Oven-baked lollipop chicken legs are a super fun, fairly unique way to liven up your basic chicken drumsticks. These particular frenched chicken legs are dry rubbed with an incredible spice blend, baked until crispy, then slathered in a sweet and tangy BBQ glaze. Once you know how to lollipop chicken legs, you may never go back to eating them any other way!
What Makes This Recipe So Good
- These lollipop chicken legs are full of complex layers of flavor. Rubbed and marinated in a dry rub full of spices, and then brushed with an easy homemade barbecue sauce. They’re baked in the oven keeping the chicken leg meat super tender and juicy.
- It’s such a fun dish to serve at a dinner party. Wether you serve them as your main protein, or as an appetizer, the adults and kids will love their fun shape. You can easily double or triple this recipe to feed a big crowd. Serve them with whipped potatoes, cheesy green beans, coleslaw, or any side you love.
- Don’t be too intimidated by the technique. While they look impressive, lollipop chicken legs are a lot easier than you think. Once you get the technique down, you’ll have them ready in no time.
- Make sure to have your work station prepped before starting the process of making the lollipops, since you’ll be working with raw chicken. Have a large plastic cutting board, a sharp knife and sharp kitchen shears, paper towels ready to go, and food-safe gloves if you wish.
- If you’re not a fan of chicken skin, you can absolutely remove it before seasoning the chicken with the dry rub. It might cook a tad quicker so check the temperature 5 minutes prior to the recommended directions.
- On the other hand, if you like super crispy skin, before bushing them with barbecue sauce, lay the chicken lollipops on their side once cooked, and broil on high for 3 to 4 minutes, carefully flipping them halfway.
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For the Homemade BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 packed tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pinch salt more or less to taste
- 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper more or less to taste
For the Chicken Legs
- 8 medium bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks approximately 4 to 6 ounces each
For the Dry Rub
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon salt more or less to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper more or less to taste
- Small saucepan
- Silicone spatula or large wooden spoon, or whisk
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper or aluminum foil
- Cutting board
- Paper towels
- kitchen shears
- sharp kitchen knife
- Small bowl
- Cooking spray
- Plastic Wrap or aluminum foil
- Aluminum foil
- Basting brush or pastry brush
- Internal meat thermometer
For the Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Add ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper to small saucepan. Mix well until ingredients are fully incorporated, then place saucepan on stovetop over medium-high heat.
- Bring sauce mixture to low, gentle boil. Once mixture begins to boil, immediately reduce heat under saucepan to low. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
- Once BBQ sauce has thickened, remove saucepan from heat and set aside. Let sauce cool completely, then transfer sauce to airtight container until ready to use.
How To Lollipop (French) the Chicken Legs
- Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Set baking sheet aside.
- Place one drumstick on cutting board. Pat drumstick completely dry with paper towels.
- Focus on section where thick area of chicken meat tapers toward end of bone, approximately 1 to 2 inches from top of drumstick. Using shears or sharp knife, cut through chicken skin, meat, and tendons in this spot. Work circularly around drumstick to separate all skin, meat, and tendons from bone.
- Hold thick end of drumstick in non-dominant hand.
- With dominant hand, use paper towels to pull skin, meat, and tendons off of bone, starting from incision and working toward small end of drumstick. If components don't remove easily, use shears or knife to cut more as needed to completely uncover bone. Be sure thick end of drumstick remains intact.
- Once bone is fully exposed, place drumstick on cutting board. Use sharp knife to cut small angled piece off top of thick end of drumstick, creating straight edge to allow drumstick to stand upright later.
- Lay lollipopped drumstick horizontally on prepared baking sheet and set aside. Repeat process with remaining drumsticks.
To Season the Chicken Legs
- Add garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, mustard powder, salt, and pepper to small bowl. Mix spices together until well blended.
- Completely pat each drumstick dry with paper towels, then lightly spray cooking oil over chicken skin, coating all sides of drumsticks evenly.
- Sprinkle dry spice mixture over chicken legs generously and evenly, coating skin completely. Use hands to gently work spice rub into skin of drumsticks.
- Cover drumsticks with sheet(s) of plastic wrap or aluminum foil then place baking sheet in refrigerator. Chill seasoned drumsticks at least 30 minutes, though 1 hour is preferred. Do not exceed 12 hours.
To Bake the Chicken Legs
- Before removing baking sheet from fridge, preheat oven to 385° Fahrenheit. Adjust oven racks as needed so drumsticks can stand upright in center of oven. Cut 2-inch squares of foil for each drumstick.
- Remove baking sheet from fridge. Remove plastic wrap or foil covering drumsticks and discard. Cover exposed bone on each drumstick with squares of aluminum foil.
- Lightly spray each drumstick with cooking spray again, then stand each drumstick upright on baking sheet. Place baking sheet in preheated oven.
- Bake drumsticks 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove baking sheet from oven.
- Brush chicken generously with BBQ sauce, coating all sides of each drumstick completely. Return baking sheet to oven.
- Bake chicken legs 5 minutes more, then begin checking internal temperature by inserting meat thermometer into thickest part of chicken meat. Continue baking drumsticks, checking temperature approximately every 5 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165° Fahrenheit.
- Once chicken legs reach 165° Fahrenheit, carefully remove baking sheet from oven and set aside. Let chicken legs rest at least 5 minutes. Chicken should reach food-safe internal temperature of 170° Fahrenheit during rest time.
- After rest period, serve drumsticks immediately with extra BBQ sauce and desired sides.
- Cook Time: Exact cook time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken legs you use. Smaller legs may need less time, while larger legs may need more time. Use a meat thermometer to accurately gauge doneness. To avoid overcooked chicken, remove drumsticks from oven when internal temperature reaches 165° Fahrenheit.
- BBQ Sauce: The homemade sauce is optional. You’re welcome to use a store-bought sauce instead! If you make the homemade recipe listed above, you’ll end up with roughly 1 cup of BBQ sauce.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.