These crock pot chicken drumsticks are a game-changer! With this recipe, you’ll end up with tender, juicy meat that’s infused with a sweet and tangy flavor. They’re then broiled till they’re perfectly crispy for a delicious crunch in each bite. These are the best homemade drumsticks!
If cooking bone-in chicken has always intimidated you, then this recipe is what you’ve been looking for. The technique of slow cooking and then broiling the drumsticks guarantees that they’ll be fully cooked but will be nice and juicy. Plus, you’ll have complete control over the crisp factor.
Broiling them not only gives the drumsticks a lovely, caramelized exterior but it also amplifies the flavors of the marinade, making each bite absolutely delicious. And if you’re looking for another drumstick recipe, don’t forget to check out these grilled chicken drumsticks.
This recipe has become a family favorite of ours. A cousin of mine made them for a party and I asked for the recipe. I love the combination of slow cooking and broiling to make them an easy recipe to make!
Table of Contents
Why I Love This Recipe
- Easy to make: This recipe is incredibly straightforward. All you need to do is whisk together the honey, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, add the drumsticks or wings, and let the slow cooker do the rest.
- Quick: With 10 minutes of prep and the crockpot doing the heavy lifting, this recipe is a time-saver. The final broiling step adds a nice touch of crispiness and can be done in just 6 minutes.
- Family-Favorite: The sticky and sweet flavor of these drumsticks is a hit with both kids and adults alike. The tender, flavorful chicken makes this a dish that everyone in the family will love.
- Versatile: This recipe works well with either drumsticks or wings, so you can use whatever you have on hand. Plus, the flavors are neutral enough to pair with any side dish, be it rice, potatoes, or green beans.
- Crowd Pleaser: This slow cooker drumstick recipe is sure to be a hit at your next gathering. It is not only delicious but also looks great, making it a perfect dish for entertaining.
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- Honey: This ingredient will add a sweet flavor to the dish, also giving it a nice glaze when cooked.
- Light Brown Sugar: It provides a rich, deep sweetness that compliments the honey and other spices and sauces used in this recipe.
- Balsamic Vinegar: This will give your drumsticks a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, adding depth to the overall taste of the dish.
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce: This will add a savory and umami flavor to your drumsticks, balancing out the sweetness from the honey and sugar.
- Minced Garlic: Garlic will infuse the dish with a strong, pungent flavor that goes well with the sweetness of the honey and brown sugar.
- Ground Ginger: This will add a warm and slightly spicy flavor to your drumsticks, pairing well with the other ingredients.
- Drumsticks and/or Wings: These are the star of the dish. Sticky and sweet chicken drumsticks made in the slow cooker and then made crispy in the oven could not be easier. The drumsticks will become tender and juicy, absorbing all the flavors of the marinade. Wings can also be used for a smaller, bite-sized option.
- Bowl – You will need a bowl to whisk together the honey, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. This bowl will serve as your mixing station for creating the sweet and tangy sauce that gives the chicken its irresistible flavor.
- Crockpot – This piece of equipment is essential for this recipe. The slow cooker allows the chicken drumsticks or wings to marinate and cook in the honey mixture for several hours. This slow cooking process makes the chicken incredibly tender and allows the flavors to fully penetrate the meat.
- Baking Pan – Once the chicken is fully cooked in the slow cooker, you’ll need to transfer them to a baking pan. This pan should be lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray to prevent the chicken from sticking.
How to Make Crock Pot Chicken Drumsticks
Begin by gathering all your ingredients and make sure your slow cooker is in good working condition. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and use a cooking spray to prep it. This will help prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan during broiling. Set aside for now.
Step 1 – Make the Marinade
Start by whisking together honey, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. This combination will create a sweet and tangy marinade that will give your chicken drumsticks or wings a burst of flavor.
Step 2 – Marinate the Chicken
Next, add your drumsticks or wings to the slow cooker. Pour the honey mixture you prepared in step 1 onto the chicken and mix well to guarantee that each piece is thoroughly coated in the marinade.
Step 3 – Cook the Chicken
Set your slow cooker on high and let it cook for 4 hours. Be sure to toss the drumsticks or wings at the halfway point to guarantee even cooking and flavor distribution.
Step 4 – Prepare for Broiling
Once the chicken is fully cooked, carefully remove the drumsticks or wings from the slow cooker. The internal temperature should reach 165°F when measured with an instant-read meat thermometer, not touching the bone. Transfer them to the prepared baking pan.
Step 5 – Broil the Chicken
Place the baking pan in the oven and broil the chicken for 3 minutes or until it turns brown. Then turn them on the other side and broil for another 3 minutes or until browned. This step will give your chicken a crispy exterior while keeping the inside tender and juicy. Your crock pot chicken drumsticks are ready to serve!
