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Smoked Chicken Legs (Chicken Lollipop)

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Our smoked chicken legs recipe features frenched “chicken lollipops” that are slathered in barbecue sauce. It’s kid-friendly, simple to make, and creates a fun presentation for drumsticks!

Smoked chicken legs

Marrekus is obsessed with his new smoker! When he fires it up, the smoky aroma wafts through the air, and our neighbors all come outside to see what he’s cooking. The smell of barbecue smoke is so inviting, am I right?

We absolutely love these chicken lollipops. Smoked chicken legs are not only tasty but also super easy to make. Our kids can’t get enough of them, which is a plus.

Bonus: In this post, we’ve also included simple instructions for grilling or baking so you can use whatever cooking method you prefer.

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • PRESENTATION – The shape makes these chicken lollipops visually appealing and fun to eat! It adds an element of creativity to the dish.
  • TENDER & JUICY – Low and slow cooking in addition to regular basting with melted butter helps keep them tender and juicy.
  • SMOKY FLAVOR – Cooking in a smoker imparts a mouthwatering, smoky flavor and enhances the overall taste.

What Are Chicken Lollipops?

Chicken lollipops are chicken legs that have been “Frenched,” where the bone is cut and trimmed clean for presentation, creating a handle like a lollipop.

Ingredients

Note: Feel free to experiment with different brands or homemade BBQ sauces to find the one that suits your taste preferences best.

Special Equipment & Tools

  • Chicken leg rack: We used this convenient chicken leg rack, which we highly recommend. However, you can also stand the chicken lollipops on the grill grates while cooking.
  • Smoker: You can use any smoker for this smoked chicken legs recipe, as long as your smoker is set up correctly. We recommend using either a stick burner smoker or a pellet grill. We like the stick burner because it allows us to control every aspect of the cook, and we love the flavor it gives off when smoking with the wood splits. You can also use a pellet grill, a type of smoker that uses wood pellets instead of wood splits.
  • Other options: For this smoked chicken legs recipe, you can use a grill set up for indirect cooking or bake chicken lollipops. See the “Setting up your smoker or grill” section or “Baked Chicken Lollipops” section for more details.
Smoked chicken legs

How to Make Smoked Chicken Legs

  1. First, preheat the smoker to 250 F. Add cherry or apple wood for the smoke. 
  2. Then, use a sharp knife to cut around the end tip of the drumstick so that the bone and the meat are no longer connected. Remove the skin and cartilage from the end of the leg and push down the meat, so the drumstick becomes a lollipop. 
  3. Season with Soul Dust Seasoning. Need the Soul Dust recipe? See the Ingredients section of this post and unlock our exclusive content for free!
  4. Cover the tips of the drumstick with a thin piece of foil to help keep the bone from scorching and place the drumsticks upright on the smoker using the leg rack. Alternatively, stand the chicken lollipops up on the grill grates, meat side down. 
  5. Baste with melted butter about every 15 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 155 F.
  6. Next, heat BBQ sauce in a saucepan. Use a brush to coat chicken in warmed BBQ sauce. Alternatively, dip each of the chicken lollipops into the sauce. After coating in BBQ sauce, place drumsticks back on the smoker and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 175 F. 

Setting Up Your Smoker or Grill

For this chicken lollipops recipe, you can use a smoker or a grill set up for indirect cooking.

Smoker

  1. Heat your smoker to 250 F.
  2. Add in smoker wood or chips when the temperature has been reached.

Grill

If using a charcoal grill, set your coals and smoker wood to one side for a hot and cool zone. When cooking, the drumsticks will go over the cool zone.

If you are using a propane grill, you only have to worry about maintaining a 250 F temperature throughout the cooking process. It would also help to use the burners furthest away from where you set the legs.

Baked Chicken Lollipops

If you’re short on time, or maybe don’t have a smoker, another quick and easy way to make this recipe is baked chicken lollipops in the oven.

