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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