How to Grill Chicken Drumsticks – the best grilled chicken

When it comes to poultry, people tend to lean in two ways. Either they don’t particularly like the dark meat, or they get in early to get their first dibs on a drumstick. If you’re the kind of person who’s never really reached for a chicken thigh, one bite into a grilled chicken thigh might change your mind about what hits your fork first.

Since there isn’t much meat on the bone, chicken drumsticks are often sold in packs of 8, 10, 20 or more. Weighing about 4 ounces each, they are usually the most economical part of the bird. You can find legs on sale for around a dollar a pound and sometimes almost half that price, making them a great value. But while they’re not the meatiest or most expensive part of chicken, when cooked properly, they’re arguably the tastiest. Perfect for grilling, especially on occasions like the 4th of July.


How long do you cook drumsticks on the grill?

When cooking chicken, it’s important not to watch the clock, but to cook it to a safe internal temperature.

The safe internal temperature for chicken drumsticks is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use an instant-read thermometer or a digital probe thermometer to check the chicken’s doneness, but you should always check the temperature to prevent getting sick or, worse, someone else getting sick.

A 400 degree Fahrenheit grill can cook drumsticks in about 25 minutes. But just because it’s possible to cook them in under half an hour doesn’t mean you have to rush the process.

Chicken drumsticks are a muscular dark meat portion. The flesh is firm, flavorful and full of collagen. The collagen slowly begins to melt and turns into gelatin at 160 degrees Fahrenheit (think concentrated chicken broth) and continues to melt and add flavor until it reaches an internal temperature of around 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another great thing about grilling chicken thighs or other dark chicken meat is that it’s more forgiving to cook than breast or white meat. Dark meat doesn’t dry out as quickly from the dry heat of the grill. That’s a good thing, because if you cook it a bit through, it actually concentrates and intensifies the flavor of the meat, making it irresistible to some.

How do you grill drumsticks without burning them?

Having grilled chicken hundreds of times, I can say with confidence that flames are not your friend when cooking chicken drumsticks.

Don’t get me wrong, broiling is still my favorite method of cooking chicken, but cooking directly over searing flames can result in the chicken skin being burnt and becoming unappetizing when the inside is barely cooked through.

Most gas grills have a bun holder that is rarely used. But it’s the perfect place to roast and grill chicken thighs at the same time. The bun rack is typically about 6 inches above your grill’s grates, so it’s the perfect distance from the flames.

If you don’t have a bun rack, we’ll discuss a method called “two-zone cooking,” which is the most effective way to grill drumsticks without burning them.

Step 1: Find a spot on the grill, such as B. the bun stand, where the chicken drumsticks can still get a lot of heat without being kissed by the flames of the grill.

Step 2: If your gas grill doesn’t have a bun rack, light just one or two burners and place the chicken over the area where the other, unlit burner would normally blaze.

Step 3: For a charcoal grill, push the charcoal to one side of the grill and grill the chicken on the side opposite the hot coals.

Step 4: Rotate the chicken thighs frequently while grilling to ensure they cook evenly.

Step 5: Save the sauce at the very end. If you must add barbecue sauce, do so in the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking and keep an eye on it, as the sugar in barbecue sauce can burn quickly.

Should I cook drumsticks before grilling?

There’s really no good reason to cook drumsticks before grilling.

The whole purpose of cooking drumsticks before grilling is to ensure they are cooked to a safe internal temperature. We’ve already established that your chicken thighs should be monitored and cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, so pre-cooking is unnecessary.

More tips and tricks for grilling chicken thighs

  • Seasoning beforehand gives the meat more flavor. Even an hour can make a big difference, but up to 24 hours is ideal.
  • Look for rubs and spices that burn less easily. Anything with sugar will eventually burn if you’re not extra careful.
  • Marinating overnight in Italian salad dressing is a great way to add extra flavor to grilled chicken.
  • Grilled chicken thighs are great when prepared ahead of time. Once cooked, they will keep in the fridge for up to three days, making them ideal for meal prep.

Hopefully you’ll consider grilling chicken drumsticks the next time you fire up the grill, like this Fourth of July holiday. If you still prefer light meat over dark meat, once you learn how to grill chicken breasts, you’ll be an ace at grilling all chicken.

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