BBQ Chicken Drumsticks- THM, Paleo, InstantPot or oven

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendlyThis BBQ Chicken Drumstick recipe filled my house with the most amazing smell this weekend. I’m so excited to share this recipe with you, mainly because it’s THE best chicken leg recipe that I’ve EVER tried. Seriously. Drumsticks are very affordable, and I’ve done my share of baking techniques and spice rubs and my kids have sort of kind of tolerated my drum stick meals.

But THIS is, as my husband put it, “the way we should fix them from now on.” So there you have it.BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks is straight from Dr. Karen Lee’s book Easy Paelo Instant Pot Recipes: nutritious pressure cooker recipes for busy families, and shared with permission.

easy paleo instant pot recipes

Instantpot or Oven Chicken Recipe

I’ve been hearing all about the love affairs that my friends are having with their Instant Pots. I’m pretty sure I need one. NEED. Because I live in the world’s smallest kitchen, and if I could replace my yogurt maker, rice maker, crock pot, AND pressure cooker with one amazing, stainless steel lined wonder cooker, then that totally needs to happen. And it WILL happen. But not this day.

But I DID get 3 packages of organic chicken legs on sale, and I needed…NEEDED these BBQ Chicken Drumsticks today. So I’m including the (takes 3x as long) oven directions below as a second printable, below Dr. Lee’s recipe for using the Instant Pot. So we all win.

One thing I totally love about her cookbook is that she walks you through the different models of Instant Pots that are available, and gives lots of tips and tricks that she’s learned from using hers. I love kitchen gadget tips from experts! :) The difference between her Instant Pot recipe and my oven style is mainly time. Her recipe is ready within less than 3o minutes, while mine cooks for a little under an hour to achieve the crispy skin. But you can see from the photos below that both look AMAZING! (Instant Pot on the left, and oven baked chicken on the right)bbq-chicken-drumstick-recipe-comparison

Dr. Lee’s recipe calls for 2 pounds of chicken drumsticks. That’s about 5-6 nice sized drumsticks, like you see here. Since I don’t yet have an Instant Pot…like I mentioned <hint, hint, husband who reads my blog!>, I’ll share my 3 easy steps for making this in the oven below.

Using the Oven for Crispy Drumsticks

These do take more time in the oven, but the prep work is so simple.

  1. Step one for oven baking: don’t rinse the chicken, and pat the legs dry. And don’t marinate or baste with oils. This will yield crispy, crispy skin!
BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly


2. Next, I mixed up Dr. Lee’s seasoning mix. Oh. My. Heart. It’s so very simple, and I did make a few kid friendly tweaks to lower the spiciness (see my notes below) but MAN alive the spices are incredible. In my oven version, I went ahead and applied the spice rub before putting them into the oven.
BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly

3. After coating them with the rub, I laid the legs on a cookie sheet lined with foil (for easy clean up) and fitted with a metal rack. Which you should spray or oil to make clean up easier. Elevating the drumsticks off of the pan makes them crispy all the way around. So that’s it…that’s all you have to do besides sliding them into a hot oven.
BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly

Speaking of the delicious rub, the recipe makes enough to coat around 7-8 pounds of drumsticks. I used a spoon to sprinkle the rub over the chicken, and then rubbed it in by hand instead of dipping the drumsticks into the dish. You could also dump the rub into an old spice bottle, and sprinkle it on, and you’ll have plenty left for the next time you make this recipe. BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly

The Secret To Tender Drumsticks

So, in my reading, I discovered why my past attempts to make chicken drumsticks has been less than stellar. I was cooking them until the meat was done, but NOT long enough or at a high enough temperature to break down all of the connective tissue. So there were unpleasant strings and cartilage features that my kids would not overlook. Fine. #pickykids

But with THIS recipe, I finally nailed it. Cooking it at a high heat, and to an internal temp of 185*, the drumsticks had crispy skin, and were fall off the bone tender with NO strings or unpleasant features!

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly

Boom. They were perfectly perfect. This is what 2 pounds of drumsticks looks like. And that’s like an appetizer plate for my Hoss sized 14 year old son.
I tripled the recipe to feed my family of 6, and to have planned leftovers.
BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly

My younger kids are really sensitive to spice, so I served theirs with Ranch Dressing to disguise the slightly spicy rub. My older crew loves the burn, so I served a side of Frank’s hot wing sauce for them to enjoy. Hooray for pleasing everyone AND for a delicious no sugar BBQ! BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly

I caught my clean up crew still sampling after lunch. Teenage boys can EAT! I know there will be a rush on the leftovers…they sometimes try to wake up early enough to snag the good stuff for BREAKFAST. Because: teenage boy. #sendmorefood

I forsee many more pans of these lovelies in our near future. Print or pin below to save a copy of the recipe!

