This crispy baked chicken legs recipe is simple, inexpensive, and has minimal prep time. It's great for easy weeknight dinners!
You may also like my Easy Baked Chicken Thighs, this Easy Roast Chicken (Lemon & Herb), or Easy Baked Chicken Breast recipe next.
Why you'll love them
It's fantastic just how good these baked drumsticks taste with a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. That's all you really need! The smoked paprika is rubbed onto the skin and gives it a nicer color and slightly smoky flavor. My favorite part is the flavorful crispy chicken skin you get from baking in the oven.
This is one of those recipes that's family friendly and so easy to get on the table when you just want something completely low effort yet big on taste. There's 5 minutes of prep, and then you can enjoy hassle-free cleanup too!
Ingredients for it
- Chicken legs - we're using drumsticks, but you could also use chicken quarters/whole legs. The cooking time will remain the same. Whole chicken legs include the thigh and the drumstick.
- Olive oil - this is what makes the skin crisp up
- Salt & pepper - be generous with both
- Smoked paprika - it's one of my go-to seasonings to bring a little smoky quality. It's not spicy.
How to bake chicken legs
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Coat them with olive oil and salt & pepper, and then rub the smoked paprika onto the skin.
- Bake on a foil-lined baking sheet at 400F for 35-40 minutes. Broil if desired, and let the chicken rest before serving. Easy!
How long to bake chicken legs
- For this recipe, they're baked at 400F for 35-40 minutes. If your chicken pieces appear to be particularly small or large, the time may need to be adjusted a bit, but don't worry! It's harder to overcook dark meat than chicken breasts, for example.
- I always recommend using an instant read thermometer to ensure chicken is at least 165F before consuming it. This recipe will cook it beyond 165F. I find chicken legs and thighs are more tender when going beyond the safe minimum temperature, unlike chicken breasts.
- You can cook as many/few chicken pieces as you want, whatever fits on your baking sheet. The recipe suggests 6, but if your crowd eats more than 1 drumstick each, for example, you may want to double the recipe.
- You could definitely play with the seasonings. Try garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, lemon pepper, Montreal Chicken Seasoning (McCormick makes it). There are so many possibilities!
What to serve with baked chicken legs
- They go with pretty much anything. I like it with my Instant Pot rice or mashed potatoes and then stovetop asparagus for a veggie.
- Pasta pairs really well. Try my creamy pesto gnocchi.
- You could dip them in ranch dressing or yum yum sauce too!
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will last in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- I'd reheat the drumsticks in the oven so that the skin has a chance to crisp up again.
- You could try freezing leftovers for up to 3 months in a freezer bag, but the skin might not be as crispy as when you first made them after thawing. Just make sure they're cooled completely before heading into the freezer, and remove any air in the bag.
Questions about this oven baked drumsticks recipe? Let me know in the comments below!
Easy Baked Chicken Legs
- 6 chicken drumsticks (bone-in skin on) see notes
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or more, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400F and move the rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Place the chicken pieces on the baking sheet and coat them all over with olive oil. Season them generously with salt & pepper. Sprinkle the smoked paprika on the skin, and then rub it on.
- Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes. See recipe notes below for more info on timing. Optional: broil for a few more minutes to really crisp up the skin.
- Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes prior to serving them (this ensures they will be juicy and tender).
- You can use whole chicken legs (chicken quarters) if you prefer, or cook more than 6 drumsticks. Simply add a little more oil and seasoning and you're set.
- If your drumsticks or chicken legs are particularly large or small, cooking time may need to be adjusted, but in general, dark meat is harder to overcook. I find dark chicken meat (legs & thighs) to be more tender when it's cooked well beyond the 165F minimum temperature, and it also takes some time for the skin to crisp up. Use an instant read meat thermometer so you're always in control.
- You can change up the seasonings - see the blog post for my suggestions.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. Nutrition info is for drumsticks (not entire chicken legs).
Kathy D says
Easy peasy and tasty! I do a similar, but less healthy, version. This was a nice way to lighten up my usual recipe. Thank you!
You're very welcome, Kathy! So glad you enjoyed them. 🙂
Tenita Harrison says
Do love my chicken and My Kid's Love it also
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
So glad your family liked the recipe, Tenita!! 🙂
Rhiannon Collins says
Thank you for mentioning that overcooking doesn’t hurt these thing. I feel like there are time when I’ve had time to pay attention and even though they reach 165° it seems they’re still a little raw, but when I’ve been busy and forgot to check, the temp would read 170°-180° and they tasted great. Now I know why!
Yes! With chicken legs/thighs it's definitely a lot different at 165F than chicken breasts. I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe and that you found the tip useful. 🙂
Sounds RAD! I'm baking mine dipped in wheat germ seasoned with lemon pepper, Mrs. Dash, and turmeric. It's my 1st try at it.
Great!! I think that will turn out well!! 🙂
Chevonne Adams says
This Was EXTREMELY Helpful!! 🙂🙏🏾 Thank You! My Boyfriend Loved Dinner
(My First Attempt On Cooking PERIOD)
Yay!! That's so great to hear!! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know, Chevonne!
Cheri Fisher says
Thanks so much, I always wonder how long or at what temperature to cook chicken. This recipe was easy and the chicken turned out perfect.
That's great to hear!!! 😀
Thank you for posting this recipe! I did it and absolutely loved it. I added the onion & garlic powder. Also I added some BBQ sauce at the end. Absolutely delicious and juicy! Wayyyy juicier than when I cook it in a deep pan covered with foil. 😁
You're very welcome!! 🙂 I'm so happy you enjoyed it, and I love the BBQ sauce idea!
Wonderful recipe! Perfect for that quick weeknight dinner. Thanks!
You're very welcome!! Thanks for taking the time to write me a review. 🙂
Perfect for those of us who Love GIANT wings!!! I loved them
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Awesome! Glad to hear it.
Kevin Downs says
Too easy! I baked 4 large legs and one wing. On two of the legs, I changed seasoning adding an Italian rub. Wow! So wanted to eat them all right then and there but had already had dinner. My compliments!
That's great to hear! Thanks Kevin! 😀
Beth ROCK says
Quick and easy
Thank you!!! 🙂
Angel Ickes says
Just got my first apartment and started cooking on my own with no help from my momma and sometimes I don't know how long to cook stuff. Did this recipe but with my own twist on seasonings (lemon pepper and chili drumsticks) for our chicken bacon salad tonight. Was super delicious and really helped me so I didn't accidentally have undercooked chicken.
Well that's great to hear, Angel!! I'm so happy you enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know! 🙂
Thank you!! 🙂
E. Watt says
Awesome dinner love it so much thank you.
You're very welcome!! 🙂