Sweet & Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

After polling friends and family about which part of the chicken wing they go for — the little “drumstick” (called drumette) part or the “v-shaped wing” part — I discovered that most people grab the little drumstick section of the wing. Hence this recipe that uses the actual chicken drumstick! It’s a lot lower in fat than eating wings and tastes just as great. These wings are really delicious both hot and cold.

Many recipes call for marinating the chicken beforehand, but after many repeated attempts with this recipe, I found a way to streamline the entire process without sacrificing flavor. These drumsticks are just like wings — sweet, sticky, and spicy! They’ll be your new favorite. And if that’s not enough enticement, how about how inexpensive chicken drumsticks are? Buy the large family-size pack of 12-14 drumsticks for about $4.00.

 If you’re planning on cooking these and serving them cold, you’ll need more of the cayenne pepper because chilled food loses some of its flavor, which is why you need to ramp it up more. I know that one teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper sounds like a lot, but it’s not when the chicken is chilled. Besides, if you’re a wing fanatic, you’ll love the heat of these drumsticks if you decide to eat them while they’re hot. Just dip them into some ranch dressing and you’re good to go!

I pull the skin down on the chicken so I can salt and pepper the meat. Why? Because that seasons the meat and not just the skin. To  do this, use a paper towel and gently but firmly pull the skin down toward the bottom of the drumstick. Salt and pepper the meat on both sides, and then pull the skin back over the meat — kind of like turning a sweater from inside-out to right-side out.


Serves 6

  • 12-14 chicken drumsticks (about 4 1/2 lbs)
  • coarse salt and coarse black pepper — for seasoning the chicken
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 small-medium sized garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (see Clueless BitTip)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (don’t buy the white ones — buy toasted)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (helps with cleanup).
  3. Pull the skin down toward the end of each drumstick using a paper towel to help you grip the skin.  See instructions and photos above.
  4. Gently rub the oil over the skin of the drumsticks.
  5. Put the chicken into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. While the chicken is baking, squeeze the garlic cloves, one at a time, into a measuring cup. Make sure to clean out the garlic press, discarding the spent garlic clove, before squeezing the second clove. (See ins & outs – pressing garlic)
  7. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the sesame seeds, to the garlic and mix well to combine.
  8. After 30 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and brush liberally with the sauce. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the drumsticks.
  9. Bake for another 10 minutes and remove from the oven. Baste one last time, carefully dabbing the sauce onto the drumsticks.
  10. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the glaze is darkened and the drumsticks are very tender when pierced with a fork or tip of a knife.
  11. Either serve hot, with ranch or blue cheese dressing, or refrigerate and eat cold or room temperature.

Grocery Bag: Sweet & Spicy Chicken Drumsticks