Balsamic-Glazed Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are the perfect finger food for so many occasions. Serve drumsticks at parties, pack them for lunch, hand them to your kids for a late-afternoon snack or grab a drumstick on your way out the door in the morning. Delicious baked or grilled with only salt and pepper, drumsticks also quickly soak up the flavor in sauces and marinades.

This balsamic glaze (which can do double-duty as a marinade) lightly coats the drumsticks rather than drowning them in thick sauce. As the glaze reduces, first on the stove and then in the oven, the flavor intensifies and becomes surprisingly bold.

Balsamic-glazed drumsticks are tangy, slightly sweet and perfectly salty. The flavor is complex and interesting enough that you could serve these at a dinner party, but your kids are going to love them too.

Eat these drumsticks warm from the oven or eat them cold, right out of the refrigerator. Either way, they’re finger lickin’ good.


  • 6-8 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (45 mL)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (120 mL)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari (45 mL or 1 1/2 fluid ounce)
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon honey (15 mL)*

*To make this recipe keto, substitute Primal Kitchen Balsamic Vinaigrette & Marinade for the balsamic vinegar, tamari, and honey listed above. Follow the instructions below to reduce the marinade.



Preheat the oven to 450ºF (232º Celsius)

Coat the drumsticks with coconut oil.

Place the drumsticks on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until lightly browned and fairly crisp.

Combine the balsamic vinegar, tamari, and honey in a saucepan and bring to boil. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes or until it has reduced to about 1/3 of a cup.

Take the drumsticks out of the oven and pour the glaze on top. Bake for another 5 minutes then take the pan out of the oven and use tongs to roll the drumsticks around in the glaze (it will have thickened a bit more in the oven) and/or use a brush to coat them with the glaze.

Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro if you like.

Let the drumsticks rest a bit to cool before eating, then dig in.

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83 thoughts on “Balsamic-Glazed Drumsticks”

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  1. I’ve actually done these before and my god no matter how often I eat them, yuuuummy!

  2. Sounds fabulous! I’ll be shopping for drumettes for smaller snacking size and since I’m a wing fanatic.

    1. Tamari is basically gluten-free soy sauce (most soy sauce contains wheat products). If you’re avoiding soy you can use coconut aminos. Not the same taste, but it works pretty well.

    2. I don’t know if you’ll see this, or if it’s too late and you already tried it, but coconut aminos may look like soy sauce but is nothing in flavor like soy sauce or tamari. It is flat out gross tasting. I have a once-used bottle in my fridge I keep meaning to toss. Blech!

  3. This really looks tasty. I tried chicken with honey the other day…. it didn’t go well 🙂

  4. Made this with chicken quarters tonight – amazing! Thanks!

  5. Great base glaze- You can also add to it to mix up the flavors, garlic, fresh ginger and even a bit of tomato paste add nice notes to it.

  6. Can’t wait!

    Quick Tip: I use a rack in my slow cooker to “bake” my chicken especially in the summer (helps to keep the house cool!). On high it cooks in a few hours.


  7. The PUFAiest part of the PUFAiest meat.

    Liquid fructose.


    What happened to Primal??

    1. Honey doesn’t equal sugar. Do a search above for honey and learn it’s many benefits and when to consume.

      The soy is debatable, but I avoid soy. For me, it’s about using balsamic vinegar INSTEAD of soy for the entire marinade.

      I only eat soy sauce when I eat sushi. Can’t eat sushi without it. Oh well, I consider sushi one of my ‘junk food’ indulgences and that’s as bad as I ever get.

      1. Just so that we have our eyes wide open, I think it should be mentioned that there are almost 5 teaspoons of sugar to be found in the balsamic vinegar in this recipe. 19 grams of sugar to be exact.

        I reckon that’s why balsamic vinegar is my favorite and I use it on my salads all the time.
        For the nutritional composition of foods (including balsamic vinegar):

    2. One should be concerned with their overall intake of PUFA, not necessarily the amount you take in at a single meal. Balance, my man; balance.

  8. I don’t think Grok would have thrown away the drumsticks! You could make it without soy, and a tiny amount of honey isn’t much different than having a little fruit. This looks delicious. Thank you!

    1. Christians may ask WWJD (What would Jesus do), but to evaluate dietary debates on the issue of WWGE (What would Grok eat) seems much more precarious.

