How to Cook Drumsticks on the Grill?

Are you looking to impress your guests at your next barbecue with perfectly grilled drumsticks? Look no further!

We discuss the reasons why grilling drumsticks is a fantastic choice, from the smoky flavor to the crispy skin and even cooking. We also cover what ingredients and equipment you’ll need, as well as the preparation and grilling process step by step.

Stay tuned to learn how to tell if the drumsticks are cooked and get some serving suggestions to elevate your dish. So, fire up your grill and let’s get cooking!

Key Takeaways:

  • Adding drumsticks to the grill adds a delicious smoky flavor to the meat, making it a must-try for all barbecue lovers.
  • Preparation is key when it comes to grilling drumsticks. Brining and seasoning the meat beforehand ensures it stays juicy and flavorful.
  • Make sure to use a meat thermometer to ensure the drumsticks are fully cooked before serving. Serve with a variety of side dishes and sauces for a complete and satisfying meal.
  • Why Grill Drumsticks?

    Grilling drumsticks offers a perfect blend of smoky flavor, crispy skin, and even cooking that enhances the taste and texture of the chicken legs.

    One of the main reasons grilling drumsticks is preferred over other cooking methods is the way it infuses the meat with that irresistible smoky essence, reminiscent of outdoor barbecues.

    The direct heat from the grill helps achieve that sought-after crispy skin, adding a delightful crunch to each bite.

    Grilling ensures even cooking throughout, ensuring that the meat is thoroughly cooked without drying out, resulting in juicy and flavorful drumsticks every time.

    Adds Smoky Flavor

    Grilling drumsticks imparts a delightful smoky flavor to the chicken, enhancing its overall taste profile.

    One crucial factor that significantly affects the extent of smokiness is the choice of seasoning.

    • Opting for wood chips or chunks such as hickory, mesquite, or applewood can intensify the smoky essence.
    • Another essential aspect is the cooking time. Longer durations on the grill allow more time for the flavor to seep into the meat, producing a deeper smoky taste.

    The heat intensity plays a crucial role in achieving the perfect balance of smokiness without overpowering the natural flavors of the chicken. Adjusting the heat source, whether charcoal or gas, can help control the intensity of the smoky essence infused into the drumsticks.

    Crispy Skin

    Grilling drumsticks results in perfectly crispy skin that adds a delightful texture to each bite of the chicken.

    To achieve this delectable crispy skin, start by patting the drumsticks dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Next, brush the drumsticks with a thin layer of olive oil to help promote browning and add flavor. Season generously with salt and pepper to enhance the taste of the skin as it crisps up on the grill. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and place the drumsticks diagonally across the grill grates to create those iconic grill marks.

    Even Cooking

    Grilling drumsticks ensures even cooking throughout, resulting in juicy and tender chicken that is prepared to perfection.

    One of the key factors to achieve even cooking when grilling drumsticks is to start with room temperature meat to ensure consistent heat distribution. Utilizing a two-zone fire setup on the grill can help control the cooking process, allowing the meat to cook through gently without drying out. Basting the chicken with a flavorful marinade throughout the cooking process not only enhances taste but also helps maintain moisture. Turning the drumsticks regularly ensures that all sides are cooked evenly, resulting in a well-prepared dish that will impress your guests.

    What You’ll Need

    What You

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    To prepare delicious grilled chicken drumsticks, you’ll need a selection of ingredients for seasoning and a suitable grill or cooking equipment.

    In terms of marinating the chicken drumsticks, you will require olive oil, garlic, herbs, spices, and citrus juices to infuse them with flavor. Make sure to have a dependable grill or a grill pan for cooking. Essential tools such as tongs for flipping the drumsticks and a meat thermometer to check for doneness are crucial for a successful grilling session. Having a brush for basting with sauce and a covered dish for resting the cooked drumsticks are also recommended.


    The key ingredients for grilled chicken drumsticks include a blend of seasoning such as olive oil, salt, pepper, spices, and a delicious barbecue sauce for added flavor.

    Each component plays a vital role in enhancing the taste and juiciness of the chicken drumsticks. Olive oil not only provides moisture but helps in carrying the flavors deep into the meat during the cooking process. The salt acts as a flavor enhancer, while pepper adds a subtle kick. The ensemble of spices brings complexity and depth to the overall flavor profile.

