Oven Roasted Chicken Legs – either thighs, drumsticks, or even whole; can be the easiest dinner one can make when the time is scarce. 5 minutes prep time is all you’ll need.
I decided to make this very easy Oven Roasted Chicken Legs recipe for the blog because a number of people have asked me how to cook a simple chicken in the oven. For some of you this may seem fairly basic, but I know of more than a few vegetarians out there struggling to cook meat for their families. And if you’ve ever under/over cooked a chicken, perhaps this can be a help.
There are number of questions and concerns that I often hear, like:
- Which parts of chicken should I use to roast it in the oven?
- When it comes to legs, should I use thighs, drumsticks or whole legs?
- How long does it take to prep the chicken ready for the oven?
- Do I need to marinate the chicken before I put it in the oven?
- Does the chicken need to be brined before seasoning?
- What seasoning should I use to make a tasty chicken?
- Do I need to pan fry the chicken before I put it in the oven?
- Does the chicken need to be placed on a rack or in the oven proof dish?
- At what temperature should I roast the chicken?
- How long should the chicken stay in the oven?
- How do I know that the chicken is cooked through?
I know that almost everybody is now running into the New Year with a ‘best of intentions’ diet and I promise to have couple of posts lined up soon that will help people make smarter choices, but this Oven Roasted Chicken Legs was really something I was frequently asked about and so I needed to carve out a little space on this blog.
And hey, I know it’s not lean chicken breast meat, but it is still just chicken so maybe that can count as diet food, right?
Alright, let’s try to answer some of the above questions/concerns.
Which parts of chicken should I use to roast in the oven?
If I have a choice I will always go for the dark meat (i.e., the legs) as it is tastier and not dry at all. You may roast the chicken breast, but it can be tricky as it has a tendency to become very dry. This recipe for Baked Chicken Breast from Gimme Some Oven can be helpful if you want to go this route. For me chicken legs, either whole, thighs or drumsticks, is the way to go. As a matter of fact, one of these always finds its way onto our dinner table at least once a week.
When it comes to legs, should I use thighs, drumsticks or whole legs?
I love thighs and drumsticks, but whole legs are delicious too. However, if you chose to roast whole chicken legs, you’ll need more time in the oven. For this recipe for Oven Roasted Chicken Legs I used both chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks just because that was all I had at home, but you could go either way.
How long does it take to prep the chicken for the oven?
Literally, 5 minutes. I’m not joking. This recipe is very simple. The most difficult and time consuming part will be the peeling 2 cloves of garlic and either chopping them or pressing them through the garlic press. Then you just add very simple ingredients: olive oil, lemon juice and spices (salt, pepper, sweet paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, oregano and thyme). Mix & drizzle over the chicken. Done.
Do I need to marinate the chicken before I put it in the oven?
You don’t have to, but you can. It will definitely add flavor to your chicken. You can prepare the marinade with spices the night before, smother it all over your chicken and the next day simply put it into your oven.
Does the chicken need to be brined before seasoning?
I love brining the meat. It makes it so tender. You can read about brining the meat in this super popular post for Brown Sugar Pork Chops with Garlic & Herbs. However, it isn’t necessary to brine these chicken legs to make them super delicious. If you don’t have time, or you forgot to put it in a brine or marinade the night before….no big deal. Just smother the chicken with the spices, place them into your oven and enjoy this super simple, delicious dinner.
What seasoning should I use to make a tasty oven roasted chicken legs?
You can use any spices you’d like. For this recipe I choose to use: sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, dried oregano, dried thyme and salt & pepper.
Do I need to pan fry the chicken before I put it in the oven?
Nope. You don’t have to. The oven can do the whole job for you. However, if you want to achieve a super crispy skin, you can always do this. I wanted to present a very simple recipe that doesn’t require any “hand-holding.” Simply season the chicken and place in the oven. Easy peasy.
Does the chicken need to be placed on a rack or in the oven proof dish?
This recipe for Oven Roasted Chicken Legs is to be cooked in the oven proof dish like a casserole dish or even the cast iron pan. You could also make an “oven fried” chicken. This recipe from Cooking Light Magazine can give you some ideas.
At what temperature should I roast the chicken?
I recommend roasting the chicken at 425 F.
How long should the chicken stay in the oven?
Chicken thighs and drumsticks should be cooked for about 40-45 minutes. The whole legs will take approximately an hour.
How do I know that the chicken is cooked through?
The internal temperature should read 165F. Make sure to measure the temperature in the middle of the meat part of the leg and not close to the bone.
I hope this little guidance will help anyone who is struggling with roasting chicken legs. I really love this simple and super quick Oven Roasted Chicken Legs recipe. It can make any week night dinner a breeze.
You can serve it with:
- Greek Spinach Rice and Feta
- Parmesan Spinach Orzo
- Dill Mashed Potatoes with Brown Butter
- Potato Leek Casserole
Oven Roasted Chicken Legs
- 2 Chicken Thighs
- 4 Chicken Drumsticks
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 teaspoon Salt Himalayan or Kosher
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper Freshly grounded
- 2 cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon Oregano Dried
- 1/2 teaspoon Thyme Dried
- Pinch Cayenne Pepper
- 2 tbsp Butter optional for a crispy skin
Preheat the oven to 425F.
In a bowl combine: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika, turmeric, oregano, thyme and cayenne;
Place the chicken in the oven safe dish like casserole or cast iron skillet;
Pour the mixture over the chicken and rub it on both sides; (This can be done a night before and kept refrigerated before cooking);
Place the chicken skin side up and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika (for more intense color); Transfer the casserole to the hot oven.
Roast the chicken for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F;
After about 20 minutes of roasting you can add a little pat of butter on each piece of chicken for crispier skin. It is an optional step and can be omitted;
Once the chicken reaches 165 F remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
You can cook whole legs instead of thighs an drumsticks. The roasting time will be longer - approximately an hour.
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