How Long Does It Take to Boil Chicken Legs? (Drumsticks)

Boiling is an excellent method for cooking chicken legs or drumsticks. To make them perfect, you need to know how long to boil them. How long does it take to boil chicken legs or drumsticks?

It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to boil chicken legs or drumsticks. To ensure that the legs are fully cooked, insert a thermometer into the thickest part. If the temperature has reached 165 °F (74 °C), the chicken legs are fully cooked.

Even small chicken legs can take the full 30 to 40 minutes to cook. This is because the legs have bones and plenty of muscle which takes longer to heat up.

When the water is already boiling, lower the heat slightly to simmer. Continue cooking the chicken legs for about 10 minutes. The meat of drumsticks that are fully cooked will be white. If its original color before cooking is dark, it will turn pale brown when cooked.

Read on to learn more about how long to boil chicken legs or drumsticks, including an easy- step-by-step recipe.

How Long Does It Take to Boil Chicken Legs? (Drumsticks)

The standard time required to boil chicken legs is from 30 to 40 minutes. If you cook it in less time, the meat will be undercooked, and if you cook it a little more, the meat will be overcooked and hard. Stay within the limits of this period, and you will have drumsticks with a perfect, tender texture.

Use an instant-read thermometer or a meat thermometer to check if the chicken is cooked through. After about 30 minutes, insert the thermometer deep into the meatiest part of the drumstick, and if it reads 165 °F (74 °C), it is done. For darker chicken meat, the temperature should read a bit higher.

The original color of raw chicken meat is pink. When it is fully cooked, it should turn whitish. If the original color is darker than pink, it will turn pale brown when it is already done cooking. The pinkish color should no longer be there when the drumstick is fully cooked.

Factors that Affect How Long Chicken Legs Take to Boil

The time required to boil chicken legs may be shorter or longer due to the following factors.

1. The Color of the Meat

White meat cooks faster than darker meats. The color of the meat depends on fat content and density. If the meat has more fat and if it is denser, it will be darker in color and vice versa.

2. The Kind of Pot or Pan Used in Boiling

It will be faster to boil chicken legs in a shallow pot with just the right amount of water covering it. If you use a deep pot with too much water, the whole process will take much longer.

3. The Amount of Chicken Legs

It will be faster to cook a small number of chicken legs than a lot of chicken legs.

4. Bone-in or Boneless Chicken Legs

Bone-in chicken legs will take a longer time to boil than boneless chicken legs. This is because it takes longer for the bone to heat up and the meat around it to fully cook.

5. The Size of the Chicken Leg

A bigger chicken leg will take longer to cook than a small chicken leg.

How to Boil a Whole Chicken on the Stove

How to Boil Chicken Legs

When it comes to boiling chicken, it doesn’t mean hard or full boiling. Putting chicken legs into a pot of water with a full boil will contract the chicken’s muscle fibers. These fibers will tighten and will make the meat tough.

To prevent the chicken from being tough, you should not allow the water to come to a full boil. When it starts to boil, bring it to a simmer and keep it that way until the chicken is fully cooked.

To illustrate this point, here is a step-by-step guide on how to properly boil chicken legs.

1. Prepare One Kilo (2 lbs) of Chicken Legs

Clean the chicken legs if they are still in their grocery pack. Unclean meat may even contain some substances that can prolong the cooking time. Carefully set the chicken legs in the pot.

how long to boil chicken drumsticks

2. Pour In Enough Water

Pour water into the pot — just the right amount for the size and number of chicken legs that you want to boil. For one kilo (2 lbs) of chicken legs, add about 2.5 liters of water. Reduce the amount if you have a lesser amount of chicken legs and vice versa.

3. Add Extra Ingredients for Flavor

To make the chicken legs more delicious, you need to add ingredients that will make it tempting to eat. Without adding these ingredients, your boiled chicken legs will taste bland and will not be attractive to eat.

Below are possible ingredients to add to the pot:

  • Onion — The addition of onion will enhance the taste of the chicken with its spiciness. You may cut the onion into quarters, or you may add it whole. Please take off the onion peel before adding them to the mix. Add just the right amount of onions since putting too much might make the chicken bitter in taste. 
  • Black peppercorns — Peppercorn will also add some flavor to the chicken legs. Their type of bitter taste will make the meat taste better. But only use 1/2 tablespoon. This small amount will spread in all the chicken legs.
  • Carrot — Carrots will add a sweet flavor to the chicken legs. Just add one carrot to the entire mix. Cut it in half. Then, combine with the onion and black peppercorns. The sweet flavor of carrots will lend a springy taste to the chicken legs.
  • Bay leaf — Bay leaf will add a natural flavor to the chicken legs. It is better and healthier than adding an artificial flavor. Bay leaf will provide a taste of herbal spice to the whole mix. You can add two leaves to produce this effect.

4. Boil the Water and the Chicken Legs

Now that you have all the ingredients in the pot turn on the stove and start boiling the water. Take note of the time. How long do you boil chicken legs? As mentioned earlier, the chicken legs should be cooked for about 30 to 40 minutes.

