Easy Baked Chicken Legs
If you have some chicken legs, or chicken leg quarters, in other words the thigh and drumstick attached, then you might be wondering how to cook them. I love to make easy baked chicken legs regularly.
The good news is this cut of chicken is not only economical but filling, tasty (because it is higher in fat than the chicken breast) and easy to cook. Although you can slow cook chicken legs, I nearly always bake them in the oven because this gets the skin really crisp, and that’s the best bit!
How to Get Chicken Skin Crispy on Easy Baked Chicken Legs
You will need to add salt plus some kind of fat to get the skin to crisp up. This doesn’t need to be butter or oil. If you want something lower in fat, consider spray oil. You only need a quick spritz of it. Choose chicken legs the same size, or close enough, so they cook evenly and have the same cooking time.
It’s up to you what else you add to this easy baked chicken legs recipe. You might wish to marinate the chicken legs first or add other herbs or spices, but they’re just as nice cooked plain, with simply salt and fat on the skin, because they have a lovely natural flavor, and you can serve them with any kind of side dish.
Chicken legs are also known as hindquarters and you can count on one per person. If you want to add more flavor, slip your fingers between the skin and meat and put a spice rub in there, drizzling the rest on top of the chicken. To make your own, mix the juice and zest of a lemon with 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of crushed fennel seed. This will be enough for 4 chicken leg quarters.
How to Make Easy Baked Chicken Legs
Cooking chicken legs is as easy as putting them on a rack over a shallow dish and baking them for 40 minutes or until they are done. Adding salt and butter to the skin is optional, as is adding other flavors.
If you have the oven at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) the chicken will take about 40 minutes, or you can have the oven at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and cook them for about 50 minutes. Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thigh without touching the bone.
If it reads 180 degrees F (82 degrees C) the chicken is done. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, either cut into the chicken and check there is no pink and the juices run clear, or see if the skin is pulling away from the bone. Those indicate the chicken is fully cooked and ready to serve.
What to Serve on the Side
One of my favorite ways to serve easy baked chicken legs is with a crisp salad. Try spinach leaves, strawberries, goat cheese, and walnut halves, with a little extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or even some ranch or blue cheese dressing. The result will be a very satisfying, low carb chicken legs dinner which everyone will love.
- 4 chicken leg quarters
- 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil (or spray oil if preferred)
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Rub the butter or oil over the skin, or spritz some spray-oil over it.
- Grind a little salt over the chicken.
- Put it skin-up on a wire rack over a shallow dish.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 180 degrees F (82 degrees F) and the skin is starting to pull away from the bone.
- If you want the top crispier, just broil it for a few minutes.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes, then serve hot, with your favorite side dishes.