Grilled chicken legs are super easy, full of flavor, and never disappoint. If you live grilled chicken, you’ve found a great recipe. Simply marinate the chicken in delicious chicken marinade and grill it to a juicy perfection. As an added bonus, you can use the marinade as a sauce to brush into the chicken.
GRILLED CHICKEN LEGS
Chicken legs (or drumsticks) are my absolute favorite parts of chicken and I will choose it over breast meat every time. It’s been my favorite part of chicken since I was little and my mom always graciously relinquished it to me, even though she loves them too. My husband, on the other hand, prefers chicken breast but still cannot resist it when I make this recipe.
I’ve made chicken legs on the grill countless times. So many times, in fact, that I can’t even remember all of them. Although, this particular recipe and way to cooking it stands up against them all. First of all, I am not a fan of grilling chicken with dry rub on it. It’s true, I love my dry rub and smoked chicken legs with this rub is absolutely amazing, but I just don’t use it when I grill chicken.
The reason I don’t like to use dry rub is because it tends to burn. Depending on your grill and the distance between the coals/flame and the grate, there is a very high chance that seasoning will burn and create bitter burned flavor. Chicken legs also have a higher fat content and release more juices so that can cause more flare-ups. That also can cause seasoning to burn.
That’s why our favorite way to grill chicken legs is after marinating. I highly recommend that you save the marinade and simmer it to create sauce. Use this sauce to brush onto the chicken while it’s cooking. It’s the perfect finish to an already tasty grilled chicken!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
How long should I marinate the chicken?
Ideally, you want to marinate it 4-6 hours or overnight.
What temperature for the grill?
For gas grill, you want to set it to about medium-high but you will need a hot zone with direct heat and warm zone for indirect heat. So leave a couple burners off.
On charcoal grills, make sure to spread your lit coals on one half of the grill and leave the other half without any coals. This will also create a two temperature zone for direct and indirect cooking. You will need to fill the charcoal chimney starter 1/2 to 3/4 full.
Should I grill chicken legs over direct or indirect fire?
Both actually. You will want to start over direct heat to get outside of the chicken nicely seared. When the the outside starts to get a little too dark, move the chicken over to the cooler side to finish cooking. Close the grill lid after you move it over to the cooler so the heat stays inside and even.
How long to cook drumsticks on the grill?
Time to cook chicken legs is a little fuzzier than the temperature of done chicken. Since you have a lot of factors affecting cook time like size of chicken and exact temperature of the grill, it’s best to check the internal temperature.
If you’re looking for an approximate time, it will take 30-35 minutes to cook chicken legs on the grill. You should turn chicken legs a quarter of the way every 4-5 minutes when cooking over direct heat. And once the chicken is over indirect heat, you’ll just need to turn it once.
When is the chicken done?
Minimum safe internal temperature for chicken is 165° and it should be cooked to at least that. Although, bone-in chicken legs, thighs, and leg quarters are not like the lean chicken breast and it will not dry out as easily if cooked over recommended temperature. You also run a good chance of chicken legs being under-done if cooked only to 165°.
Personally, I cook my chicken legs to 175°-180° internal temperature.
I’m in love with this chicken marinade and use it on every type of chicken, whether I’m grilling, baking, or pan-searing it. It will be perfect on chicken breast, chicken legs, thighs, and wings. (Oh man, chicken wings grilled with this marinade are fantastic!)
It will take you 5 minutes to mix ingredients for the marinade and a few hours to let the chicken marinate. Prep time is truly as minimal as it can get and then, you’re ready to grill some awesome chicken.
For this marinade, you will need oil, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, honey, soy sauce, fresh lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley. Use fresh parsley or dried but remember that dried herbs are much more potent than fresh so use half the amount of dried.
LET’S GRILL IT
I’m sure you’ve been drooling for a few hours, letting your chicken marinade, so it’s time to grill it.
Set up your grill for a two temperature zone whether it’s gas or charcoal. Take chicken out of the marinade and let most of the liquid drip back into the bag. Spray the chicken with some cooking spray and place it on the grill over direct heat.
Let it cook over direct heat and turn each leg a quarter of the way every 4-5 minutes. (If it’s browning too fast, turn it more frequently.)
When chicken is nicely browned on all the sides, check the internal temperature of the biggest piece and move it over to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking. Close the lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Flip each chicken leg and let it cook more until it reaches about 175°-180° internal temperature.
Marinade: Right after you placed the chicken on the grill, pour the marinade into a sauce pot and bring it to simmer either on stove-top or on the grill. (If using a grill, make sure the sauce pot is grill friendly.) Let it simmer for about 10 minutes and then brush it onto the chicken once it’s over on the cooler side.
WHAT ELSE CAN WE GRILL?
For those special dinners, learn how to make grilled filet mignon and it won’t disappoint.
If you made any of my recipes and shared them on Instagram, make sure to tag me @grillingsmokingliving and #grillingsmokingliving so I can see all the things you tried!
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Grilled Chicken Drumsticks
- 3-4 lbs chicken legs
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 lime - juice only
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley or half the amount of dried
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Whisk all the ingredients for the marinade together in a mixing bowl. Place chicken legs into a large zip-top bag and pour in the marinade.
- Get as much air out of the bag as you can and close it completely. Mix the chicken and the marinade and lay the bag down on the side in a baking dish. Place into the refrigerator to marinate for 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Set up your grill for a two temperature zone whether it’s gas or charcoal. Take chicken out of the marinade and let most of the liquid drip back into the bag. Spray the chicken with some cooking spray and place it on the grill over direct heat.
- Let it cook over direct heat and turn each leg a quarter of the way every 4-5 minutes. (If it’s browning too fast, turn it more frequently.)
- When chicken is nicely browned on all the sides, check the internal temperature of the biggest piece and move it over to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking.
- Close the lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Flip each chicken leg and let it cook more until it reaches about 175°-180° internal temperature.
- Marinade: Right after you placed the chicken on the grill, pour the marinade into a sauce pot and bring it to simmer either on stove-top or on the grill. (If using a grill, make sure the sauce pot is grill friendly.) Let it simmer for about 10 minutes and then brush it onto the chicken once it’s over on the cooler side.