Simple Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Drumsticks are a great cut of chicken. My three-year-old son loves them, since they come with “handles” and he gets to eat with his hands. To celebrate these little legs I decided to write up a quick, foolproof recipe for grilling drumsticks.

They are also one of the easiest and most rewarding pieces of chicken to grill, because it’s hard to mess them up. Chicken breasts are great, but they have a very small window of juiciness, and will dry up quicker than a jackrabbit in a thunderstorm. Whole chickens are also fun to grill, but are best when brined, which can take some time and planning. Thighs are another good option, but let’s be honest here – they’re just not as fun as drumsticks.

some chicken drumsticks
salt and pepper to taste
other seasonings as desired (paprika, cumin, taco seasoning, bbq rub, curry powder, Borsari seasoning)

Pat dry the chicken with paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and/or some other seasonings. The picture above has Borsari seasoning on it, which is one of my favorite mild-tasting seasoning rubs.

Preheat your grill on high heat. Place the drumsticks on one side of the grill and replace the cover. After a minute or two, turn off the heat below the chicken; leave the heat on the other side of the grill on high or med/high – you are looking for a grill temperature for 350-400 degrees. Let the chicken cook for 30 minutes and turn them over (also rotate the drumsticks to the opposite end is now facing the hot part of the grill).

If you’re up for it, this would be a good time to brush on a little melted butter/ghee on the drumsticks. It adds an extra layer of richness to the chicken, but it’s not altogether necessary: the chicken’s fat does a great job on its own.

Let it cook for another 15 minutes and then check its temp with a meat thermometer (you’re looking for 165 degrees). If it’s not there yet, just keep checking it every ten minutes.

That’s it! This is also my tried-and-true method for cooking chicken thighs (bone-in) and quarters, although each of them take a little longer to cook through.

As an added bonus, here is some rare live footage of my son Oliver (Homo Oliverus) during feeding time:

29 thoughts on “Simple Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

  1. you’re right, chicken drumsticks are the easiest chicken part to cook and everybody loves them ^^ moreover, there are many ways to make marinade for drumsticks, that’s why I’m addicted to create new marinade’s flavors. Btw your son Oliver seems to have so much fun enjoying his drumsticks xD


  2. Oliver has the right idea – food is ALWAYS better when you can eat it with your fingers! He’s precious.


      1. Our Italuan aunt used the following marinade for chicken:

        Olive oil
        Fresh lemon juice
        Salt & Pepper
        Garlic (pressed)
        Splash of kitchen bouquet

        We always use a grill basket for easy flipping.


  3. Just tried this recipe for dinner and it was great! I was a little concerned about not having direct heat on the chicken but it was fully cooked in 45 minutes, just like you said. I stumbled upon this website during a Google search and I have to say, I will be visiting more often!


  4. Seems like a great recipe. But I don’t understand this statement: “Let the chicken cook for 30 minutes and turn them over (also rotate the drumsticks to the opposite end is now facing the hot part of the grill).”

    Should it say, “Let the drumsticks cook on one side for 30 minutes and then turn them over (also, when turning them over, move the drumsticks to the side of the grill that is directly above the heat.)

    I got a little confused on how often the drumsticks need to be flipped and where to move them once you flip them after 30 minutes. Hope I got it right.


    1. Lambert, you’re close, but I meant that some of the drumsticks will be closer to the hot part of the grill than others (although all the drumsticks will not be over the fire). So the directions are meant to reposition the drumsticks so that each of them get a little time near the hot part of the grill, otherwise some drumsticks will be done before the others. Hope that makes sense!


  5. I’ve used your grilling technique for a couple years now and every time I cook drumsticks, they always turn out perfect and anyone who tries them loves them! I use a different recipe though. I marinate the drumsticks in Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ sauce for a short period of time (typically while grill is preheating). Once I place them on the grill I sprinkle on McCormick’s Smokehouse Maple seasoning. When I flip the drumsticks over I add a layer of sauce and seasoning as the sauce tends to melt/burn off. Very delicious.


  6. Thanks for the simple and sure fire way to cook drumsticks. This was my first time grilling and the chicken came out tender and juicy. Thanks again from a first time mom learning to grill😁😁


  7. I just cooked chicken legs on my grill for the first time. Thank you for the simple, easy to follow, directions! My meat was juicy and cooked all the way threw! Yum!


  8. Fantastic! I have tried a few different marinades, but your cooking technique is simple and perfect! Perfect drumsticks every time! Thank you!


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