We love using chicken legs for cooking. For us, they’re the perfect part of the chicken. They’re juicy, tasty, and you can easily pick one up and eat it in your hands if the mood strikes you.
Also, don’t get us started on the crispy skin! Chicken legs have the perfect ratio of meat-to-skin, and you can get a little bit of skin and meat with every bite. Yum!
This quick and easy recipe for balsamic chicken legs has become one of our go-to dinner meals. The marinade is ridiculously easy to make, and you won’t be wasting any part of it! More on that, later.
Plus, the longer you leave your chicken legs to marinate, the more they’ll soak up the flavor of the marinade. Double yum!
How long to make chicken legs?
How to defrost chicken legs?
If you’re defrosting chicken legs, you need to make sure that they don’t come in contact with other food items or surfaces. Raw chicken can easily cross-contaminate your chicken!
The best way to defrost chicken legs is to get them ready the night before. Take them out of your freezer, place them in a large bowl (do not use a plate as the liquid from the chicken legs can leak out), and allow them to thaw slowly in your fridge. You can even cover the bowl with plastic wrap to further prevent cross-contamination.
However, if you don’t have that kind of time, you can thaw your chicken legs in your kitchen sink. Place the frozen chicken legs inside a Ziploc bag or glass/metal bowl. Do not use plastic bowls as these can be very difficult to sanitize afterward. Submerge the Ziploc bag or container in water.
NEVER defrost chicken legs straight in water as the water can splash around and cross-contaminate your whole kitchen.
Do I remove the skin from chicken legs?
Much of the saturated fat and calories in chicken legs can be found in the skin. If you want to make your meal healthier and lighter, you can remove the skin before cooking.
Don’t use a knife to remove the skin little by little; it’s time-consuming and the last bits around the base won’t come off anyway!
It’s a lot easier if you remove the skin in one go. Simply peel back the skin from the upper part of the chicken leg with your fingers, then grab a paper towel, cover the skin, and peel off the rest in one piece. Here’s an easy video so that you can see how it works:
Every now and again, you can leave the chicken skin on if you’re in the mood for a somewhat naughty treat.
Do I wash chicken legs?
Never, ever wash your chicken legs. Washing chicken legs (or any piece of raw chicken) can spread germs around your kitchen!
Always get your chicken from a safe and trustworthy butcher or store. Fresh chicken should have firm skin and flesh, be pale pinkish-white in color, and should have a pleasant smell. If you spot discolored or slimy chicken or smell something pungent, it’s a sure sign that the chicken has gone bad.
How do I prepare chicken legs for baking?
There are two ways that you should prepare chicken legs for baking.
First, make sure that the chicken legs are at room temperature. Frozen or cold chicken legs will not cook evenly.
Second, make sure that the chicken leg is completely dry before baking. Use a thick paper towel to pat the chicken leg dry. Make sure to properly sanitize all the utensils and kitchenware that you used to handle raw chicken.
What is coconut aminos?
Coconut aminos is not exactly a familiar ingredient for a lot of people, unless you’re on a keto diet. It is a dark-colored liquid made from the aged sap of coconut.
The liquid is salty, but it contains 65% less sodium compared to regular soy sauce. What’s more, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and has a low glycemic index, making it a good choice for diabetics, vegetarians, vegans, and people on a keto diet.
What can I substitute for coconut aminos?
It can be difficult to get coconut aminos in some places, so if you can’t find it, you can use light soy sauce as a substitute.
Our CookingChew Cooking Tips:
1. Never skip the drying step!
If you love crispy chicken skin or you really want to taste your chicken, never skip the drying step! It’ll only take a few minutes of your time, but the payoff is definitely worth it. Drying your chicken legs will ensure that the skin crisps up properly. If you removed the skin, it’ll ensure that the meat gets that nice golden-brown color.
Trust us, drying your chicken legs before baking them will result in a deeper, richer flavor!
2. Always check if your chicken leg is cooked through
Chicken should always be cooked through, no exceptions. With chicken legs, it might be a bit difficult to cook the chicken through completely since it’s dark meat and it’s on the bone. However, you do have a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to cooking time. Chicken legs don’t dry out quickly, so you can extend the cooking time by a few minutes to ensure that the chicken is cooked through.
To check your chicken, you can either poke the chicken leg with a sharp knife to see if the juices run clear. However, this method is not 100% reliable. If you want to make sure that your chicken is cooked through, use an instant-read thermometer. Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken leg until it hits the bone. The temperature should be at 165⁰F.
Balsamic-Glazed Chicken Legs
This delicious balsamic-glazed chicken legs recipe will be one of your favorite chicken recipes once you try it. The rich and tangy glaze works so well with the chicken, and the dish is so easy to make! You can marinate the chicken legs a day ahead so that the chicken really soaks up the flavors, giving you a delicious bite down to the bone.
- 2 lbs. chicken legs
- 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
- 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 T. coconut aminos
- 1/2 c. chicken stock
- ½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 green onions
- Pat chicken legs dry with a paper towel and place in a large, resealable bag. Set aside.
- Mince garlic finely.
- In a medium glass or non-reactive bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, coconut aminos, chicken stock, red pepper flakes, and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. However, keep in mind that the coconut aminos already add a salty flavor to the marinade.
- Pour half of the marinade over the chicken and seal the bag tightly. Massage the bag to ensure that each chicken leg is completely coated with the marinade. Place bag in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Set aside the remaining marinade to use for later.
- When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400⁰F.
- Line large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. You can spray the parchment sheet with a bit of cooking spray to prevent chicken legs from sticking.
- Remove chicken legs from the bag and place on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure that there is enough space between the chicken legs so that they cook evenly.
- Place baking sheet inside preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- While chicken is baking, mix together marinade from inside the bag with remaining marinade. Cook down the marinade until it becomes a balsamic reduction.
- After 30 minutes, take out baking tray and turn over the chicken legs. Brush the chicken legs with the balsamic reduction and return to oven for another 20 minutes. Continue baking until the chicken is well-done and the outside is caramelized.
- Remove from oven and let the chicken legs rest for 5 minutes.
- While the chicken legs are resting, slice green onions thinly.
- Transfer chicken legs to serving dish and sprinkle with green onions for garnish. You can also drizzle a little bit more balsamic reduction, if desired.
- Serve and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 564Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 289mgSodium: 554mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 56g
What Can I Serve Balsamic-Glazed Chicken Legs With?
A recipe like this one deserves great sides! You can pair it with a spicy arugula salad if you want something light. If you want something a bit more filling and homey, why not pair it with a hearty portion of Texas Roadhouse green beans?
Is the Resting Time Important?
Just like a good steak, chicken needs time to rest after cooking. The resting time allows the juices to redistribute through the meat so that you can a juicy bite every time.
Remember, the longer you leave your chicken in the marinade, the stronger the flavor will be! For best results, you can marinade the chicken for a day or two at most. Any longer and the chicken might become too salty.