These baked chicken legs are quick to prep and work with chicken drumsticks! Ready in minutes, a secret trick yields juicy chicken with a crispy skin every single time.
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Why this recipe works
- Crispy outside and juicy inside. I’ve tested this recipe countless terms to guarantee perfection. These chicken legs are always perfectly juicy for a chicken that is notorious for sometimes being dry and chewy.
- No marinating time is required. You can prepare these chicken legs for baking in just a few minutes, and you don’t need to marinate them in advance. It’s one of the reasons why I love to make it for my family during the week when we are all in a rush.
- Versatile. Chicken pairs well with almost anything, including veggies, grains, and sandwiches.
- Works with legs or drumsticks. You can use chicken legs or drumsticks interchangeably.
What I love about this recipe is just how hands-off it is to make. Besides a quick seasoning, the oven takes care of all the hard work!
This baked chicken leg recipe is very simple and besides the actual chicken and seasonings, there isn’t much else that goes into it. Here is what you’ll need:
- Chicken legs. Use skin-on chicken legs or bone-in drumsticks for the crispiest baked chicken.
- Oyster sauce. Gives the chicken a rich umami flavor along with sweet and salty notes.
- Soy sauce. Balances out the richness of the oyster sauce.
- Honey or maple syrup. To add sweetness to the marinade. I prefer maple syrup as sometimes the honey can be a little overpowering. However, honey DOES give the skin a more sticky texture.
- Garlic. No chicken marinade is ever complete without some fresh minced garlic.
- Olive oil. To help impart the marinade flavors into the chicken and also promote perfect roasting.
- Spices. I use red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper for this recipe. It’s simple but it lets the sauces do their thing.
How to bake chicken legs
Making this recipe follows a simple 3-step process. Ready to bake up some chicken?
Step 1-make the marinade: Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, maple syrup or honey, minced garlic, salt, and spices.
Step 2- marinade the chicken legs: Put the chicken legs into a small bowl and pour the marinade into the bag. Ensure each drumstick is well coated.
Step 3-Bake the chicken: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the chicken legs from the bag and arrange them on the sheet pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until crispy on the outside.
How long to bake chicken legs
Chicken comes in all weights and sizes, so adjust the cooking time as needed. Here are the average baking times:
- 4-ounces: 20-25 minutes.
- 6-ounces: 27-30 minutes.
- 8-ounces: 30-32 minutes.
For anything bigger than 8 ounces, bake the chicken for 35 minutes, then continue cooking until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F (using a meat thermometer to check).
Tips to make the best recipe
- For extra crispy skin, broil the chicken for 2-3 minutes at the end.
- Always use skin-on chicken pieces as this will help keep the meat moist and add flavor. Remember, you can always remove the skin afterwards.
- Leave room around each chicken leg when arranging them on the baking tray. The hot air circulating around the meat will cook them evenly and make them crispy on all sides.
- Let the chicken to rest for five minutes before serving allows the juices to distribute throughout the meat and keeps it tender.
- If you have leftover marinade, brush it over the chicken while they bake to infuse them with more flavor and keep them moist.
Recipe and flavor variations
The beauty of baking chicken legs from scratch is just how easy they are to customize. Here are some ideas.
Swap olive oil for sesame oil. The mild nutty and earthy flavor of the sesame oil pairs well with chicken and gives it an Asian feel.
Add a few drops of Sriracha to the marinade. Using Sriracha is the easiest way to control the chicken’s spiciness level.
Use other cuts of chicken. This marinade works perfectly for chicken thighs and wings.
Coat them in lemon pepper seasoning. A classic seasoning for chicken, this one is always a winner.
To store: Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. They keep well for at least four days.
To freeze: Place the baked and cooled chicken in a shallow container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To reheat: Warm the chicken in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or in a preheated oven.
More delicious ways to bake chicken
- Baked chicken wings
- Baked chicken breast
- Peri Peri chicken
- Baked chicken tenderloins
- Baked chicken thighs
Frequently Asked Questions
With marinated chicken, it’s always best to cook at the highest possible heat to create a crispy and tender exterior with a perfectly juicy middle section. Cooking the chicken at 400F guarantees this.
Yes! Frozen chicken legs will work, but it is best to thaw them to room temperature before baking.
It will take approximately 40 minutes to bake chicken legs at 350F. Check with a meat thermometer to ensure it has reached an internal temperature of 165F.
Baked Chicken Legs (Chicken Drumsticks)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together all the ingredients, except for the chicken.
- Place the chicken legs into a large bowl, along with the marinade ingredients, and use your hands to mix into it, until coated.
- Transfer the chicken legs onto the lined pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165F.
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