These baked chicken legs only require 10 short minutes of prep time and they come out irresistibly juicy and tender. 100% kid-friendly and perfect for weeknights!
Everyone needs a go-to baked chicken legs recipe and this one has been our family favorite for years. I started making baked chicken drumsticks this way right after my husband and I got married and it was one of the first recipes of mine he raved about. These days, our two boys enjoy them just as much (especially when I serve them with some mashed potatoes). With a minimal ingredient list and a crazy easy cooking process, you’re going to love them too!
Why Chicken Legs Take a Little Longer to Bake
If you’ve been cooking chicken in all its forms for some time now, you’ve probably noticed that chicken legs take a little longer to bake than other white meat cuts. This is because they have higher fat content and more density from the bones. For this recipe, they take about 40-45 minutes to reach a safe internal temperature of 165°F. That said, once you season them and pop them in the oven they require no fuss and are the ultimate “set it and forget it” kind of protein. Well worth the wait!
Air Fryer Hack: Short on time? Try out this recipe for air fryer chicken legs instead. If you don’t have an air fryer yet, I’m obsessed with this model from Cosori.
Preparing Baked Chicken Legs
Preparing these baked chicken legs only requires 4 simple ingredients and some super simple prep. Below, find a simplified overview of the process before you get to cooking.
- Preheat the Oven: First, turn the oven to 400°F.
- Season the Chicken Legs: Using your hands, massage the seasoning onto all the chicken legs.
- Bake the Chicken Legs: Assemble the chicken legs in a single layer on a baking sheet or baking dish (avoid stacking them, or the skin will not get crispy). Bake the chicken legs for about 40 minutes. Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!
3 Tips for the Tastiest Baked Chicken Legs
Here you’ll find 3 pro tips to help you nail this chicken drumsticks recipe.
- Rinse the chicken and pat it dry before baking. Once you remove the chicken from its package, rinse it under cool water in the sink (note: always sanitize your sink with disinfectant afterward). Next, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Removing excess moisture will ensure you get extra crispy skin.
- Use a meat thermometer to check doneness. Take the guesswork out of gauging the doneness of your chicken legs by investing in an instant read thermometer. If you need a recommendation for a good one, check out this brand (I’ve been using it for years). As a reminder, chicken legs are ready when the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Spoon the juice over the chicken towards the end of cooking. Don’t let all the delicious chicken juices that release during baking go to waste! About 5-10 minutes before the chicken legs are ready, spoon the juices over the top of them and pop them back in the oven. This will make them that much moister.
Different Seasoning Ideas for Chicken Legs
There are a million different seasonings and spices you can play around with when making baked chicken legs. Stick to the recipe as-is or check out the flavor combinations below to inspire you.
- Garlic Lover’s: Garlic powder (use as much as you’d like), onion powder, salt, and pepper
- Spicy Honey Mustard: Mix 1/4 cup of melted honey with two tablespoons of mustard and a couple of pinches of chili powder
- Lemon Pepper: Mix lemon juice with freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste
- Italian Flare: Coat the chicken in dried oregano (or any other dried herbs of your choice), garlic powder, salt, and pepper
Ways to Serve Baked Chicken Legs
For a comforting lunch or dinner, serve baked chicken legs alongside your favorite salad, grain, or veggie dish. A homemade caesar salad, quinoa, or creamy cauliflower rice are all great options. If you’re on the hunt for a super kid-friendly meal, opt for air fryer french fries. For a heartier meal, serve with scalloped potatoes.
Best Practices for Storing Your Leftovers
To keep your chicken legs fresh for up to a week, keep them stored in an airtight container in the fridge. This will keep them from drying out and absorbing any smells lingering in your fridge.
Reheating Tip: The best way to reheat your chicken legs is either back in the oven or in an air fryer until warmed through.
Should you bake chicken legs covered or uncovered?
Bake chicken legs uncovered for best results. This will allow the skin to get crispy.
Can you overcook chicken legs in the oven?
Yes, it is possible to overcook chicken legs in the oven. To prevent this, check the internal temperature about 40 minutes into cooking to air on the safe side.
Can you bake chicken legs from frozen?
You should always thaw chicken legs before baking them. If you’re using frozen legs, pop them in the fridge overnight.
Do you need to line the baking dish or baking sheet?
