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BBQ Baked Chicken Legs

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What could be better than juicy, succulent, fall-off-the-bone chicken legs made in the oven? We love the ease and versatility of this recipe for BBQ baked chicken legs. With only four ingredients and 20 minutes of prep, you can have juicy chicken legs with a sticky caramelized barbecue sauce ready for family dinner or a big party.

The secret to this recipe is the smoky BBQ dry brine. The salt in the BBQ seasoning rub helps the meat retain moisture, keeping the meat juicy and flavorful. It is the perfect recipe to prep in advance and pull out when company comes over. Although brining is not completely necessary, you will notice a big difference.

Barbecue baked chicken legs on a platter.

We love to make it the night before a party or as a make-ahead meal during the school year. Here’s why you need to make baked chicken legs today:

  • Simple ingredients that are easy to keep on hand.
  • Family-friendly and a crowd-pleaser.
  • Easily doubled or modified to fit your needs.
  • Serve with a green bean salad for an easy, healthy meal.

This recipe makes it easy to get great results without firing up the grill outside. You can even adapt the recipe for our oven roasted chicken thighs.

Ingredients needed for BBQ oven baked chicken legs.

Ingredients:

Here’s what you’ll need for the best baked BBQ drumsticks.

A barbecue chicken leg being held over some bbq sauce.

How to Make BBQ Baked Chicken Legs:

  1. Coat the chicken legs in the dry rub. Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes at 375°F. Remove the drumsticks and turn the oven up to 400°F.
  3. Baste the chicken legs with BBQ sauce and return to the oven to get the sauce thick and sticky.
  4. Serve with roasted potatoes, rice, or a green salad.

Tips For Cooking BBQ Legs in the Oven:

Do not add the barbeque sauce until the end. If you add the sauce too soon then the juices from the chicken will water down the sauce. You will get a nice thick, sticky sauce if you add it at the end of cooking and let it caramelize on the chicken legs.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a rack on top. The aluminum foil will make clean-up much easier. In addition, the rack will help the chicken legs cook evenly and prevent the bbq sauce from getting watery. 

You want to cook the chicken legs on top of a rack to help the air circulate under the chicken legs and cook evenly. The rack is optional, but it will help your drumsticks cook more evenly and prevent the bbq sauce from sitting in a puddle. 

Don’t forget to take the chicken legs out and turn up the heat. This last blast of heat will caramelize the sauce, giving your drumsticks that sweet, gooey, sticky goodness that we love.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How can I tell when drumsticks are done cooking?

If you pierce the chicken leg with a sharp knife then the juices should run clear. For an even more accurate way to check the doneness, use a meat thermometer.

Do I need to let the drumsticks sit in the brine?

If you do not have time, you can still cook the chicken legs following the recipe. They will just be a little less juicy and flavorful but still delicious.

Can I let the chicken sit in the dry brine for longer?

Yes, you can. You can dry brine chicken legs for up to two days. If you brine the chicken for longer, it will get too salty.

Can I freeze BBQ drumsticks?

Yes, make sure you let the chicken legs cool completely. Freeze in freezer-safe containers for 3 to 6 months. When ready to serve, defrost thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight and reheat.

Baked chicken legs next to some bbq sauce.

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Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Our recipe for boneless chicken breasts on the grill will give you juicy, tender chicken every time.

If you have leftover chicken, use it to make this chipotle chicken pasta salad. It is so good.

Our chicken and rice bake is a fast and easy recipe that makes a great weeknight dinner all in one skillet.

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Barbecue baked chicken legs on a platter.

BBQ Baked Chicken Legs

Yield: 14 chicken legs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 55 minutes

This is how you make the best BBQ baked chicken legs!

BBQ flavored dry rub acts as a brine that gives the chicken legs tremendous flavor and keeps them juicy. Cooking the chicken legs in the oven on top of a rack will help air circulate around the drumsticks and cook evenly. Adding the BBQ sauce at the end of the baking time will prevent the sauce from burning.

Ingredients

  • 12 to 14 chicken legs (drumsticks)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 to 8 tablespoons BBQ seasoning dry rub
  • 1-1/2 cups barbecue sauce

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken legs in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss them so all the legs are coated in the oil.
  2. Sprinkle the dry rub over the drumsticks and toss them until they are completely coated in the seasoning. 
  3. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for 2 to 12 hours (this will develop more flavors). 
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil and place a wire rack in the baking sheet.
  5. Arrange the drumsticks on the wire rack. Make sure there is room between each chicken leg so air can circulate around them. 
  6. Bake for 30 minutes at 375°F. Remove the baking sheet and turn the oven up to 400°F. Use a basting brush to coat the chicken legs with the BBQ sauce. Return to the oven and bake for 7 minutes at 400°F. Turn the drumsticks over, coat the other side and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. 

Notes

  • Any brand of BBQ dry rub and sauce will work. If you want to make your own sauce and rub refer to the post for recipes. 
  • After coating the drumsticks in the dry rub, let them sit in the fridge for several hours if you have the time. The dry rub acts as a brine and makes the chicken turn out juicy and well seasoned. You can skip this step if you are short on time.
  • Don’t add the barbecue sauce until the end of the baking time. If you add it too soon the sauce will burn on top of the chicken legs. 
  • The FDA recommends that you cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F. You can get away with cooking chicken legs over 165°F since they are higher in fat and do not dry out easily. If you let the dry rub sit on the drumsticks for several hours, it will give you further safeguarding from drying the chicken out. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1 drumstick
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 540Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 330mgSodium: 539mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 63g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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angiesrecipes

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

I am not really a fan of bbq sauce, but as I said before, I am more than willing to taste everything you made and these chicken legs look TERRIFIC!

Dahn Boquist

Thursday 15th of July 2021

These are great even without the BBQ sauce ;)

John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

This looks great! I like using the oven for making a lot of BBQ-style meats. Using a dry rub makes all the difference -- really turns the flavor up. This recipe looks like an "11" -- thanks!

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Thanks John

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