten minutes to get charred on both sides. I turned them often to get an even char.
During this last cooking process, the drumsticks internal temperature will rise to a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
Remove to a platter and enjoy. You’ll find the outside sweet and crispy and the inside juicy and tender.
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