Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks

I’m a lover of lard and butter, and all those rich, delicious old-school traditional fats. So while I’ve nothing against fat, I do try to avoid frying foods at all costs.  I can’t handle the mess, and the expense of wasted fats leaves me dizzy.  I’m not one to complain about the cost of real food, but neither am I one to waste it.  Instead, I rely on my oven (and skill) to yield the same results, and one of my family’s favorite foods is Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks.

I tuck the drumsticks away into picnic baskets, serving them with cole slaw, potato salad, or brine-pickled beets. I toss a few bottles of homemade root beer or water kefir into the basket, and we head on our way – to the park, to the creek or to the various open-air concerts that come together each summer in our little town in the mountains.

Chicken Drumsticks Brining Brining for Tender Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks

The prolonged cooking required for oven-fried chicken drumsticks to acquire they’re crispy skin presents a potential problem: dried out meat.  When I prepare drumsticks, I start first by brining the meat in a solution of salt, water and honey flavored by a single chile pepper.  Brining helps to improve the the texture, flavor and moisture of many cuts of poultry, but pasture-raised poultry sees even greater benefits as it tends toward dryness.

Trick to Getting Crispy Skin on Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks

To keep the skin on your drumsticks from being soggy, remember to drain the brine very well, and pat the drumsticks thoroughly dry before baking them.  Finally, crisp the skin with about 15 minutes in a very hot oven.  Then serve.

chicken drumsticks vertical (1 of 1)

Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks

Prep Time: 4 hours, 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 6 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks

Brining the chicken drumsticks for a few hours before baking ensures that the meat is tender and moist, while the skin crisps in the oven. Pack them away for picnics, or serve with mashed potatoes, gravy and buttered vegetables.



  1. Whisk 3 tablespoons sea salt and honey with about 2 quarts warm water to create a brine. Place chicken drumsticks into a large mixing bowl, cover with brine, and drop in a guajillo chile pepper. Cover, and transfer to the refrigerator where the chicken drumsticks should marinate for 4 hours. Drain off the brine, discard the chile, and pat the drumsticks dry.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk the flour with salt, nutritional yeast, thyme and cayenne pepper. Dredge the chicken drumsticks in the seasoned flour until well-coated, then arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutesr, turning once, then increase the oven temperature to 425 and continue baking a further 15 minutes.

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What people are saying

  1. Jess W says

    Hi there, I’m new to your blog, I was wondering what the purpose of the nutritional yeast is? I.e. can it be omitted? I hope this comment isn’t violating your rule about not asking about substitutions.

  2. Betty Millar says

    I think you had a tip for prolonging the life of fruit and it may have involved vinegar and water but not sure? Anyone help me?

  3. Renee St Martin says

    The chicken is marinating! Thanks for the post.
    I’m wondering if the chicken will be a little spicy for one of my daughters? She is a bit sensitive to heat.

  4. says

    I love brined or marinated chicken! It comes out so flavorful. Another oven fried chicken recipe that’s good is to bread it, then melt butter in your pan and bake the chicken in that, turning once halfway through. It gets that crispy, buttery crust that’s so delicious, and it doesn’t take much butter, really.

  5. Renee says

    The family loved the chicken. The little one ate it with the cayenne. This will stay in our rotation….thank Jenny!

  6. says

    Sounds great and i just happen to have some drumsticks in my fridge. 2 quarts of water seems a lot for 12 drumsticks. Is that right? I’m also wondering if I could brine them overnight and bake them then next evening?
    Thanks for the fantastic website by the way. My family are using lots of recipes from nourishing traditions and your website is really informative.

  7. cheryl says

    made this last night with roasted potatoes, homemade sauerkraut and a new green I’d never heard of called tatsoi from the farm stand! So amazing…I left off the pepper and cayenne in the chicken on account of a very picky 7 year old. Still delicious and no complaints! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes and ideas!

  8. tiffany oconnell says

    Thanks Jen for this receipe. I made this for dinner without the chili and it was awesome. The girls loved it too and i am looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow for lunch!

  9. Amy Raphael says

    Can’t wait to try this for my poultry loving husband! My oven has a convection setting – would you use it and if so how might you modify your baking times?

    • says

      using convection oven, cook @ 325 degrees for 22.5 minutes ,turn & cook for additional 22.5 minutes. Then increase temperature tp 400 degrees & cook for 15 minutes. Hope this helps.

  10. Luke says

    Chicken came out great, but when i went to turn it halfway through cooking , the skin was stuck to the parchment paper…any ideas?

    Thanks !

  11. says

    My family LOVES these chicken legs! Thank you so much for a amazing way to make chicken during the cold winter months. The brining is the absolute key to keeping them so tender and moist. The last 15 minutes of crisping them up is so brilliant. Sometimes baked chicken is so soggy and yuck…but this skin is so eatable! Even the breading is 3 year old approved – with all the peppers and seasonings!! It’s very mild.

    Thank you again for an excellent chicken recipe.

  12. Parveen says

    Hi, Thank you for the recipe, can’t wait to try it…can the chicken be skinless or needs the skin on? Thanks again!

  13. Kathleen says

    Jenny, I have to tell you that this is the absolute best way to “fry” chicken in the world!! :) My husband asks for this quite often, and brags to others that his wife ‘make the best fried chicken’… etc. I have even brined the chicken (I use the entire cut up chicken, not just the drum sticks) for a couple of days, and “ran out of days” because we were heading out of town, so I froze the chicken in the brine, and when we came home I thawed it and continued on with the recipe. .. That was probably the “best” we have ever eaten.. but it’s ALWAYS good! I use almond flour for the nut flour. Thank you for making me a hero in the fried chicken world :)

  14. Carolyn says

    I’ve been oven-frying chicken (including pastured) for 50 years using my mother’s method: preheat oven to 425, put chicken in roasting pan skin-side down and roast 20 minutes; turn chicken to skin-side up, drop temperature to 400, and roast 20 minutes. Serve. Perfect and crispy. I do this with just rubs, or shaken in seasoned flour. If chicken is particularly lean, I sometimes spray the pan first, but it’s usually not necessary.

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