The Best Hot Chicken Drumsticks

Hot Chicken Drumsticks for Game Day

JUST LOOK AT THOSE SPECTACULAR LEGS! Chicken legs, that is. And they taste even better than they look. We like to call them Hot Running Back Legs for the football reference, but you can just call them Hot Chicken Drumsticks.

Game day requires spectacular food! These hot drumsticks will not disappoint! Bonus points for making food that doesn’t require silverware.

Are These Drumsticks Spicy?

Everyone’s tolerance for spicy food is different, of course. These have a little kick from the hot sauce and chili powder but aren’t super-hot. And the maple syrup gives these drumsticks a mildly sweet flavor too. You can use less spice than the recipe calls for if you like very mild food. But if you happen to be on the other end of the spice-loving spectrum, we have an add-on with the recipe below that allows you to ramp up the heat further if you choose.

Why Drumsticks?

Drumsticks are a great substitute for wings. They’re meatier and usually less expensive, and dark meat is more tender–and therefore more flavorful–than their white meat counterparts.

Ingredients You’ll Need

chicken drumsticks
vegetable oil
chili powder
garlic powder
black pepper
pure maple syrup
hot sauce
lime zest and juice

Grab These Tools

large zippered plastic bag
wire rack
rimmed baking sheet
aluminum foil
large bowl

Don’t wait for game day to make these. They’ll become highly requested for any day of the week, all year long. Enjoy!

This recipe makes just eight drumsticks, but you can easily double or triple this recipe to make as many as you need.

And to be certain there’s something for every taste, consider making one batch as written and a second batch using the hotter sauce variation.

NOTE: If you’re making the hotter version only, you won’t need the maple syrup, lime zest, lime juice, or minced garlic.

Hot Running Back Legs


8 chicken drumsticks
2 T. vegetable oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1¼ tsp. salt, divided
1¼ tsp. black pepper, divided
1 T. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 lime, zested & juiced
1½ tsp. minced garlic


Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a greased wire rack inside. Rinse the drumsticks and pat dry with paper towels.

In a zippered plastic bag, mix the oil, chili powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper. Add the drumsticks and shake to coat well; arrange on the wire rack. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the skin is crisp.

In a big bowl, stir together the maple syrup, hot sauce, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss the partially baked drumsticks in the sauce until well coated; return to the wire rack and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until no longer pink in the middle or the internal temperature reaches 165°.

For hotter sauce, mix ¼ C. melted butter, ¼ C. hot sauce, and 1 T. BBQ sauce and use in place of the maple syrup mixture shown in previous paragraph.

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