Honey Balsamic Drumsticks

CATEGORIES: Oven Baked, Poultry

Honey Balsamic Drumstick Intro I buy a lot of rotisserie chickens from Costco.  Like, I never have them on my list, and I never really need them for anything, I purely just like to buy them to eat like a carnivorous madman.  Clearly I’ve rubbed off on my children who ravage though the groceries the moment I get home and upon discovering the chicken, immediately start fighting over who gets the drumstick.  Because we all want the drumsticks.  I remember as a kid always fighting with my siblings over who got the coveted drumstick from the bucket of fried chicken so it’s not surprising to me that my kids have somehow discovered the value of the prized piece.  One night after a particularly heated chicken battle, I decided to just make a whole stinking pan of drumsticks for dinner.  You should have seen the looks on my kids’ faces when they saw that they were ALL DRUMSTICKS.  It’s now their favorite meal so I’ve come up with about 402 ways to prepare them.  This is one of our favorites lately!

Now, there are different sizes of drumsticks.  This recipe is for about 2 – 2 1/2 pounds, and for best results, look for the ones that are about 3-4 inches long and give you 5-6 drumsticks per pound or so.  They’re on the smaller side, but not tiny like chicken-wing-size.  I don’t really like the giant, meaty ones here.  You could also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  Don’t use boneless skinless breasts or tenderloins.  It will hurt my recipe’s feelings.

Chicken Drumsticks

Start by rinsing the chicken in cold water and patting dry with paper towels.  If there is any excess fat hanging off, use a pair of sharp kitchen shears to snip it off, but don’t remove all of the skin. That layer is what holds everything to the bone and they’ll fall apart without it.  I trim it down about 1/3 of the way from the top, if it needs trimming.  I didn’t trim these ones in the photo at all because they were very well trimmed.

Whisk up a quick spice rub of kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder and paprika.

Honey Balsamic Seasoning Mix

Give the drumsticks a little drizzle of olive oil and then sprinkle with the spice mix.

Seasoned Drumsticks

Use your hands (c’mon, be brave) to rub it all in and coat all of the pieces.  While you’re doing this, have a large dutch oven heating up on the stove.

Seasoned Drumsticks prebaked

Drizzle in a little more oil and place your chicken in to sear for a few minutes on each side.

Browning Drumsticks

While chicken is searing, mix up the quick sauce.  The chicken will cook in this sauce and soak up a lot of the flavor, and then we’ll thicken it up for the glaze at the end.  Start with a big drizzle of honey,


Add a splash of balsamic vinegar,

Balsamic in Honey

a squeeze of ketchup, and several cloves of fresh garlic.

Honey Balsamic Sauce

Whisk it up and pour it over the chicken.  Use a rubber spatula, or a good set of tongs, to toss the chicken around in the sauce, making sure each piece gets coated.  Place a lid on the pan and pop it in a 350 degree oven.

Browning drumsticks with sauce

The chicken will cook in that sauce and stay super moist and flavorful.  When it’s done, carefully remove the drumsticks (they might be falling off the bone) and cover them with foil to keep warm.

Broiled Drumbstics

Put your pan on the stove top and bring that sauce to a simmer.  You just want to reduce it to a nice glaze-y consistency.  It only takes about 5 minutes and you’ll see it thicken up so you can scrape the bottom of the pan like this and it almost has the consistency of a thin BBQ sauce:

Simmering Sauce

Toss that chicken back in and get it all coated in the sweet, sticky glaze.

Glazed Drumsticks

You can put them on a platter and drizzle all of the extra glaze right over the top or serve them right out of the pan.

Honey Balsamic Glazed Chicken

We love it with rice so it can sop up the sauce, but it’s great as a lean meal just over veggies.  It’s a terrific week night dinner and nice enough to serve to guests (if they’re the kind of guests that don’t mind getting their hands dirty.)

Honey Balsamic Drumsticks

Honey Balsamic Drumsticks
These Honey Balsamic Drumsticks are a fantastic quick-and-easy dinner idea that everyone will love!
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For the drumsticks
  1. 2 - 2 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks (10-12 drumsticks)
  2. 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  3. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  5. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  6. 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
For the sauce
  1. 2 tablespoons honey
  2. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  3. 2 tablespoons ketchup
  4. 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  5. 2 tablespoons water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse chicken, pat dry. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, toss to coat. Add seasoning mixture and use hands to massage into all pieces.
  3. Heat large dutch oven (or heavy oven-proof skillet with an oven proof lid) to medium heat. When hot add 2 teaspoons olive oil and use a brush to make sure it's distributed over the entire surface of pan. Brown chicken 2 minutes per side (in batches if necessary.)
  4. While chicken is searing, whisk sauce ingredients together and add to pan. Gently toss chicken to coat. Cover pan and bake for 20 minutes, flip chicken pieces and baste with sauce and return to oven for 20 minutes more. Remove chicken from pot and cover to keep warm.
  5. Bring sauce to a boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes until thick and glaz-y. Return chicken to pan and gently toss in glaze. Let sit for a few minutes before serving, so glaze will thicken and chicken won't burn your mouth!
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  1. This glaze looks really yummy and my family loves drumsticks! How did you get char marks on your chicken after just pan searing and baking in a covered pot? Did you broil or grill the chicken at some point?

    1. Oh I was going to mention that! Totally unnecessary (I just think they look prettier, and are more photogenic that way, and I love a little char 😉 So when the sauce was thickening, I just popped them under the broiler for a minute.

  2. I don’t have a dutch oven, and it seems like a good one is pretty pricey. What size would you recommend getting that would be the most versatile? Do you think the ceramic glazed ones are the way to go?

