Cilantro Jalapeno Chicken Drumsticks

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These marinated Cilantro Lime Chicken Drumsticks are anything but boring! M ade with just six ingredients, these flabor packed drumsticks are perfect for a weeknight dinner or weekend barbecue.


It's easy to get bored with chicken and I am always on the look out for new ways to serve this popular protein. One thing I have been doing lately is using parts of the chicken other than the breast. Our new family favorite - the drumstick! 

 My kids love that they can pick it up and eat it right from the bone. I love that its affordable, versatile, and with the right marinade it can be so delicious. 

That's where this Cilantro Lime Chicken Drumsticks come in. It starts with a simple marinade of fresh cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and jalapeno. The drumsticks soak up all this flavor and the lime juice ensures the chicken will be nice and tender. 

Then just cook them in the oven or throw them on the grill. Normally I make chicken drumsticks without the skin, but you could also leave it on. Totally up to you. We also love these Baked Chicken Drumsticks

What You'll Need and Easy Swaps

Here is everything you need to make these tasty chicken drumsticks.

  • Chicken drumsticks: Drumsticks are a great affordable protein. Make them with or without the skin. This recipe will also work with chicken thighs and chicken breasts if you prefer. 
  • Cilantro: The bright, zippy flavor of cilantro is the base of this marinade. If you don't want a strong cilantro flavor, plan on using half as much. You could swap in parsley or basil, but it won't have the same end flavor. 
  • Lime juice: The lime juice acts both as a flavor agent and as a way to tenderize the chicken. Lemon juice will also work but will be a slightly different flavor. Lemon is a good option if you are also changing the herbs.
  • Jalapeno: Blending the jalapeno into the marinade gives it a nice amount of spice. Nothing overly spicy. If you prefer this without spice, leave out the jalapeno or use half a poblano pepper.
  • Cumin: To add a little smoky flavor, cumin is the perfect addition to the marinade. Smoked paprika would also work.
  • Optional additions: If you prefer a sweeter flavor, add some honey or brown sugar to the marinade. Garlic powder or fresh garlic cloves also taste great with the cilantro lime marinade.

What to Serve with Chicken Drumsticks

There are so many side dish options for chicken drumsticks. Normally, it is best to pair them with a stach and a vegetable. Here are some of the side dishes we serve most often with this recipe.

Storing Leftover Drumsticks

If you have leftover cooked drumsticks, they can be kept int the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. 

Leftover drumsticks can be enjoyed cold or you can gently reheat them in the microwave on 50% power so they don't get rubbery. 

For a different way to use the leftovers, remove the meat from the bone and use it to make this Healthy Chicken Salad or Chicken Cobb Salad.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions about cooking these chicken drumsticks.

When baked in the oven at 400 degrees, drumsticks take 40-50 minutes to cook completely. The exact cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of the drumsticks. Drumsticks should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Chicken legs have two parts. There is the drumstick, which is the calf area of the chicken. Then there is the chicken thigh. When these two parts of attached, it is called a chicken leg. This recipe will work with drumsticks, thighs, and a full chicken leg. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

To cook chicken drumsticks in the air fryer, start by seasoning the drumsticks with marinade or seasoning. Then place in a single layer in the air fryer. Cook at 380 degrees for 10 minutes. Carefully open and flip over the chicken. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

It's easy to cook chicken drumsticks on the grill. Once they are seasoned or marinated, simply place them on a preheated grill. Then cook for 30 minutes, turning the chicken every 10 minutes so it doesn't burn. The drumsticks need to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. 

The Recipe
Baked cilantro lime chicken drumsticks on a plate with fresh lime and cilantro on the side.

Cilantro Jalapeno Chicken Drumsticks

PREP TIME: 4 Hours, 10 Min
TOTAL TIME: 4 Hours, 50 Min
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  • 2 lbs. skinless chicken drumsticks (or skin-on)
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 limes, juice
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded for less heat)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Salt and pepper

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Remove the skin from the chicken drumsticks. I find the easiest way to do this is to peel the skin away from the drumstick using my hand and then pull it off the bottom of drumstick using a paper towel.


Add the cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, jalapeno, and cumin to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. For a sweeter marinade add brown sugar or honey to taste.


Marinate the chicken in this mixture for 4 hours.


When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade letting excess drip off. Lay on a prepared baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 35-40 minutes until cooked through. Broil the chicken for 2-3 minutes to brown on the outside once it is cooked through.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2 drumsticks
Amount Per Serving
Calories 249
Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 117mg
Sodium 135mg
Total Carbohydrate 3g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 1g
Protein 31g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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