Grilled Barbeque Chicken Drumsticks

Grilled Barbeque Chicken Drumsticks

Although a recipe that calls for chicken drumsticks, prepared barbeque sauce and some quick spice rub may feel like a pointless recipe, it’s important to keep in mind that barbeque chicken grilling technique is actually not easy at all. Barbeque sauce flares up very easily and goes to a completely burnt state in just seconds.

Which is such a shame, because not only are barbeque chicken drumsticks quite affordable – they are also absolutely delicious. And if you happen to have some leftovers, the chicken is absolutely scrumptious the next day too – smoky, juicy and very flavourful.

So this post is more of a technique than a recipe. You can use any barbeque sauce that you like, any amount, make your own, etc. But what will make this an excellent dish is splitting up your barbeque into low heat and high heat zones. Most of the cooking will be done on the side with the burners off. Then we will move the chicken to a warmer zone and start brushing it with sauce allowing for the flavour to absorb and caramelize. Then we will finish cooking the chicken back on low heat zone, while always having an option to throw one piece on the hot zone for a second or two, if we want even bigger grill marks!

Let’s get to grilling!

Look at the perfectly moist and juicy the interior

DifficultyIntermediate

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time1 hr 20 minsTotal Time1 hr 30 mins

 3 lbs chicken drumsticks (around 12-14)
 ½ cup your favourite barbque sauce, or more to taste
Dry rub:
 1 tbsp brown sugar
 2 tsp kosher salt (half as much if using fine table salt)
 1 tsp paprika
 1 tsp garlic powder
 ¼ tsp onion powder
 ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1

Combine all of your dry rub ingredients and rub over chicken thighs. Set them aside while you preheat your gas grill. The instructions here are specifically for the gas grill, but can of course be modified for other types of grills.

2

Oil your grill and prepare it for indirect heat by turning half the burners to high and leaving half of the burners off. Allow your grill to preheat for around 10 minutes until it reaches 300-350°, and continue to maintain that temperature during the entire cooking time.

3

Place all of your drumsticks without touching one another on the cool side of the grill. No burners should be on under the chicken. Close the lid and cook for about 40 minutes undisturbed. The exact time will depend on the size of your drumsticks. But cook to about 150° internal temp and the skin of the chicken should be starting to crisp up. Try not to open the grill and if you do, only open it for long enough to check the internal temperature.

4

After 40 minutes or so, turn down the burners that were previously turned to high to low, move the chicken to the hot side and start brushing it with the barbeque sauce and flipping it frequently. Do this process for good ten minutes. Feel free to put the burners off or down to low. The goal here is to caramelize the barbeque sauce, infuse the chicken with flavour, get some grill marks without burning your chicken as barbeque sauce burns fast because of all the sugar.

During this process, remember you have your "cool zone" and "hot zone." So if one piece of chicken is starting to get charred - move it back to the cool zone.

5

When you feel good about the caramelization of the barbeque sauce and a good amount of grill marks, the internal temp of your chicken should hopefully be around 155-165, move it back to the cool zone. Turn the hot side burners back to high and close the lid. Finish cooking your chicken on the cool zone to internal temperature of around 175 (although safe to consume at 165, the abundant connective tissue in the drumstick is the most juicy and tender at 175.)

NOTES:
6

The directions here are designed for a gas grill with 5 burners. However, this recipe can be modified to a charcoal grill or a grill with less burners. If using charcoal, pile all of your coals on one side of your grill.

In this recipe, for juicy chicken with perfect grill marks and flavour, we are setting up 3 heat zones: low heat, medium heat and high heat zones. Most of the cooking is done over indirect heat. Then we dress our chicken with sauce over medium heat zone to let the sauce absorb, caramelize, while getting some grill marks. The timing of this recipe will depend, but aim for about 1 hour 10 minutes: 40 minutes on low heat zone, 10-15 minutes on medium heat zone and another 10-15 minutes on low heat zone again.

Very important thing to keep in mind is that barbeques, even the better ones, do not distribute the heat evenly. The pieces that are closer to the hot zone, may cook quicker. Keep that in mind, and as you cook your chicken and move it between zones, rotate the pieces every so often, so that they get somewhat uniform exposure to heat.

Ingredients

 3 lbs chicken drumsticks (around 12-14)
 ½ cup your favourite barbque sauce, or more to taste
Dry rub:
 1 tbsp brown sugar
 2 tsp kosher salt (half as much if using fine table salt)
 1 tsp paprika
 1 tsp garlic powder
 ¼ tsp onion powder
 ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1

Combine all of your dry rub ingredients and rub over chicken thighs. Set them aside while you preheat your gas grill. The instructions here are specifically for the gas grill, but can of course be modified for other types of grills.

2

Oil your grill and prepare it for indirect heat by turning half the burners to high and leaving half of the burners off. Allow your grill to preheat for around 10 minutes until it reaches 300-350°, and continue to maintain that temperature during the entire cooking time.

3

Place all of your drumsticks without touching one another on the cool side of the grill. No burners should be on under the chicken. Close the lid and cook for about 40 minutes undisturbed. The exact time will depend on the size of your drumsticks. But cook to about 150° internal temp and the skin of the chicken should be starting to crisp up. Try not to open the grill and if you do, only open it for long enough to check the internal temperature.

4

After 40 minutes or so, turn down the burners that were previously turned to high to low, move the chicken to the hot side and start brushing it with the barbeque sauce and flipping it frequently. Do this process for good ten minutes. Feel free to put the burners off or down to low. The goal here is to caramelize the barbeque sauce, infuse the chicken with flavour, get some grill marks without burning your chicken as barbeque sauce burns fast because of all the sugar.

During this process, remember you have your "cool zone" and "hot zone." So if one piece of chicken is starting to get charred - move it back to the cool zone.

5

When you feel good about the caramelization of the barbeque sauce and a good amount of grill marks, the internal temp of your chicken should hopefully be around 155-165, move it back to the cool zone. Turn the hot side burners back to high and close the lid. Finish cooking your chicken on the cool zone to internal temperature of around 175 (although safe to consume at 165, the abundant connective tissue in the drumstick is the most juicy and tender at 175.)

NOTES:
6

The directions here are designed for a gas grill with 5 burners. However, this recipe can be modified to a charcoal grill or a grill with less burners. If using charcoal, pile all of your coals on one side of your grill.

In this recipe, for juicy chicken with perfect grill marks and flavour, we are setting up 3 heat zones: low heat, medium heat and high heat zones. Most of the cooking is done over indirect heat. Then we dress our chicken with sauce over medium heat zone to let the sauce absorb, caramelize, while getting some grill marks. The timing of this recipe will depend, but aim for about 1 hour 10 minutes: 40 minutes on low heat zone, 10-15 minutes on medium heat zone and another 10-15 minutes on low heat zone again.

Very important thing to keep in mind is that barbeques, even the better ones, do not distribute the heat evenly. The pieces that are closer to the hot zone, may cook quicker. Keep that in mind, and as you cook your chicken and move it between zones, rotate the pieces every so often, so that they get somewhat uniform exposure to heat.

Barbequed Chicken Legs

Make it Gluten-Free: Ensure to get gluten-free barbeque sauce. As with all gluten-free recipes, ensure all your ingredients are gluten free and not cross-contaminated.

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