A plate of honey-soy oven-baked chicken drumsticks.

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.

The sauce ingredients for the honey-soy oven-baked chicken drumsticks.

Chicken drumsticks salt and peppered aside the honey-soy sauce mixture.

Chicken drumsticks in baking dish, covered in soy sauce mixture.

Don’t be alarmed when you open your oven and find this:
Just-baked honey-soy chicken drumsticks.

Once the bubbling subsides, your chicken will surface…
Honey-soy chicken drumsticks, out of the oven and resting.

…piping hot, meat falling off the bone.
Piping hot honey soy chicken drumstick, meat falling off the bone.

Honey-soy chicken drumstick, cut up on cutting board.

Try not (initially at least) to curse my name during the post-dinner clean-up:
Soiled, empty cooking pan needing a scrub.

After a quick soak and a teensy bit of elbow grease, just a few burnt edges will remain.
Cooking pan all cleaned up.

I have been making this a lot recently. When we have visitors, I double up on the drumsticks,
A 9x13-inch pan filled with chicken drumsticks and honey-soy sauce mixture

or use a combination of thighs and drumsticks:
A mixture of chicken thighs and drumsticks in honey-soy sauce mixture.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Super Easy, Oven-Baked, Honey-Soy Chicken Drumsticks

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.6 from 53 reviews

Save Recipe


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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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