    Barbecue sauce, with its sweet and tangy notes, caramelizes beautifully on the grill, imparting a smoky and rich taste to the chicken. When all these ingredients come together, they create a harmonious blend that elevates the grilled chicken drumsticks to a whole new level of deliciousness.


    For grilling chicken drumsticks, you can utilize various equipment options such as a charcoal grill, electric grill, Ninja Foodi grill, or Traeger for optimal cooking results.

    Charcoal grills are excellent for imparting that classic smoky flavor to your chicken drumsticks. They offer high heat levels and are great for searing the outside while keeping the meat juicy inside. On the other hand, electric grills provide convenience with easy temperature control and quick heating, making them a fuss-free option for beginners. The Ninja Foodi grill, with its combination of grilling and air crisping functions, gives your drumsticks a deliciously crispy texture. Traeger grills, known for their wood pellet fueling system, infuse a unique wood-fired taste to your chicken, enhancing the overall flavor profile.


    Preparation - How to Cook Drumsticks on the Grill?

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    Ahead of grilling, preparing chicken drumsticks involves brining to enhance flavor absorption and seasoning for a delicious taste profile.

    Brining is an essential step in the preparation process as it helps the chicken retain moisture, resulting in juicier meat. This involves soaking the drumsticks in a saltwater solution along with herbs and spices for several hours.

    Seasoning complements brining by adding additional layers of flavor to the meat. By choosing the right blend of herbs, spices, and aromatics, you can create a harmonious balance that elevates the taste of the dish.

    Brining the Drumsticks

    Brining the drumsticks before grilling is a crucial step that infuses flavors into the meat and ensures a juicy and flavorful outcome.

    During the brining process, the chicken drumsticks are submerged in a solution containing water, salt, sugar, and various seasonings. The salt helps open up the muscle fibers, allowing them to absorb more moisture, while the sugar balances out the saltiness and adds a touch of sweetness.

    Brining not only enhances the overall flavor profile but also contributes to the tenderness of the meat. It can be done using a wet brine, where the drumsticks are soaked in the liquid mixture, or a dry brine, where the salt and seasonings are directly rubbed onto the meat.

    Seasoning the Drumsticks

    Seasoning the drumsticks with a blend of olive oil, spices, and herbs adds a flavorful touch to the chicken, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.

    Begin by patting the drumsticks dry with paper towels to ensure the seasonings adhere well. Next, drizzle the chicken with a generous amount of olive oil, which not only helps the spices adhere but also adds moisture during grilling, keeping the meat tender.

    Then, generously sprinkle a mix of your favorite spices such as paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and herbs like rosemary or thyme over the drumsticks. Use your hands to massage the seasonings into the meat, ensuring each piece is well-coated for maximum flavor.

    Grilling Process

    Grilling Process - How to Cook Drumsticks on the Grill?

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    The grilling process for chicken drumsticks involves cooking them over direct heat, ensuring they are grilled to perfection with distinct grill marks for added visual appeal.

    Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, around 375-400°F, to ensure that the chicken cooks evenly without burning. Next, place the seasoned drumsticks on the grill grate, positioning them perpendicular to the grill grates to achieve beautiful crosshatch grill marks. Allow the chicken to cook for about 5-7 minutes per side, with occasional flipping, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Keep the lid closed to retain the smoky flavor and tenderize the meat.

    For extra flavor, baste the drumsticks with a favorite sauce or marinade during the last few minutes of cooking. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness and ensure safe consumption. Once done, let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a moist and flavorful dish.

    Setting Up the Grill

    Setting up the grill correctly is essential for ensuring the optimal heat levels needed to grill chicken drumsticks to perfection and lock in delicious flavors.

    First, start by cleaning the grill grates thoroughly to prevent any flavors from past grilling sessions interfering with your chicken.

    Proper heat control is crucial, so make sure to preheat the grill to the right temperature – medium-high heat works best for chicken drumsticks. Consider using a two-zone fire setup by placing coals on one side for direct heat and leaving the other side for indirect cooking.

    Create a flavorful marinade or dry rub for your chicken drumsticks to enhance their taste. Marinating them beforehand can add depth and tenderness, while a dry rub can create a delicious crust during grilling.

    Cooking the Drumsticks

    Cooking the drumsticks to the right internal temperature is crucial to ensure they are tender, juicy, and perfectly grilled for a delightful culinary experience.