5. Add Salt to Taste

Before the chicken legs are fully cooked, add salt to taste. This would be about near the end of the time limit. Don’t put too much salt, or the chicken legs will be salty. Just add a small amount.

6. Check the Chicken Legs

After 30 or 40 minutes, pull one chicken leg out of the pan and check if it is already cooked. Poke a meat thermometer on its thickest part, and if it reads 165 °F (74 °C), it is already fully cooked. The color of the meat at this point should be whitish. Enjoy your chicken legs.

We’ve answered the question, “how long to boil chicken legs before grilling or aking?” or “how long to boil chicken drumsticks?”; next, let’s look at important tips for boiling chicken legs.

Tips for Boiling Chicken Legs

An excellent way to prepare chicken legs for use in different chicken dishes is by boiling them first. You can also cook chicken meat to create a chicken stock that you can use for making chicken dishes. See the below tips for boiling chicken legs.

1. Rinse the Chicken Legs Before Boiling

Use cold water to rinse the chicken legs. Rinsing the legs will remove the residues and other liquids that can change the flavor once the legs are cooked. When rinsing, use a slow, steady stream of water. Don’t spray the chicken with the water faucet at full blast. By doing so, will only cause the bacteria from the chicken to quickly spread on the kitchen counter.

After rinsing the chicken legs, spray the counter with disinfectant to prevent bacteria from the chicken legs from contaminating other food.

2. Don’t Add Chicken Legs to Already Boiling Water

Putting the chicken legs on already boiling water will cause uneven cooking of their meat. Some parts of the chicken legs may get overcooked, while other parts may still be uncooked.

The best way is to put the chicken legs in a pot with liquid marinade. When you are ready to cook, put the pot on a stovetop. Turn the stove on and bring both chicken legs and liquid to boil. This will evenly cook all the meat of the chicken legs.

3. Use Marinated Liquid

The best way to boil chicken legs is to cook them in marinated liquid. Since boiled chicken legs cannot be flavored directly like fried chicken drumsticks, you can make them taste better by cooking them in the liquid where certain flavors are already added.

Herbs, spices, and other root vegetables are good ingredients that will add excellent flavor to chicken legs. You can add these ingredients to the liquid or chicken stock. The chicken legs will absorb their flavors once it is already boiling.

Even just adding salt and pepper to the chicken legs before boiling will improve the chicken’s natural flavor. It will still keep its taste-neutral and will always work with other types of chicken recipes.

how long does it take to boil chicken legs

A Simple Boiled Chicken Leg Recipe

If you are after a basic boiled chicken recipe that you can use in many chicken dishes, I highly recommend this one. The preparation time is only 10 minutes. The cooking time is 40 minutes. This recipe is suitable for four people.


  • Chicken legs, four or six pieces
  • Carrot, one-piece
  • Onion, one-piece
  • Some pieces of peppercorns
  • Celery, one stalk
  • Water, 4 cups or a little more


  1. Place chicken legs in a pot. Add the carrot, onion, peppercorns, celery, and water.
  2. Cover the pot then bring the mixture to boil.
  3. Upon boiling, reduce the heat to simmer or gentle boil and cook for 40 minutes.
  4. Pull one leg from the mix and check the temperature on its thickest part. If it is already 165 °F (74 °C), the chicken leg is already cooked.
  5. Remove chicken legs from the pot. Set them aside to cool down until they are ready to serve.
  6. Save the chicken broth for other chicken dishes.

A More Special Boiled Chicken Leg Recipe

For an even better chicken leg dish, consider this recipe. This dish involves boiling the chicken first and then frying it after. It is suitable for 3 to 6 people. This dish takes about 1 hour and 5 minutes to prepare and to cook.


  • Chicken legs, 6 pieces
  • Chicken eggs, 2 pieces, beaten
  • Flour, 1 cup
  • Vegetable oil, 4 cups
  • Paprika, 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon or less


  • Place the chicken legs in a pot of water and boil them for 10 minutes.
  • Cool down the chicken after boiling.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a big-enough saucepan, on medium heat only.
  • Mix the flour, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt in a large plate.
  • Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
  • Take one chicken leg and cover it with the flour mixture.
  • Immerse the leg on the bowl with the beaten egg until it is fully covered with the substance.
  • Put the leg back into the flour mixture and cover it again with the flour.
  • Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the chicken legs.
  • Once the oil is hot, place three chicken legs on the pan.
  • Flip the legs so that they will cook evenly.
  • If the legs have turned golden brown, take them out of the pan and put them in a plate with an absorbent kitchen napkin.
  • Place the remaining three chicken legs to the pan with hot cooking oil.
  • Repeat the process as what you’ve for the first chicken legs. 
  • Allow the chicken legs to cool down and serve them in a dish.

Conclusion: How Long to Boil Chicken Legs or Drumsticks?

It takes about 30 to 40 minutes for chicken legs to fully cook. A chicken leg contains bones and lots of muscles, so you will need to cook it this long for it to be edible.

To be sure that the chicken meat is fully cooked, insert a meat thermometer deep into its meatiest part and check if it is already 165 °F (74 °C). By following the above tips and recipes, you will have perfect boiled chicken legs quickly and easily every time.

Read next:

Is It Safe to Eat Boiled Frozen Chicken?