Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Drumsticks is one of the simplest, most flavorful chicken chickens. You only need a few basic ingredients and these barbecue chicken legs come together effortlessly in the crockpot.
Crock-Pot BBQ chicken legs are coated in a sweet, sticky sauce that is bound to require a few wet napkins.
But oh is it worth the mess. These chicken drumsticks are tender, smoky, juicy, and just want all backyard barbecues should be made of–that and BLT Potato Salad, Old Fashioned Baked Beans, and Pasta Salad.
But because they are prepared in the slow cooker, this is the perfect recipe to have a taste of barbecue all year long–even on rainy days.
How to Make Chicken Legs in the Slow Cooker
The best part of this slow cooker recipe is that it makes BBQ Chicken Drumsticks so Easy!!
Step One: Rub the Chicken Legs with the spice blend.
I use a mixture of different seasonings, but you could also use homemade seasoned salt for a quick version of an easy rub for chicken.
Step Two: Cook Chicken Legs in Slow Cooker
Chicken drumsticks start off in the slow cooker where a dry rub infuses the meat and cooks the chicken through.
Chicken legs need 2-3 hours on high in a slow cooker or 4-5 hours on low in the slow cooker to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit–which is when poultry is considered safe to eat.
Step Three: Make homemade BBQ Sauce
A homemade BBQ sauce is made by bringing the ingredients to a boil and reducing the heat to a simmer until the barbecue sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.
Step Four: Broil or Grill Chicken Legs
Remove cooked chicken drumsticks from slow cooker and place on a broiler pan or baking sheet and spoon over sauce from slow cooker over chicken thighs. Broil 2-3 inches under high heat for 2-4 minutes. Watch the chicken legs closely, so they do not burn.
Step Five: Serve with Plenty of Napkins
The funniest thing is that while this is one meal designed to be messy, I think the kids make less of a mess with the barbeque drumstick than they do do with a PB&J–go figure.
More Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes
- Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken and Rice
- Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
- Slow Cooker Chicken Wings from Spend with Pennies
Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Drumsticks
- 12 chicken drumsticks skin on or off
- For the Rub:
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
For the Barbecue Sauce
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon chili powder optional
- Combine all the ingredients for the rub together in a small bowl and then and rub on chicken legs.
- Place in slow cooker. Cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.
- While the chicken is cooking, bring apple juice, tomato sauce, salt, vinegar, honey, and chili powder to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until thickened.
- Once chicken is cooked in slow cooker, preheat grill or broiler to medium high.
- Brush chicken with barbeque sauce and grill/broil until crispy, about 3-5 minutes per side.
- Serve with extra BBQ sauce on the side.
- If you don't want to make your own BBQ sauce, use your favorite store-bought brand in place of the homemade sauce. Be sure to still use the dry rub.
- If you don't like chicken skin, peel off the skin before rubbing with the spice blend, for skinless chicken legs. I still like to broil or grill the chicken legs for a few minutes on each side to give a golden exterior to the chicken legs.
- Instead of making homemade barbecue sauce on the stove, you could also mix together the ingredients and pour over chicken legs in the slow cooker and allow the sauce to cook in the slow cooker with the chicken drumsticks. I would then spoon the sauce over the chicken legs before broiling/grilling.