The GrillingDad Answer: Chicken legs and drumsticks are both chicken, but mean different things. Chicken legs are composed of two parts, the thigh, and the drumstick, while a drumstick is only the bottom part of a chicken leg. Sometimes chicken legs are sold as chicken leg quarters.
Chicken is a household staple. Whether you want to make it for a weeknight dinner, or a large crowd at a BBQ, it’s sure to please everyone. But what is the difference between chicken legs and drumsticks?
Read on to learn all about chicken legs and drumsticks so you can pick the perfect cut of chicken for your next event.
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What are Chicken Legs and Drumsticks?
Chicken is one of the most versatile meats available. Chicken legs and drumsticks are two of the most popular parts of the chicken, and they are often used interchangeably in recipes.
A chicken leg is composed of two parts: the thigh and the drumstick. The thigh is the upper part of the leg, and the drumstick is the lower part that connects to the foot. When sold whole, chicken legs are sometimes labeled as “chicken leg quarters.”
Drumsticks, on the other hand, are simply the lower half of the chicken leg, attached to the thigh by a single large joint. They are smaller than chicken legs and are often used in recipes that call for smaller portions of meat.
Chicken legs and drumsticks are both popular choices for cooking because they are relatively inexpensive and have a rich, meaty texture. They are also versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, smoking, frying, and roasting.
When it comes to cooking time, chicken legs and drumsticks are similar. They typically take around 30 minutes to cook, but this can vary depending on the cooking method and the size of the meat. Chicken legs may take slightly longer to cook because they are larger than drumsticks.
Chicken Leg and Drumstick Nutritional Differences
Both the leg and drumstick are popular cuts of chicken. While they may seem similar, there are some nutritional differences between the two.
In terms of calories, a skinless, boneless chicken drumstick (96g) contains around 70 calories, while a chicken leg (thigh and drumstick) contains around 180 calories. The drumstick is also lower in fat than the thigh, making it a good option for those watching their fat intake.
As far as vitamins and minerals, chicken legs and drumsticks are both good sources of iron, which is important for healthy blood.
Connective tissue and cartilage are also present in chicken legs and drumsticks. These are important for maintaining healthy joints and can be beneficial for those with arthritis. However, they can also make the meat tougher, so it’s important to cook them properly.
There are many ways to cook chicken legs and drumsticks, from roasting to soups. They are also great for finger food and can be paired with a variety of sauces. For a healthy option, try baking them in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning.
Want to try smoking your chicken thighs? Check out our easy smoked chicken recipe to get started.
So Which is Better? Chicken Legs or Drumsticks?
When it comes time to decide between chicken legs and drumsticks, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. However, there are some key differences between the two that may help you make your decision.
In terms of nutritional value, chicken legs, and drumsticks are relatively similar. Both cuts of chicken are a good source of protein and contain essential vitamins and minerals.
But remember, a chicken leg is larger than a drumstick. If you are trying to count calories, order just a drumstick rather than the whole chicken leg.
Flavor and Texture
The flavor and texture of chicken legs and drumsticks can also differ. Drumsticks are generally considered to be more flavorful and juicy, while chicken legs tend to be milder in flavor and slightly drier. However, this can vary depending on how the chicken is prepared.
Both chicken legs and drumsticks can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, frying, and roasting. However, drumsticks may be better suited for certain cooking methods, such as grilling or frying, due to their shape and size.
When it comes to serving size, chicken legs are typically larger than drumsticks. This means that if you’re serving a group of people, you may only need to serve one chicken leg per person, while drumsticks may require two or more per person.
Cooking Chicken Legs and Drumsticks
There are various methods you can choose from depending on your preferences and the occasion for cooking both chicken legs and drumsticks.
Grilling chicken legs and drumsticks is a fantastic way to achieve a crispy and flavorful crust while keeping the meat juicy and tender. To grill chicken legs and drumsticks, you need to preheat your grill to medium-high heat and brush the chicken with some oil and your favorite seasoning.
Place the chicken on the grill and cook for about 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
If you want to get really creative, you can also smoke your chicken legs and drumsticks to give them a nice smoky flavor. We recommend setting your smoker to 225°F and drizzling your chicken with olive oil and spices. Smoke them at this temperature until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Don’t forget to check out our Smoked Chicken Leg recipe!
Baking chicken legs and drumsticks is a convenient way to cook them in the oven without having to monitor them constantly. To bake chicken legs and drumsticks, you need to preheat your oven to 375°F and place the chicken on a baking sheet.
Brush the chicken with some oil and your favorite seasoning, and bake for about 35-45 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Stewing chicken legs and drumsticks is a great way to infuse them with flavor while keeping them moist and tender. To stew chicken legs and drumsticks, you need to place them in a pot with some vegetables, herbs, and broth.
Simmer the chicken for about 40-50 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. You can also add some potatoes or rice to the pot to make a hearty meal.
Roasting chicken legs and drumsticks is a classic way to cook them in the oven and achieve a crispy skin and juicy meat. To roast chicken legs and drumsticks, you need to preheat your oven to 425°F and place the chicken on a baking sheet.
Brush the chicken with some oil and your favorite seasoning, and roast for about 35-45 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Frying chicken legs and drumsticks is a quick and easy way to cook them, but it’s also the unhealthier option due to the high-fat content.
To fry chicken legs and drumsticks, you need to heat some oil in a deep frying pan and add the chicken. Fry for about 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside and reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Popular Dishes with Chicken Legs and Drumsticks
These cuts of meat are versatile and flavorful, making them a popular choice for a variety of dishes. Here are some of the most popular ways to prepare chicken legs and drumsticks:
Fried chicken is a beloved dish that is enjoyed all over the world. Chicken legs and drumsticks are the perfect cuts of meat for this dish, as they are juicy and flavorful.
Whether you prefer a classic Southern-style fried chicken or a spicy Korean-style fried chicken, chicken legs and drumsticks can be used to create a delicious meal.
Chicken lollipops are a fun and unique way to enjoy chicken legs. This dish involves removing the meat from the bone and shaping it into a lollipop shape.
Chicken legs are perfect for this dish, as they have a natural handle that makes them easy to hold. Chicken lollipops can be seasoned with a variety of spices and are often served as an appetizer.
Soups and Stews
Chicken legs and drumsticks are perfect for adding flavor to soups and stews. These cuts of meat are often used to create rich and hearty dishes, such as chicken noodle soup or chicken and dumplings. Chicken legs and drumsticks can be cooked in a slow cooker or on the stovetop to create a flavorful broth that is perfect for soups and stews.
Think you might want to go ahead and smoke a whole chicken? It can be done quickly and easily, just check out our whole smoked chicken recipe to find the directions!