In this ruthless world, a warm crockpot filled with home-cooked goods is a stable point.
Some say that a crock pot is a lazy person’s sous-vide. Still, we’re the “Throw it in a crock pot and leave it alone” types of people.
It is meant to reproduce an old Jewish tradition with meat and veggies; you couldn’t cook from Friday night through Saturday. Still, you needed to eat something.
Unless you’re vegetarian, chicken drumsticks can be a cheap and seamless crock pot dinner. Most people fry them, but this can pack so much more flavor!
We’ll help you pick supreme chicken leg crockpot recipes to enjoy after a busy day and come home to find it fully cooked.
Slow Cooker Chicken Legs – on a whim
Our end goal is to crisp up the skin and outer layer of the drumsticks while the meat tenderly falls apart from the bones.
Chicken legs are delicate, thin, and juicy, but easy to overcook. Let’s start with a wild and surprising flavor pairing.
1. Soy Sauce & Coca-Cola Crockpot Chicken
Get the recipe: moneysavingsisters.com
It sounds off, but you’ll get an unforgettable meal with some coke and soy sauce. Smother those chicken legs in them, and forget about the calories.
Keep in mind to use regular Coca-Cola, as diet coke won’t caramelize and tenderize the drumsticks.
Set them on low for 6 hours, and go about your day. When serving, plain rice and a handful of chopped green onions will fool anyone that you’ve ordered some fancy restaurant dish.
After a peculiar treat, we’ll head onto well-known territory with some chili and lime.
2. Slow Cooker Chili & Lime Drumsticks
Get the recipe: eatingonadime.com
Chili & Lime is like cookies and milk; they go hand-in-hand.
They are cheap, easy to make, and bold tasting. There’s nothing bland about it.
Toss those chicken legs into the crock pot with minced garlic, chili powder ( we prefer green chilies), lime juice, brown sugar or honey, and some plain oil (try to get your hands on some avocado oil).
Serve them with some fresh cilantro, a side of buzzing salsa, and pineapple rice. ( * )
Talking about pineapples…they can turn up chicken drumsticks like crazy.
3. Slow Cooker Brown Sugar- Pineapple Chicken
Get the recipe: dinnerthendessert.com
Pineapple on a pizza is a big NO. However, on some chicken legs, yum!
The fusion of crispy chicken, tangy pineapple, and caramelly brown sugar is mouthwatering.
It’s far from a plain Hawaiian chicken; the Worcestershire sauce and garlic elevate it into something far better.
We suggest you dump some semi-dry white wine, white pepper, and orange zest into it. That’s how you turn a simple meal into a complex, prime course.
And what about the side dish? The recipe suggests coconut rice, but some buttery roasted potatoes are a match too.
4. Slow Cooker Chicken Drumsticks with Beer
Get the recipe: 4hatsandfrugal.com
You’ll learn something new today: the original beer chicken is a traditional Czech recipe, and this is a western copycat.
Among the chicken leg crockpot recipes, this one is the best for a game night or a weeknight special.
They are best roasted with small potatoes to get you a whole meal in one cooking.
Toss some black pepper, chicken legs, light beer, thyme, and bay leaves into a crockpot, and cook them for 5-6 hours on high.
As per the original Czech recipe, you should complete it with white ground pepper, ginger, cumin, and garlic.
We think the paprika doesn’t truly match the taste profile of the recipe, so you could leave it out as well.
Besides choosing the ingredients, there is much more to making the best crockpot chicken legs possible.
Tips and tricks to elevate and customize the recipe
We like our chicken legs crispy and caramelized; a soggy chicken is a sad byproduct of an unskilled home cook.
But most food lovers complain about their chicken turning into a soggy pile after slow cooking.
So how do you avoid that? The secret is Maillard reaction: ( * )
- As we mentioned earlier, finish the chicken legs under the broiler or in the oven for a few minutes.
- Get a metal rack that fits into your slow cooker, and use it for the last hour of the cooking time. Elevating the meat from the juices will get you the desired crispiness, especially with the lid off.
