Chicken legs are fast and flavorful. But if you start with frozen ones, defrosting could add quite a bit of prep time. Good news: drumsticks can be safely cooked in the oven from frozen. However, there are a couple of important points to keep in mind—cooking temperature and seasoning.
Things You'll Need
Cooking Frozen Chicken
Thawing chicken presents a lot of opportunity for bacteria to breed. Cooking it from frozen removes this risk, as the meat cooks while thawing. This method is especially convenient if you only need to cook one or two legs. Cooking chicken legs from frozen just requires upward of 50 percent more cooking time.
Seasoning Frozen Chicken
Chicken legs can’t be coated or seasoned in a frozen state. Season them with a marinade or dry rub prior to freezing. If you’re pressed for time and didn’t do this, partially defrost the legs in the microwave for one to two minutes on the defrost setting. This thaws the exterior while keeping the interior frozen. Coat the legs with seasonings and immediately bake them.
Baking the Chicken Legs
Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the legs in an oven-safe pan along with any liquid, seasonings, or root vegetables. A good blend is olive oil, crushed garlic, oregano, marjoram, and lemon juice. Add potato and carrot pieces as you like. Another option is a mix of white wine, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic. Place the pan with the chicken in a center rack and cook for 50 to 60 minutes. Skin-on chicken legs self-baste so leave the legs untouched until cooked.
Checking for Doneness
Use an instant-read thermometer to test chicken for doneness, since internal temperature is the only accurate way to know when meat is cooked. Chicken is safe to eat at 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part of the leg; do not touch the bone when taking a reading. When cooked, chicken turns white and firms up and the juices run clear. However, in young chickens, the meat near the bone may stay pink when fully cooked. The veins in the legs also sometimes leak dark-colored blood, even when the meat is fully cooked.