This juicy and flavorful oven baked spicy chicken drumsticks recipe is just the thing when you’re faced with making drumsticks AGAIN and want to spice things up.
I’ve been making this recipe often lately. We all love it, and it’s not too spicy – not even for the kids. Although if you like your food really spicy, you might want to use 1/2 teaspoon cayenne instead of 1/4 teaspoon in the rub.
An interesting variation
I make chicken drumstick recipes often, so I always look for ways to make them more interesting, especially for the grownups.
These spicy chicken drumsticks certainly fit the bill! The rub is very tasty, and the chicken emerges from the oven juicy and flavorful.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty main dish. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need – exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below:
Chicken drumsticks: I like to remove the skin, but you can leave it on if you’d like.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this delicious oil. But if you’d rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and cayenne pepper.
How to make spicy chicken drumsticks
Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. It’s a truly easy recipe! Here are the basic steps:
1. Make a quick rub with extra-virgin olive oil and yummy spices (and no sugar!).
2. Rub it on the drumsticks.
3. Then bake the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes. That’s it! Dinner is ready!
Why do people add sugar to meat and chicken rubs?
There actually IS a valid reason to add a small amount of sugar, although I think it’s still used in excess nowadays because it’s so cheap.
Sugar enhances the flavor of foods and promotes browning by enhancing the Maillard reaction that naturally occurs when we roast or sear meats. It’s very noticeable in this honey baked chicken recipe, for example.
So adding a teaspoon of brown sugar to a rub such as the ones used in this spicy chicken drumsticks recipe is not such a terrible idea, especially since very little remains after cooking in each serving.
Having said that, my personal choice is to mostly remove sugar from my life and from my recipes. And certainly, in many commercial rubs, there’s way too much sugar – often it’s the first or the second ingredient! That’s simply unnecessary.
Must I remove the skin?
Not at all. This is a personal preference – one of my kids tends to gag when facing chicken skin (it’s a texture thing, I think). So I often remove it.
But from a health perspective, there’s no reason to remove chicken skin. So if you like it, go ahead and enjoy it!
What to serve with them?
Reviews of this recipe
Guy Rouillier, who kindly gave me permission to use his full name here, writes:
Thank you very much for this recipe! I made it for the first time today for a group picnic, and it was widely praised. Just the right amount of vivid spices to please adventurous tastebuds.
I especially liked that no sugar was used; It was disappointing to see that a commercial chicken rub I had sitting on the shelf contained sugar as a primary ingredient.
I made one small modification to your recipe, since my local store did not have kosher salt. I used regular table salt, but cut the recommended quantity in half.
The result was just right from a salt perspective; the cooked chicken had just a hint of salt, but not overpowering by any means.
What about leftovers?
I don’t usually have any leftovers when making spicy chicken drumsticks. But when I do, I find that they keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.
Reheat them gently in the microwave, covered, on 50% power. Or simply eat them cold! They are delicious right out of the fridge, especially if prepared without the skin. It’s no wonder cold chicken is the classic picnic food.
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Spicy Chicken Drumsticks
- 8 medium chicken drumsticks, skin removed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (not fine salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (increase to 1/2 teaspoon for extra heat)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wipe the chicken drumsticks dry with paper towels. Place them in a baking dish.
- Prepare the rub: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and spices to create a thick paste. Pour the paste over the chicken thighs and, using your hands, rub it well into the chicken pieces, on all sides.
- Bake the spicy chicken drumsticks until cooked through and juices run clear, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.