This hands-off Baked Chicken Legs recipe is simple and versatile. It can be made with either whole leg quarters, drumsticks, or thighs that marinate with bright flavors from olive oil, apple cider vinegar and fresh thyme, along with pantry seasonings and spices. A perfect combination of ingredients that infuses the chicken legs with extra flavor, and makes them extra tender and juicy! Your familia will love it!
Why I love this Baked Chicken Legs Recipe
I love me some chicken legs—they’re flavorful, fairly inexpensive, and let’s be real: they’re about a million times better than chicken breasts. (No, I’m not hating on chicken breasts. They do have a special place in my heart, too, but, what can I say? I’m a dark meat kinda gal.)
So, let’s talk chicken legs.
In case you’re wondering, a whole chicken leg, also known as a chicken leg quarter, has two parts: the drumstick and the thigh. The drumstick is the calf part of the leg, while the thigh is the top part.
For this recipe, I’m using drumsticks, but you can use whole leg quarters, or the thighs—whichever you prefer or have at hand.
The marinade for these baked chicken legs packs a ton of flavor into them while also ensuring the meat remains nice and juicy when you bake it. Plus, it just needs a few pantry staples you probably already have at home. What’s not to love about that?
This Baked Chicken Legs recipe is perfect for any occasion, whether you’re looking for a special weekend dish or a hands-off, yet delicious weeknight dinner.
Hope you love them as much as I do!
Chicken Legs Marinade Tips
Go with fresh thyme. It has brighter flavor than the dried kind. (However, if you don’t have fresh thyme on hand and desperately want to make these baked chicken legs, I suggest using half of the amount of fresh, as dried herbs are more potent than fresh.)
Pro Tip: To remove fresh thyme leaves, grasp the top of the sprig and gently pull your fingers down it, pulling the leaves away and off.
Use a plastic bag. While you could use a bowl if you don’t have bags, I suggest using a gallon-sized plastic bag because they’re a great way to ensure more of the chicken is coated all over with the marinade. When you use a bowl, the marinade just sorta sinks to the bottom.
Also, when you use a bag, you remove air from it when you seal it, which forces the marinade into the meat and marinades more evenly and more efficiently. Make sensies?
Marinate the chicken legs. Place the chicken into the bag and pour the marinade on top of it. Seal it while squeezing to remove as much air as you can. Then, massage the bag to get that marinade goodness covering all the legs as evenly as possible.
Tips on how to bake chicken legs
Before you bake: Remove the chicken legs from the fridge about a half hour before you plan on baking them. You don’t want the meat to be too cold when it begins cooking. This will also help make sure the chicken legs bake evenly.
Arrange the chicken strategically in your baking dish and discard the extra marinade. If you’re using drumsticks, make sure to place them with the bony part facing in and the meaty part is facing out. (You can see this in my photo below.) This will ensure the drummies cook evenly and that those bony parts don’t dry out or burn.
Don’t forget to drizzle them with a little extra extra virgin olive oil and to add sprigs of fresh thyme for baking, too!
How long should you bake the chicken legs? At 425F, bake the chicken drumsticks for 40-45 mins, or until you get an internal temperature reading of 165F. You don’t need to rotate the dish halfway through baking, but you can if you want to—it all depends on your oven and how consistent it is.
What to serve with this baked chicken legs recipe
I love to serve this with either carrot rice, or some instant pot brown rice. And, of course with some beans, and depending on the mood, we go with either vegan black beans or my instant pot pinto beans. Brazilian black beans is good too!! And you can make it extra Brazilian by also serving it with farofa toasted cassava flour – it’s so good.
Sometimes, I also serve it with some Brazilian potato salad leftover from our weekend barbecue!
Other Chicken Recipes to try:
- Beer Marinated Grilled Drumsticks
- Chimichurri Wings
- Salpicao de Frango – Brazilian Chicken Salad
- Canja de Galinha Recipe – Brazilian Chicken and Rice Soup
- Grilled Spatchcock Chicken
Baked Chicken Legs Recipe
- 2.5 lbs chicken legs whole leg quarters, drumsticks, or thighs
- 1/4 cup olive oil plus a drizzle more for baking
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Brazilian sofrito or 4-5 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme from about 4 sprigs, plus more for baking
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch black pepper
- Place the chicken legs in a gallon size ziplock bag, or large bowl. Set aside.
- Add all the other ingredients to a small to medium bowl and whisk to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the bag/bowl with the chicken, and mix to coat. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible when you're sealing it to ensure that the marinade doesn't leak out and also to coat the chicken as well as possible.
- Let the chicken legs marinade 2-4 hours in the refrigerator.
- Remove the chicken legs from the fridge about 30 minutes before you intend to bake them.
- Preheat your oven to 425F.
- Drizzle a baking dish with some olive oil. Next, remove the chicken legs from the marinade and arrange them in the baking dish. Sprinkle some more thyme on top and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 165F.