The secret to these juicy, flavor-packed baked chicken drumsticks is in the marinade! Loaded with Mediterranean flavors including lemon, garlic, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. This easy chicken dinner is perfect for any night of the week. Add a side of tangy tzatziki sauce, Greek salad, or roasted veggies.

Be sure to watch the video and read the tips below!

Baked chicken drumsticks with lemon and garlic

Chicken legs are of the most convenient, inexpensive ingredients for an easy dinner. And you'll love how versatile this baked chicken drumsticks recipe is.

These chicken legs with a pop of earthy spices including oregano, coriander, and cumin, is something you find in a Mediterranean kitchen. Pair it with a nice French chardonnay, and you’ve got yourself a show-stopping entree--on a budget!

Like my popular lemon chicken thighs, this juicy chicken pairs well with tzatziki for dipping along with a number of salads and sides--from mustard potato salad, Greek fries; baked zucchini; or a big three bean salad (lots more ideas below.)

Ingredients for baked chicken drumsticks with lemon and garlic

What’s in the chicken marinade?

The secret to juicy, flavor-packed chicken drumsticks is in the marinade, which is made of some Mediterranean pantry essentials like extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lots of fresh garlic and a few spices. Here's what's in it:

  • Oregano: this herb is native to the hills of the Mediterranean, so adding this gives a sense of terroir, or “taste of the place”.
  • Black Pepper
  • Coriander: ground coriander will add a nice warm and slightly nutty kick to the chicken drumsticks.
  • Sweet Paprika: is made from red peppers and add depth and slightly sweet, fruity flavor.
  • Cumin: I prefer ground cumin here for more concentrated flavor
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: lathering your chicken drumsticks in olive oil will keep them moist while cooking. I use my Private Reserve Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil which .
  • Lemon Juice: this tart lemon is what makes this marinade so fresh, just make sure to cup your hands under the lemon while you’re squeezing to catch any seeds.
  • Lemon Zest: for even more of a bright concentrated flavor, add lemon zest (I use this zester <-affiliate like)
  • Garlic: not only is fresh garlic good for your health, improving cholesterol levels and combating sickness, but it is straight up delicious on baked chicken.

How do I bake chicken legs so they’re not dry?

We all know the heartbreak of cutting into a piece of chicken we’ve lovingly cooked and realizing it’s too dry.

This is where a good marinade is key, keeping the chicken juice and making sure it is well-flavored. Extra virgin olive oil will keep the chicken moist as well as help the chicken carry the flavors. That is why you should make sure to massage the chicken with the spices and olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Even if you only have 30 minutes for the chicken to sit in the marinate, it will make a difference. And if you have time, let them marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Should I bake the chicken legs covered or uncovered? I recommend cooking them uncovered so that the chicken skin can get nice and crispy.

Should you remove skin from chicken before baking?

In this case, I prefer to leave the skin on the drumsticks until they are fully baked. This helps with flavor and also keeps the chicken nice and tender. Plus, I like to put the drumstick under the broiler briefly, which helps the skins crisp up for great presentation. I do remove the skin before eating the drumsticks, although those super crispy bits are super tasty. It's a matter of preference.

Step-by-Ste: How to cook chicken drumsticks in the oven

Step 1: Salt chickenPat chicken dry and season well with kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt<--affiliate link. If you use Morton's or another kind, watch as they are more salty.)

Tip: Be sure to lift the skin and apply salt underneath for best flavor. And if you have the time, arrange chicken drumsticks on a tray and chill in the refrigerator uncovered for a few hours. You can do this overnight.  This is a trick I use when I want the skins to crisp up really well the next day when I cook them (I talk about this salting trick here)

Chicken and marinade in a ziplock bag

Step 2: Place chicken in a large ziplock bag and apply marinade. 

Stir spices (oregano, black pepper, coriander, paprika, and cumin) together in a small bowl so they're well integrated and each piece of chicken will be coated evenly.  Add spices in the ziplock bag.

Add minced garlic and onion quarters (yellow, sweet or white onions will work). Zest two lemons (the white “skin” of the lemon should be revealed so they’re not yellow anymore). Add the zest in. Add the lemon juice from the two lemons. Then add at least ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, this pour of olive oil is what will help bring everything together.

Once everything is added, shut the ziplock bag shut well. Toss the chicken around and massage each piece to make sure it is well coated in the marinade.

TIP: allow time for the chicken to marinade--at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Make sure to shake the bag and flip it on different sides so that the marinade can distribute to each side leaving no chicken piece untouched.

TIP: If you are not sure where to buy quality olive oil and spices, please browse through The Mediterranean Shop online!

raw chicken drumsticks and lemon slices arranged in baking dish

Step 3: Arrange chicken in baking dish

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Yes, this will bake quickly and will remain juicy, while the skin crisps nicely.

