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. The kids used to prefer my recipe for honey baked chicken. I guess they're growing up because now they seem to prefer this one.
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 prefer to leave the skin on - it's so flavorful. But you can remove it if you wish.
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. Melted butter or ghee should work too.
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: I keep things simple by using just two of them - chili powder and cayenne pepper. It's important to make sure the spices you use are fresh.
Optional garnish: Sometimes I chop some fresh parsley and sprinkle it on top of the chicken pieces after baking. I also like to lightly sprinkle them with red pepper flakes. Both of these additions are purely optional.
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 all over the drumsticks, as shown in the video below. I use a pastry brush.
3. Then bake the chicken in the oven for about 40 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 one 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, in my opinion.
Should I remove the skin?
Not at all. I used to remove it since one of my kids had an issue with the texture. But she's grown up since and now loves crispy chicken skin, so I leave it on.
What to serve with this dish?
Reviews of this recipe
Guy Rouillier, who kindly gave me permission to use his full name here, writes:
"Thank you very much for this spicy chicken drumsticks 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 with Chili Powder and Cayenne
- 8 medium chicken drumsticks 4 oz each
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (not fine salt)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wipe the chicken drumsticks dry with paper towels. Arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Prepare the rub: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, kosher salt, chili powder and cayenne pepper to create a paste. Pour the paste over the chicken pieces and, using your hands or a pastry brush, coat the chicken on all sides.
- Bake the drumsticks until cooked through and juices run clear, about 40 minutes. Check them after the first 30 minutes and loosely cover them with foil if they seem to be darkening too fast on top.
- If you wish, garnish with chopped parsley and red pepper flakes, then serve.