This recipe for authentic Italian chicken drumsticks is bursting with flavor thanks to an easy lemon, pepper, garlic, and herb marinade. The seasonings in this recipe pack a lot of flavor with just a few simple ingredients. All that is left to do is to grill them on your barbecue or bake them in your oven for a quick and delicious chicken dinner everyone will love. There is no easier weeknight dinner recipe to make for chicken leg fans. These healthy marinated drumsticks are perfect for anyone on a keto, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, Whole30, or paleo diet.
Easy Lemon, Garlic, and Herb Marinade
The herb combination along with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, pepper, and garlic makes for an easy and wonderful chicken marinade. This recipe uses drumsticks but you can just as easily enjoy this on chicken thighs, breast, cutlets, or even a whole chicken before your roast it. I have used this marinade before on a small whole chicken we had for beercan chicken on the grill, so good!
This recipe makes the perfect zesty Italian chicken marinade with a little bit of spice that will add a ton of flavor to this dish. The key ingredients include fresh lemon juice, olive oil, basil, parsley, garlic, crushed red pepper, and a few other spices. Simply whisk or shake in a container, to combine the ingredients together and you are set. It is best to marinate your chicken for at least 4 hours to get the full flavor of this homemade Italian dressing. We refer to it as Chicken Italiano sometimes at our house.
How to Make Italian Chicken Drumsticks
To make the marinade, combine all marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl or a container that has a tight lid. I made mine in a mason jar where I could add all the ingredients, screw on the lid tight, and shake!
Time to Marinate the Chicken Legs
Add chicken drumsticks to a large gallon-sized Ziploc. If you are making more than this recipe calls for and need a bigger container, you can use any sealable container you have. To the chicken, pour in the marinade. Seal the Ziploc and shake. I often “massage’ the marinade into the chicken pieces.
Refrigerate the chicken in the marinade for 4 hours. Remember to shake or massage the marinade into the chicken pieces about every hour or so until you are ready to get cooking. This can marinate overnight as well. Try to also massage or shake it a few times during the process to ensure are areas are covered in flavor.
Grilling Chicken Drumsticks / Legs
This chicken recipe can be grilled or baked in the oven. We prefer grilling our Italian drumsticks since we have great weather here most of the year long. This turns our wonderful either way you choose to cook this. The instructions and times below are for medium-sized chicken drumsticks. Keep in mind if your chicken legs are smaller or larger, or if you are using a different cut of chicken, your cooking times will vary. Remember chicken always needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°.
How long to cook the chicken drumsticks on the grill? First heat the grill to high heat. Once ready, place the chicken on the grill over direct heat. Sear for about 2-3 minutes on each side to get crispy outer skin. Keep the lid open during the searing process. Then move the chicken to the side and continue to cook over indirect heat with the lid closed for about 15 minutes on each side. It takes about 35-40 minutes to cook chicken drumsticks/legs on the grill using this method. They will be crispy on the outside and still juicy on the inside.
To add more flavor while cooking, brush the marinade onto the chicken as it cooks or when you flip it over. Check with a meat thermometer to ensure they are done and are at 165°.
Do not save the marinade and use for anything else,
discard since it has come in contact with raw meat.
This recipe works best by searing the outer chicken skin for wonderful flavor and then slow cooking over indirect heat. This ensures the chicken is cooked on the inside without burning on the outside. To learn more about when to grill with the lid on or off, check out my guide on GRILLING WITH THE LID ON OR OFF – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
For cooking the chicken drumsticks in the oven, preheat oven to 425°. Then bake for 20 minutes on each side. Again check to be sure the internal temperature reaches 165°.
To make a complete meal, serve with a Pinch of Adventure’s MEDITERRANEAN COUSCOUS WITH PISTACHIO NUTS for a quick and delicious side dish.
Serve and Enjoy
I like to serve the drumsticks with fresh lemon wedges on the side and topped with fresh herbs. Squeezing more lemon juice adds a pop of acidic flavor that cuts through the rich chicken. Plus the addition of fresh herbs adds clean earthy flavors. I like fresh parsley and basil best at the end.
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Italian Chicken Drumsticks
- 1.5 LBS Chicken Drumsticks about 6
- 1/2 C olive oil
- 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 TB dried basil
- 1/2 TB dried parsley flakes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Fresh basil and parsley finely chopped (optional)
- lemon wedges (optional)
- To make the marinade, combine all marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl or a container that has a tight lid. Mix or shake well to combine all the ingredients.
- Add chicken drumsticks to a large gallon-sized Ziploc. To the chicken, pour in the marinade. Seal the Ziploc and shake. I often “massage’ the marinade into the chicken pieces.
- Refrigerate the chicken and let marinate for 4 hours. Remember to shake or massage the marinade into the chicken pieces about every hour or so until you are ready to get cooking. It can marinate overnight as well.
- Preheat your grill (or oven if using an oven - see instructions above). While waiting for it to preheat, remove chicken from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature on the counter for about 15 minutes.
- To grill the chicken, heat the grill to high heat. Once ready, place the chicken on the grill over direct heat with the lid open. Sear about 2-3 minutes on each side to get crispy outer skin. Then move the chicken to the side and continue to cook over indirect heat with the lid closed.
- Continue cooking for about 15 minutes on each side. Brush the chicken with more marinade as you turn it over and it cooks. Check with a meat thermometer to ensure they are done and are at 165° internal temperature.
- Once cooking is done, place on a serving platter and let rest a few minutes. Top with finely chopped fresh herbs and serve with wedges of lemon. Enjoy!
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