Lightly oil a casserole dish with olive oil and arrange the chicken drumsticks. Pour the marinade on top.

Cut another lemon into round slices, remove the seeds and tuck each piece of lemon slices between the chicken. Trust me, a bit of crispy chicken with a caramelized lemon rind is heavenly!

Step 4: Bake

Place  the chicken dish on the middle rack of your oven. Bake in 450 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and internal temperature at the thickest part of a drumstick registers 165 degrees f.

TIP: if you want crispier skins yet, place chicken under the broiler very briefly (watch carefully so it doesn't burn.)

Baked chicken drumsticks with lemon and garlic. Parsley garnish

How long does it take for drumsticks to cook in the oven?

You will need a high temperature heated oven to cook these marinated drumsticks. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

If you want to turn them over on their opposite sides midway through cooking, that’s an option, but you can also leave them be for the whole 35 minutes, then stick them under the broiler very briefly if you're looking for even more color.

How can you tell when drumsticks are done baking?

Once baked or fully cooked, the chicken meat should be white. Also, the chicken juices should run clear, whereas at first before the chicken is fully cooked, the juices will be colored and may even be bloody. The surest way to know if your drumsticks are ready is to insert a meat thermometer (affiliate link) in the thickest part of the chicken (without touching the bone). When ready, chicken's internal temperature should register at least 165 degrees F.

Prepare ahead option

To save time, you can absolutely work ahead (one night in advance) on this chicken legs recipe.  One of the things I like to do is prepare the chicken and allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight, that way, it's ready to bake after a long work-day. It helps to take it out of the fridge for a bit before baking so it's not too cold and so it cooks more evenly.

Leftovers and storage instructions

If you have leftovers, let chicken cool completely before storing in airtight container. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 days.

If you want to freeze the cooked chicken drumsticks, place them in a freezer bag and put them in for up to 6 months. Thaw before re-heating and enjoy!

What to Serve along?

I shared a few options earlier for what to serve with this lemon garlic chicken. And really, it's the kind of thing you can serve with almost anything. Here are just a few ideas:

Salads: Mediterranean orzo saladkidney bean salad, 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad, Balela salad

Sides: Italian roasted veggies, Roasted Cauliflower, Greek potatoes, Skillet Zucchini

 

If you like this recipe, you should also check out my baked chicken thighs recipe. Browse all Mediterranean recipes and our collection of Mediterranean diet recipes.

SHOP OUR ONLINE STORE FOR QUALITY OLIVE OILS, ALL-NATURAL SPICES AND MORE.

4.82 from 160 votes

Baked Chicken Drumsticks with Lemon and Garlic

Suzy Karadsheh
Baked chicken drumsticks with lemon and garlic
The secret to these juicy, flavor-packed baked chicken drumsticks is in the marinade! Loaded with Mediterranean flavors including lemon, garlic, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil.
Prep – 15 mins
Cook – 35 mins
Marinating time 30 mins
Cuisine:
Mediterranean
Serves – 12 pieces
Course:
Dinner

Ingredients
  

  • 10 to 12 chicken drumsticks bone in, skin on
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 head garlic about 12 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion cut into wedges
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons + 1 lemon sliced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil I used Private Reserve Greek olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Pat chicken dry and season with kosher salt, be sure to season under the skin too. If you have the time, arrange the chicken on a tray or a shallow dish and chill in the fridge uncovered for a few hours or overnight (optional.)
  • Place the chicken in a large zip bag. In a small bowl, combine spices (oregano, black pepper, coriander, paprika, and cumin.) Add the spices to the chicken in the bag.
  • Add the garlic, onion, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Zip the bag shut. Toss chicken around and massage to make sure it is well coated in the marinade. Let the chicken marinate for about 30 minutes, or if you have the time, refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
  • When ready, heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Lightly oil a baking dish and arrange the chicken drumsticks (yes, include the onions and the marinade). Arrange lemon slices in between.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and its juices run clear (internal temperature of chicken should register 165 degrees F using an instant read thermometer).  If you like, broil for just a few minutes until skins are crispy to your liking.

Video

Notes

  • Cook's Tip: For best flavor, allow the chicken legs to marinate in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours, or 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Prepare ahead tip: To save time, you can absolutely work ahead (one night in advance) on this chicken legs recipe.  One of the things I like to do is prepare the chicken and allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight, that way, it's ready to bake after a long work-day. It helps to take it out of the fridge for a bit before baking so it's not too cold and so it cooks more evenly.
  • Leftovers: If you have leftovers, let chicken cool completely before storing in airtight container. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. If you want to freeze the cooked chicken drumsticks, place them in a freezer bag and put them in for up to 6 months. Thaw before re-heating.
  • Visit our Online Shop to browse Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils, spices and more!