      But don’t follow my idel meanderings on this subject. Instead, refer to Grok’s imaginer, Mark Sisson, who said,

      “To be fair, Grok would have devoured nearly anything, including Captain Crunch and cupcakes. Food was hard to come by before the advent of agriculture, let alone grocery stores.”

  9. Sounds great! I bet it will be good with wings too. I will def try these. Thanks for posting.

  10. Was just craving some drumsticks and wondering what the best primal-friendly way to do it would be… PERFECT TIMING. Thank you!

  11. I too am a fanatic. Can’t get enough wings on the grill with cayenne pepper sauce and real butter. Football right around the corner so this will be a different flavor to give out! Thx

  12. I have made these baked at 350 for an hour but did not try the Balsamic for them, sounds awesome, will make right away.

  13. I question this recipe too. Balsamic Vinegar riddled with sugar/fructose, honey, and soy hmmmmm!? Looks like a great recipe but not for me if I’m trying to ditcn sugar/fructose, just doesn’t sit well with me, the soy, honey and most definately the balsamic vinegar. Trying hard to limit the amount of fructose in my diet, was disappointed to see this recipe on this site. 🙁

    1. Well, nobody’s going to force feed it to you. I appreciate MDA partially because the recipes here have a fuller, richer pallet than many paleo-style sites out there. And I’m an athlete who’s interested in health but not afraid to ingest a little honey or balsamic vinegar. I’m sure I’m not the only one either. so I’m happy to have this. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of recipes that work for you just fine already.

    2. MDA does allow more carbs than I can handle for weight loss too. This looks nice for someone who is in weight maintenance or a high carb burner, but I’m avoiding the sugar in the honey and balsalmic.

    3. Smart critical thinking, Whitney. I like to see more of that around here otherwise it just seems like an echo chamber.

      I too was surprised somewhat to see a recipe with balsamic vinegar (amounting to almost 5 teaspoons of sugar for this recipe) in addition to the honey.

      Maybe this was meant to be a “cheat day” recipe.

      I’m not very concerned about fermented soy products like tamari however, and it even has the added advantage of being wheat-free.

      1. Sorry there’s not an edit function on these posts, so you have to post again to make a correction.

        So, I’d like to say:
        I’m not very concerned about fermented ORGANIC soy products like tamari however, and it even has the added advantage of being wheat-free.

  14. Spice girl – thanks for the tip about using a slow cooker with a rack.
    Do you put some water in the base of the cooker or do you use it dry?

    1. French Margaret,

      No, you don’t “need” water in a slow cooker (I always thought you did until a few years ago).

      I make fish in it (wrapped in foil) and baked sweet potatoes, meats, etc. It is awesome!

      Check out for ideas.

      sg 🙂

    2. No. No water needed in a slow cooker.

      (I posted a link in another comment, which may not get posted), so answering here.

  15. I do a similar maranade with honey, olive oil, lemon juice or apple vinegsr, whole-grain mustard and a bit of salt and garlic to taste. Nice left to sit in in overnight before its cooked.

  16. Good balsamic is on par with good wine in my book. Life’s too short to consider either a cheat food. I’ll use honey with restraint, but balsamic gets used liberally. I guess if there is a concern about the sugar load, some more intense heavy lifting would take care of it.

  17. Excellent recipe idea!

    My marinade for chicken – Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic and crushed red pepper. Needs to soak for at least 3 hours. Smoked and dusted with cumin/paprika/red pepper spice when turned. Frank’s Hot Sauce as a finisher – mixed 1/2 and 1/2 with pastured butter.

    Marinade for ribs – Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Garlic and crushed red pepper.
    Needs to sit and marinate in the refrigerator for at least two days. The vinegar will eat away at the larger portions of fat. I turn the bag about 4 or 5 times during those 48 hours. Grilled over charcoal is best, but I plan on trying to smoke them with some plum wood chips.

    Great comments everyone!

  18. My mom and I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious!! It was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy with the honey and coconut oil. My mom has always used Baby Rays BBQ Sauce and it was just too thick and obviously unprimal.I highly recommend this recipe to anybody who enjoys eating drumsticks!

    1. Sweet Baby Ray’s has crazy sugar content–its first ingredient is corn syrup. I’ve gotten some called “Bone-Suckin’ Sauce;” it seems to be on par with Mark’s recipe for primal bbq sauce and is pretty tasty.

