Chicken legs are often one of the least expensive cuts of chicken. Coincidentally, they are also my favorite part on a rotisserie chicken because that dark meat is just so juicy and tender! Since I loooove rotisserie chicken, I decided to try to make Oven Roasted Chicken Legs that were close in texture to the moist and tender rotisserie chicken that I so love. How would I accomplish that? Low and slow heat, my friends. Low and slow.
Oven Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters
How to Keep Roasted Chicken Moist
When meat is cooked slowly at a low temperatures it stays juicy and tender. The connective tissues soften and break down into a tasty gelatin. The whole process is meat magic. You’ll also want to cover the meat tightly to prevent moisture from evaporating, and baste once or twice while the chicken legs baste. Easy enough!
What Temperature Do you Roast Chicken Legs at?
The method I use requires two phases: a low 300ºF for one hour (that’s the “low and slow” part), and then finishing off the chicken without a cover at 425ºF for about 30 minutes to crisp up the skin. This two phase method gives you the best of both worlds–tender juicy insides and crispy brown skin.
Can I Use Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts?
This low and slow roasting method is designed for bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces only. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cook much faster and will dry out using this method. For instructions on how to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts, see my recipe for Garlic Herb Baked Chicken Breast.
How Do You Season Roasted Chicken Legs?
As far as seasonings go, you can use just about anything! I used my favorite blend du jour, lemon pepper seasoning, but you could also use any of these seasoning blends:
- Poultry Seasoning
- Chili powder
- Steak seasoning
- Curry powder
- Taco seasoning
- Cajun seasoning
- Chipotle pepper
- Herbs de Provence
There are so many options. I smeared my chicken skin with a little butter first, which also makes a huge difference. That little bit of creamy butter mixed with the chicken juices made the most incredible sauce ever. Sure, you can use olive oil or coconut oil instead, but butter… yeah, butter is just special.
What Do You Serve With Roast Chicken?
These Oven Roasted Chicken Legs go great with: Vinaigrette Slaw with Feta, Spinach and Feta Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli Cheddar Casserole, or Lemony Cucumber and Couscous Salad, Roasted Carrot and Feta Salad.
Oven Roasted Chicken Legs
- 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs ($4.20)
- 1 Tbsp butter (room temperature) ($0.11)
- 1/2 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning* ($0.15)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly coat the inside of a casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, then smear butter over the surface of the skin. Sprinkle the lemon pepper seasoning liberally over both sides of the chicken pieces. Place the seasoned chicken in the casserole dish.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for one hour at 300ºF. Baste the chicken once half way through. After one hour, remove the foil, baste again, and turn the heat up to 425ºF. Continue to bake the chicken at the higher temperature for 20-30 minutes, or until the skin has achieved the desired level of brownness. Serve with the juices spooned over top or with bread for dipping.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Oven Roasted Chicken Legs – Step by Step Photos
Since I’m trying to buy higher quality meat while staying in budget, I have to be really careful about what cuts I buy. These chicken legs were $2.99/lb., which is good for this particular store. I bought four whole legs (thigh and drumstick connected), and froze two for later.
The two that I froze I simply wrapped back up very tightly in the plastic and wax paper that they came in, then sealed it off in a quart sized freezer bag (labeled and dated, of course).
Anyway, back to the two that I cooked for the Oven Roasted Chicken Legs… Preheat the oven to 300ºF and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Smear about 1 Tbsp of room temperature butter over both pieces (1 Tbsp total, not per piece). Then season each side liberally with lemon pepper seasoning, or your favorite seasoning blend. Place the seasoned chicken in a casserole dish coated with non-stick spray.
I love this stuff because it’s kind of a one-stop-shop. It has salt, pepper, and lemon, which is my FAVORITE. Anyway, regardless of what seasoning you use, make sure to be aware about whether or not it has salt. If the seasoning is salt-free, you’ll want to add a pinch or two to the meat.
Cover the dish tightly with foil, then bake in the preheated 300ºF oven for one hour. Baste the chicken half way through (spoon the juices over top). After an hour, the meat should be quite tender, but the skin will be soft and blonde, like the photo above. To achieve that nice brown crispy skin, remove the foil and turn the oven temperature up to 425ºF.
Bake the chicken for an additional 20-30 minutes at the higher temperature (you can leave it in the oven as it heats up to the higher temp), or until it develops the level of brownness that you like on the skin.
The liquid that ends up in the bottom of the casserole dish is PURE GOLD. It’s like, one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, so don’t let that go to waste. I like to spoon it over whatever I’m serving the chicken with (if serving with rice or pasta), or serve some bread to sop it up. You can also pour it into a skillet, add a little white wine, and simmer it until it’s reduced to make a delicious pan sauce. Something about that butter, lemon, and pepper is just per-fect.
