BBQ chicken legs in the oven are crave-worthy baked drumsticks with crispy skins, tender meat, and sweet and savory BBQ sauce coating. You’ll love the combination of the marinade with the coating of BBQ sauce to top them off!
BBQ Chicken Legs
BBQ chicken legs baked in the oven remove the hassle of grilling with an easier, and just as satisfying, “barbequed” dinner. The simple marinade allows the legs to tenderize and soften before being baked for crispy, golden skins. It’s a perfect summer recipe that can be served for a fun dinner or even brought to a potluck!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Inexpensive. Chicken drumsticks are a relatively inexpensive cut of meat to cook with.
- Tender and juicy. With the mayo chicken marinade, the chicken is tenderized and is juicy when baked without being overpowered by the flavor of mayo.
- Healthy. The chicken legs are baked in the oven rather than being fried, making them healthier with less oil and calories.
- Best summer recipe. These drumsticks are perfect for an easy summer dinner that the whole family will love.
Ingredients for BBQ Chicken Legs
The sweet baby Ray’s bbq chicken legs in oven require just some simple spices and marinating ingredients and, of course, your favorite barbeque sauce.
- Chicken drumsticks- for the juiciest chicken legs, choose ones with the skin on to prevent them from drying out in the oven.
- BBQ sauce- sweet baby ray’s classic BBQ sauce is our favorite, but you may substitute it with your preferred BBQ sauce.
- Seasonings- for the best marinade, use a combination of salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Garlic and Onion- give the chicken marinade a depth of hearty flavor.
- Mayonnaise- the mayonnaise helps tenderize the chicken without overpowering the final dish.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities, see the recipe card below.
How to Make Baked BBQ Chicken Legs
Baked chicken legs with barbecue require just a few minutes to quickly prepare a marinade. The rest of the recipe is marinating and baking time, giving you time to tend to other tasks.
- Prep pan: Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with aluminum foil or parchment paper to make for easier cleanup.
- Prepare marinade: In a small bowl, combine the mayo, salt, pepper, paprika, pressed garlic, and oil.
- Dry and coat chicken: Pat the chicken dry and add to a large bowl. Add the prepared marinade over the chicken and mix well, then add the sliced onions and mix again until well distributed.
- Marinate: Cover the bowl with the chicken drumsticks and place into the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight.
- Bake chicken: Lay the chicken onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the skins on the chicken are starting to crisp up. The time here will depend on the size of your chicken legs and on the oven you have.
- Coat with BBQ: Once the drumsticks are baked, remove from the oven, and smother in BBQ sauce on all sides, until the chicken is well covered.
- Bake again: Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, allowing the chicken to re-crisp with the sauce.
- Serve and enjoy, friends!
Substitutions and Variations
Switch up the chicken legs bbq in the oven as desired using these ideas as a guide:
- Different meat: If you don’t like chicken drumsticks, you can substitute them with chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
- Add potatoes: Slice some new potatoes into halves and add to the baking sheet along with the chicken drumsticks.
- Different sauces: There are many different flavors of BBQ sauce. If you prefer the flavor of honey BBQ or hickory BBQ, you may choose to use those instead of traditional, basic BBQ sauce. Or, make a homemade BBQ sauce.
- Bake time will vary. The bake time of the drumsticks will vary depending on the size of the chicken, the temperature you cook it at, and your baking dish! The best thing to do is measure the chicken with a food thermometer.
- The brand of sauce will alter the flavor. We love the balanced flavor in Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. If you use a different sauce, you may need to lower the salt proportion.
- Bake legs in advance. You can easily bake the wings in advance and keep them covered. Then just apply the barbecue sauce and reheat before serving.
Serve the recipe with your favorite side dishes to make it a complete meal. Here are some combinations that we love:
- Potatoes: Any kind of potato recipe will compliment the chicken drumsticks so well. Try with a side of mashed potatoes, alongside air-fried potato wedges, or with a side of homemade fries to satisfy a craving!
- Fresh salad: Add a fresh salad such as a cabbage cucumber salad, or a summer favorite, the cucumber radish tomato salad.
- Sandwich: Repurpose leftovers by shredding the chicken meat and serving in pulled chicken sandwiches with creamy homemade coleslaw!
- Pasta: Serve with a side of mac and cheese or even a pasta salad. This makes a great pairing for a summer cookout!
For ultimate flavor, allow the chicken legs to marinate overnight. If you’re short on time, allow them to marinate for at least 3-4 hours.
Removing chicken skins will dry out the chicken, so for the juiciest result, pick drumsticks with the skin on. If you don’t like chicken skins, remove them after the chicken has baked, and cover them with extra BBQ sauce to compensate for flavor.
You can definitely make this recipe in the air fryer. Preheat it to 380°F. Once preheated, spread the marinated chicken legs out in a single layer. Cook for 10 minutes, then flip and cook for another 10 minutes to allow them to crisp on all sides. Then, brush on the barbeque sauce and air fry for another 3-5 minutes, until the bbq sauce sets and gets crispy.
Nope! The mayonnaise just acts as a tenderizer and you cannot taste it once the chicken is baked.
When in doubt, cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F from reading on a meat thermometer.
You can substitute the garlic and onion in the marinade with garlic powder and onion powder. Start with a tablespoon each, adjusting to your liking as needed.
Store & Reheat
- Store. Baked BBQ chicken drumsticks are best served fresh, but are still flavorful when reheated. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container for delicious leftovers.
- Freeze. Cool the chicken to room temperature. Then, place into a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw, then place in a preheated oven for a few minutes for a freshly baked taste.
- Reheat. Easily reheat the recipe in a preheated oven or air fryer until warmed through.
More Chicken Recipes
BBQ Chicken Legs in Oven
- Preheat oven to 400°F at step 4. Cover baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup.
- Prepare marinade. Combine the mayo, oil, garlic, salt, paprika, and pepper. Pour over chicken legs and mix well. Add onions and mix again.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Lay out chicken onto a baking sheet, discard of the onions.
- Bake about 35 minutes until the skins of the drumsticks become crispy (baking time may slightly vary, depending on the size of drumsticks and oven).
- Coat drumsticks generously with barbecue sauce. Return to oven. Bake another 10-15 minutes.
- Enjoy immediately.