These slow cooker BBQ chicken legs are a lifesaver for those chaotic weekdays when you need to juggle work, family, and a million other responsibilities. These are so easy and quick to pop into the slow cooker. They cook all day in spices, BBQ sauce, honey, and brown sugar before getting broiled for a few minutes right before dinner time.
The humble chicken drumstick is a staple in my house, and I’m betting it’s a favorite in yours too. They are tasty, affordable, and even appeal to picky eaters. And then when you take that drumstick and smother it in tangy, sweet BBQ sauce, then let it slow-cook to perfection… well, it’s a delicious chicken meal.
The chicken just falls off the bone, and the caramelized honey BBQ sauce is full of flavor. In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know for this simple weeknight dinner recipe, from step-by-step instructions to serving ideas.
For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below
- Drumsticks: Chicken legs are one of the most affordable cuts of chicken. I’ve used about 3 pounds for this recipe. That’s about 10 to 12 drumsticks, depending on their size. Make sure they’re thawed if you’re using frozen ones.
- BBQ Sauce: I use my favorite store-bought Dinosaur BBQ sauce, but use whatever you like best. Homemade sauce is great too! Remember that different sauces have different sweetness levels, so adjust the amount of honey if you are using a sweet BBQ sauce.
- Honey: Speaking of honey, this golden syrup adds sweetness and gives the chicken a beautiful glaze. I’ve used ⅓ cup, but add more if you like your BBQ extra sweet.
- Spices: I’ve used a combination of brown sugar, black pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and a dash of cajun seasoning for some kick. Experiment with your favorite spices. BBQ is all about that balance of sweet, spicy, and smoky!
🥣How to Make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Legs
- Season the chicken: Start by placing your drumsticks in your slow cooker. In a separate bowl, mix together your spices and brown sugar. Sprinkle this mix over the chicken, making sure each chicken leg is coated.
- Add the honey and BBQ sauce: Drizzle the honey all over the chicken. Then, pour about 1 ½ cups of the BBQ sauce into the slow cooker. The remaining sauce will come into play later.
- Slow Cook: Cover the Crock Pot and set it to LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours. This is my favorite part – while the slow cooker does its magic, I get to do… well, anything else!
- Broil: This extra step is the secret to getting that irresistible caramelized finish. Right before serving, place the drumsticks in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Brush them with the remaining BBQ sauce and broil until they are caramelized, about 2 minutes.
Now, we’ve got our drumsticks all slow-cooked to perfection, and it’s time for the fun part – serving them up! I’ve got a couple of tried-and-true serving ideas that my family adores, and I bet yours will too.
One classic way to serve these BBQ drumsticks is with a couple of favorite sides. Mashed potatoes and corn are perfect since the crunch of the corn pairs perfectly with the sweet smokiness of the drumsticks.
If you’re aiming for a lighter option, consider serving these drumsticks on a bed of fresh greens. A simple salad with a zesty vinaigrette can cut through the rich BBQ flavor and make for a balanced, satisfying meal.
For those who are fans of the handheld meal (my kids, for example), why not try BBQ drumstick sliders? Just shred the meat off the bone, pile it onto a mini bun, and top it with a dollop of extra BBQ sauce and crunchy pickles.
💭How to Store
On busy weeknights, there’s nothing like having a container of these leftover chicken drumsticks in the fridge. Talk about an easy dinner win!
To store your leftover BBQ drumsticks, let them cool down first. Once cool, place them in an airtight container and pop them into the fridge. They should keep well for up to four days.
If you’re thinking long-term, these drumsticks also freeze well. Wrap them individually in foil or freezer-safe bags, which can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to serve them, thaw them in the fridge overnight and reheat them in the oven, microwave, or air fryer.
Be sure to check out the step by step instructions
- Resist the urge to lift the lid and check on your slow cooker BBQ chicken legs. Each time you do, you let out precious heat and extend the cooking time.
- Don’t overcrowd your slow cooker. You want to ensure even cooking and that each drumstick gets its fair share of the tantalizing BBQ sauce.
- Switch up the seasonings if you like. Playing around with spices is half the fun of cooking.
- Like it hot and spicy? Add some hot sauce or red pepper flakes to the mix.
Despite the slow cooker’s reputation for making everything moist and tender, it can sometimes leave your chicken dry. This means you’re cooking it for too long. Chicken, especially drumsticks, doesn’t need as much time as other meats. Stick to the recipe’s cooking time; your drumsticks should turn out just right.
Not everyone has a slow cooker tucked away in their kitchen, and that’s okay. You can still enjoy these mouth-watering BBQ drumsticks. Bake them in the oven at 375°F for about an hour or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Don’t forget to baste them with the BBQ sauce every 15 minutes to get that finger-licking goodness!
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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Legs Recipe
- 3 pounds chicken drumsticks
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cajun seasoning
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 cups bbq sauce divided
- Place all your drumsticks in your slow cooker.3 pounds chicken drumsticks
- Mix the brown sugar, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cajun seasoning.2 tablespoons brown sugar, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon cajun seasoning
- Sprinkle the spice rub all over the chicken.
- Drizzle the honey all over the seasoned drumsticks.⅓ cup honey
- Pour 1 ½ cups of the bbq sauce into the slow cooker over the chicken. Make sure to save the other 1/2 cup for later.2 cups bbq sauce
- Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Right before serving, place line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Take the chicken legs from the Crock Pot and put them on the sheet.
- Brush the drumsticks with the remaining BBQ sauce and broil under the broiler until they are caramelized, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to let them burn! Keep a close eye on them under the broiler. You just want to crisp them up a bit.2 cups bbq sauce
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Use your favorite brand of bbq sauce.
- Feel free to switch up the seasonings if you like.
- You can add hot sauce or red pepper flakes for a kick.
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Nutrition facts are estimates.