These juicy and flavorful spicy drumsticks are just the thing when you're faced with making chicken drumsticks AGAIN and want to spice things up.
Made with just five ingredients and no added sugar, it's a wonderful choice for a simple weeknight dinner that the entire family will enjoy.
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 garlic chicken. I guess they're growing up because now they seem to prefer this one.
I make chicken drumsticks recipes often, so I always look for ways to make them more interesting, especially for the grownups.
These spicy drumsticks certainly fit the bill! The rub is very tasty, and the chicken emerges from the oven juicy and flavorful.
Here's an overview of what you'll need to make this recipe. The 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 by half, or the dish could end up too salty.
- Spices: I keep things simple by using just two spices - chili powder and cayenne pepper.
- 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.
- You can use melted butter or ghee instead of olive oil. I especially like ghee - I love its rich nutty flavor.
- You can add more spices. Spices that I tried and liked include smoked paprika and ground cumin. I reduce the chili powder to 1 teaspoon and add ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon of cumin.
- You can top the finished dish with chopped cilantro.
Spicy Drumsticks Instructions
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
- Make a quick rub with extra-virgin olive oil and yummy spices (and no sugar!). (Photos 1-2).
- Rub it all over the drumsticks. I use a pastry brush. (Photo 3).
- Then bake the chicken in the oven for about 40 minutes. That's it! Dinner is ready! (Photos 4-6).
The chicken pieces will need about 40 minutes in the oven to be fully cooked. But they might get too dark on the top before they are ready.
So check on them after 30 minutes and if they do seem to be getting too dark, loosely cover them with foil and keep baking.
There actually IS a valid reason to add a small amount of sugar, although I think it's still used in excess nowadays.
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 garlic chicken recipe, for example.
So adding a teaspoon of brown sugar to a rub such as the one used in this recipe is not such a bad idea, especially since very little remains after cooking in each serving.
Having said that, my personal choice is to avoid sugar as much as possible, so my recipe contains no added sugar.
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.
Start uncovered. Bake the chicken until cooked through and juices run clear, about 40 minutes. Check on it after the first 30 minutes and loosely cover it with foil if it seems to be darkening too fast on top.
Guy Rouillier, who kindly gave me permission to use his full name here, writes:
"Thank you very much for this spicy 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."
The leftovers keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. Reheat them gently in the microwave, covered, at 50% power.
Or simply eat them cold! Spicy drumsticks 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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- 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 parsley chopped
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with high-heat-resistant 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 (their internal temperature should reach 165ºF) and juices run clear, for 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 the chicken with chopped parsley and red pepper flakes, then serve.