A simple recipe for crispy baked chicken legs. Cooked in a hot oven, they emerge with wonderfully crispy skin and very juicy meat!
Chicken is not the most exciting meat one might eat, that’s for sure. But it’s tasty and affordable and my kids like it, which is always a good reason to make something (if you have kids you know it’s true).
These wonderful chicken legs have crispy, delicious skin and juicy, succulent meat. Who says chicken can’t be a delicacy? It all depends on how you cook it. Another good reason to make this recipe? Leftovers are great. I love eating them cold!
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make baked chicken legs (the exact measurements are included in the recipe card below):
Olive oil spray: It’s so delicious and my favorite oil to cook with. But if you worry about its relatively low smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Chicken legs: I use bone-in skin-on legs (thigh and drumstick) in this recipe. I get them either at my local supermarket or at the butcher counter at Whole Foods.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use or the dish could come out too salty.
Spices: I like to use garlic powder, paprika, and thyme. Please make sure they are fresh! Spices are delicious, but a stale spice can easily ruin a dish. Speaking from experience…
How to bake chicken legs
It’s a truly easy recipe. The oven does all the work! The detailed instructions are included in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
1. Your first step is to arrange the chicken pieces on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack.
2. Now generously spray them with olive oil and sprinkle with the spices.
3. Bake until fully cooked. This should take about 45 minutes in a 425°F oven. That’s it! I told you this was an easy recipe.
How to make them crispy
The secret? Don’t bake the chicken legs in a 350 degrees F oven. Instead, bake them in a hot oven – 425 degrees F – for 45 minutes. This will ensure beautifully crispy skin and juicy meat.
Do check the chicken after the first 30 minutes. If the skin seems to be browning too much, loosely cover the top with foil and continue baking until cooked through.
The skin is the best part!
Many chicken recipes will instruct you to trim any excess skin from the thigh part. Me? On the contrary. When I make this recipe, I leave every bit of delicious skin on.
In fact, if I have space on the pan, I spread any excess skin out on the pan, and then it comes out super crispy and so, so good. Kind of like freshly baked homemade pork rinds, but even better.
What to serve with baked chicken legs?
They are very versatile and truly go with any side dish. I often serve them with any of the following sides:
What about leftovers?
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. I don’t like to reheat them, though. Reheating dries the chicken out. Leftover chicken is actually very tasty when eaten cold! I like to make myself a lunch plate with cold leftover chicken, fresh-cut veggies, and some homemade ranch.
But if you’d like to reheat them, I suggest you do so in the microwave on 50% power and cover them while you reheat them.
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Baked Chicken Legs
- Olive oil spray
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken legs (drumstick and thigh)
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and fit it with a wire rack. Spray the wire rack with olive oil.
- Place the chicken legs on the prepared wire rack. Untuck the skin from the bottom of the thighs and spread it along the rack (to make it crispy).
- Generously spray the top of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with the seasonings.
- Bake, uncovered, until skin is crisp and browned and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, about 45 minutes. Check the chicken after the first 35 minutes. If the skin seems to be browning too much, loosely cover it with foil and continue baking.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.