BBQ Chicken Drumstick Recipe & Pin

To Pin!BBQ Chicken Drumsticks that pack a flavorful punch in the Instapot or in your oven! Paleo & THM friendly

Instantpot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
A delicious and quick way to enjoy dry rub barbecue chicken legs!
  • 2 lbs of Chicken drumsticks
Memphis Style Dry BBQ Rub
  • ¼ cup sweet paprika
  • 4½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons celery salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  1. Add ¾ C of water in the Instant Pot®
  2. Place the trivet inside
  3. Place the chicken drumsticks on the trivet.
  4. Close the lid tightly and close the vent.
  5. Press “POULTRY” and set the time to 20 minutes
  6. Preheat the oven to Broil.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  8. When the timer goes off, release pressure naturally, NPR.
  9. Open the lid and take out the drumsticks and coat them with the
  10. BBQ rub evenly.
  11. Place the drumsticks on the lined cookie sheet.
  12. Broil the drumsticks for 2 minutes per side or until the skin is
  13. browned. Be careful not to burn them.
  14. Serve immediately.

Oven BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This Paleo and THM friendly drumstick recipe really wowed my family with flavor AND tenderness! You can't get simpler than this. The spice rub is enough to cover about 8 pounds of drumsticks. This would be a THM S recipe, because drumsticks are a dark, fatty meat.
Serves: 2-4 servings
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks (5-6 drumsticks)
Spice Mix (see my notes for lowering the heat)
  • ¼ c. paprika
  • 1½ tablespoons black pepper, ground
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon cayenne
  • ½ tablespoon granulated or powdered garlic
  • ½ tablespoon dry mustard
  • ½ tablespoon cumin powder
  1. Preheat oven to 425*
  2. Line a baking pan with foil and set an oiled rack on top for best, crispiest results.
  3. Do not rinse chicken, for crispiest skin. You'll be cooking it to such a high temp, it will be sterilized. :)
  4. Pat drumsticks dry.
  5. Combine spices in a small bowl or jar, and sprinkle over the drumsticks, rubbing it all over to coat.
  6. Place drumsticks with the fat sides facing out onto the rack.
  7. Bake until the meat registers 185* with a meat thermometer. This took about 55 minutes in my oven.
  8. Enjoy!
I altered Dr. Lee's spice mix from her cookbook Easy Paleo Instant Pot Recipes as follows:

I subbed out 1-2 tablespoons of smoked paprika for the 4 tablespoons of sweet paprika called for (4 tablespoons is ¼ cup)

I used only 1 tablespoon of black pepper to pull the heat back

I subbed a less spicy pepper mix (a dry Franks Hot Sauce seasoning) for the cayenne.

This recipe is a THM S main dish, since chicken drumsticks are a healthy dark meat fat source.

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  1. says


    • says

      Hi Laurie,
      The internal temp should be ***185***…thanks for catching that! I updated the text and the recipe.
      As far as the rub goes, I shared Dr. Lee’s recipe as she wrote it, with most of the measurements in teaspoons.
      For my oven version, I just converted the amounts to half Tablespoons, since that was easier for me to measure with, but they should be exactly the same otherwise. I did (as I usually do) make some tweaks that I noted to make the spice blend suit my family. :) Rubs are really flexible, so you can tinker with the amounts and spices easily.

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  3. Patty says

    Question: If you triple the recipe for the Instant Pot, would you also triple the water? (Obviously you would triple the other stuff)

  4. Chenin says

    Just made this recipe tonight and the consistency of he chicken was awesome but the salt level was wayyyyyyyy to much! Is it really supposed to be 1 tablespoon?

  5. Amy H says

    I’m new to THM and today is my first full day on the plan. I had some chicken legs I was going to use in a recipe from the THM book but never got the Greek yogurt. I have read a lot of your recipes and plan to use many of them! I thought I’d look at your blog for a way to cook the chicken legs and found this recipe. I did them in the oven, using your recipe blend. I ate two and would love to have a third but I’m making myself stop! They were so good!!! Crispy skin and not too spicy! This is a keeper!! I’m looking forward to a snack and lunch tomorrow of leftover legs! Thank you so much!!!

  6. Lacie says

    I made these tonight and am super happy with how they turned out. However, we should have only cooked 1/2 of the amount of chicken we bought.

    With double what we need, even with leftovers, I was wondering if it would be any good frozen and n baked later?

    • says

      I think the internet ate my reply. :) You can marinate the chicken with spices rubbed in, but the steam in the pot will turn it to mush. The beauty of the spice rub is that turns into a crispy outer coating after baking. :)

  7. Amy says

    Just curious why you wouldn’t season the chicken before putting it in the instant pot? Does the chicken meat even have flavor? I have drumsticks in the freezer and will definitely use this recipe but I’m tempted to put the rub on before going into the IP and then maybe a little more before going into the broiler. Thoughts?

    • says

      Hi Amy! The rub gets steamed off in the IP…it’s really more of a crunchy coating, which is why you add it afterwards. If you do the whole process in the oven, you may get even better flavor!