Delightfully tangy baked BBQ chicken drumsticks combine crispy baked chicken legs with a smoky barbecue sauce that's cooked to perfection! This easy dinner is a favorite family go-to for nights when you can't fire up the grill!
Enjoy all the flavor of the grill with half the effort with these delightfully sticky baked BBQ chicken drumsticks!
These baked BBQ chicken drumsticks are perfect for those times you are craving BBQ but don’t have the right weather to fire up the grill. They are also so easy to prepare that you may just make them even when it is BBQ weather outside!
Baking these drumsticks gives you a nice toasty outside that helps keep the chicken nice and juicy inside. It also makes it extremely easy for you!
Once the chicken is in the oven, you can let it do its thing until it’s time to add the BBQ sauce.
With how easy these are to prepare, you also have plenty of time to make additional homemade side dishes and even desserts!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- Super Easy! When it comes to cooking chicken, it doesn’t get much easier than these baked drumsticks. Once you have seasoned them, just slide them into the oven and let them cook.
- So Tasty! Think about why fried chicken is so yummy. It has a toasty outside that seals in all the juiciness of the chicken! These BBQ drumsticks do the same thing but with delicious barbecue sauce!
- It's Versatile! I love making these with drumsticks, but you can use your favorite chicken pieces!
Just two quick stops inside the grocery store to get everything you need for these tasty drumsticks. Swing down the condiment aisle for BBQ sauce and liquid smoke, grab a couple of packages of chicken legs in the poultry section, and head home!
- 12 Chicken Drumsticks – Chicken drumsticks are the same as chicken legs. These are often sold with the skin on, which is ideal for getting a nice juicy BBQ chicken.
- ½ cup BBQ Sauce – You can use any brand of BBQ sauce that your store carries. Bulls Eye is a traditional one, but other brands like Kraft, Sweet Baby Ray's, KFC Masterpiece, Stubb's, Jim Beam, and Famous Dave's also offer some good sauce choices.
- 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke – Liquid smoke is just what it sounds like, smoke in a liquid form! Look for it next to the BBQ sauces.
- Salt & Pepper – I like to use my everyday salt and pepper shakers and just give a little shake over the chicken. Remember to rotate the chicken legs so you get everything evenly coated.
- Chicken Thighs. Chicken thighs are similar in size to drumsticks which makes them an easy swap. You can use 12 chicken thighs and follow the same directions as below. If you want variety, use 6 drumsticks and 6 thighs.
- Chicken breasts are also delicious! Check out my easy BBQ-baked chicken breasts here. I love to marinate the chicken breasts (bone-in or boneless) with my easy bbq marinade too!
- Not a smoky fan? Leave it out! If you don’t love the smoky flavor of a grill, just leave the liquid smoke out of the BBQ sauce. You will still get a great flavor from the BBQ sauce by itself.
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
Don’t forget to think about the sides you want to add to make this a complete meal! In addition to my suggestions below, southern baked mac and cheese and sauteed broccolini are delicious with this chicken!
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).
- Prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the ½ cup BBQ sauce and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, mix, then set aside.
- Prepare the chicken. Rinse and pat dry the 12 chicken drumsticks with paper towels. Arrange the drumsticks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper.
- Bake the chicken and apply the sauce. Place the baking sheet into your oven and bake at 400°F (205°C) for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and using a brush apply the BBQ sauce to the chicken, return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. *If you don’t have a basting brush, you can spoon the sauce onto each piece of chicken and then use the back of the spoon to spread it around.
- Check if the chicken is done. When the last 10 minutes is done, remove from the oven. Use an instant-read temperature probe and verify that your chicken is at least 165°F (I prefer to cook any bone-in chicken to 180°F even though USDA says 165°F is safe to eat).
- Serve. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
If you are finishing side dishes when the timer goes off, just leave the chicken on the baking sheet and cover it with tin foil to keep the heat in. You can let the baking sheet sit on top of the oven if you are going to be ready to eat in 20 minutes or less.
If it’s going to be longer, turn the oven down to “warm” and then return the covered chicken to the oven to stay warm.
Some of my favorite sides to pair with this chicken are white cheddar mac, ground beef and bacon baked beans, and roasted green beans. For dessert, try this delicious pineapple upside down Bundt cake!
See all my favorite sides for BBQ chicken here, Enjoy!
💭 Angela's Tips & Recipe Notes
- Skin or no skin? The purpose of baking the chicken with the skin on it is to help seal the meat's juiciness. The chicken is more likely to dry out without the skin while cooking. If you don’t want to eat the skin, simply make an extra batch of BBQ sauce that you can use for additional flavor when you remove the skin (after baking) for eating. *You can use skinless chicken if you prefer. You will follow the same directions listed above.
- Make some extra sauce. The BBQ will bake into the chicken, so if you like a saucier chicken, make up some extra sauce to serve with the chicken. Make this in a separate bowl that has not had a brush/spoon in it that was used during cooking.
- Parchment paper makes clean-up easy! Trust me when I say you do not want to make a super easy meal only to have to spend forever scrubbing baked BBQ sauce off a baking sheet. The parchment paper will keep the baking sheet clean and keep the chicken from sticking to the pan. Once you remove the cooked chicken, just crumple up the parchment paper and toss it! In a pinch, you can use non-stick cooking spray if you don’t have parchment paper. Simply spray the pan before placing the chicken on it.
- Start with a basic BBQ sauce: Choose a basic BBQ sauce with no additional flavoring for your first round with this recipe. Once you’ve tried the traditional flavor with liquid smoke, you can explore other BBQ sauce flavors, such as honey BBQ or hickory.
🥡 Storing & Reheating
BBQ chicken is great for leftovers! Transfer it to an airtight storage container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Baked BBQ chicken drumsticks are best reheated in the oven to keep that “just grilled” taste. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, lay them out on the baking sheet, and pop them in the oven at 400°F (205°C) until they are warmed through.
This chicken is also super yummy and served cold on salads or in sandwiches.
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Baked BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- ½ cup BBQ sauce
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).
- In a small bowl combine the BBQ sauce and liquid smoke, mix then set aside.½ cup BBQ sauce, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- Rinse and pat dry the chicken with paper towels. Arrange the drumsticks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper.12 chicken drumsticks, salt & pepper
- Place the baking sheet into your oven and bake at 400°F (205°C) for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven, and using a brush apply the BBQ sauce to the chicken. Return the chicken to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
- When the last 10 minutes is done remove the bbq chicken from the oven. Use an instant-read temperature probe and verify that your chicken is at least 165°F (74°C). Serve immediately.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!