These crunchy Lemonade Chicken drumsticks are a combination of tangy buttermilk chicken paired with a crunchy, zesty coating that is melt-in-your-mouth perfect. If you’re craving a crunch that packs a punch, this chicken recipe is for you.
Lemonade Chicken Recipe
The chicken has a crunchiness and a zesty lemon flavor, complemented by a subtle touches of spice. The Panko crust preserves the meat’s succulence and enhances its taste in a really good way.
Related: Bisquick Oven Fried Chicken
This fall-off-the-bone baked lemonade chicken drumsticks recipe is one I’ve been making for years. It’s a dish family and friends are always happy to see on the table.
Related: Brined Chicken Drumsticks
While these drumsticks are perfect when served immediately after being baked, they are also so great to take on a picnic or to the beach.
Ingredients for Finger-Lickin’ Lemonade Chicken
These sassy ingredients team up to create the most finger-lickin’ lemonade chicken you’ve ever tasted. Full recipe is available at the end of this post.
- Lemon Zest: The grated outer yellow part of the lemon peel adds intense citrus flavor and aroma to the chicken, enhancing its zesty profile.
- Fresh Lemon Juice: The juice extracted from fresh lemons adds a tangy and refreshing brightness to the marinade.
- Golden Brown Sugar: This natural sweetener balances the tartness of the lemon and adds a subtle caramel note, contributing to a well-rounded flavor profile.
- Buttermilk Skin-on Chicken Drumsticks: The drumsticks are soaked in buttermilk, which helps tenderize the meat and infuses it with a tangy richness. The skin adds the crispy and flavorful element to the finished dish.
- Salt and Pepper: These classic seasonings enhance the taste of the chicken by adding depth and balance to the flavors.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: The light and airy texture of Panko breadcrumbs creates a crispy coating for the chicken, adding a crunch to each bite.
- Dried Thyme Leaves: Thyme adds an earthy and aromatic flavor to the chicken, complementing the tangy lemon flavors with a subtle herbal note.
- Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper adds a hint of heat and spice to the chicken, balancing the tanginess and providing a pleasant kick.
- Mayonnaise: A creamy binder, mayonnaise helps the Panko breadcrumbs adhere to the chicken while adding moisture and richness to the final result.
- Olive Oil Cooking Spray: The cooking spray helps achieve a crispy texture by evenly coating the chicken and promoting browning during the cooking process. It also helps reduce the need for excessive oil.
Related: Spicy Garlic Chicken
Cooking Perfect Drumsticks
Knowing the ins and outs of drumstick cooking will help ensure your chicken turns out absolutely delicious, every, single time.
Why Do Chicken Drumsticks Take So Long to Cook?
Drumsticks have a higher bone-to-meat ratio compared to other chicken cuts. This bone density and the presence of connective tissue contribute to longer cooking times. The slow and steady cooking process allows the flavors to develop, resulting in tender and delicious chicken drumsticks.
How Do I Know if Drumsticks Are Done?
The easiest and most accurate way to determine if your drumsticks are cooked thoroughly is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, without touching the bone. The internal temperature should reach a minimum of 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption. I like to remove my drumsticks when they’ve reached 160°F as they will continue cooking on the baking sheet for several minutes after removing them from the oven.
Is it Possible to Overcook Drumsticks?
Yes, overcooking drumsticks can result in dry and tough meat. It’s important to follow the recommended cooking time and temperature for tender and juicy drumsticks.
If you happen to have any leftovers, proper storage is crucial to maintain their freshness.
Allow the chicken to cool down completely before storing it. Place the drumsticks in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in foil or plastic wrap. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Reheating Drumsticks to Regain Their Crispiness
- Preheat your oven: Set your oven to 375°F (190°C) allowing it to fully preheat. This higher temperature will help re-crisp the chicken skin.
- Prepare a baking sheet: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to make cleanup easier and so the chicken skin does not stick to the baking sheet.
- Place the drumsticks: Arrange the drumsticks on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure to leave some space between them to allow air circulation.
- Brush with oil: Lightly brush the drumsticks with a thin coat of cooking oil. This will help promote crispiness and prevent the meat from drying out.
- Reheat in the oven: Place the baking sheet with the drumsticks in the preheated oven. Allow them to reheat for about 10-15 minutes or until they reach the desired level of crispiness. Keep a close eye on them to avoid overcooking.
- Flip and broil (optional): For an extra crispy finish, you can flip the drumsticks once they’re heated through and briefly broil them on high for 1-2 minutes. This step is optional, but can enhance the texture and color of the chicken skin.
- Serve and enjoy: Once the drumsticks are crisp and heated to your liking, remove them from the oven. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.
Remember, reheated drumsticks might not be as crispy as when they were freshly baked, but this method will help restore some of their initial crispiness and enhance their overall texture.
Dazzling Sides to Amp Up Your Lemonade Chicken Feast!
Prepare for a flavor explosion with some zingy sides to go with your crispy lemonade chicken.
- The tangy and creamy dressing of rainbow macaroni salad coats the pasta, adding a burst of flavor to complement the lemonade chicken.
- Don’t be fooled by the simple and humble ingredients, this cucumber feta salad always steals the show.
- This cauliflower salad takes the place of your usual potato and pasta salads and has everyone coming back for second and even third helpings.
- Take full advantage of sweet summer corn and make of batch of this delicious fresh creamed corn to serve with your crunchy lemonade chicken.
- This easy pineapple coleslaw is going to remind you of summer all year long.
- Avocado three bean salad is the perfect side to serve with this chicken dinner recipe.
- This fresh cherry salad, made with summer corn and greens is an absolute must with these drumsticks.
Once you taste the bright side of life with this irresistible lemonade chicken, don’t forget to snap a photo and tag @NOBLEPIG and #noblepig on INSTAGRAM. This is a tangy temptation you can’t resist.
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HOW TO MAKE LEMONADE CHICKEN
Lemonade Chicken Drumsticks:
- 2 tbsps. freshly grated lemon zest, divided
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsps. packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 12 skin on chicken drumsticks (3-1/2 to 4-1/2 lbs.)
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tsps. dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- olive oil cooking spray
Lemonade Chicken Drumsticks:
- Mix 1 Tablespoon lemon zest and all of the lemon juice in a large bowl. Add 1 cup water and the sugar and whisk to dissolve, then whisk in the buttermilk. Pierce the drumsticks several times with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Toss chicken in the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.2 tbsps. freshly grated lemon zest, divided, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 cup water, 3 tbsps. packed light brown sugar, 1/3 cup buttermilk, 12 skin on chicken drumsticks (3-1/2 to 4-1/2 lbs.), kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400o F. Remove chicken from the marinade and bring chicken to room temperature (you do not want to start baking your chicken when it is very cold).
- Put Panko, thyme, remaining lemon zest, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag and shake to mix. Put mayonnaise in a bowl. Set a rack on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray or I prefer to use a silicone baking mat right on the baking tray.*2 cups Panko breadcrumbs, 2 tsps. dried thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- Slather mayo on each piece of chicken and drop in the plastic bag, shaking to coat; transfer to the rack or the baking mat.
- Mist the chicken with cooking spray. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes; flip and bake until browned and crisp 35 to 40 minutes more.olive oil cooking spray
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