If you’re looking to make chicken drumsticks that are golden and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, you’ve come to the right place. These oven baked breaded chicken legs are seriously the best I have ever tasted!
Living in the South, fried chicken is a staple for any kind of get-together, but while I love to eat it, I don’t like making it.
Which is why at my parties, I always serve these oven baked breaded drumsticks instead.
The coating is made with breadcrumbs, corn meal, parmesan cheese plus some extra spices, so there’s tons of flavor.
And we use Dijon mustard and lemon juice to make sure the coating sticks, which adds even more zing to the taste.
Even the most die-hard fried chicken lovers ask for seconds. (And there’s never any left at the end of the meal).
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This recipe makes about 12 drumsticks.
Here is your shopping list:
- chicken– 15 fresh drumsticks (about 4½ pounds)
- condiments – ⅓ cup Dijon mustard – used to coat the chicken so the breadcrumbs stick
- fresh fruit and vegetables – 1 lemon – we’ll combine this with the Dijon mustard to help tenderize the chicken as it cooks.
- crumb coating – ½ cup corn meal, ½ cup breadcrumbs – I like to use regular breadcrumbs because they stick well to the meat. But if you like extra crunch, Panko will work, too.
- dairy – ⅔ cup grated parmesan cheese – this adds flavor and gives the breadcrumb mixture extra sticking power.
- dried herbs – 3 teaspoons dried parsley, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon dried thyme – for added flavor
- seasoning – 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- You can use frozen drumsticks but they must be thawed in the microwave on the Defrost setting or overnight in the refrigerator before starting.
- While I almost always use chicken legs with this recipe, chicken thighs and breasts work well, too.
- For a dairy-free version, leave out the parmesan cheese and use ¾ cup each of the corn meal and breadcrumbs.
How to make oven baked breaded chicken legs
Adjust the oven rack to be in the center of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 375℉.
Line a baking sheet with a piece of foil and a baking rack.
The baking rack allows the chicken legs to cook more evenly all the way around and makes them much easier to remove when they’re finished. While the foil makes clean up easier.
If you don’t have a baking rack, you can put the chicken directly on the foil. It will still stick to it, but at least it helps with the clean up.
You can also use parchment paper but I find the chicken doesn’t turn out as crispy.
Pat the drumsticks dry with paper towel. This will help the coating stick better.
Juice half the lemon. We’ll need 2 Tablespoons for the next step. You can save the other half for another recipe. (Or if they are small lemons you may need to juice it, too).
Make the dipping mixture
In a large bowl, combine ⅓ cup Dijon mustard with 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice.
We’ll be dipping the chicken legs in this mixture so the bowl needs to be big enough to hold a drumstick.
Make the breadcrumb mixture
Add ½ cup corn meal, ½ cup breadcrumbs, ⅔ cup grated parmesan cheese, 3 teaspoons dried parsley, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper to a large ziploc bag.
Close the bag and shake to combine.
You can also do this in a large bowl, but I find it’s easier to coat the legs by shaking them in the bag.
Coat the drumsticks
Dip the first drumstick into the lemon juice and Dijon mustard mixture and use a brush to coat all sides.
I like to use a pair of tongs to hold the chicken leg so my fingers don’t get all sticky.
Add the leg to the ziploc bag with the breadcrumb mixture.
Repeat for 2 more drumsticks, so you have 3 of them in the breadcrumbs.
You can (of course) do more or less than 3 at a time if you prefer. This is just the number I have found is the most efficient while still getting good crumb coverage.
Then close the ziploc bag and shake until they are all coated with breadcrumbs.
Remove the chicken legs from the bag and place on your prepared baking sheet.
Alternating the skinny and fat ends will let you fit more on.
Repeat the dipping and shaking process until all of the chicken legs are done.
If you are making the chicken legs ahead of time, they can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours at this stage.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the drumsticks feel soft when you squeeze the meat with tongs.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Serving for a party
If you are serving these chicken legs for a party (like I often am), the breadcrumb crust will go soggy if they are covered while they are hot.
So I usually put them on a hot plate or in a chafing dish but leave the lid off.
That way they stay crispy for everyone to enjoy.
Baked breaded chicken legs tend to get soggy when stored, especially if they are still warm when they are covered.
I put them in a single layer on a baking sheet, tray or large container and put them in the refrigerator uncovered. Then cover with foil once they have completely cooled.
If you really want to maintain their crispiness, re-heat them in the oven rather than the microwave. I find putting them in at 350℉ for about 10 minutes works well.
Other chicken recipes you might like
The Best Oven Baked Breaded Drumsticks
- measuring cups and spoons
- 1 Baking sheet with a baking rack
- 1 Bowl large enough to hold a chicken leg
- mixing spoon or whisk
- tongs (optional) for holding the chicken while the mustard mixture is being brushed on
- 1 Large ziploc bag or large bowl
- ⅓ cup Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ⅔ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ cup corn meal
- 3 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 4½ lbs (about 12) drumsticks
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Line the baking sheet with foil and a baking rack for easy clean up.
- Combine the lemon juice and Dijon mustard in a bowl.
- Combine all of the dried ingredients in a large ziploc bag.
- Put a chicken leg into the lemon juice/mustard mixture and brush it over the chicken to coat.
- Add the chicken to the bread crumb mixture in the ziploc bag.
- Repeat for 2 more pieces of chicken.
- Close the bag and shake to coat the chicken.
- Remove the chicken from the bag and arrange on the baking sheet, skin side up.
- Repeat the brushing and shaking process until all of the chicken legs have been coated with breadcrumbs.
- (optional) The chicken can be stored in the refrigerator, uncovered, for up to 4 hours.
- Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
- Chicken thighs or breasts will also work well with this recipe.
- You can use a bowl instead of a bag for coating the chicken with the breadcrumbs. Just toss to coat instead of shaking.
- If you don’t have a baking rack, you can bake the chicken on the foil or directly on the baking sheet. But it will stick so you will likely lose some of the coating underneath.
- If you are serving the chicken on a buffet in a chafing or warming dish, the chicken will stay crispier if you leave the lid off.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
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This post was originally published on January 17, 2015 but was updated with new content on December 17, 2023.