Get succulent, fall-off-the-bone meat with almost zero effort with this incredibly easy slow cooker drumsticks recipe that just uses 4 ingredients! It’s a budget-friendly, crowd-pleasing, dump-and-go meal, that yields 3 pounds of chicken legs in the crockpot. Perfect for weeknight dinner, feeding a crowd, parties, game day and more.

Overhead image of a slow cooker with cooked drumsticks.

5 star review

““These are incredible” “We need to make these all the time” – my husband”

– Lauren
Overhead image of an oval platter of chicken drumsticks.

Visual Guide: How to Make Slow Cooker Drumsticks

Jump to Recipe Instructions

Testing Notes from Robyn

Say hello to the ultimate dump-and-go slow cooker recipe!

Crispy, tender, and slightly sweet and spicy, these BBQ chicken drumsticks have become a weekly staple in our household because they are so delicious, budget-friendly and wildly easy!

As a habits expert, I’m always trying to streamline dinner recipes that are high in protein, great for meal prep, and perfect for busy school or sports nights; and this recipe ticks all those boxes (similar to my slow cooker bbq chicken, which uses chicken breasts or thighs).

Similar to my slow cooker flank steak, these crockpot drumsticks just use a simple spice rub and some BBQ sauce (I love to use my chipotle BBQ sauce but store bought works just as well), and then the crockpot does the rest of the work — no extra liquid required!

The slow cooker does wonders at producing the most flavorful and tender drumsticks, and an optional quick broil at the end gives that crispy, caramelized skin we all love.

Just keep an eye on the drumsticks under the broiler since they can burn quickly (don’t ask me how I know–lol).

Pair this dump and go slow cooker recipe with a simple side dish like quick cabbage & carrot slaw for an easy weeknight dinner, or make a big batch for hosting a large group.

Overhead image of a plate of drumsticks with cabbage slaw.

Why Use the Slow Cooker for Drumsticks

The slow cooker is honestly the best way to cook drumsticks in my opinion, and here’s why…

First of all, it makes the process is just so simple.

Just toss the meat with the seasoning, add the meat and BBQ sauce to the crock pot, let the crock pot do the work while you check things off your to-do list, and then finish off the drumsticks in the broiler (which is totally optional).

You don’t even need to chop a single ingredient!

You can even make it ahead of time and let it hold on warm until you’re ready to eat.

In addition, the slow cooker allows the meat to get fall-off-the-bone tender and to really absorb all the flavors.

The ingredient list is short (hello 5-ingredient slow cooker recipe!), but the flavor and texture with the slow cooker is outstanding!

Also, this is one of my favorite recipes for when I’m feeding a crowd or have people coming and going at dinner time, because everyone loves it and it can easily be kept warm in the slow cooker after cooking.

Overhead image of an oval platter of chicken drumsticks

How to Make This Recipe Easier

If you want to make this recipe even easier, just skip the broiler step.

You will still get very tender and flavorful drumsticks, but not the crispy skin.

Also, while I love my homemade chipotle BBQ sauce, you can totally use a store bought sauce to save time and effort as well.

Can You Use Chicken Wings?

Chicken wings actually work really well in this recipe!

Just reduce the cooking time to 1-3 hours on high or 2-4 hr on low.

For the broiler step, broil for 1-2 minutes per side and keep your eye on them as they can burn easily.

Overhead image of an oval platter of chicken drumsticks

How to Double or Half the Recipe

This recipe is perfect for any occasion, whether you’re feeding a crowd or making dinner for your family. You may just need to adjust the cooking time.

For halving the recipe, go for the short end of the cooking range and even check 30 minutes early.

For doubling the recipe, add 30 minute increments to the cooking time as needed.

Can You Use Another Sauce?

Absolutely!

I always have a jar of homemade chipotle BBQ sauce in my fridge because I use it on everything (hello, slow cooker BBQ chicken), but my honey sriracha sauce or honey mustard marinade would be delicious as well.

Or you could use your favorite store-bought sauce.

This Recipe Is…

Overhead image of an oval platter of chicken drumsticks.
5 stars (10 ratings)

Incredible Slow Cooker Drumsticks (4-Ingredients!)

Get delicious, fall-off-the-bone meat with this easy slow cooker drumsticks recipe that just uses 4 ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds chicken drumsticks
  • 1 ½ cups BBQ sauce

Equipment

Instructions 

  • Mix together the paprika, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  • Place the chicken drumsticks in a 6-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with the spice mixture and toss to coat. Pour over ½ cups of bbq sauce and smooth to cover the tops of the chicken legs.
  • Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours or low for 4-6, or until the chicken is cooked through and very tender.

For Crispy Skin

  • Carefully remove to a foil lined broiler safe pan. Discard the remaining cooking liquid, or strain and reserve for another use. Brush all sides of the chicken legs with remaining 1 cup bbq sauce, then broil on high for 2-4 minutes, flip, then broil an additional 2 minutes or until just starting to crisp, watching it carefully to avoid burning. *Trust me, don't walk away or the chicken will burn.

Notes

Sugar content and nutritional information will depend on the specific BBQ sauce used.
For paleo and refined sugar free version, be sure to look for a barbecue sauce with paleo friendly ingredients.
For more ingredients & modifications, see the full blog post above.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 (of 6), Calories: 369kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 140mg, Sodium: 783mg, Potassium: 524mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 24g, Vitamin A: 394IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 2mg
Nutrition disclaimer
Did you make this recipe?If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

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