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Chicken Drumsticks Recipe – Savory, Sweet and Spicy

Chicken Drumsticks Recipe - Savory, Sweet, Spicy | The Foodie Eats

Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

Savory, Sweet and Spicy

One day last year, I was doing some Google searching for a great chicken drumsticks recipe. For some reason that day, nothing was exciting me. During this same time, I was also doing some research on different flavor combinations. This recipe is the result of that day.

First things first, I am always looking for an excuse to use my Cast Iron Skillet. If you do not own one, I highly recommend you upgrade your life as soon as possible. There is no other kitchen tool that will give you a sear like that of a cast iron skillet. On a side note: stop using soap to clean your cast iron. You’re washing all the goodness away. I know it sounds weird, but trust me.

The Dish Formerly Known as

Indian-Island Chicken

I originally referred to this recipe as my “Indian-Island Chicken.” The flavors are a combination of those two cultures, but I would always have to explain what it meant. So, bye-bye name. And for as delicious as this recipe is, one might expect the method to be a little more challenging. But it is actually pretty simple. I hope you enjoy it!

Chicken Drumsticks Recipe | The Foodie Eats

The Method

Chicken Drumsticks Recipe - Savory, Sweet and Spicy
Recipe type: One-Pot | Cast Iron Skillet
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 8-9 chicken legs
  • ¼ cup grape seed oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 small onion – diced
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 ruby red grapefruit – juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less as desired)
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz.)
  • fresh chopped parsley
  • sea salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Season chicken legs with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  3. Heat a large cast iron skillet (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat until hot, then add oil. Once oil is hot, add chicken and thoroughly brown on all sides.
  4. Remove chicken and set aside. Drain most of oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons.
  5. Reduce to medium heat, add onions, star anise, and cinnamon sticks – sauté for 2 minutes. Then add garlic and red pepper flakes – sauté for 30 seconds.
  6. Add juice of 1 grapefruit to deglaze pan, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.
  7. Add coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste. Then add browned chicken, increase heat, and bring to boil.
  8. Move skillet to center oven rack and bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
  9. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy!
It is very important to bring your pan back up to a strong boil before moving to the oven. This is the only way that your sauce will reduce down to the creamy goodness you want.

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  • Reply
    March 7, 2017 at 9:58 am

    OMG! I have two options here.
    Option #1 – Unsubscribe from this blog
    Option #2 – ONLY open and read when I am in my kitchen fully prepared to start cooking and eating!
    This is torture! Hahahaha!!! I am totally trying this one immediately.

    • Reply
      Chef Gary
      March 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

      You’re too kind. Thank you! And just wait until you taste them 🙂

  • Reply
    Baked Chicken Breasts | Perfectly Juicy Every Time | My Pennywise Life
    March 9, 2017 at 6:04 am

    […] a look at my favorite chicken recipe ever, in which I crank the heat up to […]

  • Reply
    March 19, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    So, my “make this immediately” turned into about two weeks, but that’s immediately in my life! Haha!
    I just referenced this gorgeous picture you posted and mine looks nothing like yours. Lol. I think one problem may be that I used skinless legs. Does it call for skin on?

    • Reply
      Chef Gary
      March 19, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Yes. Two things that the skin does:

      1- protect the meat from drying out.
      2- add fat to the sauce, which is a must at this high heat.

      I tried this with chicken breasts and it was a fail. I’m guessing your chicken is dry and your sauce is runny? ? Sorry.

      • Reply
        March 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

        Ah! Ok, round 2 will be better.
        However, my chicken is not dry and although my sauce is a tad bit runny, it is still delicious! The taste of this dish is a perfect 10. Now I just have to protect how I cook it. Definitely a family favorite though.

  • Reply
    Chef Gary
    March 19, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it!

    I think I may add this to the notes of the recipe.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    My second attempt at this delicious dish was a little better. Here’s what I did different:
    – Used skin-on drumsticks
    – Sauted the chicken longer
    – Drained more of the oil after sautéing the chicken
    – Did not use the whole can of Coconut Milk
    My result is closer, but I still have too much moisture. I have been using extra virgin olive oil. I think I need to invest in grape seed oil. Does it get hotter?
    I also think I end up with too much liquid left over when I use the juice from a whole grapefruit. When I put the juice in the pan it doesn’t sizzle frantically right away. It just kind of sits there like my own isn’t hot enough. So I drained a lot of it out and didn’t add the entire can of Coconut Oil.
    This dish is DELICIOUS even though I haven’t perfected it yet.

  • Reply
    Chef Gary
    April 2, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    A couple things.. I never use extra virgin olive oil for cooking. Believe it or not, when you heat extra virgin olive oil, it loses all it’s “good for you” properties and turns to trans fat. I only use it in salad dressings and such for this reason. We do buy regular olive oil for sautéing, but grape seed oil is much better for high temperatures. So to answer your question – EVOO cannot get hot enough without burning.

    Question for you… Once you add the chicken, before you put it in the oven, do you bring it back up to the boil first? When I put it in the oven, I make sure it is bubbling A LOT. That’s the only way to get the sauce to reduce down to the creamy goodness you’re looking for. For this reason, I like to start with plenty of liquid, so that it doesn’t evaporate before the chicken is done.

    Also, you are definitely using coconut milk, right? Not coconut cream.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    • Reply
      April 3, 2017 at 6:40 am

      Oh wow! I never knew that about olive oil. I will get some grape seed oil. I looked for it at the grocery store yesterday and couldn’t find any. I’ll check Publix.
      This go-round I did bring the chicken back up to a very nice boil. My end result was MUCH closer to what your picture looks like. The chicken was not dry, the outside was very crispy and the sauce was not runny. I will check to make sure I used coconut milk. I did notice that is was thicker than I expected it to be when I opened the can. That may be my issue!
      For anyone following this post…this recipe really is very easy to make! LOL! It doesn’t take long at all and the mix of sweet and spicey is absolutely perfect.

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