How to Oven-Bake Chicken Legs and Chicken Quarters
Baked chicken legs and chicken leg quarters are the ultimate in effortless, budget-friendly cooking—simply season and pop into the oven while you prep the rest of the meal. Here, we'll show you how to make the best oven-baked chicken legs, and give you our top tips for baking chicken leg quarters, too. You'll also find a list of our favorite baked chicken leg recipes.
Strictly speaking a whole chicken leg is comprised of a thigh and a drumstick in one piece. Pictured above, a whole chicken leg is also known as a thigh-drumstick piece.
When a thigh-drumstick piece has a portion of the back attached to it, these cuts are called chicken leg quarters.
Thigh-drumstick pieces and chicken leg quarters may be used interchangeably; however, because chicken pieces vary in size, be sure to cook whichever cut you use long enough to reach a safe internal temperature of 180 degrees F.
Often, thigh-drumstick pieces are separated into two portions: the drumstick (pictured here) and the thigh. Sometimes, the separate drumstick portion is also referred to as a chicken leg.
Many of our recipes for baked chicken call for "meaty chicken pieces." These include drumsticks, thighs, and breasts. That means any of our baked chicken recipes that call for meaty chicken pieces can be used as a recipe for baked chicken legs (drumsticks).
How to Bake Chicken Legs
Here's our basic method for 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of baked chicken legs (drumsticks) or any combination of meaty chicken pieces. Of course, you can use all drumsticks, if you wish.
- Place chicken, bone sides down, in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan or shallow roasting pan.
- Brush with vegetable oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. You can also sprinkle the pieces with crushed dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano, or herbes de Provence.
- What Temperature to Bake Chicken: Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 180 degrees F (for dark meat), (170 degrees F for white meat).
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 kitchen shears or a knife handy to snip off the skin if needed.
Chicken Leg Recipes:
Love Oven-Baked Chicken Legs? Try Baked Breaded Chicken
One of the all-time great recipes for baked chicken legs is Oven-Fried Chicken (also known as baked breaded chicken). While you can make this recipe with 2-1/2 to 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces, you can use all drumsticks, if you like.
Breaded Chicken Legs Step 1: Egg Wash
In a small bowl combine:
- 1 beaten egg
- 3 tablespoons milk
Breaded Chicken Legs Step 2: Breading Mixture
For coating, in a shallow dish, stir together:
- 1-1/4 cups crushed cornflakes or finely crushed rich round crackers (about 35)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Then, stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
Breaded Chicken Legs Step 5: Place Legs On Pan and Bake
In a greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan, arrange chicken, bone sides down, so the pieces aren't touching. Sprinkle chicken pieces with any remaining crumb mixture so they are generously coated.
What Temperature to Bake Chicken: Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree F oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink (170 degrees F for breasts; 180 degrees F for thighs and drumsticks). Do not turn chicken pieces while baking. Makes 6 servings.
Recipe for Baked Chicken Quarters
With just a handful of ingredients and a few minutes of hands-on prep time, you can transform four chicken leg quarters or thigh-drumstick pieces into an irresistible bistro-style roast chicken dish. Just follow these steps:
- Place chicken skin side up in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan or shallow roasting pan. Lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- For the rub, place the juice and finely shredded lemon peel of 1 lemon in a small bowl. Stir in 3 cloves minced garlic, 1-1/2 teaspoons crushed fennel seed, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper.
- Carefully slide your fingertips between the meat and skin of each chicken leg quarter or thigh-drumstick piece to loosen the skin from the meat. Spread the spice rub between the two layers and drizzle the rest on top of the chicken.
- What Temperature to Bake Chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the chicken leg quarters or thigh-drumstick pieces, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Alternatively, you can bake the chicken leg quarters or thigh-drumstick pieces in a 375 degree F oven. Increase the baking time to 45 to 50 minutes. Either way, because chicken pieces vary in size, be sure to check the chicken for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thigh, avoiding the bone. It should read 180 degrees F when the chicken is done.
Tip: Use the above steps as a guide, and come up with your own chicken quarter recipes by using seasonings you love.
More Baked Chicken Leg Recipes:
Note that many of these recipes call for meaty chicken pieces in general. This means that you can use any combination of chicken thighs, legs (drumsticks), or breast halves—you can even use all drumsticks, if you wish.