BBQ Chicken Drumsticks in the Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Drumsticks are tender and juicy, and they’re practically hands-off. Add some BBQ sauce and crisp the skin under the broiler for the perfect finishing touch.

bbq chicken drumsticks on a white platter with minced parsley

With this easy BBQ chicken drumsticks recipe, I know I’ve got a winning dinner that will please even my pickiest eaters. I love serving them with delicious comfort food like Creamy Scalloped Corn Casserole or Hasselback Potatoes. My favorite simple veggies round out the meal.

Ingredients and Substitutions

The ingredients are super simple, and you likely have all the spices in your pantry already. I use my simple Chicken Seasoning to add flavor to the chicken and skin, then drench them in BBQ sauce.

Seasoning: You can use any seasoning you like; you don’t have to use mine just because it’s my favorite. Sometimes just simple salt and pepper will do that trick. Whatever you use, make sure it compliments your sauce choice.

chicken drumsticks in a slow cooker with seasoning

BBQ Sauce: I definitely have my favorites here but you can choose any flavor you like. I prefer something that’s both sweet and spicy or sweet and smoky, like Sweet Baby Rays.

How to Make BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Pat chicken dry. One of the most important things to remember when cooking chicken, whether in the slow cooker, oven or grill, is to make sure they are dry. You don’t want any added moisture or the skin will just be soggy. You should also trim any skin that’s hanging off or extra thick.

Season. Rub the spice blend all over the drumsticks, even under the skin if you want.

BBQ sauce ’em. Brush your favorite sauce on the chicken drumsticks.

drumsticks in a slow cooker with bbq sauce

Slow cook the BBQ Chicken Drumsticks. Cover the crockpot and cook until the internal temperature reaches about at least 160-165 degrees. If you are planning to broil, you can transfer them when they reach 155 degrees.

Optional broiler step. Even though it’s optional, I highly recommend broiling your drumsticks. Line a sheet pan with foil and arrange the chicken on it. Place the pan under the broiler until the skin is nice and crispy, but watch closely do it doesn’t burn. The skin gets crispy, the insides stay juicy and the bbq sauce gets all caramelized and sticky – it’s so so delicious!

sheet pan with foil, chicken drumsticks with bbq sauce

Expert Tips and FAQs

  • Resist the urge to peek – keep the lid on so the heat stays inside the cooker.
  • You can choose to leave the skin off or remove it before cooking. Broiling the chicken skin side up will help it get crispy. If you remove the skin, you can skip the broiling.
How long do chicken drumsticks take in the slow cooker?

It takes about 3-4 hours on high heat and 5-6 hours on low heat for chicken drumsticks to cook in a slow cooker. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should read at least 160 degrees, or 155 if you’re going to broil them. Depending on your particular slow cooker, the time could vary slightly.

How to Reheat BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

The easiest way to reheat chicken drumsticks is in the microwave. You do have to be careful because the microwave heats from the inside out and the bone will be incredibly hot.

If time permits, turn on your oven to 400 degrees and place the drumsticks on a foil-lined sheet pan. Brush on just a little bit of BBQ sauce to keep them from drying out, and bake for 10 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes. This should return your chicken to its former glory.

slow cooker with bbq sauced chicken legs

Serving Suggestions

There are tons of side dish options that will go great with BBQ Chicken Drumsticks. Some are light and healthy, and some will definitely satisfy your comfort food cravings!

How to Store Leftovers

Place leftovers in a container and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven using the method described above. Or store them in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.

chicken legs with bbq sauce on a white plate

More Delicious Chicken Recipes

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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks are tender and juicy and practically hands off in your slow cooker. Crisp under the broiler for the finishing touch.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 13 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 410kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 pounds chicken drumsticks skinless or skin-on
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups BBQ sauce divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Pat chicken drumsticks dry with paper towels. Trim excess skin (remove the skin if you like).
  • In a small bowl, combine seasoning mix.
  • Arrange chicken in a 6-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle seasoning over the drumsticks, tossing to coat. Brush 1 cup BBQ sauce onto the chicken.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees F.
  • Optional step: Turn the broiler on in your oven and place the oven rack in the top third of your oven. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick foil and arrange chicken skin side up on the baking sheet. Brush with more BBQ sauce and broil until the skin begins to brown and crisp up; about 3-5 (5-8) minutes.
  • Garnish with green onion if desired just before serving.

Notes

Feel free to use your favorite bbq sauce. I am partial to Sweet Baby Rays.

Nutrition

Calories: 410kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 28gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 1526mgPotassium: 581mgFiber: 1gSugar: 32gVitamin A: 449IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 51mgIron: 2mg
Keyword bbq chicken drumsticks, slow cooker drumsticks

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Made these the other night. They were great. Loved the bbq sauce, so easy too. Will definitely make again! Thanks, Kristin.

  2. I always thought that in order to cook in the crockpot, we needed a liquid. Im reading that is not the case here? I’m excited to try this recipe!