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How Do I Prepare Chicken Drumsticks?

How Do I Prepare Chicken Drumsticks?

Chicken drumsticks may not be the first cut of meat you think of when meal planning, but maybe we can help change your mind. Chicken drumsticks are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals such as selenium, niacin, iron, and zinc. In fact, a single chicken drumstick contains approximately 18 grams of protein. While chicken drumsticks are higher in fat than say, chicken breasts, this is because they are generally eaten with the skin on, unlike some other cuts of meat. If you’re conscious of the fat grams you’re consuming you can always remove the skin, but trust us, the savory flavor is worth it!

One of the best things about chicken drumsticks is how simple they are to cook. They can be grilled, air fried, or baked and similar to chicken thighs (the drumstick and the thigh together make up the “leg” of the chicken), it’s pretty difficult to overcook drumsticks. Since the meat is darker and higher in fat than breasts, you can still obtain juicy flavor from a chicken drumstick even if you cook it a bit longer than necessary. 

Here are some tips for how to prepare chicken drumsticks:

Start with High Quality, Pasture Raised Chicken

This should go without saying, but we love talking about our chicken, so we’re going to say it anyway! Whether you consume pasture raised chicken for the health benefits or its superior taste, you’ll find that particularly when it comes to a savory meal like chicken drumsticks, quality matters! Unlike other cuts of meat such as chicken breasts or thighs which may be incorporated into a casserole along with other foods and flavors, when you eat chicken drumsticks the meat really stands out. So make sure you’re using the best! Since our chickens are raised on pasture and exposed to such a nutrient rich diet, their meat is both healthier for our consumers, and much tastier! Studies have shown that our pasture raised chicken is three times as high in omega 3s as conventionally raised chicken, not to mention being twenty one percent lower in saturated fat and having fifty percent more vitamins A and E than conventionally raised chicken. And as for the taste, well that’s just what our customers (and taste buds) tell us - you’ll have to decide that part for yourself! 

The Right Marinade Makes All the Difference!

Chicken drumsticks are simple to make and pair well with just about anything. You can jazz up the flavor and make your drumsticks go with any type of dish, just by using a marinade. Marinating chicken helps to tenderize the meat, and add moisture and flavor while the chicken cooks. While drumsticks are pretty flavorful and juicy on their own, they really benefit from the added boost of flavor that a marinade provides. You’ll want to combine the flavors of your marinade, and either add the chicken drumsticks to a freezer bag along with the marinade, or coat the marinade over the drumsticks in a dish and let the flavors meld together anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Make sure you’re following proper food safety and marinating your chicken in the fridge!

How Do I Prepare Chicken Drumsticks on the Grill or in the Oven?

While the pre-cooking prep is the same no matter how you’re cooking your drumsticks, the cooking itself is a bit different depending on whether you’re using a grill or an oven. For both methods, you’ll want to remove your drumsticks and marinade from the fridge and bring them to room temperature prior to cooking - 20 to 30 minutes should do it. 

Cooking Chicken Drumsticks on the Grill:

  • Coat your grill grates with oil while the grill is preheating, to keep the chicken from sticking to the grates. Even if you marinate your chicken in oil, you’ll want to make sure the grates have a healthy coating of oil or you’ll end up with more chicken stuck to the grates than on your plate!

  • Preheat half of your grill on high heat, and the other half on medium heat. The high heat is where you’ll put the drumsticks first, to crisp up the skin. Then you’ll finish them on medium heat, cooking until the internal temperature is at least 165°F. Make sure you have your meat thermometer handy! You’ll want to turn your chicken drumsticks at least once while cooking to make sure the skin is evenly crisp.

  • If you’re using a glaze or bbq sauce on your drumsticks, you’ll want to add that in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. Do not add it at the beginning or you’ll just wind up with a sticky, charred mess. 

  • As with all chicken, let it sit for about 5 minutes after removing from heat, before serving.

Cooking Chicken Drumsticks in the Oven

Cooking chicken drumsticks in the oven is about as easy as it gets. Towards the end of your marinating time, preheat your oven to 425°F. Once your chicken has been removed from the fridge and come to room temperature, place on a greased baking sheet (or one that has been lined with parchment) in a single layer, making sure the drumsticks aren’t touching. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken reaches the proper internal temperature. As we mentioned, chicken drumsticks are a bit more forgiving with cooking time than chicken breasts, due to their higher fat and moisture content. You don’t want to char them, but if your meat thermometer reads a bit higher than the recommended 165°F don’t despair - we’ve had chicken drumsticks read as high as 195°F before, and they were still juicy and flavorful. 

Now that you know how simple chicken drumsticks are to prepare, maybe it’s time to add them to your weekly dinner rotation. They pair well with pretty much any side dish, and are delicious leftover too!

You also may want to consider chicken drumsticks for your next dinner party or tailgate - they are perfect for feeding large groups with very little preparation or effort required!

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