There’s no need to line the baking dish or baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. The chicken will release enough juices that it won’t stick to the pan.
Other Chicken Recipes
- Baked Chicken Wings – Crispy, 3-ingredient chicken wings
- Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Veggies – The easiest one-pan meal
- Easy Air Fryer Chicken Wings – Guilt-free chicken wings
- The EASIEST Air Fryer Chicken Breast – Juicy all-purpose chicken breast
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs (Fresh Or Frozen) – Ultra tender chicken thighs
- 2 lb chicken legs
- 1 tbsp garlic parsley salt
- 1 tbsp Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute or seasoning salt of your choice
- 1 tsp paprika
I tried the recipe tonight for dinner, followed the given instructions, even coated the baking tray with a bit of oil and the dish did not come out as planned. What I ended up doing, was having to add a cup of water to the tray around 30 minutes in so I could have something to baste the chicken with. Is this common that there isn't any liquid in the tray unless you add it in? I wanted to try again but maybe add some liquid to the dish so I could see those results above... Any suggestions?
Hi Audrey- I don't add any liquid at the beginning because I like when the skin gets crispier, and the chicken should create enough liquid on its own without adding any extra broth or liquids. Were your chicken legs more lean? I'm not quite sure why they were coming out so dry. For extra "juice" you could also slice up an onion and place in the bottom of the pan (with drumsticks on top) before baking. This might help create some more "liquid" in your pan and the caramelized onions at the end will be delicious!
Hi Leslie- the phrases are often used interchangeable. Hope you give this recipe a try and love it! 🙂
Hi! Do you flip the chicken 1/2 way through cooking?
Hi Bren- no flipping is necessary in this recipe. Enjoy!
I always rinse my chicken. I put it in a colander, and spray it well with cold water - easy Peasy. Then I blot it with paper towels, take a pastry brush and brush on some avocado oil, then put my spices in a zip lock bag and shake each piece of chicken until well covered in the bag, and put the pieces in a Pyrex dish that I have sprayed well with Pam. I always like to sprinkle some lemon zest on my chicken. Gives it a little “zing” and good for you, too.
Thanks for leaving this review-I did everything except put in a ziplock back😃
Hi Maxine - Yum! That sound delicious. A little lemon zest goes such a long way.
Do these turn out spicy at all?
I tasted the 21 seasoning and it has a bit of a kick. its delicious, but I'm worried the chicken will be spicy.
Hey Dianne, mine didn't have a kick to it or maybe it was very mild and I didn't notice it.
Do you use water or chicken broth, if so, how much?
Hey Rochelle, no I dont add any liquids to the baking chicken.
Great. Thanks so much!
I hope you love the recipe!
I love how simple the preparation is in this recipe yet the chicken turns out so flavorful. I used Mrs. Dash seasoning instead of 21 Seasoning salute and they turned out delicious!
Hey Galina, I am so glad you guys enjoyed it!
What other seasoning would be a good substitute for the 21 seasoning solute , I currently don’t have that .
My family likes variety. I do some with lemon pepper, some with Goya adobe seasoning, and some with bbq rub. All are wonderful.
Kimberly, that sounds delicious!
Hey Michelle, even just slat and pepper. You can also use your favorite chicken seasoning.
Okay thanks !
Delicious! Thank you so much for your recipe....my children also loved it.
Hey Katherine, I am so glad to hear that they loved it. It has been our go-to dish because my boys love it.
We loved this! A keeper!
Hey Dee, I really appreciate you letting me know! Thank you!
Do you bake the chicken legs covered or uncovered? I'd like to try out this recipe. Thanks.
Hey Katelyn, I keep them uncovered. Let me know how you like them. 🙂
Im going to make this tonight! The only part im going to skip is "rinsing raw chicken" part. Rinsing raw poultry increases the chance of spreading food borne illnesses
This doesn’t make sense. Of course you should rinse the chicken, In A Clean Sink, then you just spray bleach and disinfect sink.
But why? What are you hoping to rinse away.
Trisha, I heard this feedback before but for some reason, I cant help myself but to rinse chicken. I need to figure out how to do it in a better way.
Can you specify where the oven rack should be, middle or bottom closer to the element?
Hi Kevin- middle rack should be fine. Enjoy!