City Chicken: Mock Chicken Drumsticks

Mock chicken drumsticks city chicken

The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
527 Calories
40g Fat
7g Carbs
33g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 527
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 52%
Saturated Fat 19g 96%
Cholesterol 171mg 57%
Sodium 641mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 33g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 71mg 5%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 479mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Interestingly enough, this recipe called "city chicken" rarely contains any chicken at all. This mock drumstick entrée is made up of either cubes of meat or ground meat that is sometimes shaped into a chicken drumstick and placed on a skewer. It consists of meat scraps that today is most often pork but can be veal as well. After being shaped, the city chicken is sometimes breaded and either fried or baked.

City chicken has a long history and has traveled from the kitchens of the Midwest to homes in the South, adapting and changing slightly over the years creating similar recipes but each with their own personal touch. Almost all recipes include pork but vary regionally in their style of preparation. Some are simply formed and then baked, while others are marinated and deep-fried. This version includes ground veal and/or pork and is as coated in cracker meal and baked.


  • 2 pounds ground pork, veal, or a combination

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 1/2 cups cracker meal, divided

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled sage leaf

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for mock chicken drumsticks
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a jelly roll pan well.

    Baking tray
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel 
  3. Combine ground meat, egg, milk, 1/2 cup cracker crumbs, salt, pepper, and sage in a large bowl; gently mix until well blended.

    Combine meat and egg
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel 
  4. Divide meat mixture into 16 portions. Form each portion into a drumstick shape around a skewer.

    Divide meat onto sticks
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  5. Place melted butter in a bowl wide enough to fit drumstick; put remaining 1 cup cracker crumbs in a pie plate.

    Egg and breading
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  6. Dip each drumstick into melted butter then roll in cracker meal.

    Dip each
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  7. Place drumsticks in a single layer in greased jelly roll pan and drizzle remaining melted butter over tops of drumsticks.

    Place on tray
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown.

    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

History of City Chicken

This mock chicken recipe with ground meat goes back to a time when chicken was expensive and veal was the budget meat. During the early 1900s, chicken was considered a special meal to be served for "Sunday dinner with the preacher" or holiday gatherings. This was a time before industrial chicken farming, so poultry was mainly used for egg production. By the time the chicken was past egg-laying age, its meat was tough and would only be palatable when cooked in a stew. So whole chickens were rare and considered a delicacy. In turn, cooks created mock chicken drumsticks using the less expensive meats like pork and veal. Whereas today veal is more of a splurge, back then it was cheap and plentiful—cow farmers were trying to thin out their herds and therefore sending calves to slaughter. 

City chicken is popular in the eastern parts of Michigan and Ohio as well as in areas of Pennsylvania and Upstate New York. The recipe traveled down South after southerners migrated to the North for jobs in the auto and railroad industries and then returned home with dishes they had grown to love. You will mainly find these mock drumsticks in metropolitan cities as it was originally created to feed the working class.