With simple ingredients and prep, these baked BBQ chicken drumsticks make a satisfying dinner the whole family will love. Unexpected ingredients combine for a thick drumstick breading that provides a ton of flavor.
It was always a good day when "Italian BBQ chicken" was on the menu in my house when I was growing up. A serious cuisine mash-up within an impressively brief ingredients list, this recipe has the distinction of being simple, straight-forward, and delicious.
I love to make grilled chicken drumsticks when the weather cooperates, but these baked chicken legs are an all-year-round kind of dinner. Different from many baked chicken drumstick recipes out there, these forgo attempting to bake-crisp the skin in place of a juicy breaded coating.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- It might seem like an odd couple pairing, but combining BBQ sauce with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs produces such a good flavor!
- While these baked drumsticks are a little lengthy on cook time for a clear-cut weeknight dinner, only about 15 minutes are hands-on.
- The steps could not be simpler. Bread drumsticks, bake, then brush on BBQ sauce.
- Chicken Drumsticks: This recipe as written calls for 8 drumsticks (about 2 ½ pounds by my measurement), but it can easily be adjusted up/down to use a different quantity. Make sure they are well-thawed so they cook evenly.
- Flour: A thin layer of flour gives the egg something to grip onto.
- Eggs: This is necessary in getting the breadcrumbs to stick.
- Milk: Thins out the beaten egg so it coats the drumsticks more evenly.
- Breadcrumbs: Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, which often include dried herbs and spices such as parsley, basil, garlic, onion, salt, and sometimes cheese, are highly recommended for this recipe. I go for regular size (not larger-sized panko) to ensure a dense coating.
- Barbecue Sauce: Use your favorite!
- Pat each drumstick dry with a paper towel (removing the skin beforehand if you like), then coat in flour.
- Dip the flour-coated drumstick into the beaten egg/milk mixture until all parts are moistened.
- Press the egg-moistened drumstick into the bowl of Italian breadcrumbs, then place in a large baking dish. Repeat for all drumsticks, arranging them in an alternating pattern so they fit more efficiently in the pan.
- Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes, then remove the pan and brush all visible sides with BBQ sauce.
- Bake for another 10 minutes, then flip each drumstick over and baste the remaining side with more BBQ sauce. Bake again for 10 minutes, or until the center of the thickest drumstick registers 165°F.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- While you can remove the skin from the drumsticks if you like, I prefer to leave it on for extra flavor and juiciness.
- If you want these to be spicy, add hot sauce to your BBQ sauce.
- Don't add an excess of flour or breadcrumbs to your breading bowls as you'll have to discard any leftover for food safety reasons.
- Spray the baking dish or pan very generously with cooking spray or oil to prevent the coating from sticking.
- Similarly be gentle when flipping the drumsticks over so that the breading doesn't separate and stick to the bottom.
- When determining doneness, dark meat in particular can be difficult with the common "cook until no pink remains" visual assessment, with the meat around the bone also often colored by marrow. As drumsticks vary in size and all ovens can behave different, using an instant-read thermometer is the best way to determine when your baked BBQ chicken drumsticks are done.
Chicken drumsticks require a long bake time, so you want to give them a head start on cooking before basting. The BBQ sauce only needs around 20 minutes of bake time to thicken into a delicious coating. If it was added at the beginning, the sugars in it would likely overly brown and burn before the chicken was fully cooked.
You do not need to cover the pan with foil in this recipe. The drumsticks do not overly brown.
Chicken thighs and legs are considered dark meat, meaning those cuts contain a bit more fat than white meat. And because fat = juiciness, chicken drumsticks are at a lower risk of drying out if the temperature goes above 165°F. This is especially so with skin-on drumsticks. I've had some drumsticks go up to 180°F and found the meat to still be really tender and juicy, so don't stress out that your meal is ruined if you don't pull them at 165°F exactly.
More Tasty Chicken Recipes
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Baked BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
- 2.5 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 8 drumsticks)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tablespoons milk any variety
- 1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- ¾ cup BBQ sauce divided
- Heat oven to 400°F and spray a large baking dish or sheet pan generously with cooking spray. Set aside for now.
- Pat each drumstick dry with a paper towel.
- Set up three shallow bowls as follows: flour in one, eggs and milk in the second, and breadcrumbs in the third. Beat the eggs and milk until combined.
- Starting with one drumstick, coat it well in flour, shaking off any excess. Next dip it in the egg/milk mixture to moisten the surface entirely. Then press the drumstick into the bowl of breadcrumbs until fully coated. Place the breaded drumstick onto the greased pan. Repeat for all drumsticks, arranging them in an alternate pattern to more easily fit them in the dish.
- Bake for 40 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven. Baste with ½ cup of BBQ sauce, then bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven one more time and carefully flip each drumstick over. Baste the now-top sides with the remaining ¼ cup BBQ sauce and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the center of the thickest drumstick registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Carefully lift up each drumstick with a thin spatula when flipping them to prevent the bottom breading portion from sticking to the pan.
- Dark meat cuts like drumsticks can be difficult in determining doneness by looks alone. Using an instant-read thermometer is the best way to precisely known when yours are fully cooked.
- To reheat, add the baked BBQ chicken drumsticks to a baking dish and cover with foil. Heat in a 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until thoroughly warmed. Eat leftovers within 3-4 days.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
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