Chicken drumsticks on grill

How to Keep Chicken Drumsticks from Burning on the Grill

With a crispy skin and juicy interior, chicken drumsticks are succulent, smoky, and super-flavorful when prepared on the grill. However, they’re also very easy to burn when cooking over the blazing heat of a flaming barbecue, leaving them scorched and unpalatable instead of wonderfully moist in the middle and perfectly crunchy on the outside. The easy way to prevent chicken drumsticks from burning on the grill is to use a bun rack.

Set slightly above the grates of your grill, a bun rack keeps burger buns toasty and warms up side dishes like sweetcorn, jacket potatoes, and veggie skewers. This underutilized spot is perfect for cooking drumsticks all the way through without burning them because it’s positioned further away from the fierce heat of the charcoal or gas fire below. It has a mellower temperature, which allows the chicken to cook through to the center without its exterior becoming overly charred.

To cook your chicken drumsticks on a bun rack simply prep them as normal with marinades or a dry rub and place them on the rack once your grill has reached the correct temperature. Turn the pieces of chicken over as they cook, just as you would if they were sitting directly on the grill below, to guarantee they cook evenly. Finally, relocate them to the heart of the grill for a few minutes so the skin can get extra crispy and absorb the scrumptious smoky aroma of the coals.

How to check if your chicken drumsticks are cooked through

drumsticks grilling on barbecue

A safe way to check if your chicken has cooked in the center is to use a thermometer. The internal temperature of dark meat, like drumsticks, should reach 170 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Dark meat needs to reach a higher temperature than chicken breast because the connective tissue in drumsticks and thighs is tougher. It requires a little more heat to become tender but, luckily, it also retains its juiciness and flavor when cooked for a longer period, unlike breast meat which can become dry.

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If you’re craving some perfectly-done chicken drumsticks but don’t have a bun rack on your grill, try pushing the hot coals to one side and cooking your chicken on the opposite, cooler side. This will allow the drumsticks to cook gently first, retaining their juiciness, before you move them back over to the hotter side to achieve that final, appetizing char on the crispy surface.

If you cook drumsticks regularly, it may be worth adding a bun attachment to your grill so you can make flawless juicy chicken every time, which doesn’t rest on the changing whims of the fickle coals below. Also known as a warming rack, you can set it on top of the grills of your barbecue to create an instant secondary grilling area.

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