Baked Chicken Legs (Drumsticks)

September 19, 2021

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Easy and flavorful oven Baked Chicken Legs! In this recipe the drumstick portion of the leg is marinated in a chimichurri style sauce then roasted on a sheet pan in a hot oven until beautifully browned and perfectly cooked. It’s a simple dish perfect for any day of the week.

Baked chicken legs on a white oval platter with parsley and lemon wedges to the side.

Easy Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks

I set out to make the perfect baked chicken legs and after many batches settled upon what I found to be the best suited marinade and baking method. While the others were good, things like a simple seasoning left us craving more bright flavor, and a sweet and sticky asian marinade baked in a baking dish left us wanting more browned flavor and crispy skin.

Chicken, lemon, garlic and fresh herbs are always a combination you can’t go wrong with and this recipe is proof. Simple fresh flavors are usually the best flavor enhancers.

And of course you’ll appreciate how easy this is! Just blitz together a quick sauce in the food processor, marinate the chicken legs in it, then bake in the oven on a baking sheet until cooked through. So easy right?

With this recipe you have the option to serve them right from the oven with crispy skin, or at the end baste with the final 1/4 cup reserved sauce. It’s a hard choice for me personally, that’s why I’ll leave it up to you.

Who can resist that crispy chicken skin, but you may also love the extra flavor of that herb sauce (it’s just that the oils and liquids in it will quickly soften that crispy skin). So you may just opt to serve the remaining chimichurri sauce tossed with a vegetable side dish instead (potatoes or corn are a great option).

Either way you are going to LOVE this chicken!

Close up photo of chicken drumsticks on a dark baking sheet.

Baked Chicken Legs Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup (slightly packed) fresh parsley leaves (about 1 fairly large bunch)
  • 4 green onions, root ends trimmed, cut into thirds
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to desired heat level)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (plus a few pinches), or season as desired
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large (3.5 lb to 4 lb) chicken drumsticks

Scroll down for printable option (found in recipe box below).

Photo of ingredients used to make baked chicken legs and the marinade.

How to Make Baked Chicken Drumsticks Marinade

  1. To a food processor, add parsley, green onions, oregano, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pulse in short bursts about 10 times or so until roughly chopped.
  2. Pour in olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and process until herbs are somewhat finely minced and liquids come together, about 5 to 10 seconds (stop and scrape down processor if needed).
  3. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the herb mixture into a bowl and season that with a few pinches of salt. Cover reserved herb sauce and refrigerate.
  4. Season remaining mixture with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (you should have about 3/4 cup remaining herb mixture).
  5. Place chicken legs in a gallon size resealable bag. Pour 3/4 cup herb mixture over chicken legs. Seal bag while pressing out excess air then rub marinade over chicken legs to evenly cover.
  6. Transfer to fridge and let marinate 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

How Long to Bake Chicken Legs

In a 400 degree oven baked chicken drumsticks take about 35 to 45 minutes to cook through depending on their size. Here’s the how to for this recipe:

  1. Move oven rack up one level from center and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray (preferably use a dark coated baking sheet).
  2. Bake drumsticks in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn drumsticks to opposite side.
  3. Return to oven and continue to roast until cooked through (center is 165 in thickest portion) about 20 to 25 minutes longer.
  4. Tip during baking: If you find the legs haven’t quite browned enough then broil during the last few minutes. If they are over-browning you can loosely tent with foil near the end.
  5. For crispy skin, serve as is, or for more flavor brush with the remaining unused 1/4 cup chimichurri herb mixture (not what the chicken marinated in!). If you don’t end up using that remaining 1/4 cup then toss it with a vegetable side such as roasted red potatoes or corn.

Collage of six images showing how to make a marinade in a food processor. Then shows covering chicken drumsticks in herb marinade mixture. And last shows drumsticks on baking sheet before and after baking.

Possible Variations

  • Use 8 to 10 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs in place of chicken drumsticks.
  • Try other herbs in the marinade. Stick with the parsley but in place of the green onion you can use 1/2 cup basil or cilantro leaves.
  • Adjust heat to taste. You can do this is by adding more or less red pepper flakes, or add a fresh red chili to the herb mixture.
  • Omit the vinegar and make the marinade with all lemon juice and no vinegar if you don’t have red wine vinegar on hand. Or just sub another vinegar like white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for the red wine vinegar.
  • Use red onion (1/3 cup) or 1 small shallot in place of the green onions for bolder flavor.

Chicken legs shown on a baking sheet from above, after they're done baking.

Helpful Tips for the Best Baked Chicken Legs

  • Be sure to adequately season with salt in the marinade, we are using several pounds so they’ll need a fair amount. The reserved sauce won’t need very much.
  • Use a dark baking sheet if you have one to encourage browning. Also roast one level up from the center.
  • Still every oven is a little different so if you find they haven’t browned to your liking at the end then simply broil during the last few minutes, just keep a close eye on them.
  • I recommend using larger chicken drumsticks here so you get more meat. It will also allow more baking and browning time to use larger ones.
  • If you want crispy skin, hold the remaining marinade, if you want even more flavor use the extra reserved marinade (not the marinade from the bag this would make you sick!).
  • Test center of the legs to 165 near bone of thickest portion to ensure they’ve cooked through.
  • Soak the pan in water for easy clean up.

Chicken legs shown on baking sheet covered with chimichurri style sauce.

More Tasty Baked Chicken Recipes You’ll Love!

Baked chicken legs on a white oval platter with parsley and lemon wedges to the side.
5 from 2 votes

Baked Chicken Legs (Drumsticks)

Chicken drumsticks are marinated in an herby chimichurri style sauce then baked in a hot oven until perfectly cooked and browned. An easy recipe that's packed with flavor!
Servings: 10
Prep15 minutes
Cook45 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (slightly packed) fresh parsley leaves (about 1 fairly large bunch)
  • 4 green onions, root ends trimmed, cut into thirds
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to desired heat level)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (plus a few pinches), or season as desired
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large (3.5 lb to 4 lb) chicken drumsticks (bone-in skin-on)

Instructions

  • To a food processor add parsley, green onions, oregano, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pulse in short bursts about 10 times or so until roughly chopped.
  • Pour in olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and process until herbs are somewhat finely minced and liquids come together, about 5 to 10 seconds (stop and scrape down processor if needed).
  • Scoop out 1/4 cup of the herb mixture into a bowl and season that with a few pinches of salt. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Season remaining mixture with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (you should have about 3/4 cup remaining herb mixture).
  • Place chicken legs in a gallon size resealable bag. Pour 3/4 cup herb mixture over chicken legs. Seal bag while pressing out excess air then rub marinade over chicken legs to evenly cover.
  • Transfer to fridge and let marinate 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
  • Move oven rack up one level from center. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray (preferably use a dark coated baking sheet).
  • Roast legs in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn legs to opposite side.
  • Return to oven and continue to roast until cooked through (center is 165 in thickest portion) about 20 to 25 minutes longer.
  • Tip during baking: If you find the legs haven't quite browned enough then broil during the last few minutes. If they are over-browning you can loosely tent with foil near the end.
  • For crispy skin serve as is, or for more flavor brush with the remaining unused 1/4 cup chimichurri herb mixture (not what the chicken marinated in!). If you don't end up using that remaining 1/4 cup then toss it with a vegetable side such as roasted red potatoes or corn.

Notes

  • Nutrition estimate based on half of the oil and salt being consumed, and using 3.75 lb chicken legs.
Nutrition Facts
Baked Chicken Legs (Drumsticks)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 311 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 105mg35%
Sodium 300mg13%
Potassium 325mg9%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 769IU15%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.