  19. Only problem? I did not make enough…love the “syrup” just by itself…will be saving that to put on other stuff….

  20. We made these tonight and I asked my husband if he had brined the chicken (which he had not)
    Chicken was SO moist and tender (we did buy pasture raised) and our girls loved the flavor too.
    Great recipe!

  21. I can already see this becoming as one of my go-to no fuss dish for my family. I love the idea of baking chicken and experimenting with various glazes. Is the tamari readily available in most grocery stores?

  22. What if I don’t have coconut oil?? I live in Korea, and I haven’t found coconut oil but I have all the other ingredients…could I substitute butter or olive oil for the coconut oil??

    1. Maybe you could, but coconut oil is really ideal for this kind of cooking. It has a higher smoke point and has a very healthy profile.

      Also, I live in Korea too. But I get my extra virgin coconut oil in a big 54 oz. economy size from a company called that has truly unbelievably cheap shipping to Korea (and fast like 5 days with order tracking). Also, on your first order, you can get a $5 discount if you use this code: COC920


  23. My partner is allergic to coconut. This recipe looks great tho!

    Can anyone suggest an alternative to coconut oil?

    1. I use avocado oil for my chicken marinades – it would probably work well here too, and it’s a very light flavor, almost unnoticable (at least to me)

  24. Going to try this sauce, sounds great! I use chicken quarters(whole legs) and simply add 1tbsp of butter and the juice of one lemon to a glass baking dish. I pat the chicken with sea salt/pepper and toss in pan with butter/lemon juice. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes, and baste every 15 minutes. Creates a nice crispy skin and mouth watering chicken.. this sauce will no doubt be an awesome change of pace.

  25. Just made this tonight – YUM! The fresh cilantro adds a really nice freshness to the whole thing!

  26. I ate three. Then I said, “There’s only five left?” But 450 degrees made the coconut oil smoke my kitchen out. Are you sure about 450 degrees? I thought coconut oil was good up to 350 degrees. They tasted fantastic, but I can’t go smoking up my kitchen like this or my wife will take my cooking license away!

    1. I baked them three times at 450 and no smoke. Maybe your oven temperature is off? (Or maybe it’s because I used more like a tablespoon of oil – guestimated – instead of three…?)

  27. Trying this glaze on some pork chops tonight – it was awesome on the drumsticks the other night!

  28. Made this tonight and it was DELICIOUS! Great combo!

  29. Made this for a house concert I hosted. Everyone raved about them! Luckily I made plenty so I had leftovers to enjoy myself for days afterward! Making them again today for another music party! Yay!!

  30. I have made this three times in the past week. My 13-year old daughter loves it – calls it the “good chicken.”

    The first time I had a package of boneless skinless chicken thighs in the fridge so I used those. They were fabulous. Tonight I made half drumsticks/half thighs (about 6 thighs and 6 drumsticks). Both turned out great, though we might like the thighs a little better as more sauce “sticks” to them.

    They also are great cold the next day. I am always looking for lunchbox ideas and these are perfect for that.

    I found there was plenty of sauce and I used the extra on some roasted beets. Delicious.

    A tip: Don’t skip the foil. I did the first time and it was really hard to scrub the baking dish. Also I like to cook the chicken on a larger baking sheet. Then I transfer it to a smaller sized (foil-lined) baking dish for the glazing part. Maybe it’s just me but the chicken created a broth that I didn’t want to dilute the glaze. And a smaller dish makes it easier to coat all the chicken with.

    Don’t mean to make it sound complicated. It’s not. It is a super easy recipe and will be on our short list of faves!

  31. Made this recipe tonight and it was finger lickin’ good. Wow!! Will definitely be on our bi-weekly rotation. Easy and delicious.

  32. I did this as a marinade before BBQing the legs. Didn’t care for it. It was ok and the family ate it up, but not my favorite. It may be better as a glaze.

  33. I made this, it’s wonderful, and I have a few notes:

    * coconut aminos in place of tamari is a fine substitution and tastes great
    * make sure you really coat the chicken with oil before you bake (underneath too) because it really sticks to the foil otherwise
    * if the chicken is not at room temp before baking, you may need 10 more minutes of baking time like I did


  34. I tried to make this, but didn’t get too far with the glaze. It burned before it reduced to 1/3 cup. I was simmering it over medium and stirring constantly. Next time I’m going to only try reducing to 1/2 C or just until it coats the back of the spoon! I ended up just putting BBQ sauce on the chicken since it was already baking in the oven.