Healthy Way to Make Chicken Drumsticks

by Lori A. Selke

Roast, braise or grill chicken drumsticks for a healthy and flavorful main course.

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Chicken drumsticks are relatively inexpensive and highly flavorful. Their built-in handle makes them great finger food, especially for kids. Drumsticks take to all sorts of seasoning, from simple salt and pepper to complex sauces and slathers. Keep the cooking fat to a minimum when preparing drumsticks and you'll have a healthy, delicious and versatile main course.


Roast chicken drumsticks in the oven for a simple main dish. Salt and pepper is all the seasoning you need, but you can also season with everything from lemon and garlic to a dry rub of chili powder and herbs. You can also roast the drumsticks nestled atop a bed of cubed root vegetables for an all-in-one dinner dish. High heat -- around 425 degrees -- is best; expect it to take 45 minutes or more.


Cooking drumsticks partially submerged in liquid -- in other words, braising -- is an effective way to achieve moist, tender meat without adding a lot of fat. You can braise drumsticks in chicken stock, red or white wine, even apple cider or soy sauce. Add tomatoes, too, if you like. The braising liquid can be reduced to create a finishing sauce. Finish the braise on the stovetop or in the oven; cooking times tend to be the same, about an hour or so.


If you're looking for a quicker way to cook drumsticks, try broiling them. Season as you would for roasting, although use a light touch with any oil rub to prevent flare-ups and avoid any ingredient, such as fresh herbs, that could char under close flame. Or use your choice of sauce or slather to season the drumsticks. Chicken legs take about 10 minutes per side to cook through.


Grilling chicken drumsticks is similar to broiling in its results, only the flame is under the meat instead of above it. If you are using a charcoal grill you can also add extra flavor with your choice or wood as well as by adding aromatics such as rosemary to the coals. Grill on indirect heat to avoid scorching and turn once while you cook; expect the meat to be done in about a half-hour. While grilling, brush with a sauce such as barbecue or teriyaki for extra flavor, or try a dry rub such as Jamaican-style jerk seasoning. Even simple salt and pepper works as well.

Photo Credits

  • The_Pixeltree/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate,, The SF Weekly, and