Learn how long to boil chicken legs to get perfectly tender, moist, and flavorful chicken every time. Grab our tips on how to quickly add flavor to bone-in chicken legs while boiling. Serve as is or brush with your favorite sauce and broil to crisp the skin.
Boiled and ready to serve in just 30 minutes, boiled chicken drumsticks make a great choice for a weeknight dinner meal, party appetizer or game day snack. There are so many different ways to easily flavor chicken legs making it a staple go to dinner option. From barbeque and buffalo sauce to dry rubs and seasoning blends, we can’t wait to share all our favorite ways to boost flavor.
Boiling is a quick and easy cooking method to create tender and juicy chicken. Not only can you learn how to boil chicken but we have created guides on How To Boil A Whole Chicken, How To Boil Chicken Breasts, and How To Boil Chicken Thighs. Read along to learn new ways to cook chicken that your family will enjoy!
Table of Contents
How Long Does It Take To Boil Chicken Legs?
Boiling chicken legs typically takes around 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken legs and the level of heat applied. It’s essential to ensure that the chicken legs are thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.
Here’s a general guideline based on different sizes and cooking conditions:
- Small to medium-sized chicken legs (around 2-3 ounces each) might take approximately 15-20 minutes of boiling.
- Larger chicken legs or if they’re being cooked from a frozen state might require 25-30 minutes or more.
It’s crucial to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. Once it reaches 165°F, regardless of the time it took, the chicken legs are safe to eat. Adjust the cooking time accordingly for frozen or larger pieces.
Remember to maintain a gentle simmer, not a rolling boil, to prevent the chicken from becoming tough or overcooked on the outside while still being undercooked inside.
- 2.5 pounds chicken legs
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons salt
- fresh sprigs thyme and sage optional
- 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
How To Make Boiled Chicken Drumsticks
- Prepare the Chicken and Stockpot:
- Take the chicken legs and place them in a large stockpot.
- Add a handful of peppercorns and a suitable amount of salt for seasoning. Optionally, toss in some fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or parsley to infuse flavor into the chicken.
- Add Water and Bring to a Boil:
- Pour enough water into the stockpot to cover the chicken legs by about an inch. This will ensure they’re submerged adequately for cooking.
- Put the stockpot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Cook the Chicken:
- Let the chicken legs simmer for about 20 minutes. Cooking times might vary based on the size of the chicken legs, so it’s advisable to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
- The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165°F (74°C), ensuring it’s thoroughly cooked and safe to eat.
- Preheat the Broiler:
- As the chicken is finishing cooking on the stove, preheat your broiler. This will allow the chicken to get a nice, crisp finish under high heat.
- Crisping the Chicken:
- Place the cooked chicken legs onto a wire rack set into a baking sheet. This setup helps air circulate around the chicken, aiding in even crisping.
- At this stage, you have the option to leave the chicken legs as is for a natural flavor or enhance them by brushing with BBQ sauce or any preferred sauce for added taste.
- Broiling Process:
- Put the baking sheet with the chicken legs under the broiler. Keep an eye on them as they broil, turning occasionally if needed to ensure even browning.
- Allow the chicken to broil for 3-5 minutes or until the skin starts to turn a lovely golden brown and gets crispy.
- Once the chicken is appropriately browned, remove it from the oven.
- Let the chicken legs rest for a minute or two, then serve them hot.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Regardless of the part of the chicken you are boiling, be cautious when adding to the water to prevent spillage or splashing for food safety concerns.
- Always cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Wipe down all surfaces after handling raw chicken.
- Discard fresh herbs after chicken is completely cooked.
- To cook evenly, do not overcrowd the stockpot with chicken but instead boil in a single layer.
- Cover the stockpot with a lid when boiling.
- Add enough water to cover all the chicken at least once inch above.
- The larger selection of fresh herbs, spices and vegetables that are boiled in the water, the more flavorful the chicken will be.
Ideas for Sauces and Seasonings
BBQ sauce is just one of the sauces to brush onto chicken legs prior to serving. Check out all these sauces and seasoning blends then pick your favorites.
- Easy Buffalo Sauce (Gluten-Free)
- Homemade Lemon Pepper
- Chicken Taco Seasoning Recipe
- Chicken Seasoning Blend Recipe
- Homemade Orange Chicken Sauce
- Easy Chicken Seasoning Recipe
- Gluten Free, Soy Free, Homemade “Everything” Seasoning/Rub
- Homemade Thai Seasoning Blend (Thai Spice Mix) Recipe
Frequently Asked Questions
Chicken legs take just 20 minutes to boil from fresh or 30 minutes from frozen. The best way to ensure it is cooked completely is to cook until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F. When using a meat thermometer to test the temperature, always insert the probe into the thickest part of the chicken leg.
Let cooked chicken legs cool completely then store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, reheat in the oven or microwave in increments until hot.
Without even knowing it, you have created a homemade chicken broth in the stockpot! Use the broth to make a homemade gravy or store to use in later recipes. For an even more flavorful broth, add carrots, celery sticks and onion slices to the water when boiling.
The correct internal temperature for cooked chicken, including chicken legs, should reach a minimum of 165°F (74°C) to ensure that it is safe to eat. This temperature is considered safe by food safety standards to kill harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, which might be present in poultry. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature by inserting it into the thickest part of the chicken leg without touching the bone. When the thermometer reads 165°F (74°C) or higher, the chicken is safe to eat.
Let cooked chicken legs cool completely then store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, reheat in the oven or microwave in increments until hot.
Kids In The Kitchen
Cooking tips and suggestions for kids making this recipe.
- To test the temperature of the chicken, insert a meat thermometer into the thickness part of the chicken thigh. If under 165°F, keep boiling.
- Broiling is a high heat cooking method that can be used for crisping. It is a great option when looking to crisp the skin on chicken.
- Top chicken thighs with barbecue, hot sauce, siracha, buffalo or your favorites sauce.
- Chicken can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
More Chicken Recipes
Keep all these chicken recipes in mind the next time you are searching for a family-friendly meal!
- Baked Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole
- Baked Chicken Thighs
- Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie
- Old Fashioned Boiled Chicken and Rice
- Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast
CKC Features both Gluten-Free Guidance and Kids Cooking Instructions: If you’re new to eating gluten-free we understand it’s overwhelming trying to figure out which foods may contain gluten and which ones don’t. All of our gluten-free recipes marked with this symbol ✅ represent foods that need to be checked for gluten or cross-contamination.
The ⭐️ symbol in the recipe below denotes the steps in which kid cooks may need a helper (depending on age). If there is no ⭐️ symbol, that step (or recipe) doesn’t require a helper.
How to Boil Chicken Legs
- 2.5 pounds chicken legs ✅
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons salt
- fresh sprigs thyme and sage optional
- 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce ✅
- Combine the ingredients. Place the chicken, peppercorns, salt, and fresh herbs if using into the large stockpot. Add enough water to cover the chicken legs by about an inch.2.5 pounds chicken legs, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, 2 teaspoons salt, fresh sprigs thyme and sage, water
- ⭐️Cook. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Preheat broiler.
- ⭐️Broil. To crisp skin place chicken legs onto a wire rack set into a baking sheet. Broil as is or brush with BBQ sauce or your favorite sauce. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until chicken starts to brown. Serve hot.2 tablespoons BBQ sauce