Honey-Soy Chicken Drumsticks, Thighs or Wings
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In the spirit of old-fashioned, unsubtle, crowd-pleasing recipes, I offer another oldie but goodie from The New New York Times Cookbook (Craig Claiborne, 1979), a recipe my mother pulled out for nearly every cocktail party she hosted and attended for at least two decades. The original recipe calls for wings, which people go gaga over, but the sauce and cooking method work just as well with drumsticks and thighs, if you’re looking for a super-easy dinner adored by children and adults alike.
While the chicken bakes for a fairly long time — an hour to an hour and 15 minutes — in the brief time it takes for your oven to preheat, your chicken can be prepped and smothered with the magic sauce, a mixture of honey, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic and oil, leaving you with an hour of freedom, perhaps to prepare a simple salad or side dish, perhaps to sit down with a good book and a nice cocktail.
As with the honey-baked chicken legs, it’s hard not to play caveman while eating these drummies — a fork and knife just can’t get the job done. What can I say? This is not gourmet cooking, and it’s not gourmet eating — you might just want to break out the moist towelettes for this one.
Don’t be alarmed when you open your oven and find this:
Once the bubbling subsides, your chicken will surface…
…piping hot, meat falling off the bone.
Try not (initially at least) to curse my name during the post-dinner clean-up:
After a quick soak and a teensy bit of elbow grease, just a few burnt edges will remain.
I have been making this a lot recently. When we have visitors, I double up on the drumsticks,
or use a combination of thighs and drumsticks:
Super Easy, Oven-Baked, Honey-Soy Chicken Drumsticks
- Total Time: 1 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 6 to 8
Adapted from The New New York Times Cookbook (Craig Claiborne, 1979)
- If making a small batch — 5 drumsticks or 4 thighs, etc. — halve the sauce recipe but keep the cooking time the same.
- Wings are perfect for a Super Bowl party. Definitely cook the wings until the sauce is thick, which usually means 1 hr and 15 minutes. Wings are very forgiving — don’t worry about overcooking them (within in reason).
- 18 chicken wings or 10 drumsticks or 4 thighs and 5 drumsticks, etc.
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons oil — peanut, canola, vegetable, etc.
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup honey
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. If using wings: wash and dry, cut off wing tips and place on a rimmed baking sheet. If using the larger quantity of drumsticks and/or thighs: wash and dry and place in a 9X13-inch pan; if using the smaller quantity, wash and dry and place in a 8×8-inch (or something similar) pan. Season lightly with salt (as soy is salty) and pepper to taste.
- Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Toss chicken (with your hands, if you don’t mind, or with tongs, if you do) and then arrange skin-side down in the baking pan. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove pan, turn chicken over, and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
- Remove pan and turn chicken over once more. I find that the chicken is usually done at this point, but my mother likes to cook hers for another 15 minutes, which is what the original recipe calls for, too, although the original recipe also calls for a 375ºF oven temp. It’s your call — you can’t mess it up. I suggest turning the oven down to 375ºF if you do bake it for an additional 15 minutes.
- If your sauce is not the thickness you like, but the chicken has completed its cooking, you can transfer the sauce to a small sauce pan and simmer it down stovetop till it thickens.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hours 15 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Asian
Keywords: chicken, honey, soy, drumsticks, wings, thighs
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232 Comments on “Honey-Soy Chicken Drumsticks, Thighs or Wings”
I made this dish a few weeks ago & we loved it so much I passed the recipe onto my cousin. She made it this past weekend but she substituted the ketchup with sweet baby Ray’s bbq sauce. Tonight I made it again but I made 1 pan with the recipe as is & another pan w/the bbq sauce instead of ketchup. We all voted the one w/bbq sauce was better.
Very tasty dish. Amazingly simple and easy. Thank you so much for this recipe. Love it!!! ❤️
Wonderful to hear this, Dipti!
I made this with ckn thighs a few weeks ago and absolutely loved them! Best ever that I am making again tonight but with wings.
This by far is the best ckn recipe I have ever had.
