Skip to Content

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Legs – An Easy, Delicious & Budget Friendly Recipe

Whenever someone asks me for a delicious recipe that won’t cost a lot of money to make, my first thought goes to this Grilled Barbecue Chicken Legs recipe. It is a great way to feed a family when on a strict budget.

With grocery prices on the rise, and at a near all-time high, I am getting more and more requests for low cost recipes. Although chicken legs are inexpensive when you are comparing it to other cuts of meat, they are more importantly full of flavor.

And with a few simple ingredients, you can make them even more delicious. In addition, you can save even more money by decreasing your electric bill by cooking them on your grill!

barbecue chicken legs
Chicken legs may be inexpensive, but they are absolutely delicious when cooked on the grill.

However, there are a few tips and tricks that you must follow for getting juicy and fall off the bone tender chicken legs. Follow these grilling guidelines and you will be making this recipe over and over again!

Tips & Tricks For Making Grilled Barbecue Chicken Legs

1. Chicken Legs/Drumsticks

This recipe is designed for full size chicken legs. They are often referred to as drumsticks.

However, do not purchase drummettes. These are the smaller version of chicken legs that are often eaten with chicken wings.

Instead, purchase a package of chicken legs, not chicken drummettes or Chicken Leg Quarters. Although those are delicious to make as well, for this recipe, use only chicken legs/drumsticks.

When you go to purchase the chicken legs, be sure to pick out ones that are similar in size to allow for even cooking.

2. Two Zone Grilling

Don’t let the term two zone grilling scare you. All this means is that the Grilled Barbecue Chicken Legs are going to be cooked on two different areas of the grill.

First, they will be put directly over the heat source. Then once they have been cooked to a certain temperature, they will be moved to a section of the grill that does not have heat directly underneath them.

Therefore, if you are using a 4 burner gas grill, turn on only 3 burners. Then use the final, non-lit side of the grill as the indirect heat side.

If you are using a charcoal grill, arrange the coals on one side of the grill. Then cook the legs over the area directly above the coals and use the other area for the indirect cooking process.

raw chicken drumsticks
Chicken legs are inexpensive to purchase compared to many other types of meat.

3. Internal Temperature to 180°F (82°C)

The USDA states that chicken can safely be eaten once the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat reaches 165°F. However, if you like fall off the bone, juicy chicken legs, you must let the chicken cook to an internal temperature of 180°F.

The only way to determine when the grilled barbecue chicken legs are ready to be taken off of the grill is by using an Instant Read Digital Food Thermometer.

When cooking dark meat of a chicken, including chicken thighs, chicken legs and chicken leg quarters, remove them from the whatever heat source you are using once the internal temperature reaches 180°F.

However, this is not the same when cooking leaner chicken breasts. They contain less fat and will dry out if cooked past 165°F.

Therefore, regardless of what type of chicken that you are cooking, use an Instant Read Digital Thermometer. It truly is the only way to get perfectly cooked chicken every time!

How To Grill Chicken Legs

*Specific measurements and complete recipe instructions are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to continue to read the tips and tricks to making this recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. Chicken legs/drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup Barbecue sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil

Dry Rub Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon Chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, optional
dry barbecue rub on chicken
The easiest way to coat the chicken legs in the BBQ dry rub is to use a large resealable plastic bag.

Instructions

The first step in making grilled barbecue chicken legs is to preheat your grill for two-zone grilling. Turn the burners on the grill to medium-high heat (375-400°F).

Be sure to leave one burner off. This will allow enough room on the grill grate for indirect heating as well.

While the grill is heating up, prepare the dry rub. Do this by adding all of the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix until well incorporated. Set aside.

Next, open the package of chicken legs and pat dry each one dry with paper towels. Then place the chicken legs in a large resealable plastic bag or in a large bowl.

Drizzle olive oil over top of the chicken legs and toss to coat. Then sprinkle the dry rub over top of the chicken legs and toss until evenly coated.

If you are using a large plastic, resealable bag, simply squeeze the bag until the barbecue chicken legs are evenly coated. Set the chicken side until the grill is heated to temperature.

chicken legs cooked on a grill
Be sure to flip the chicken legs several times during the grilling process for even cooking.

Grilling Time

When the grill is ready place the chicken legs over the direct heat section. Grill for 30-35 minutes, flipping every 5-7 minutes.

Continue to grill until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C) at the thickest part when checked with an instant read digital thermometer. Then move the grilled barbecue chicken legs to the indirect side of the grill.

Using a grill or pastry brush, brush both sides of the legs with your favorite Barbecue Sauce. Continue to grill for an additional 10-15 minutes on the indirect heat of the grill.

You want the barbecue sauce to become set and begin to caramelize on the outer surface. Once the chicken legs are cooked at an internal temperature of 180°F (82°C) remove them from the grill.

Allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional barbecue sauce and/or Ranch dressing if desired.

checking temperature of grilled chicken leg
Be sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken with an Instant Read Digital Thermometer.

If you want to make chicken legs in your air fryer, be sure to follow the guidelines for this Air Fryer Chicken Legs recipe. However, if you prefer to use your Instant Pot, check out this Instant Pot Barbecue Chicken Recipe.

Enjoy! Mary

zucchini sausage banner ad

To receive our 3 Recipe Articles in your inbox each week, sign up for our free email list located in the middle of each recipe or email me at contact@makeyourmeals.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Pinterest. This article may contain affiliate links where a small commission is paid if you purchase a product at no additional cost to you.

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Legs

grilled barbecue chicken legs

How to make perfectly grilled chicken legs so that they and juicy and fall off the bone tender.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. Chicken legs/drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup Barbecue sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil

Dry Rub Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon Chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill for two-zone grilling, with the temperature set on the grill to medium-high heat (375-400°F).
  2. Prepare the dry rub by adding all of the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix until well incorporated. Set aside.
  3. Open the package of chicken legs and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken legs in a large resealable plastic bag or in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over top of the chicken legs and toss to coat.
  4. Sprinkle the dry rub over top of the chicken legs and toss until evenly coated. Set aside until the grill is heated to temperature.
  5. Place the chicken legs over direct heat on the grill. Grill for 30-35 minutes, flipping every 5-7 minutes. Grill until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C) when checked with an instant read digital thermometer.
  6. Move the grilled chicken legs to the indirect side of the grill, and brush them with your favorite Barbecue Sauce. Grill for an additional 10-15 minutes on the indirect heat of the grill or until the sauce begins to caramelize. Once the chicken is cooked at an internal temperature of 180°F (82°C) remove them from the grill.
  7. Allow the chicken legs to rest for 5 minutes before serving with additional barbecue sauce.
Skip to Recipe