This 5-ingredient slow cooker chicken legs recipe is quick, easy, and perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. Simply whisk together a quick honey garlic marinade and pour over chicken legs in a slow cooker for a fuss-free dinner the entire family with love.
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Whenever I am asked about meals that are on regular rotation in my house, this is one of them!
I can't tell you how many times this comfort food recipe has come to the rescue for busy weeknight dinners. With just five ingredients in the marinade which we usually have on hand, it is super easy to grab a package of chicken legs at the store without any planning or fuss.
Even on the busiest of mornings, you can whisk together this quick 5 ingredient marinade, pour it over the chicken legs and turn it on for a true "set it and forget it" meal that never fails.
It's perfect to serve up with quinoa, rice, or if you've got the time some crispy Hasselback potatoes. Add on your favorite easy veggies such as green beans almandine or asparagus and you've got a healthy, delicious meal for the family.
If you prefer cooking baked chicken legs in the oven, you can find the instructions here in this chicken marinade recipe.
I can't wait to introduce you to your new hero of meal-time planning! Let's get started.
Ingredients for Slow Cooker Drumsticks
I've tried just about every chicken leg marinade out there and this 5 ingredient solution is my favorite! You can read more about this easy chicken marinade and discover new and delicious ways to use it!!
- Chicken Legs: You will need about 3 lbs of chicken legs to serve 6 people.
- Honey: I love using honey in this recipe to balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce
- Soy Sauce: The salt in the soy sauce helps tenderize the chicken and it also provides that "unami" flavor we all love!
- Ketchup: I know what your thinking...but just trust me. Ketchup helps both the flavor and texture in this recipe and stands up well to the long heat of the slow cooker.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic gives it a wonderful, homemade taste that leaves you craving bite after bite.
See the recipe card for quantities of each ingredient.
I have tried just about every substitution for this recipe over the years. I highly prefer the recipe as written, but these substitutions work in a pinch.
- Chicken legs: You can try this recipe using chicken thighs, wings, or breasts.
- Honey: Instead of honey, you could use brown sugar, granulated sugar, agave nectar, or jam.
- Soy Sauce: if you are watching your sodium you could try low sodium soy sauce or even coconut aminos for a gluten-free option.
- Ketchup: In a pinch, tomato paste will work similarly.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is best for this recipe, but if you are out of stock you can use garlic powder instead, just reduce the amount to about one-quarter teaspoon.
Chicken drumsticks in the crockpot doesn't require much equipment and everything you need to make it, you likely have on hand!
You will need:
How to Make Chicken Drumsticks in the Slow Cooker
When I said this recipe is set it and forget it, I meant it!
The hardest part of making slow cooker chicken drumsticks is placing them in the crockpot!
I like to start by spraying the crockpot with nonstick spray and then line the chicken up in a single layer across the bottom, alternating the direction with each drumstick.
I feel like this method allows the sauce to coat the chicken more evenly.
After you have your chicken all lined up, it's time to make the marinade.
Simply get a small bowl and whisk together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup and garlic. It may take a couple minutes to get it smooth.
Don't worry if there is a bit of undissolved ketchup in the marinade. The heat from the crockpot will melt it and it will turn out smooth when it's time to serve.
Pour the sauce over the chicken legs and place the cover on the crockpot.
At this point, I like to move the chicken around a bit and just kind of make sure the top surfaces are coated. The rest of the marinade will drip down around the chicken as it cooks, resulting in flavorful and moist chicken.
You are going to cook this on high for four hours or low for six hours.
I like to enjoy the chicken as it is. The meat falls right off the bone and it's absolute perfection. however, if you want to get the skin nice and crispy, you can stick in the broiler for just a few minutes to kind of crisp up the skin.
I love serving this recipe with rice, mashed potatoes or noodles. Add a simple veggie side dish and you have a no-fuss meal that practically cooked itself.
Giving the visitor ideas on how they can change this recipe to better suit their dinner guests, or their cultural cuisine, is a great way to increase the chances they make the recipe
- Add fun garnishes: I like to add a dash of toasted sesame seeds and fresh sliced green onions over mine to add a fun Asian inspired flare.
- Make it spicy: Add a pinch of cayenne, red pepper flakes, or siracha to take things up a notch.
- Change up the chicken: Try this recipe on chicken thighs, breasts, or even wings!
- Add BBQ sauce: For smoky slow cooker bbq chicken drumsticks, swap out the ketchup with bbq sauce.
These chicken legs can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. Make sure to store them in a nice air tight storage container.
You can also remove the meat from the bone and use it on top of salads, in a wrap or in a stir fry.
Expert Tips and FAQS
I can't wait for you to try this family favorite recipe! When you make it for the first time, remember these tips:
- Spray your crockpot so the sauce can get around the chicken.
- Place chicken legs in alternate directions in a single layer so they all fit a bit better.
- Pour the sauce on top so it will coat the chicken as it is cooking.
Yes! Making chicken legs in the slow cooker results in moist and tender meat that falls right off the bone.
Yes, you can use any cut of meat with this marinade and it will taste great, although cooking times may vary slightly.
I like to serve this recipe with rice, mashed potatoes or noodles.
The marinade contains ingredients that contain sodium and sugar, however, slow cooker drumsticks are slightly healthier than fried chicken legs.
More Easy Main Dish Recipes
Did you try this recipe? Please leave a star rating in the recipe card right below! You can also write a review in the comment section further down the page I always appreciate your feedback. And don’t forget to tag me @freshcoasteats in your photos on social media, I'd love to see your results!
5-ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Legs
- 3 lbs chicken legs
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- sesame seeds, green onion or parsley optional garnish
- Prepare the slow cooker with nonstick spray and place the chicken legs inside the bottom of the insert.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup and garlic.
- Pour the prepared sauce over the chicken.
- Cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 6 hours).
- Remove from the slow cooker and serve.
Melida Acuna says
What an amazing recipe, so delicious.
The only way I'll be cooking my chicken legs from now on - delicious and so tender. A real hit with the whole family!
Amy Liu Dong says
This chicken dish looks absolutely delicious. Plus I love slow-cooked meals, they are soft and juicy!
Cindy A. says
I NEVER eat chicken legs, but now I do! This recipe was so good Im making it for a second time this week. I marinated the legs in buttermilk the night before and only used a third of the soy sauce. Sooooooo good!
Chicken legs are always on sale at my store and I never knew what to do with them until I found this. I now have this recipe memorized and make it weekly. I serve with mashed potatoes and green beans. The meat falls right off the bone. The only change I make is I use twice the garlic and it turns out perfect every single time.
So glad you love it, Rita! It is one of our fave's too!
Amy Liu Dong says
This is mouthwatering, and I am going to make this for everyone for tonight.
Excellent recipe! The only thing I changed was to use Tamari sauce in place of soy sauce. Even my picky husband loved it. Thank you.
Very tasty loved it .
Made this several time… have changed it up at all… love it!
So good! Had extra so I made chicken salad with it 😍
Oh this would be so perfect for chicken salad!
So glad you loved it! Thanks for sharing!
Very solid recipe. I have a small crockpot that doesn’t allow them laid sideways, so fitted 6 drumsticks big end down. Added a little chicken stock to cover chicken.
Though that made a bit of a soupy base. So threw in a few tablespoons cooked black beans and some leftover cooked squash which made a nice stew to spoon over the rice alongside the chicken
I went w agave syrup instead of honey, as I don’t like honey flavor overwhelming dishes, I’ll try a touch of honey next time.