Thank you so much for posting it.
Turned out perfect? ????????????❤️❤️❤️
I have made this for years but just using bbq sauce, I like the idea of soy sauce and honey , I will try it this week . thanks for the recipe…
I love this idea… chicken legs and thighs are ALWAYS on sale and I’m always looking for recipes that help with the weekly budget! We’re entertaining for a football party this weekend so I’m going to make these… winning… both reasonably priced and full, of yummy flavors! ???? ???? ????
I made this recipe today and it was delicious. Super simple and quick to make. Definitely will be making again!
Wonderful to hear this!
This recipe does not at ALL come out like the picture. The sauce is still just watery by the end. It does not carmelize. It does not bubble up to a thick sauce as described. It’s just unfortunate that I wasted so much chicken and honey. Don’t waste your time people.
Simone, Sorry to hear this didn’t work out, but it sounds as though something went wrong. Did you make any other changes? did you wash your chicken and not dry it? what kind of chicken did you use?
What kind of pan did you use? I made it, and made a large batch. Put one half in a glass pan and the other in a disposable aluminum pan. The half in the glass pan, glazed beautifully, but the half in the disposable pan, didn’t glaze at all. You have to use the right pan.
This is a very good recipe. Wanted to try something different while home bored and hungry on the corona quarantine. This meal was simple to follow and the chicken came out delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
So great to hear this, Keith!
I was a little worried at forst because of the 2 previous comments. But out turned out so good. I did however have to add more of the mixture (i only made 4 drumsticks) halfing the recipe wasnt enough. I will be doing this again with wimgs next 🙂
So happy to hear this Breanna!
Didn’t work for me. Didn’t wash the chicken, made sure the chicken was bone dry, baked at 400 for almost 2 hours. Basically came out boiled chicken with a tiny bit of flavor in watery sauce.
I agree, did not get thick. I even had leftover sauce and boiled it on the stove. Never got thick.
I wish I could show you a picture. The chicken came out exactly like the pics. I halved the sauce because I only had 5 chicken legs. But man!! Perfection! Meat basically falling off the bone. I’m posting to my recipe tried and love album. Thanks so much!!
So happy to hear this Michaela! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Did not thicken. Came out watery. 🙁Followed to a T.
Maybe its the type of honey I used 🤔
Is there any substitute for honey
You could try brown sugar.
I did this today in a slow cooker! High for 4 hours then reduced the sauce in a pan and popped the drumsticks under the grill!
Oh my gosh they were amazing!!! 😍 delicious! Thankyou for the recipe! X
So happy to hear this, Bec!
My Son cooked this tonight his 8 yrs old. This was a big hit with my family. Thanks heaps
So happy to hear this!
I’ve made this recipe several times and it has been fantastic every time. I love that it only takes a few basic ingredients that I always have on hand and that it is super easy! My favorite chicken recipe!
So happy to hear this!
I made it last night and it came out all watery try to thicken in pan but did’nt work can you tell me what want wrong. I think it was the aluminum pan
Bummer to hear this, Robert, and you are not the only one this has happened to. I don’t know how to explain it. Do you wash your chicken? And if so, do you dry it very well?
I made this last week and it was so delicious, thank you for the recipe! I was wondering if it’s possible to make the sauce on its own? Could you just combine the sauce ingredients and cook it down on the stove?
Wonderful to hear this! I would imagine you could. Just simmer it till it tastes concentrated to your liking.
WOW!!! Delicious. Sent recipe to my Brother who I new would love them too. I also used sweet baby ray honey BBQ sauce to replace ketchup. Yum Yum Yum!!!!
Wonderful to hear this, Nana!
I’m wondering if the people who had issues bought chicken injected with “flavor enhancers” (salty broth common in Walmart and Kroger products) or used chicken that wasn’t completely thawed.
Worked out great! It was tasty and would definitely be a crowd pleaser for wings in the future. Any suggestions for what ingredient to add to make a more spicy or tangy batch?
Maybe some Sriracha? A few tablespoons? Great to hear this!