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This was awesome! Perfectly crispy skin, fall-off-the-bone tender meat. I don’t think I covered mine tightly enough, though, because there wasn’t much liquid at the bottom of the pan. Oh well, still delicious as is! And so versatile – I just used plain ol’ salt & pepper this time, which was plenty flavorful, but this could work just as easily with garlic salt, za’atar, Cajun spice blend, or any of the other mixed you mention above. Another winner! (I’m struggling not to make the obvious “winner winner, chicken dinner” joke here, because this makes one hell of a chicken dinner!)
Used this many times, and really happy with the recipe.
Of course, I change it a bit, like everybody else.
45 mins at f130, then 20 mins at f200
Use Italian seasoning as spices, and never bother to baste or turn. Just bung it in the oven and let it get on with it!!
This was delicious & my entire family (2 teenage boys) loved it. I used 4 leg quarters, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, & paprika. Followed instructions exactly using a 9 x 11 casserole dish. Made sure the foil covering was nice & tight, lots of gravy to pour over mashed potatoes. Thank you so much! Will definitely be making this again. BTW, cheapest meal I’ve made in a while, found leg quarters for $0.99/lb & a 5 lb bag of russet potatoes for $1.29- score!
Im used to putting a bit of water at the bottom of pan. No need?
I did not add water to mine. :)
DELICIOUS! cant believe it took me so long to try this recipe
I made this for the first time tonight, and outside of switching up the seasonings, stuck to the recipe. I’m never cooking chicken legs any other way.
Mine didn’t have enough juices to baste with, and I had 4 legs, and 4 times the butter (I misunderstood the butter part). I also missed the part about adding salt if the seasoning didn’t have any, but despite this, it was great. I imagine it will be better when I make it again tonight, following the directions more closely.
Oh yeah. Finger licking great! This came out just as you said. I cut the chicken off the bone for my husband and licked my fingers. Wow I use butter kosher salt fresh ground 5 berry peppercorn and herbed de province. Great! Thank you.
Thank you SO much for putting the recipe first and the steps after! When I bookmark a great recipe (like this one :-) I want to find the recipe straightaway. Well done! I’m baking right now, actually!
I’m not being intentionally mean, but when you discuss and review a recipe, consider the fact that people are human. They’re probably standing in their kitchen. When you speak of connective tissues and gelatin, it’s just gross. Duh… Not trying to hurt your feelings but just think about it…
Doesn’t bother me when she uses those words. I’m fully aware of what I’m eating when I’m eating meat.
does not bother me either.
Oh no! Sciencey words! There are probably some kid-friendly cookbooks out there if these basic terms are putting you off.
Who starts off saying they’re not intentionally being mean and ends what they have to say with “duh”?
You’re right. It wasn’t mean. It was rude and tasteless. Who hurt you?
Grow up Shannon.
Seems strange that you find it gross to be aware of what in fact you will be putting inside your body… those nutrients are exactly what give the body many of its building blocks! Our human bodies aren’t gross, why should any nutrients be considered as such??
This is hilarious. When reading this comment, it sounds like a pre-teen wrote it. Connective tissue, muscle, bones, blood vessels, cartilage, skin, sometimes feathers are ALL things you’ll come into contact with when making this dish, IN the kitchen. Your comment was unnecessary. Pick a new recipe.
I’ll be trying this recipe tonight and can’t wait!
You are eating an animal, accept it or don’t eat meat.
I have to admit I had the opposite reaction… in fact “connective tissue” was part of the search string I used. I was looking for recipes with enough cook time to let the connective tissue soften and the leg quarter to become fully tender.
Too easy for words! It was perfect! Do let the chicken legs come to room temperature first. I used herbes de Provence but everything else was the same. There is no need to baste in the first hour. The legs were large so I added another 10 minutes (40) uncovered and basted twice during that time. I used the juice to cook my zucchini with, and sopped up some sauce with whole pita bread. Everything was delicious!
Tried yesterday , raiding the freezer for things to add to a risotto and found some chicken legs. Tried this method including using the pan juices to add to the stock. Chicken was tasty, juicy and had that lovely soft stickiness. The only change was the seasoning, we don’t have lemon pepper seasoning in UK (or at least I have never seen it) so used just plain old salt and pepper. Thanks, this is going to become a regular recipe.
Hello, I have made this dish a few different ways as well, I also added veggies like onions or carrots and potatoes and no matter how or what I add to this dish it turns out perfect and so yummy. Easy to prepare and so delicious.if u add a little bacon to this dish just for extra flavor. The explosion of goodness in your mouth will keep you coming back to this dish.