How to Grill Drumsticks: Easy Steps for Tasty Results

Discover the art of grilling drumsticks to perfection, as we guide you through essential techniques for achieving juicy and flavorful results every time.

Drumsticks are a classic BBQ and grilling favorite. There’s something about the juicy meat, crispy skin, and finger-licking flavor that makes them irresistible.

But let’s be honest, grilling drumsticks can be a bit intimidating if you’re not familiar with the process. Do you marinate them? How long do you grill them for? What temperature should they reach before they’re safe to eat? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to grill perfect drumsticks every time.

So grab your tongs and let’s get started!

Choosing Drumsticks

how to grill drumsticks easy steps for tasty results

When it comes to grilling drumsticks, choosing the right ones is crucial. You want to make sure you’re starting with high-quality chicken that will cook evenly and taste delicious.

Look for drumsticks that are plump and meaty, with smooth skin and no bruises or discoloration. If possible, opt for organic or free-range chicken as they tend to have better flavor than conventionally raised birds.

Another thing to consider when choosing drumsticks is their size. Larger drumsticks may take longer to cook through while smaller ones can dry out quickly on the grill if not watched carefully.

Aim for medium-sized pieces that are about 3-4 ounces each.

Lastly, pay attention to the bone in your chicken legs – some cuts may have more cartilage than others which can affect cooking time as well as texture of your final dish.


Here are a few things you’ll need:

1. Grill: Whether you prefer gas or charcoal, make sure your grill is clean and in good working order before firing it up.

2. Tongs: A sturdy pair of tongs will help you flip and move the drumsticks around on the grill without piercing them and losing precious juices.

3. Meat Thermometer: To ensure that your chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), invest in an instant-read meat thermometer.

4. Basting Brush: If you plan on using marinades or glazes, a basting brush will come in handy for applying them evenly to the chicken as it cooks.

5. Aluminum Foil: Use aluminum foil to create packets for indirect grilling or wrapping cooked drumsticks while they rest so they stay warm until serving time.

Preparing the Grill

This step is crucial for achieving even cooking and preventing sticking or burning. First, clean the grill grates thoroughly with a wire brush to remove any debris from previous use.

Next, oil the grates using a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil or non-stick spray to prevent sticking.

If you’re using a gas grill, preheat it on high for 10-15 minutes before reducing heat as needed based on your recipe’s instructions. For charcoal grills, light the coals and wait until they are covered with white ash before spreading them out evenly across one side of the grate.

Gas Grill

Make sure the grates are clean and oiled before placing your drumsticks on them. Close the lid and let the grill heat up for about 10-15 minutes before adding your chicken.

One of the benefits of using a gas grill is that you can control the temperature easily by adjusting the knobs. This makes it easier to maintain a consistent temperature throughout cooking, which is essential for achieving juicy and flavorful drumsticks.

When grilling with gas, keep in mind that direct heat will cook your chicken faster than indirect heat. If you want crispy skin all around, start by searing both sides over direct high flame for about 2-3 minutes per side then move them over to indirect low flame until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).

Charcoal Grill

Charcoal grills are a popular choice for many BBQ enthusiasts, as they impart a unique smoky flavor that gas grills just can’t match. To get started, you’ll need to gather your equipment: charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, lighter fluid or chimney starter, and matches.

Firstly, remove the cooking grate from the grill and set it aside. Next up is adding the right amount of coals; this will depend on how much chicken you’re planning on cooking and what type of heat zone you want (direct vs indirect).

Once lit with either lighter fluid or chimney starter (our preferred method), wait until all coals have turned white before spreading them out evenly across one side of the grill.

Now it’s time to place your drumsticks over direct heat if using high-heat searing technique for crispy skin texture; otherwise indirect heat works best when slow-cooking larger cuts like whole chickens so they cook through without burning too quickly on one side while still being juicy inside! Remember always keep an eye out for flare-ups caused by dripping fat which could cause burnt spots!

Marinating Drumsticks

A marinade typically consists of an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or citrus juice, along with oil and seasonings. The acid helps tenderize the meat while the oil keeps it moist during cooking.

To marinate drumsticks, start by mixing together your desired ingredients in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Place the chicken in the marinade and make sure each piece is coated evenly.

Cover or seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) before grilling.

When you’re ready to grill, remove the chicken from the marinade and discard any excess liquid. Pat dry with paper towels before placing on a preheated grill.

Keep in mind that some ingredients can cause flare-ups on the grill if they drip onto hot coals or flames – so be careful when grilling marinated meats! avoid using too much salt in your marinades as this can draw out moisture from meat resulting in dryness after cooking.

Dry Rubs for Drumsticks

They’re easy to make, versatile, and can be customized according to your taste preferences. A dry rub is essentially a mixture of herbs, spices, salt, sugar or other seasonings that you apply directly onto the meat before grilling.

To make a basic dry rub for chicken drumsticks at home:

  • Combine 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.