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcalCarbohydrates: 0.8gProtein: 11.2gFat: 10.4gSaturated Fat: 2.2gCholesterol: 58mgPotassium: 155.9mgFiber: 0.3gVitamin A: 40.5IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 16.1mgIron: 0.7mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last night. Delicious, well cooked but juicy and full of flavor. I served it with rice and fresh green beans steamed.

  2. I made these along with the Italian roasted vegetables for dinner tonight! Yum. So delicious. I love your recipes. 😍

  3. 5 stars
    Chicken with Lemon and Garlic was very delicious. I used thighs instead of drumsticks and cooked them in the airfryer. Perfect quick dinner!

  4. 5 stars
    I love all of Suzy's recipes, but this one, this one got a plea for more from not one, but both of my awkward, eat like a sparrow 3 and 4 year old kids.
    Hats off to you and thank you for another top notch meal x

  5. I showed this recipe to my son and he made it for dinner using split chicken breasts (it's what we had on hand) and cooked them in the air fryer. They were wonderful! Loved the carmelized lemon with the chicken. Air fryer kept the chicken moist.

  6. 5 stars
    Beautiful recipe!! Can you share the baking dish you used? I love that it’s deeper than most. Thanks!

  7. 5 stars
    Made this tonite... OMG !!! it is soooo good!!! I'm very discerning and don't often give out top ratings (in fact, I rarely enjoy restaurants because what I cook is usually better), but this one is a winner.

    I reduced the recipe to 4 cuz its just the two of us; and used 2 chicken legs with back attached. Left the salted chicken to air dry in the fridge for 3 hours, then marinaded in spices and lemon mixture for 1 1/2 hours. Served with Greek lemon rice and Greek salad. Will definitely be making this again. Highly recommend you try this recipe ... and DON'T use chicken breasts, use dark meat. If the other recipes on this site are this good, I'm a fan for life, lol. Thank you so much for posting this recipe.

    1. Thank you for taking to time to leave this lovely review and feedback, Lou! I can't wait to hear what else you try!

  8. 5 stars
    Delicious! I marinated the chicken in everything but the lemon juice a night in advance, and squeezed it over the chicken about an hour before cooking. Turned out amazing!

  9. 5 stars
    Hi Suzy!

    Made this for dinner tonight, and it was SO good! I'll definitely be making it in the future and may try with thighs for company.

    This is the 3rd dish from your site I've made (Greek red lentil soup and Greek salad), and all were delicious! Looking forward to trying more recipes as I love all types of Mediterranean food. My grandfather was a chef and originally from Greece, but sadly, he died when my father was 7 so I missed out 😩!

    I purchased sumac for a recipe I wanted to make but forgot to bookmark which one, so I'll be on the hunt to find it. Looking forward to seeing what this spice is about.

    Thank you for sharing your recipes with others.

    ~ Melissa

    1. Hi, Melissa! So glad you are finding recipes that you enjoy here! Can't wait to hear what it is you try with the sumac! Just an FYI... it is also a great spice so sprinkle on eggs, salads, just to mention a few other uses :).

  10. 5 stars
    Suzy , yet another outstanding recipe! Every one of your recipes I’ve made has been wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and taking our family on a delicious Mediterranean journey. I look forward to making more.

    1. Hello! If you'd like to make this with chicken breast, I recommend checking out my Italian Baked Chicken recipe as a guide for cooking time. Remember, chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

  11. 5 stars
    My guests loved this dish and asked for the recipe. I substituted basil for oregano and added some Italian spice mix I have with crushed red pepper to give it a little heat. The tips to salt and refrigerate overnight and how to freeze leftovers were very helpful. I will definitely put this recipe at the top of my go to meal list. Thank you!

      1. Thanks Suzy. I tried freezing other chicken marinade recipes so I thought it would work but wanted to make sure.

  12. These were sooooooo good! I took them to a small potluck dinner party tonight and they were quite a hit. The only thing I have to remember for next time is to leave enough time for the broiling/browning step. I didn’t do it and the skin on the drumsticks was soft. I also won’t pour all the marinade into the baking dish either, that really kept the skin from crisping (don’t know what I was thinking!).

    I will DEFINITELY make these again. 😋

  13. 5 stars
    I made this today and OMG it was delicious. It will become a regular. Thank you for this recipe. I had to cut it in half and it was still great.

  14. 5 stars
    Made this using chicken thighs, really lovely. The thighs were soft and juicy, when the skin was taken off there was a fragrant Lemmon and spice flavour in the meat. Served with Greek roasted potatoes and a Greek salad. Definite winner.