- Line your pan for easy clean-up: Before broiling, line your baking pan with foil sprayed with cooking spray. This prevents the chicken from sticking to the pan and makes clean-up incredibly easy.
- Watch the broiling closely: Keep a close eye on the chicken when it is under the broiler. It should be browned and crispy, but be careful not to let it burn.
- Make it Sweet and Spicy: If you love a combination of sweet and heat, this variation is for you. Add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the honey sauce mixture. This will give your chicken drumsticks a spicy twist that perfectly balances the sweetness of the honey.
- Add Smoky Flavor: If you are a fan of smoky flavors, consider adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika to the marinade. This gives the chicken a subtle smoky flavor which beautifully compliments the sweetness of the honey.
- Go for Garlic: If garlic is your thing, add an extra teaspoon of garlic powder to the sauce. This will give your chicken drumsticks a rich, aromatic garlic flavor that is simply irresistible.
What to Serve With
- If you’re longing for a hearty dinner, pair these sweet and sticky drumsticks with a side dish of fluffy instant pot rice. The mild flavor of the rice will balance out the bold, savory-sweet flavors of the drumsticks.
- Craving greens? Serve these drumsticks with a side of sauteed green beans. The crunchiness of the beans adds a delightful contrast to the tender chicken.
- For a classic combo, try pairing these drumsticks with baked sweet potatoes. The natural sweetness of the potatoes compliments the honey-balsamic glaze on the chicken, creating a balanced and satisfying meal.
- For a rustic, homely touch, serve these drumsticks with a side of creamy mashed potatoes. Sprinkle some cheese on top for an extra burst of flavor. You can even serve it with some baked mac and cheese.
- Leftover chicken? Shred the meat off the drumsticks and use it as a protein-packed topping for a chicken and veggie stir-fry the next day.
- And lastly, for a fun twist, use the leftovers to make a delicious chicken sandwich for lunch. Just add some lettuce, tomatoes, and a drizzle of honey mustard sauce, and you’ve got yourself a tasty meal.
You should cook the chicken in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours. Make sure to toss the drumsticks or chicken wings at the halfway point to guarantee even cooking.
Broiling the chicken after slow cooking helps to create a crispy, browned exterior. It adds an extra layer of flavor and texture to the tender, slow-cooked chicken.
Yes, you can. While this recipe calls for drumsticks or wings, you can also use chicken breasts or chicken thighs. However, you may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
These drumsticks pair well with a variety of side dishes. You could serve them with rice, potatoes, green beans, or any other side dish you prefer.
Storing and Reheating
- Refrigerate: Store your leftover slow cooker drumsticks in an airtight container in the fridge. They will stay delicious for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: Unfortunately, this recipe for slow cooker drumsticks doesn’t hold up well in the freezer once cooked due to the change in texture. However, you can freeze the raw, marinated drumsticks on a baking sheet, and then transfer them to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before following the cooking instructions.
- Reheating Instructions: To reheat, place the drumsticks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and warm them in the oven at 375°F until they’re heated through. This will also help to crisp up the skin again. Alternatively, you can reheat them in an air fryer for a quick and easy option.
- Thawing Instructions: If you’ve frozen your marinated, raw drumsticks, let them thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. This will guarantee that they cook evenly and retain their tender, flavorful quality.
- What to Expect: Using 4 pounds of drumsticks and/or wings, you can expect to serve around 6-8 people, depending on the size of the drumsticks.
- How to Scale: If you’re expecting a larger crowd or simply want leftovers for the next day, you can easily double this recipe and follow the rest of the instructions as directed. Just make sure your slow cooker is large enough to accommodate the increased quantity. If it is not, you can cook in two batches.
Sticky and Sweet Chicken Drumstick Recipe In the Slow Cooker
- 1/2 Cup honey
- 1/2 Cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 Cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 Cup low sodium soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 pounds drumsticks and/or wings
- Whisk together honey, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a bowl.
- Add drumsticks/wings to the slow cooker. Pour the honey mixture onto the drumsticks/wings and mix well.
- Cook on high in the slow cooker for 4 hours. Toss the drumsticks/wings at the halfway point. Chicken should be at an internal temperature of 165˚ F when fully cooked.
- Once fully cooked, remove the drumstick/wings from the slow cooker and add to a baking pan that is lined with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Broil for 3 minutes or until browned. Remove the drumsticks/wings from the oven and turn them on the other side.
- Broil the other side for 3 minutes or until browned. Serve warm.
Looking for another simple chicken recipe? You will love this Freezer Recipe Chicken Tetrazzini!
Originally shared January, 2014.