You can already taste that crispy, perfectly fried drumstick. But how long do you need to fry chicken legs? Too little time in the hot oil leaves your chicken undercooked with the potential for food poisoning, but overcooking leaves the chicken dry and burnt. Strike the perfect balance by timing it right and using the right tools.
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Chicken Drumstick Fry Time
An average 4- to 6-ounce chicken drumstick takes about 12 to 14 minutes of deep-frying or 20 to 25 minutes of shallow frying, plus two minutes of rest time, to fully cook. Breading doesn't affect cooking time, so feel free to load up those drumsticks with your favorite coating or deep fry chicken legs with no batter.
You can cook drumsticks from a frozen state, but it'll take a little longer to reach that ideal doneness. Add five to seven minutes of cooking time when frying frozen drumsticks.
Pan Selection and Oil Temperature
The pan you choose can affect how long it takes for pan fried chicken drumsticks to finish cooking. Lightweight or aluminum pans don't conduct heat evenly and cause the oil temperature to fluctuate. That can cause uneven cooking and increase the chicken drumstick fry time.
Only use a Dutch oven or cast-iron pan for deep-frying. When deep-frying, the depth of the pan needs to be twice that of the oil level to prevent the splatter that can start grease fires. Shallow frying also requires a heavy-bottomed pan; stainless steel and cast-iron work best.
The oil temperature to fry drumsticks should be between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the chicken. A deep-frying thermometer or a high temperature instant-read thermometer lets you easily measure the temperature of the cooking oil to make sure it hits the target range.
Preparing the Drumsticks
If you toss cold drumsticks into the oil, the temperature drops significantly. That increases your cooking time, makes the chicken cook unevenly and makes it nearly impossible to get the chicken crispy. Give the drumsticks about 30 minutes at room temperature before breading and frying them.
Determine drumstick doneness with an instant-read thermometer. After 11 minutes of deep-frying or 22 minutes of shallow frying, insert an instant-read thermometer in the thickest portion of meat without touching the bone. It should measure about 160 F.
Remove the chicken from the oil and let it rest for two minutes to finish cooking. The temperature will continue rising during this time. It should reach the recommended internal temperature of 165 F to ensure it's safely cooked through.
Frying and Baking Method
If you don't want to fry the drumsticks the entire time, you can start them in the hot oil and then transfer them to the oven. Pan fry the drumsticks until they're golden brown to get a good crisp. Roast them in the oven at 425 F for 20 minutes to finish the cooking process.
Check the doneness with an instant-read thermometer just as you would if you fried them entirely. Finishing the drumsticks in the oven frees stove space so you can work on side dishes or get a jump on clean up.
Finishing up the Drumsticks
When the drumsticks reach the minimum internal temperature, pull them out of the oil with metal tongs. Avoid laying the drumsticks on paper towels to drain them. Laying chicken on paper towels creates steam and causes the skin to lose its crispness.
Instead, put a wire rack over a baking sheet. Place the cooked chicken drumsticks on the rack. The grease can drip down onto the baking sheet for easy draining without the chicken sitting in the grease. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch the oil for easier cleanup.
Serve the chicken drumsticks right away. They're also safe to serve warm at room temperature for up to four hours after cooking. If you want to keep them warm until serving, pop them in the oven set to the lowest heat setting. You can also reheat them in the oven.