Grilled Chicken Drumsticks are tender and juicy marinated in buttermilk brine and seasoning. An easy grilled chicken recipe your whole family will love. Serve slathered in blueberry BBQ sauce, or another favorite! Sound good? Let's make them:
You'll ❤️ BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
"You'll love this easy grilled chicken recipe. By brining in buttermilk and seasoning, these grilled chicken legs are not only tender, but have maximum flavor all the way through. Finish them off with my homemade blueberry BBQ sauce!" 🙂
Tender and Juicy. Brining in buttermilk with the salt and seasoning breaks down the chicken proteins resulting in ever-so-tender chicken loaded with flavor.
EASY! This chicken drumsticks recipe is so easy - really. Make ahead and very easy to throw together, marinate the chicken in the brine for 2 to 24 hours in your refrigerator, then cook on the grill (about 25 minutes)!
Healthy! This recipe is low-carb, low-fat, and gluten-free. Make it keto by using a sugar substitute. Buttermilk has a lower amount of calories and fat per serving and is also high in potassium, vitamin B12, calcium, and riboflavin!
🥘 What You Will Need
Here are the ingredients you will need to make grilled chicken drumsticks:
Buttermilk - it tenderizes the meat and includes natural sugars that help crisp the skin and caramelize when grilled.
Sugar - for those who are keto, feel free to use a sugar substitute of your choice.
Chicken Drumsticks - you'll love that the chicken legs are so economical. Oh, and kids LOVE 'em because they're finger food.
Optional Blueberry BBQ Sauce - you will love how unique and delicious this sauce is paired with the bbq chicken drumsticks! You can freeze any extra sauce too!
For exact ingredient quantities, please see the recipe card below!
🔪 How To Make
Here are the step-by-step instructions for making grilled chicken drumsticks:
Make the Brine
In a bowl, mix the buttermilk, onion, garlic, salt, sugar, cumin, and pepper together until thoroughly incorporated. A whisk works perfectly!
Add chicken drumsticks to the buttermilk and cover. Chill for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. The longer the drumsticks sit, the tastier they will be.
Remove chicken from the refrigerator and brine about 30 minutes prior to cooking. Discard brine.
Preheat a gas grill or charcoal grill to medium heat (350 to 400 degrees F).
Place chicken drumsticks onto greased grill grates over direct heat.
Cover with the lid to trap the heat and begin the cooking process.
Continue to grill chicken legs covered, turning the pieces frequently or until browned on both sides and no longer pink, about 24 to 28 minutes. (Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when tested with a meat thermometer.)
If using the optional barbecue sauce, brush on the last 5 to 8 minutes of cooking.
Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
🥗 How To Serve
Here are a few ways to serve grilled chicken legs:
My absolute favorite way to eat these is with a little bbq sauce slathered on top. They are also great dipped in ranch dressing!
Here are a few ways you can vary or make substitutions:
- Substitute beef or pork short ribs, pork chops, thighs, or chicken breasts for the drumsticks on the grill. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the size of protein on the grill.
- Need spice? Sprinkle a little red pepper flake onto the drumsticks before setting them on the hot grill or try our very own chipotle seasoning for a little extra heat!
💭 Top Tips
- Brushing the finished grilled chicken drumsticks with bbq sauce is optional, season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- About 20 to 30 min. prior to grilling, remove chicken legs from refrigerator and brine.
- Make sure your grill is hot and preheated before cooking the drumsticks. This will allow for even cooking and flavors that come from the grill.
- Your grilled chicken legs are done when the reach a minimum temperature of 165 degrees F, using an instant-read thermometer.
Buttermilk is mildly acidic and full of calcium, which helps break down and tenderize proteins. The calcium helps penetrate and break down the protein from the inside out, while the acid breaks down the protein from the outside in. Ultimately, buttermilk is used as a brine for its tenderizing qualities and sugar content, which leaves you with tender and juicy proteins.
According to USDA guidelines, it is not advised to brine chicken any longer than 48 hours.
Approximately 1 to 2 cups. Use enough buttermilk to cover the chicken completely and to allow even penetration and tenderization. Extra buttermilk can be used for many different recipes including homemade sour cream!
✔️ More Grilling Recipes
If you want more grilling recipes, check these out:
- Grilled Pork Steak Recipe
- Grilled Shrimp Salad Recipe (Shrimp Louie Salad)
- Southwest Turkey Burgers On The Grill
- How To Grill A Ribeye Steak
Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken Legs
- 1 quart buttermilk
- ½ cup red onion (chopped)
- 2 tablespoons garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- optional: blueberry bbq sauce (use any favorite BBQ sauce)
- mix buttermilk, onin, garlic, salt, sugar, cumin, and pepper.
- Add chicken pieces and cover in brine. Cover and chill for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Remove chicken from refrigerator and brine about 20 to 30 minutes prior to grilling.
- Heat grill to medium heat (350 to 400 degrees F).
- Lift chicken from the brine, discard brine. (For crispier skin, wipe the brine from the drumsticks)
- Grill chicken, covered, turning pieces frequently. until browned on both sides and no longer pink, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Brush with barbecue sauce the last 5 to 8 minutes of grilling.
- Don't miss all of our helpful hints, substitution ideas, cooking tips, and other delicious recipes that can be found in our post. Check it out!
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, or another favorite sauce if desired.
- Goes well with grilled vegetables, green salad, or grilled romaine. See our post for recipe suggestions.
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