Crispy Fried Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

Crispy Fried Chicken Drimsticks

The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 80 mins
Marinate Time: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 16 drumsticks
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
654 Calories
36g Fat
27g Carbs
51g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 654
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 47%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 247mg 82%
Sodium 877mg 38%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 51g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 89mg 7%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 642mg 14%
*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.)

Drumsticks have fatty flavors and delicious firm dark meat that is great for frying. This basic fried chicken recipe soaks drumsticks in buttermilk, then dredges them in seasoned flour. They're pan-fried to perfection in batches, resulting in chicken that's moist inside and wonderfully crispy on the outside.

There are many secrets to cooking great fried chicken at home. It may take some time for you to really get the hang of it, but your efforts will be worth it when you master this classic dish. For the best results, follow all the tips in the recipe, including the buttermilk marinade, proper oil temperature, and warm oven while you work in batches.

Kids love drumsticks, and this is a perfect choice for family dinners. They're inexpensive and can be cut from budget-friendly whole frying chickens (save the breast and thigh meat for casseroles and similar dishes). The recipe works for whole chicken legs, and you can add some wings if you have any; adjust the cooking time for smaller pieces of chicken.

Serve the chicken as a main dish along with coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans. For special occasions, the drumsticks make great appetizers when enjoyed with dipping sauces like honey-mustard or blue cheese.


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“A delightful rendition of a fried classic. Drumsticks are great for capturing the perfect mix of crisped outsides and the juicy inner meat. Don’t be intimidated by having to fry these, with the pan frying method you're sacrificing time to make less of a mess than deep frying so it’s a great recipe to practice with.” — Noah Velush-Rogers

Crispy Fried Chicken Drumsticks/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 16 chicken drumsticks, or a combination of drumsticks and thighs

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying, more as needed

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make Crispy Fried Chicken Drumsticks

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  2. Pat the chicken with paper towels to dry. Do not rinse your chicken, as the splatter of water and raw chicken juices can only increase the chance of cross-contamination in your kitchen.

    raw chicken legs on a plate

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  3. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, Tabasco sauce, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the black pepper. Add the chicken legs to the mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

    chicken legs marinating in a bowl of buttermilk

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  4. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, letting any excess drip off. If you have a cooling rack, put it over a rimmed baking sheet. Put the chicken pieces on the rack.

    raw chicken legs resting on wire rack

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 200 F. In a large, heavy-duty saucepan, deep skillet, or sauté pan, heat the oil to about 350 F.

    oil heating in a skillet

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  6. Meanwhile, in a large clean bowl, combine the flour, the remaining 1 tablespoon black pepper, and the cayenne. Coat the chicken legs in the seasoned flour, shake off any excess, and place on the prepared rack.

    chicken legs dredged in flour

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  7. Working in batches, fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes on each side. Use an instant-read food thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the largest drumstick, away from bone or fat to test for doneness. The minimum safe temperature for poultry is 165 F.

    chicken legs frying in a oil

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  8. Remove the chicken pieces as they become done to paper towels to drain. 

    fried chicken legs on paper towels

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  9. Place the drained chicken on a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil, and move to the oven to keep warm while frying subsequent batches. Serve warm or at room-temperature.

    Crispy Fried Chicken Drumsticks

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga


  • In deep-frying, the food is completely immersed in the oil. This recipe uses the pan-frying (or shallow-frying) method in which the food is placed in enough oil to cover the bottom and sides. This makes it necessary to turn the pieces over to fry both sides. Three cups of oil will give you a depth of 1/2 inch in a deep 10-inch skillet and is sufficient to pan-fry. 
  • Use a thermometer to monitor and maintain the temperature of the oil. If the oil is too hot, the outside of the chicken will get crispy quickly, while the meat inside may still be raw. When the oil is too cool, the chicken must cook longer and the breading will soak up more oil, making it greasy.
  • A crowded pan will reduce the oil temperature, so give the chicken some space. You may also need to let the oil come back up to temperature between batches.

Oven-Fry Your Chicken

If you prefer to avoid deep-fried food, use your oven to cook and crisp up the chicken drumsticks:

  1. Heat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Once your chicken is well coated with the spiced flour, grease a baking pan with olive oil or butter and place the chicken on it.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through. When the chicken is golden brown on all sides, check for doneness with a food thermometer and be sure it is at least 165 F when inserted in the thickest part of the meat away from bone or fat.

What Does the Buttermilk Soak Do to Chicken?

Soaking chicken in buttermilk before frying is a popular method in Southern-fried chicken. The acid in the buttermilk tenderizes the meat as it marinates, which results in juicier fried chicken. If possible, let it soak overnight.

Why Is the Fried Chicken Raw Inside?

The oil and internal chicken temperatures are crucial to cooking fried chicken properly. Maintain the proper oil temperature to ensure the chicken gets cooked inside and out. Always use a thermometer to check the chicken's internal temperature. It's not safe to simply eyeball doneness by pulling the chicken when the breading is crispy. There are many variables to this method, and it's best to rely on tools rather than your instincts.