Once you’ve made your dry rub mix it’s time for application! Rub the seasoning generously over each drumstick making sure every inch is covered with an even layer. You can also use this opportunity as an excuse for some extra TLC by massaging the seasoning into the meat so it really penetrates deep down into those fibers!

Let them sit in fridge overnight if possible (or at least one hour) so they have enough time absorb all those delicious flavors before hitting up on grill.

Grilling Techniques

Whether you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, there are a few key things to keep in mind to ensure your chicken turns out perfectly cooked and full of flavor.

Firstly, make sure your grill grates are clean and well-oiled before cooking. This will prevent the chicken from sticking and tearing when you try to flip it over.

Next, always start with high heat for searing the outside of the drumstick. Searing locks in juices and creates that delicious crispy skin we all love so much.

Once you’ve achieved a good sear on both sides of each drumstick, move them over to indirect heat (if using charcoal) or reduce the temperature (if using gas). This allows for slower cooking which ensures that they cook through evenly without burning on one side while still raw on another.

Don’t be afraid to use an instant-read thermometer! It’s important not only for food safety but also because it takes away any guesswork as far as whether or not your meat is done. Aim for an internal temperature between 165-175°F at its thickest part – this will give you juicy meat every time!

Direct Vs Indirect Grilling

Direct grilling involves placing the drumsticks directly over the heat source, while indirect grilling involves cooking them next to or away from the heat source.

Direct Grilling is ideal for smaller cuts of meat that cook quickly such as chicken wings or thin steaks. It’s also perfect for achieving crispy skin on your drumsticks since they’re cooked closer to the flame.

Indirect Grilling is best suited for larger cuts of meat like whole chickens or roasts that require longer cooking times at lower temperatures. This method allows you to cook your drumsticks more evenly without burning them.

To use either method, start by preheating your grill according to its instructions and then arrange coals in a single layer if using charcoal grill; turn all burners on high if using gas grill. For direct-grilled chicken legs: Place seasoned chicken legs directly over hot coals (or flames) with tongs until browned and crisp before flipping once halfway through cooking time.

Cooking Times

Undercooked chicken can be dangerous to eat, while overcooking it will result in dry and tough meat. The good news is that with a little practice, you’ll soon get a feel for how long your drumsticks need on the grill.

As a general rule, chicken drumsticks take around 30-35 minutes to cook through on medium heat (around 350°F). However, this can vary depending on factors such as the size of your drumsticks and whether you’re using direct or indirect heat.

To ensure that your chicken is cooked all the way through without drying out too much, we recommend starting with indirect heat for around 20-25 minutes before finishing them off over direct heat for an additional 10-15 minutes. This will give you juicy meat with crispy skin every time.

How Long to Grill Chicken Drumsticks

How long should you cook them for? The answer depends on a few factors, including the size of the drumsticks and whether or not they’re bone-in.

As a general rule of thumb, bone-in chicken drumsticks take longer to cook than boneless ones. On average, it takes about 30-35 minutes to grill bone-in chicken drumsticks over medium heat (around 350°F).

However, this can vary depending on the thickness of the meat and how hot your grill is.

To ensure that your chicken is cooked all the way through without drying out or burning on the outside, use a meat thermometer. Insert it into one of the thickest parts of each piece until it reaches its center without touching any bones.

The internal temperature should read at least 165°F before removing from heat.

Testing for Doneness

Undercooked chicken can be dangerous and lead to foodborne illness. So how do you know when your drumsticks are done? The most reliable method is using a meat thermometer.

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, being careful not to touch bone or grill grates as this will give an inaccurate reading.

The USDA recommends cooking chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Once your drumsticks reach this temperature, they’re safe to eat and should be removed from heat immediately.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer on hand, there are other ways to test for doneness. One popular method is cutting into one of the larger pieces near its bone; if juices run clear instead of pink or red then that means it’s fully cooked through! However, keep in mind that cutting into meats too early can cause them lose their juiciness so use this technique sparingly.

The Best Final Internal Temperature

Undercooked chicken can be dangerous to consume, while overcooking will result in dry and tough meat. The best final internal temperature for grilled chicken drumsticks is 165°F (74°C).

This ensures that the meat is fully cooked and safe to eat without being overdone.

To check if your drumsticks have reached this ideal temperature, use a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat without touching bone or grill grates. Once you’ve reached 165°F (74°C), remove them from heat immediately and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Remember that cooking times may vary depending on factors such as grill type, thickness of your cuts or even weather conditions so always rely on an accurate thermometer rather than just timing alone when checking doneness.

Glazing and Sauces

Whether you prefer sweet, spicy, or tangy flavors, there’s a glaze or sauce out there that will suit your taste buds. You can apply the glaze during the last few minutes of grilling for a sticky and caramelized finish or serve it on the side as a dipping sauce.

Some popular options include BBQ sauce, honey mustard glaze, teriyaki marinade/glaze/sauce (depending on how thick you want it), buffalo wing sauce (for those who like their chicken with some heat), and garlic butter herb sauces.

