Slow Cooker Drumsticks

Slow cooker drumsticks are a simple and delicious way to make tender and juicy chicken drumsticks in a slow cooker. You only need a few ingredients and hours to enjoy this mouthwatering meal. The chicken is coated with a flavorful barbecue sauce and cooked with onion, garlic, basil, and bay leaves. The result is a succulent and satisfying dish with mashed potatoes or rice.

slow cooker drumsticks

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks: For this recipe, 4 pounds of chicken drumsticks are needed, which is about 12 to 16 pieces. They are a good source of protein, iron, and zinc. They also have a lot of flavor and are easy to cook in the slow cooker.

Onion: A medium onion is required, which is about 1 cup when diced. It adds sweetness and depth to the barbecue sauce and helps to tenderize the chicken. It also contains antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber.

Garlic: Four cloves of garlic are required, which is about two teaspoons when minced. It enhances the taste and aroma of the barbecue sauce and adds a spicy kick to the dish. It also has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Barbecue sauce: One and a half cups of barbecue sauce are required for this recipe. You can use your favorite brand or make your own homemade barbecue sauce. It gives a sweet, tangy, and smoky flavor to the chicken and makes it juicy and saucy.

Brown sugar: A tablespoon of brown sugar is required for this recipe. It adds sweetness and richness to the barbecue sauce and balances the acidity of the vinegar. It also helps to caramelize the chicken and create a sticky glaze.

Salt and black pepper: These are common seasonings that enhance the flavor of the chicken and the barbecue sauce. Salt also helps to preserve the moisture of the chicken and black pepper adds heat and pungency to the dish. You can use them according to your taste preference. Salt and black pepper to taste are required for this recipe.

Cumin: A teaspoon of cumin is required for this recipe. It is a spice that adds complexity and depth to the barbecue sauce. It has a warm and earthy flavor that complements the sweetness of the sugar and the smokiness of the paprika.

Cayenne pepper: A quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper is required for this recipe. It is a spice that adds heat and color to the barbecue sauce. It has a hot and fiery flavor that contrasts with the sweetness of the sugar and the tanginess of the vinegar. You can adjust the amount according to your spice tolerance.

Paprika: A tablespoon of paprika is required for this recipe. It is a spice that adds color and smokiness to the barbecue sauce. It has a mild and sweet flavor that enhances the flavor of the chicken and the onion.

Dijon mustard: Two teaspoons of Dijon mustard are required for this recipe. It is a type of mustard that adds zest and brightness to the barbecue sauce. It has a smooth and creamy texture and a sharp and tangy flavor that cuts through the richness of the sugar and the barbecue sauce.

Fresh basil: A handful of fresh basil is required for this recipe, which is about three tablespoons when chopped. Fresh basil adds freshness and aroma to the chicken drumsticks. It has a fragrant and sweet flavor that goes well with tomato-based sauces like barbecue sauce.

Bay leaves: Three bay leaves are required for this recipe. They are aromatic leaves that add depth and complexity to the chicken drumsticks. They have a slightly bitter and woody flavor that infuses the chicken and the sauce during cooking.

Making The Slow Cooker Drumsticks

Place the chicken drumsticks in the slow cooker: Arrange the chicken drumsticks in an even layer at the bottom of the slow cooker.

Add the onion and garlic: Sprinkle the diced and minced garlic over the chicken drumsticks.

Add the barbecue sauce and spices: Pour the sauce over the chicken and onion mixture. Add the brown sugar, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, Dijon mustard, and black pepper. Use your hands or kitchen tongs to mix everything well and coat the chicken with the sauce.

Add the basil and bay leaves: Tear the fresh basil leaves and scatter them over the chicken. Add the dried bay leaves on top.

Cover and cook: Cover the slow cooker with a lid and cook on low for six hours or until the chicken is tender and falls off the bone easily.

Serve and enjoy: Transfer the chicken drumsticks to a serving platter and spoon some of the sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice, and enjoy your delicious meal.

Tips & Variations:

  • Marinate the chicken with the sauce and spices overnight in the refrigerator before adding it to the slow cooker to make the chicken more flavorful. This will help the chicken absorb more of the sauce and spices and make it more tender and juicy.
  • If you want to thicken the sauce and make it glossy, transfer some of the sauce from the slow cooker to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, whisk in a cornstarch slurry (a mixture of cornstarch and water) and cook until the sauce is thickened. You can pour the sauce over the chicken or serve it on the side.
  • You can use different sauces to coat your chicken drumsticks for different flavors, such as teriyaki sauce, honey garlic sauce, buffalo sauce, or lemon herb sauce. You can also make your own sauce by combining ingredients like ketchup, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, brown sugar, spices, and herbs.
  • You can add some vegetables to your slow cooker along with the chicken drumsticks, such as carrots, potatoes, celery, mushrooms, or bell peppers. This will make the dish more colorful and nutritious. You can also add some fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, or thyme, at the end of cooking.
  • To make the chicken crispier, you can broil it in the oven for a few minutes after cooking it in the slow cooker. This will create a nice charred and caramelized crust on the chicken skin. You can also sprinkle some sesame seeds or chopped nuts on top for some crunch.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do chicken drumsticks take in the slow cooker? 

Chicken drumsticks take about 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low to cook in the slow cooker, or until they reach an internal temperature of 170°F. You can check the doneness with a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the drumstick, not touching the bone.

Can you use frozen chicken in the slow cooker?

It is not recommended to use frozen chicken in the slow cooker, as it can increase the risk of foodborne illness. Frozen chicken can take too long to reach a safe temperature and may allow harmful bacteria to grow. It is best to thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight before adding it to the slow cooker.

How to reheat BBQ chicken drumsticks? 

The easiest way to reheat BBQ chicken drumsticks is in the microwave. Place them on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through. You can also reheat them in the oven at 375°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until hot and crispy.

What can I serve with slow cooker BBQ chicken drumsticks?

You can serve slow cooker BBQ chicken drumsticks with a variety of side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, rice, corn, coleslaw, salad, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, or bread rolls. You can also serve them with extra BBQ sauce for dipping or drizzling.
slow cooker drumsticks

Slow Cooker Drumsticks

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes

These slow cooker drumsticks are easy to make and full of flavor. They are perfect for a busy weeknight or a cozy weekend. The chicken falls off the bone and the sauce is rich and tangy. Serve them with mashed potatoes or rice for a complete meal.


  • 4 lbs of chicken drumsticks
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • a handful of fresh basil ( about 3 Tbs chopped)
  • 3 bay leaves


  1. Add chicken to the crocpot
  2. Add one medium diced onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 cups of barbecue sauce, 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 1 tsp of cumin, 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper, 2 tbsp of paprika, and 2 tsp of Dijon mustard.
  3. After adding all the ingredients mix it everything with your hands.
  4. Once everything is mixed, toss some fresh basil leaves over your chicken for a touch of freshness and also add dried bay leaves, three of them.
  5. Cover the slow cooker and cook it on LOW for six hours.
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes and rice.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: per serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 459 kcalTotal Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 140mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 33gProtein: 42g

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