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. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
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. They are also called "chicken quarters." 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 dried 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 in a rimmed baking dish large enough to fit them in a single layer. A 9 X 13-inch baking dish works, as does a large rimmed baking sheet.
2. Now generously spray the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle it with the spices.
3. Bake until fully cooked. This should take 40-45 minutes in a 425°F oven, and you will probably need to loosely cover the chicken pieces with foil after the first 30 minutes.
How to make them crispy
The secret? Don't bake the chicken legs in a 350 degrees F oven for an hour. Instead, bake them in a hot oven - 425 degrees F - for 40-45 minutes. This will ensure beautifully crispy skin and juicy meat.
Do check the chicken after the first 30 minutes. If the skin (or the spices) seem 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, quick pickles, fresh-cut veggies, and some homemade ranch.
But if you'd like to reheat the leftovers, 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 your oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a rimmed baking dish with olive oil. a 9 X 13-inch baking dish should work.
- Place the chicken legs in the prepared baking dish. Generously spray their tops with olive oil and sprinkle them with the seasonings.
- Bake, uncovered, until the skin is crisp and browned and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, 40-45 minutes. Check the chicken after the first 30 minutes. If the skin or the spices seem to be browning too much, loosely cover it with foil and continue baking.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.