When applying any type of glazes or sauces make sure not to overdo it as too much can overpower the natural flavor of chicken meat. A light coating is enough for most people but if you’re looking for something more intense then go ahead and slather away! Just remember that less is often more when it comes to seasoning meats.

Resting Period

This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful bite. During this resting period, cover the drumsticks with foil or place them in an oven set at low heat (around 200°F) for up to 10 minutes.

This will keep them warm while they rest and allow you time to prepare any glazes or sauces you plan on using. Don’t skip this step! Rushing straight from grill-to-plate can result in dry chicken that lacks flavor.

Take a deep breath and give yourself permission for patience – trust us; it’ll be worth it when you take that first juicy bite of perfectly grilled chicken drumstick!

Serving Suggestions

You can keep things simple and classic by pairing them with some coleslaw or potato salad. Or you can get creative and try something new like a refreshing watermelon salad or roasted vegetables.

If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, consider serving your drumsticks alongside some corn on the cob, baked beans, or garlic bread. And don’t forget about dipping sauces! A tangy BBQ sauce is always a crowd-pleaser but feel free to experiment with different flavors like honey mustard or teriyaki.

What to Serve With Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas that will complement your perfectly grilled chicken:

1. Grilled Vegetables: Grilled vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers and corn on the cob make for a colorful and healthy side dish.

2. Potato Salad: A classic potato salad is always a crowd-pleaser at any BBQ or picnic.

3. Coleslaw: A refreshing coleslaw with tangy dressing can balance out the richness of grilled chicken.

4. Baked Beans: Sweet and savory baked beans pair well with smoky flavors from the grill.

5. Garlic Bread or Rolls: Warm garlic bread or rolls fresh off the grill can be an excellent accompaniment to juicy drumsticks.

Remember that when serving sides with your grilled chicken drumsticks, you want them to complement rather than overpower their flavor profile.

Grilling Safety Tips

Here are some tips for safe grilling:

1. Keep your grill clean: A dirty grill can be a fire hazard, so make sure you clean it regularly.

2. Use long-handled tools: This will help you avoid burns from the heat of the grill.

3. Keep children and pets away from the grill area: Make sure they stay at least three feet away from the hot surface.

4. Check for gas leaks: If you’re using a gas grill, check for leaks before lighting it up by applying soapy water on all connections and hoses; if bubbles appear when turning on your propane tank or regulator valve then there is likely a leak that needs fixing before use.

5. Never leave your lit barbecue unattended – always have someone watching over it while cooking.

Storage and Reheating

To keep the meat moist and flavorful, wrap each drumstick tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing them in an airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

When reheating your leftover drumsticks, be sure not to overcook them as this can dry out the meat and ruin its texture. The best way is by using an oven or grill set at low heat (around 300°F) until they are heated through but still juicy inside.

It’s also essential that you reheat chicken thoroughly so that it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F before serving again. This will ensure that any harmful bacteria present on the surface of cooked chicken has been destroyed.

Common Grilling Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes is not properly preparing the grill before cooking. Make sure to clean your grill grates thoroughly and oil them lightly before placing your drumsticks on them.

This will prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.

Another mistake is overcooking or undercooking the chicken. It’s essential to monitor the temperature of your drumsticks using a meat thermometer, so you know when they’re cooked through without drying out or being unsafe to eat.

Marinating for too long or using too much marinade can also lead to problems like mushy texture or overpowering flavors that mask the taste of chicken itself.

Lastly, don’t forget about safety! Always use proper grilling tools such as tongs instead of forks which may puncture holes in meat causing juices loss leading dryness; keep an eye on flare-ups caused by dripping fat; never leave unattended hot coals; always wash hands after handling raw poultry etc. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you’ll be well on your way towards perfectly grilled drumsticks every time!


How long does it take to cook drumsticks on the grill?

It takes between 25-30 minutes to cook drumsticks on the grill for perfectly succulent results.

How long to grill drumsticks on gas grill?

To grill drumsticks on a gas grill, preheat the grill to medium-high heat (400°F), cook for 5 minutes per side until browned and crispy, then lower the heat to 300°F and cook for another 25 minutes, turning once halfway through.

How to cook drumsticks on the grill?

To cook drumsticks on the grill, place them on direct heat, cook for 30-35 minutes, flipping every 5-7 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

How long to grill chicken legs at 400?

At 400 degrees Fahrenheit, chicken legs can be grilled for approximately 25 minutes, but it is not necessary to rush the process as they are a muscular dark meat portion.

What marinade options are best for grilled drumsticks?

Best marinade options for grilled drumsticks include soy sauce, lime juice, honey, garlic, ginger, and spices.

How can you ensure even cooking of drumsticks while grilling?

To ensure even cooking of drumsticks while grilling, frequently rotate and maintain consistent heat throughout the cooking process.

Are there any specific techniques for turning drumsticks on the grill to achieve the perfect crispiness?

To achieve the perfect crispiness, turn drumsticks frequently on the grill while maintaining a consistent heat level.