    Begin by preheating the grill to medium-high heat, ensuring that it’s properly cleaned and oiled to prevent sticking. Season the chicken drumsticks with a mixture of your favorite herbs, spices, and a drizzle of olive oil for enhanced flavor.

    Place the drumsticks on the grill, arranging them evenly to promote even cooking. Keep a close eye on the grill temperature and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F, ensuring that the chicken is safe to eat.

    Remember to flip the drumsticks occasionally to prevent burning and achieve that perfect charred exterior. Rest the grilled drumsticks for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a succulent and flavorful bite.

    How to Tell if the Drumsticks are Cooked?

    How to Tell if the Drumsticks are Cooked? - How to Cook Drumsticks on the Grill?

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    Determining the doneness of grilled chicken drumsticks involves checking the internal temperature, observing grill marks, and ensuring the meat is tender and cooked to perfection.

    One of the key indicators of perfectly grilled chicken drumsticks is achieving an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone to ensure the most accurate reading. Visually inspect the surface of the drumsticks for distinct grill marks, which signify caramelization and flavor development. To assess the texture, the meat should offer a juicy and tender bite, indicating thorough cooking.

    Serving Suggestions

    Serving Suggestions - How to Cook Drumsticks on the Grill?

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    Pair your grilled chicken drumsticks with a variety of delicious side dishes and sauces to complement the flavors and enhance the dining experience.

    In terms of side dishes, consider options like a refreshing quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes and avocado, or a medley of grilled vegetables seasoned with herbs and olive oil. These sides not only provide a nutritious balance to the meal but also add vibrant colors and textures to your plate.

    For sauces, homemade barbecue sauce with a hint of smokiness can elevate the grilled chicken’s savory profile, whereas a tangy lemon-herb vinaigrette can bring a burst of freshness to each bite. Don’t forget to offer a classic garlic aioli for those who prefer a creamy and garlicky kick.

    Side Dishes

    Side dishes such as grilled vegetables, fresh salads, or savory rice make excellent accompaniments to grilled chicken drumsticks, enhancing the overall dining experience.

    For a burst of freshness, a vibrant summer slaw with a zesty dressing can provide a delightful contrast to the smoky notes of the chicken.

    A quinoa salad with roasted veggies adds a nutritious and hearty element to the meal.

    If you prefer a more indulgent side, consider serving creamy macaroni and cheese alongside the grilled chicken to create a comforting combination of flavors.

    Don’t forget the classic choice of garlic mashed potatoes for a timeless pairing that never fails to satisfy.


    Serving grilled chicken drumsticks with a choice of barbecue sauce, marinades, or homemade sauces adds a burst of flavor and variety to the dish.

    Barbecue sauce, known for its smoky and tangy taste, is a classic choice that complements the charred flavors of the grilled chicken.

    Marinades infused with herbs, spices, and citrus juices tenderize the meat and take the taste experience to a whole new level.

    Homemade sauces, on the other hand, allow you to get creative with unique flavor profiles like honey mustard, teriyaki, or garlic parmesan to suit your preferences. The key lies in finding the perfect balance between sweet, savory, spicy, and tangy notes to elevate the overall dining experience.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the best way to cook drumsticks on the grill?

    The best way to cook drumsticks on the grill is to marinate them first, then grill them over medium to high heat until they are cooked through. This will give you tender and juicy drumsticks with a delicious grill flavor.

    Can I use a gas or charcoal grill to cook drumsticks?

    Yes, you can use either a gas or charcoal grill to cook drumsticks. Gas grills are more convenient and heat up faster, while charcoal grills give a more smoky flavor. Whichever you choose, make sure to adjust the heat accordingly to avoid burning the drumsticks.

    How long should I marinate the drumsticks before grilling?

    It is recommended to marinate the drumsticks for at least 2 hours, but overnight is even better. This will allow the flavors to fully penetrate the meat and make it more tender.

    What marinade is best for grilled drumsticks?

    You can use any marinade that you like, but a simple combination of olive oil, garlic, lemon, and herbs is a great option. You can also use pre-made marinades or experiment with your own flavors.

    How do I know when the drumsticks are fully cooked on the grill?

    The best way to check if the drumsticks are fully cooked is by using a meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the drumstick and make sure it reads at least 165°F (74°C). You can also cut into the thickest part to see if the juices run clear.

    Can I grill frozen drumsticks?

    It is not recommended to grill frozen drumsticks as they will not cook evenly and may become dry. It is best to thaw them first before grilling.

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