How To Boil Chicken Legs (drumsticks)

Let me show you how to boil chicken drumsticks. Boiled chicken legs are tender, flavorsome, and juicy, and you can use them in so many different ways.

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how to boil chicken legs

Boiled chicken drumsticks

Chicken legs are my favorite parts of the chicken and I use them in my cooking a lot. We love Pan Fried Chicken Drumsticks and the Oven-baked rice with drumsticks recipe. They are delicious, kid-friendly, and much cheaper than chicken thighs or chicken breast.

You can enjoy the boiled drumsticks freshly cooked or use them in many other recipes. Let’s have a look at what we will need to make them.

Ingredients for boiled chicken legs

how to boil chicken legs ingredients
  • Chicken drumsticks. Always opt for a free-range, or if you can afford, organic chicken. Chicken legs are usually very cheap, so that shouldn’t break the budget.
  • Onion. I prefer a simple brown onion. Do not cut it, just take off the first layer of skin and put it in a pot.
  • Carrot. I always add a carrot when cooking chicken. It adds a little sweetness to the chicken stock.
  • Bay leaves. Bay leaves are very flavoursome so only one or two small leaves will be enough.
  • Peppercorns. 3-4 black peppercorns are a great way to add those immune-boosting compounds and level up the flavor.
  • Garlic. If you are a fan of garlic, add one or two garlic cloves. This is however totally optional.
  • Herbs (optional). You can add fresh herbs such as parsley or rosemary if you like the flavor.

How to boil chicken legs

Cooking chicken drumsticks is easy and very straightforward.

  • Place clean chicken legs in a saucepan.
  • Add onion, carrot, peppercorn, bay leaves and salt.
  • Add enough cold water so that the chicken and vegetables are covered, about 2-3 cm (1 inch) above the meat.
how to boil chicken legs
how to boil chicken legs
  • Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and immediately lower the heat to very low. If you cook chicken on high heat, it will become tough and rubbery. There is no need to rush when boiling chicken.
  • Let the chicken simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken legs. Smaller legs will need less time to cook than large ones.

How long to boil chicken drumsticks

How long to boil chicken legs will vary depending on the size of the drumsticks and whether you are using fresh or frozen drumsticks.

  • Fresh drumsticks will take about 20-30 minutes to cook.
  • Frozen drumsticks will need 30-40 minutes.

There are a couple of ways you can tell if the chicken legs are done boiling.

  • Once the cooking time is over, using a fork or a sharp knife, poke the chicken. If the meat comes from the bone easily, the legs are cooked.
  • Or use an instant meat thermometer to check if the chicken is cooked. Chicken is done cooking when its internal temperature reaches 165ºF (75ºC).

How To Store Cooked Chicken Drumsticks

I like to store cooked chicken legs in the stock they were cooked in. Put the drumsticks in an airtight container, and add enough stock to cover the meat. This way you can keep the chicken in the fridge for up to three days and the meat will stay tender and juicy and won’t dry out.

❄️ Freezing

If you want to freeze the cooked legs, put them in freezer-safe containers or bags, and freeze them for up to 3 months.

❄️ How to defrost cooked chicken legs

The best way to defrost the cooked chicken meat is to let it defrost naturally in the fridge overnight. Reheat on the stovetop and enjoy.

how to boil chicken legs

What to do with the liquid the chicken legs were cooked in?

Do not through it away! This is perfect chicken broth and you can use it in many recipes. A chicken soup cooked with this broth will be delicious. It is also much cheaper and healthier than the store-bought variety. My kids like to have a cup of chicken stock with a teaspoon of soy sauce.

How to serve boiled chicken legs

Cooked chicken leg meat is very versatile and can be used in many different ways. Try my Chinese chicken salad or Easy roasted chicken salad recipe, or use shredded chicken for tacos and sandwiches. I like adding cooked chicken to soups for some extra protein.

Recipe FAQ

Why is my boiled chicken rubbery?

You cooked it at a too-high temperature. The secret to juicy, tender chicken is a gentle boil. The liquid should only bubble a little while is cooking.

Can you boil frozen chicken legs?

Yes, you can, it will take a little longer to cook than fresh chicken. But always check if the chicken is fully cooked, the cooking time varies.

How do you know when chicken is done without a thermometer?

Poke the chicken with a fork or knife and see if the juice coming out is clear. If the liquid is red or pinkish, the chicken is raw and needs to be cooked longer.

How long to keep the raw chicken in the fridge?

It is safe to keep the raw chicken in the fridge for a day or two. If you are not planning on cooking it today or tomorrow, simply freeze it until needed.

Have you tried this recipe? If so, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could leave a star rating and share your thoughts in a comment. Your feedback means a lot to me, and it can also help others who are interested in trying it out. Thank you! 🌟👩‍🍳
boiled chicken legs recipe

How to boil chicken legs (drumsticks)

Elena Elliott
Boiled chicken legs are delicious and are a great addition to your weekly dinner routine. This recipe will show you step-by-step how to make the most tender and juicy chicken legs in only 30 minutes.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course dinner
Cuisine European
Servings 6 servings


  • 6 chicken drumsticks preferably free-range or organic.
  • 1 brown onion. Only peel off the first outer layer.
  • 1 medium-size carrot, washed and peeled.
  • 2 small bay leaves.
  • 3-4 peppercorns.
  • 1-2 garlic cloves. Optional
  • Fresh herbs such as parsley or rosemary optional


  • Place the chicken legs in a medium-size saucepan, so that all pieces are in one layer.
  • Add the onion, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and garlic (if using).
  • Add just enough water to cover the chicken and vegetables.
  • Bring water to a boil and lower the heat down to low immediately.
  • Let the chicken simmer for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Do not let it boil, it will make the chicken meat dry and rubbery.
  • Let the chicken legs cool down a little before handling.
  • Enjoy!


  • Always add aromatics like onion, carrot, celery, or bay leaves for extra flavor in your broth. Toss in fresh herbs like thyme or parsley for a touch of freshness.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is cooked through. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the drumstick.
  • For best results avoid boiling chicken drumsticks at high temperatures.
  • Boiled chicken drumsticks make excellent leftovers. Let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze them for longer storage.
Keyword boiled chicken legs, cooked chicken
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  1. 5 stars
    Delicious and moist! And they turned out perfect even though it was the first time I ever boiled chicken legs. Shredded them, mixed with char siu sauce and stuffed our bao buns with it! Super delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    These turned out perfectly! They were tender and juicy – great for an easy dinner for our family!

  3. 5 stars
    This was such a quick and easy way to prepare drumsticks! Enjoyed these for dinner tonight and they didn’t disappoint! The perfect dinner for a busy night, indeed!

5 from 5 votes

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