- Without some sugary substance, it’s hard to caramelize any element. Glazing, like honey, apple cider, vinegar with sugar, or any sweet coating, will help you get the job done.
- When you cook chicken drumsticks in a crockpot, never remove the skin. It keeps the chicken moist and lets you sear the edges.
Instant Pot recipes call for a slurry with cornstarch, but Crockpot recipes call for a flour-based thickening agent. Why is that?
- In most cases, these are interchangeable, knowing how they both act. A cornstarch slurry will get you a cleaner-tasting gravy with more shine and smoothness.
- However, you need to heat cornstarch to at least 203F before it starts thickening. Flour-based agents thicken at a lower temperature, and you generally need about twice as much to condense the same amount.
- A crockpot doesn’t reliably get liquids up to 203F to activate the cornstarch, hence why those recipes tend toward flour and not cornstarch.
- Cornstarch loses much of its thickening power over extended cooking; making a roux with cornstarch isn’t recommended.
- A roux is more for making gravy, while a slurry is for slightly thickening a sauce already made-like a stew’s liquid.
These were the two most common paint points of crockpot cooking chicken legs.
But there are still many questions left unanswered here.
How long do the chicken legs last?
Cooked chicken legs can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Freezing them is also a viable option. This way, the cooked chicken legs will be good for another 2 months.
However, once thawed, never refreeze meat, cooked or raw.
Can I put raw chicken in the slow cooker?
Yes, you can bake raw chicken of all cuts in the slow cooker. In fact, crock pots were designed to slow cook raw meat of any kind.
With the correct cooking times, it will be perfectly safe to eat. This is also true for frozen meat. However, you need to add more cooking time and start on high heat for the first 1-2 hours to kill the bacteria and toxins.
Can you overcook chicken in a slow cooker?
It’s easy to overcook chicken in the slow cooker. Stick to the given instructions and cooking times.
Overcooked chicken is a tough, leathery slice of dry mess. We’ve covered many ways to avoid overcooking chicken in a slow cooker in the tips and tricks section. Use them all!
How long does raw chicken take in the slow cooker?
The cooking time of chicken depends on which part you’re making:
- Breast – 2-3 hrs on low
- Thigh filets – 3-4 hrs on low
- Wings – 4 hrs on low
- Bone in chicken pieces like drumsticks and thigh cutlets – 4-5 hrs on low
- Whole chicken – 6 hrs on low
These cooking times are for raw, thawed meat. For frozen ones, add another 1-2 hours of cooking time, starting out on high heat.
Each peek by removing the lid adds another 30 minutes to the overall cooking time. Count that in!
If you’re cooking raw, thawed meat, start on low for 2/3/rd of the cooking time. After that, take off the lid, and let the sauce thicken and the meat brown a little on high heat.
How do you know when the chicken legs are done?
You can make sure the chicken legs are safe to eat by measuring the internal temperature with a thermometer; it should be at least 165°F.
The juices should run clear, with no blood in sight. Shredding it with a fork, the meat should fall apart effortlessly and not stick together.
Preferably, you’ll want to sear the outside of the chicken, and following the cooking times and instructions, the chicken legs will be perfect.
Why is my chicken soggy in the crockpot?
Using the crockpot with the default mode, tossing everything in, and leaving it on low for 6 hours, you’ll never get crispy skin on any meat.
Slow cookers trap moisture and braise everything down. You’ll need dry and high heat to create a Maillard reaction and sear the skin. ( * )
Pre-searing them and removing the lid to let the liquid evaporate can get you a sturdier chicken leg in the crock pot.
Wrapping it up
Cooking chicken legs in a crock pot, as easy as it seems, can get you wildly different results.
Kitchen snobs often say that crock pots are for rookies to create forgettable meals. However, pro chefs use them too, even in some restaurants, to make mesmerizing plates.
With the variety of tricks we suggested, your chicken legs will come out flavorful and tender from the crock pot.
We want you to have fun and experiment with cooking without ruining a bunch of ingredients first.
Glaze, Crockpot, and Broil your chickens!