Let’s be honest, anyone who says they don’t like chicken legs is lying.
Chicken legs are easily one of the most delicious parts of the chicken as well as one of the most convenient. After all, they’re the perfect shape to hold and eat.
As for your health? Don’t worry! Dark chicken meat is known for being rich in calcium, potassium, zinc and other goodies, making chicken drumsticks as healthy as they’re delicious.
Unfortunately, chicken legs can be particularly tricky to cook, especially when it comes to baking them. That’s why we’ve created this guide, to show you how to cook chicken legs in the oven.
Let’s get started!
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What You’ll Need to Cook Chicken Legs in The Oven
There are thousands of recipes about baking chicken legs, and they’re all different. Some are sour; some are spicy and so on.
Because of this, it’s impossible to tell you exactly what you’ll need because your needs will change from recipe to recipe but there are some things that are almost universal, and those are the ones we’ll be mentioning here.
- Chicken Legs
- Aluminum Foil
- Baking Pan
- Meat Thermometer
- Cooking Spray
Some recipes will also require a rack, but not all of them so keep one at hand just in case.
How to Cook Chicken Legs in The Oven
Before proceeding, remember that every oven is different which means that the baking temperatures and times might change slightly depending on yours. Keep in mind other recipes you’ve followed before (even if it’s other kinds of food) and the times they mentioned and compare them to the time they actually took to cook. Adjust accordingly.
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Step 1 – Thawing
(Skip this step if you have fresh chicken)
If your chicken is frozen the first step is to thaw it, which can be safely achieved in three ways:
- Thawing it in your fridge: This is considered the safest way of thawing chicken (and just about everything) but it’s also the most time consuming. To do this, simply take out your chicken from the freezer, place it in a container or resealable bags and leave it on one of the bottom shelves of your fridge overnight.
Because of its low meat content, drumsticks won’t take as long to thaw as other parts of the chicken so you might want to pull them out of the freezer just a couple of hours before it’s time to cook them.
- Thawing in water: Another useful method of thawing chicken (as well as other meats) is to submerge it in cool water. Some people use running water as well, but if you’re concerned about the environment, a bowl full of water will do the trick.
Remember always to put your chicken inside a resealable bag so it doesn’t come in contact with water. Also, don't forget to use cool water because, while warm water might speed up the process, it will also cook your chicken and that’s something you want to avoid.
If you chose to use a water bowl instead of running water, remember to change the water from time to time.
- Thawing in the microwave: Most microwaves nowadays include a defrosting option which is a good option if you’re in a rush. We don’t advise using your microwave because they tend to create ‘hot spots’ and even cook the surface of your chicken when all you wanted was to thaw it out, but if you forgot to defrost it in a conventional way, this is a good alternative for when you’re running out of time.
To thaw chicken using your microwave follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
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Step 2 – Preheat your Oven
Preheat your oven to the temperature mentioned in your recipe or to at least 350 degrees, which is a proper temperature for baking drumsticks.
You want your oven to heat up while you prepare the chicken so you can start cooking it right after you’re done.
Step 3 – Prepare Your Chicken
Pat dry your chicken with a paper towel to make sure it doesn’t have any excess moisture, particularly if you just thawed it.
Remove the skin if you’re looking for a healthier alternative or if your recipe calls for it.
This is also the right time to season your chicken. You can follow a particular recipe, or you can simply season it with salt and pepper. Using a commercial rub mix is also a good idea.
Step 4 – Cover your Baking Pan with Aluminum Foil
This will not only help conduct heat better, but it will also make cleaning much, much easier.
If you have one, place a roasting rack in your baking pan and coat with cooking oil. If you don’t, simply cover the aluminum foil with the cooking oil.
Step 5 – Bake
Place your chicken on the rack (or the baking pan if you don’t have one) and slide into the oven. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes while checking the temperature with your thermometer now and then.
Remember than opening your oven lets the heat out, which can slow down the cooking so don’t be overzealous with how many times you check the chicken. Once or twice is more than enough.
If your chicken is tender, it is time to take it out of the oven, even if the time hasn’t ended.
If you’re not sure if your chicken is ready or not, simply check the temperature. Professional cooks recommend baking your chicken until its core temperature hits 185 degrees.
Another good way of telling if your chicken is done or not is to look at the juices. If it lets out clear juices, then your chicken is ready to eat.
Step 6 – Apply Finishing Touches
This is one of the steps that vary from recipe to recipe but once your chicken is cooked it is time to apply the finishing touches. This can be garnishing, adding some extra seasoning, slathering with sauce or more.
Follow your recipe and serve once it’s ready to eat.
Now you know the basics for cooking chicken legs in the oven. If your friend ask you:"How long do you cook chicken legs in the oven?", I am sure that you can now have a right answer after reading this post, right?
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Remember that this isn’t a recipe proper but rather an article that tells you what you need to know about baking chicken drumsticks. If you have a recipe at hand, always follow the steps mentioned in it, as that will ensure the best results.
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Did you enjoy this article? Did you find it useful? Do you know a better way of baking chicken legs or thawing frozen chicken drumsticks? If so, let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to like and share this article if you found it useful.
I subscribed, the chicken leg looked like it belonged on Broadway, my husband would love this.
It says for chicken legs and later changes to drumsticks, which one