Learn how to make barbecue chicken indoors with these Easy BBQ Baked Chicken Drumsticks. Smothered with a sweet and smoky thick barbecue sauce. Tender and moist oven baked chicken legs that everyone will love.
Within this post, you’ll learn how to make an easy Oven Baked Honey BBQ Chicken Drumsticks. It tastes like grilled chicken but made indoors. Plus you’ll learn why it’s better (and safer) not to rinse your chicken before cooking.
These may be the easiest oven baked BBQ drumsticks you’ve ever had. Only a few ingredients and short prep time are needed. Salt and pepper to the chicken legs bring out more flavor, and that’s it; easy oven baked BBQ chicken drumsticks. These drumsticks are so moist and juicy, you’ll be licking your fingers until the last bite.
Baked Chicken Drumsticks…BBQ Style
Just a few ingredients are needed for easy BBQ chicken drumsticks baked in the oven:
- Chicken drumsticks: With the skin on (see why below)
- BBQ sauce: Adds loads of flavor and a thick, saucy coating. Choose a good quality one with lots of flavor.
- Honey: Adds a delicious sweetness to the sauce.
- Salt and pepper: Enhances the flavor of meats.
How to bake chicken drumsticks
If chicken drumsticks are frozen, defrost in the fridge 1-3 days before.
Pat chicken drumsticks dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Place chicken drumsticks on a large foil or parchment lined baking pan. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Mix together barbecue sauce and honey in a small bowl. Brush both sides of drumsticks with sauce.
Bake for 25 minutes at 375º F. Rotate drumsticks and generously coat tops with rest of sauce.
Bake 20–25 minutes more, or until chicken reaches a safe internal temp of 165º F.
Remove and let cool slightly before serving.
How to keep chicken moist
To help make baked chicken drumsticks moist buy chicken with the skin on. The skin adds a lot of flavor to the meat and it also helps seal in the moisture keeping the chicken juicy while cooking. Chicken drumsticks without the skin can easily dry out.
Coating in barbecue sauce keeps chicken legs moist as well. When it comes to the BBQ sauce choose a good quality one and mix it with honey. The honey adds extra sweetness and sticky texture to the sauce which I love, it also helps the sauce stick to the chicken.
Keep an eye on the internal temp and don’t overbake. Remove from oven once chicken drumsticks reach 165º F.
Tips for making Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- Use good quality chicken (organic and/or free range) for the best flavor
- If your drumsticks are frozen put in the fridge to defrost 1-3 days before
- Pat the chicken dry with kitchen paper to remove excess moisture and helps them crisp a bit
- Don’t rinse chicken beforehand
- Make sure to season the chicken well with salt and pepper before brushing with the glaze so it sticks
- Cover baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup
- Don’t cover chicken drumsticks when baking. This will create a soggy skin.
- Rotate chicken legs halfway for even baking and a more crisp skin
- Glaze the other side chicken legs when you rotate to keep moist and infuse more glaze into chicken
How to tell if chicken legs are cooked
Use a thermometer to check that internal temperature has reached 165º F. This is the safe temp for chicken and it will be cooked all the way through. If you don’t have a thermometer be sure the inside of the meat is no longer pink before serving.
Should you rinse chicken before cooking?
You should not wash chicken before cooking. It’s unnecessary and spreads bacteria. Chicken has already been cleaned and washed before packing. Rinsing spreads germs and bacteria in your kitchen sink.
You may have been told to rinse your chicken before cooking, or that’s what your family always did growing up. To be honest, I even used to do that. The safe temp for chicken is 165º F. As soon as it reaches that, your chicken is safe of any bacteria and is perfectly cooked. No washing needed.
Can you bake chicken drumsticks frozen?
You can by adding extra baking time but it’s not recommended. The skin my dry or brown too quickly, plus the BBQ sauce will not soak in as well. The flavor and texture will not be as good. If chicken legs are frozen, plan ahead and defrost in fridge 1-3 days before baking.
Are baked chicken drumsticks healthy?
Since these chicken drumsticks aren’t fried these can be a healthy addition to your dinner or appetizer menu. Each drumstick with skin has roughly 180 calories and 13 grams of protein. Not bad for so much flavor.
The BBQ sauce adds sugar so look for a lower sugar variety if desired. Honey adds sweetness and unique flavor but can be omitted to reduce sugar content.
Are they keto?
BBQ baked chicken legs can be a great addition to your keto diet. If following a high-fat diet, the skin will add plenty of fats paired with lean protein, plus chicken has no carbs or sugar.
Substitute a keto-approved barbecue sauce with no added sugars. Also, omit the honey.
BBQ Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks recipe at-a-glance:
Flavor profiles: Meaty, roasted, and slightly sweet. Umami from tomato-based barbecue sauce.
Texture: Tender, moist and a thick, finger-licking sauce coating.
Dietary Options/Substitutions: Look for gluten-free or paleo barbecue sauce if needed. For keto chicken drumsticks use a keto-approved BBQ sauce and omit the honey.
More Easy Chicken Recipes You Might Like:
- Baked Chicken Breast
- Grilled Chicken Breast
- Keto Chicken Parmesan
- Grilled Chicken Fajitas
- Keto Breaded Chicken Breast
- Chicken Minestrone Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Pho
Leave a comment below and star rating if you made this recipe or want to share your thoughts.
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BBQ Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- 3-4 pounds chicken drumsticks, (legs) skin on, 12–15 pieces
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- If chicken drumsticks are frozen, place in the fridge to defrost 2-3 days before baking. Preheat oven to 375º F. Let chicken sit at room temp 20-30 minutes.
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Do not rinse before; see cooking tips section above for details.
- Place chicken drumsticks on a large foil or parchment lined baking pan. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
- Mix together barbecue sauce and honey in a small bowl. Use a brush to generously coat both sides of chicken drumsticks with barbecue sauce. Note: use about ⅔ of the sauce.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate drumsticks and generously coat tops with rest of barbecue sauce. Note: If sauce spilled onto foil and is browned, transfer drumsticks to a clean baking sheet with foil to prevent burning of sauce.
- Bake 20 minutes more, or until chicken reaches a safe internal temp of at least 165º F. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Optional: Brush tops with additional barbecue sauce (that hasn't touched raw chicken) using a clean brush before serving.
- I used KC Masterpiece Private Stock Original BBQ for the sauce but any will do as long as it’s thick and has good flavor
- Use good quality chicken (organic and/or free range) for the best flavor
- Pat the chicken dry with kitchen paper to remove excess moisture
- Don't rinse the chicken beforehand, rinsing spreads germs and bacteria in your kitchen sink.
- Make sure to season the chicken well with salt and pepper before brushing with the glaze
- Line baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup
- Don't cover chicken drumsticks when baking. This will create a soggy skin.