Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Next-Level Harissa Marinade for Juicy Grilled Chicken Legs

Grilled chicken legs are a favorite for many due to their succulent texture and rich flavor. However, the secret to taking them to the next level lies in the marinade. This harissa-based marinade promises to deliver garlicky, smoky, and perfectly spicy chicken legs with a Mediterranean twist. Here’s how you can achieve the juiciest, most flavorful grilled chicken legs.

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a large mixing bowl, combine the harissa paste, minced garlic, smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, and ground nutmeg. These spices will add a depth of flavor that is both warming and aromatic. The harissa paste provides the foundation of spice, while the smoked paprika adds a subtle smokiness that enhances the grill’s natural char.
  2. Add Citrus and Oil: To the spice mixture, add the fresh lemon juice, orange juice, and olive oil. The citrus juices not only tenderize the chicken but also infuse it with a bright, zesty flavor that balances the heat of the harissa. The olive oil helps to lock in moisture, ensuring that the chicken legs remain juicy throughout the grilling process.
  3. Season and Marinate: Season the marinade with salt and black pepper to taste. Place the chicken drumsticks in a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them, ensuring each piece is thoroughly coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the more intense the flavors will be.

  1. Grill to Perfection: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off. Grill the drumsticks for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking and a nice char on all sides. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (75°C) to ensure the chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Serve and Enjoy: Once the chicken legs are grilled to perfection, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, making the chicken even more tender. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro or parsley for a pop of color and added freshness.

Tips for Success:

  • Marinate Overnight: For maximum flavor, marinate the chicken legs overnight. This allows the flavors to penetrate deeply.
  • Grill Marks: To achieve those coveted grill marks, avoid moving the chicken too frequently. Let it sear properly on each side before turning.
  • Adjust Heat: If you prefer a milder spice level, reduce the amount of harissa paste.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy the juiciest, most flavorful grilled chicken legs, with a delightful harissa marinade that brings a smoky, garlicky, and perfectly spicy kick. Perfect for summer barbecues or any time you crave a taste of the Mediterranean.

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Absolutely! Chicken legs, particularly drumsticks, often don’t receive the recognition they deserve. Their rich flavor, thanks to their proximity to the bone, and their resistance to drying out make them a fantastic choice for grilling. You can leave grilled chicken drumsticks on the heat for a bit longer than other cuts, and they’ll still come out juicy and tender, making them nearly fail-proof.

But what’s the secret to achieving the best grilled chicken legs? There are two key factors. First, cook them slower than you would chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This slower cooking process helps to lock in the juices and ensures the meat stays succulent. Second, don’t hold back on your marinade. A bold, flavorful marinade can elevate your chicken legs to a restaurant-quality dish, and when it comes to Mediterranean flavors, you’ll want to be generous with your ingredients.

Here’s a recipe for a Mediterranean-inspired marinade that brings out the best in grilled chicken legs:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for a bit of heat)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, thyme, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Marinate the Chicken: Add the chicken legs to the bowl, ensuring each piece is well-coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the more flavorful it will be.
  3. Preheat the Grill: Preheat your grill to medium heat. If using a charcoal grill, make sure the coals are evenly spread out and glowing red with a light ash coating.
  4. Grill the Chicken Legs: Place the marinated chicken legs on the grill. Cook slowly, turning occasionally, for about 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C) and the skin is crispy and charred in spots.
  5. Rest and Serve: Let the chicken legs rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the juices redistribute throughout the meat. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with your favorite sides.

This Mediterranean marinade packs a punch with bold flavors and complements the natural juiciness of the chicken legs. Whether you’re grilling for a weeknight dinner or a weekend barbecue, these chicken legs are sure to impress. Enjoy the rich, succulent meat that practically falls off the bone, enhanced by the aromatic and robust flavors of the marinade.

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Marinating meat with a combination of spicy, smoky harissa paste, garlic, fresh citrus juice, and aromatic spices is a surefire way to elevate your grilling game. The robust flavors of harissa, a North African chili paste, are enhanced by the addition of garlic, which adds a savory depth, while fresh citrus juice not only tenderizes the meat but also infuses it with a bright, zesty kick. The aromatic spices create a warming and complex flavor profile that makes each bite a delightful experience.

When preparing your marinade, start with a generous amount of harissa paste. Its blend of red chilies, garlic, coriander, and cumin provides a smoky heat that forms the foundation of your marinade. Next, add minced garlic for its pungent and savory qualities. Freshly squeezed citrus juice, such as lemon or orange, will introduce acidity that balances the heat and adds a refreshing note. This acidity also helps break down the proteins in the meat, resulting in a more tender and juicy texture.

To further enhance the marinade, incorporate a mix of warming spices. Cumin and coriander seeds add an earthy, nutty flavor, while cinnamon and paprika contribute a sweet and smoky undertone. A pinch of turmeric can add a subtle bitterness and vibrant color, while ground cloves or allspice can introduce a hint of warmth and complexity. Adjust the spices to suit your taste, but don’t be afraid to be generous – the meat will soak up the flavors beautifully.

For the best results, marinate the meat overnight. This allows ample time for the flavors to penetrate deeply, ensuring each bite is infused with the rich, spicy, and aromatic marinade. However, if you’re pressed for time, even a quick 30-minute soak while your grill heats up will impart a significant boost in flavor.

Once the meat has marinated, it’s time to cook. Whether you’re using a charcoal or gas grill, ensure it’s preheated to the right temperature. A hot grill will sear the meat quickly, locking in the juices and creating a delicious crust. As the meat cooks, the sugars in the citrus juice caramelize, adding a subtle sweetness and enhancing the smoky char from the harissa paste.

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Serve the grilled meat with a side of fresh vegetables or a crisp salad to balance the richness of the marinade. A dollop of cooling yogurt or a squeeze of additional citrus juice can also complement the spicy, smoky flavors beautifully. With this marinade, you’re set up for a flavor party that will impress anyone at your table.

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks Ingredients and Substitutions 

Here’s a recipe for grilled chicken drumsticks along with possible substitutions for each ingredient:

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken drumsticks – 8 pieces
    • Substitution: Chicken thighs or wings.
  2. Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
    • Substitution: Vegetable oil, canola oil, or avocado oil.
  3. Garlic cloves, minced – 3 cloves
    • Substitution: 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 tablespoon garlic paste.
  4. Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
    • Substitution: Lime juice or vinegar (white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar).
  5. Paprika – 1 teaspoon
    • Substitution: Smoked paprika, chili powder, or a blend of cayenne and cumin.
  6. Dried oregano – 1 teaspoon
    • Substitution: Dried thyme, rosemary, or Italian seasoning.
  7. Salt – 1 teaspoon
    • Substitution: Sea salt, kosher salt, or a salt substitute.
  8. Black pepper – 1/2 teaspoon
    • Substitution: White pepper or freshly ground mixed peppercorns.
  9. Honey – 1 tablespoon
    • Substitution: Maple syrup, agave nectar, or brown sugar.
  10. Soy sauce – 1 tablespoon
    • Substitution: Tamari (gluten-free), coconut aminos, or Worcestershire sauce.
  11. Chili flakes (optional) – 1/2 teaspoon
    • Substitution: Cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce.

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, paprika, dried oregano, salt, black pepper, honey, soy sauce, and chili flakes if using.
  2. Add the chicken drumsticks to the bowl and coat them well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight for best results.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  4. Grill the drumsticks for about 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked through and have a nice char. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C).
  5. Remove from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy your delicious grilled chicken drumsticks!

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Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

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