    This looks delicious, btw 🙂 I might just pop it in the slow cooker!

    1. Honestly, you can find great quality ones for $50-$75 (which I know, is still pricey, but really reasonable compared to the name-brand ones.) Check Amazon, or Costco- I’ve bought them there before! As for size, I’d go for at least 6 quarts.

  3. FYI: You forgot to include the oven temperature in this recipe printable. I only noticed because I wanted to print it and try it out. It looks and sounds amazing!

    1. Sorry about that- 350 degrees!

    1. I always rinse my meat. Drumbsticks and thighs in particular tend to have a sticky (sometimes stinky) residue straight out of the package. Rinsing removes that, and also preps them well for their drizzle of oil and sprinkle of seasoning.

  4. I was so excited that I already had all of the ingredients for these at home! I made them today and we LOVED them! You were right, the chicken was so moist it was practically falling off the bone. Loved the little extra sauce over rice, too.

  5. This may sound super weird and may be just a crazy phenomenon whenever I make drumsticks, but when I sear them on the stove or put them in the oven, the top part always “bleeds”, you know what I mean? Then there’s like creepy red congealy stuff coming out of the bony end of my drumsticks. Is that normal? How do yours not do that?

    ….Are my drumsticks haunted?

    1. Umm, maybe haunted?? Lol. I’ve honestly never had that happen!

  6. I made these for dinner last night and they were delicious!!!! Very easy. I even have leftovers for lunch today…..lucky me!!!!

  7. I need these in my life, right about now! So I’m having a baby soon and feeding the freezer with freezer meals, but I’m a newbie. How would these work in the freezer, and how far would I prepare a batch before freezing it?

    1. Stacy, I’ve never done these as a freezer meal, but I might just make the whole thing start to finish, let them cool, and then freeze them in a bag with the sauce. Then you could probably just pop the whole frozen clump in a covered baking pan, or your slow cooker, and re-heat to eat them up. Let me know how it works, if you try it, and congrats on the pregnancy! I’m expecting too- jealous you’re toward the end!

  8. These were delicious! I work full time and I really struggle to have energy and motivation to get dinner on the table. After I read your post I knew I had to try them last night. This was easy to prepare and with two quick sides, veggies and rice, I had a homemade meal and my family was thrilled! Thanks so much for another home run!

    1. I’m so happy Angie- glad you enjoyed them!

  9. This might be a repeat question, but I will phrase it in a different way 😉 We have an event scheduled with many guests. I like the idea of these drums, but would need to make them a day or two ahead of time. In your opinion/experience, would they get too dried out if I cooked them completely, then reheated them the day of the event? Once reheated, I would have them in a chaffing rack to keep warm.
    And the second repeat question phrased differently is: I don’t have time to purchase a dutch oven. How about a casserole dish with lid?
    Thanks for you advice (and congrats on your news!)

    1. I don’t think they’d get dried out, but I do think they’re better fresh. My kids will eat the leftovers of this reheated, but I find the sauce sometimes separates and the chicken doesn’t taste quite the same. I’d probably go for something else if you need to make a lot, AND ahead of time.

  10. I made these tonight with thighs (pregnant me can’t handle chicken on the bone) and they were amazing! The husband and the 2 year old ate them up.


  11. I read the post and found all the ingredients available in my kitchen. I followed the steps, I surprised, chicken got ready in the specified time. It was sooo good and delicious. My little kid liked it much. Thanks.

  12. I made these last night and they were delicious. Since our toddler is boycotting chicken at the moment, I will probably add some red pepper flakes – or another spice – to the sauce to kick it up the next time I make them. I cut the recipe in half with no problem.

  13. Yours look so crispy and saucy. Mine didn’t turn out that great. I followed the recipe and They were falling off the bones and my kids loved them but the sauce didnt stick to them and you couldn’t even eat the skin it was too slimy.. so once we peeled the skin back there wasn’t much flavour..any suggestions?

    1. You do need to trim the skin and especially remove large pieces of fat. The skin that’s left shouldn’t be thick, it just holds the chicken to the bone. The sauce is super thick and sticky once it’s reduced, so you may have not cooked it enough if you found it wasn’t glazing the chicken. I’d try cooking it longer until it’s like a nice thick bbq sauce.

  14. I made these last night (yum!) and when I put the first one on my son’s plate my daughter started to beg him to switch with her. She wanted the drumstick! She was shocked to find out they were ALL drumsticks! Thanks for the great dinners we’ve been having around here!

  15. Overheard at dinner: “this chicken is awesome!” Thanks for a crowd-leaser(all 4 kids and the 2 adults)!

  16. Did these on the grill instead of oven (too hot outside!) and they were amazing. Put on grill after rub on indirect heat so grill was at 350. Split sauce into 1/3 for basting chicken on grill and then heated rest to thicken and spread on chicken before serving. Grilled for 40-45 min. Perfect, crispy skin and fall of bone tender. My toddler ate 2 and my hubby was still talking about the sauce the next day. Loved it!!

  17. Turned out great last night for dinner! I didn’t have balsamic vinegar but used apple cider vinegar with brown sugar added to it. I bet it will taste even better with the balsamic vinegar. Thanks for the recipe!

  18. In order to prevent blood from coming out of chicken as some of you mentioned above, soak chicken in water with salt prior to cooking… This will draw out the blood… Quick lesson my mom taught me while learning to cook. This looks like great recipe! Trying tonight…

  19. This recipe looks delicious!! I love drumstick but my family doesn’t. Could I use chicken breast? Thanks!!

  20. Wow, these were good! Very easy to prepare and lots of flavor. Thank you for sharing your recipe, it was wonderful!

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