Start by giving drumsticks a nice golden brown sear in a hot, oil-coated skillet. Then, bake legs in the oven, either using a leg hanger or on a wire rack over a sheet pan, at 400 F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 175 F. Don’t forget to wrap the tips of the drumstick with a thin piece of foil to help keep the bone from scorching.

Chicken lollipop

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Preheating the Smoker: Ensure your smoker is properly preheated to 250°F before adding the chicken. Consistent temperature is key for achieving the desired smoky flavor and texture.
  • Choosing Wood for Smoke: Select cherry, apple, or your favorite wood for smoking, as they impart a mild and sweet flavor. Experiment with wood choices to find your preferred taste.
  • Preparing Chicken Lollipops: Use a sharp knife to cut around the end tip of the drumstick. Be patient and precise to separate the meat from the bone. Push down the meat to create the lollipop shape.
  • Basting: Be sure to baste with melted butter; it not only adds flavor but also helps keep the chicken moist. Be diligent with the basting process every 15 minutes for optimal results.
  • Internal Temperature: Use a reliable meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken. Removing at 165 to 175°F ensures it’s cooked through while remaining juicy.

What to Serve with Chicken Lollipops (Smoked Chicken lEGS)

  • Macaroni and Cheese: A rich and cheesy macaroni and cheese dish can be a deliciously indulgent side.
  • Coleslaw: Coleslaw, with its crisp and tangy flavor, complements the smokiness of the chicken.
  • Potato Salad: Classic potato salad is always a good idea.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Lightly grilled vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, and bell peppers is always a good idea.
  • Baked Beans: Baked beans, whether homemade or canned, provide a sweet and savory side that pairs nicely with the flavors of barbecue.
  • Green Salad: A simple green salad with a vinaigrette or your favorite dressing.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I use a different wood for smoking?

Absolutely! While we prefer cherry or apple wood, feel free to try other woods like hickory or mesquite for a bolder flavor.

Can I make this recipe without a smoker?

Yes, you can! See the recipe notes above for using a grill or baking chicken lollipops in the oven.

How do I prevent smoked chicken legs from drying out?

Regularly basting butter helps keep the smoked chicken legs moist. Additionally, smoking at a lower temperature (around 250°F) helps retain the juiciness.

Is it necessary to remove the skin and cartilage from the end of the drumstick?

Removing the skin and cartilage ensures a cleaner lollipop shape and allows the flavors to penetrate the meat better. However, you can leave them on if you prefer.

What should I do if I don’t have a meat thermometer?

Investing in a meat thermometer is recommended for accuracy. Without one, just make sure the juices run clear, and the meat is no longer pink in the center.

Summary

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smoked chicken legs chicken lollipop

Smoked Chicken Legs (Chicken Lollipop)

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 drumsticks 1x
  • Category: main course
  • Method: smoker recipe
  • Cuisine: bbq, american

Description

Our smoked chicken legs recipe features frenched “chicken lollipops” that are slathered in barbecue sauce. It’s kid-friendly, simple to make, and creates a fun presentation for drumsticks!


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Preheat smoker to 250°F. Add cherry or apple wood for smoke. 
  2. Use a sharp knife to cut around the end tip of the drumstick so that the bone and the meat are no longer connected. Remove the skin and cartilage from the end of the leg and push down the meat so the drumstick becomes a lollipop. 
  3. Season chicken with Soul Dust and place upright on your smoker. Need the Soul Dust recipe? See the Ingredients section of this post and unlock our exclusive content for free!
  4. Once the seasoning is set, start basting with melted butter, about every 15 minutes, until the chicken legs reach an internal temperature of 155°F.
  5. Heat BBQ sauce and dip drumsticks into sauce, evenly coating the legs.
  6. Place chicken back on smoker and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 175°F. 

Notes

Note: Cooking times can vary based on the size of the drumsticks and the specific equipment you’re using, so it’s essential to monitor the internal temperature for doneness.

Keywords: chicken lollipops, chicken lollipop, smoked chicken, smoked chicken legs

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