Loved the Flavor, but mine came out in thin juice also. I followed the instructions to a tee, washing, drying, squeezing out and additional fluids. I guess either the soy sauce should be less than half a cup or more honey should be added and/or be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period to evaporate more of the fluid. Maybe I should have followed your Mom, and used a 375 Bake temp.
Easy and delicious.
Wonderful to hear this, Emma!
Loved this recipe and so easy with chicken legs – just out in dish, pour in the sauce and cook. Absolutely delicious! I only used half a cup of honey as a whole cup seemed too much and it was perfect, sticky, tasty, sweet and salty. Also added some chopped fresh ginger. Will def make again! 5 stars.
Wonderful to hear this, Katherine! Great to hear 1/2 a cup of honey worked well, too. Thanks for writing!
Delicious. I substituted in Lanes Pineapple Chipotle sauce for the ketchup, just delicious.
Great to hear this, Alan!
This recipe is amazing!! My family loves it, so I make it a lot!! For those who think it’s watery, well it is a bit. BUT, there is a really easy fix! At the end of the cooking time, just put the sauce in a pan and add some corn starch and it will thicken right up!! My family actually doesn’t care if it’s thick or thin. We put it over rice and add some cooked broccoli and it’s the best meal ever!!
So nice to hear all of this, Kellie! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your notes and encouraging words 💕💕💕💕💕
you have another winner! Made this once with two legs and half the sauce, then made it again the other night, still just two legs but this time made a full batch of the sauce and took half to brush over eggplant slices that went into the oven about 15 minutes after the chicken.
One thing I did do differently: I’d cut the honey down by half the first time, and while the flavor was wonderful, the sauce didn’t thicken as in your photos (duh). So this time, I added a tablespoon of potato starch and a splash of water. It worked! Lovely, shiny sauce, just like in your photos. Thanks so much for this one. Can’t wait to make it with wings. And I bet it would also be great on lamb ribs… Keep up the amazing work!
Oh yay! Love the idea of using the sauce for both the meat and the veg — I feel like this sauce would be so good with eggplant! And thanks for sharing your tip about the potato starch and water. A number of people have had issues with the sauce not thickening, so this is super helpful. Thanks for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Just to report that I made another “Ali mash-up” last night: made this sauce, but with a couple of tablespoons of rice vinegar added (sort of your sheet-pan chicken with cabbage recipe), used wings, added carrots and used your technique from the twice-roasted carrots recipe. Yum!
Been too busy lately trying out stuff on a newly acquired Instant Pot, with one major fail the night before, so came running home to Ali. Thank you so much for existing!
I love your mash-ups! I bet the addition of vinegar is really nice here. This is one of those old-fashioned recipes I have never tinkered with but I think it’s time. I love vinegar in everything. Thank you always for your kind comments!
These were yum. I actually used way less honey (maybe 3 tablespoons), and they were still delicious.
I have a tip also, if you can’t be bothered cleaning your roasting dish or pan with elbow grease fill it with boiling water and a dishwasher tablet, soak it over night, should be good as new.
That is a great tip! Thanks so much for sharing. Great to hear less honey worked as well. Thanks for writing!
Good flavor, just half pan of liquid at the end. Never thickened. Made it twice now. Thawed, washed and thoroughly dried both times. Boiled the sauce for 20 minutes after baking for an hour the second time. Still just liquid. Both times it was thinner than when I started actually.
I made this to the exact ingredient and it came out watery and not sticky at all I was disappointed as I so wanted to be like the picture.☹
It’s an amazing recipe ! I tried it super bowl time and everyone loved it. I want to do it again but was wondering if it would work with the airfryer?
Hi! I would imagine it would work great in the airfryer!
My family loved it. I know some reviews said their sauce came out watery… mine did too, but i added a little corn starch to thicken in a saucepan and it was fine. Easy fix! I also substituted the ketchup with bbq sauce. I served it with fried rice and sautéed zucchini.
Great to hear, Nicole! Glad you were able to thicken the sauce up. Thanks for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