Baked chicken legs are the ultimate in effortless, budget-friendly cooking. Simply season and pop them in the oven, leaving you free to prep the rest of the meal.
While cooking a whole chicken any day of the week doesn't happen like it used to, baking chicken legs is definitely a weeknight solution. A chicken leg, also called a hindquarter, is made up of one thigh and one drumstick that are joined together. The thigh is the upper part of the leg and the drumstick is the lower part. Both are dark meat. These whole chicken legs are inexpensive, versatile, meaty, and moist. Plan on one leg per person.
Tip: To reduce fat and calories, you can skin chicken legs. Bake the chicken with the skin on to keep it moist. Cool slightly and pull the skin off, starting at the thigh end. Have a kitchen shears or knife handy to snip off the skin if needed.
There's little that you have to do other than to place the chicken skin side up in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan or shallow roasting pan. Seasoning can be as simple a light brushing of olive oil with salt and pepper.
To add a seasoning under the skin: Carefully slide your fingertips between the meat and skin of each chicken piece to loosen the skin from the meat. Spread your favorite spice rub between the two layers and drizzle the rest on top of the chicken.
Don't have a favorite spice rub? Here's our suggestion:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the chicken, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside.
You can bake the chicken legs in a 375°F. oven, if desired. Increase the baking time to 45 to 50 minutes.
Tip: An accurate way to check chicken doneness is to insert an instant-read thermometer into the thigh, avoiding the bone. It should read 180°F when the chicken is done.