Breaded chicken drumsticks are quick and easy to make at home, and feature an enticing crispy skin and savory outer crust. Make breaded drumsticks that are relatively healthy with the right cooking method. A low-fat cooking method -- one that uses minimal amounts of added fat -- can still give you that crispy outer coating you adore, but with less grease. To boost flavor, add herbs to your breadcrumbs, and marinate your chicken with a dry rub or in seasoned buttermilk before cooking.
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot
Breaded drumsticks can get as crispy as fried ones -- without the added mess, fat, grease and calories. The key is to bake them in a super hot oven, around 425 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the “Joy of Cooking." Preheat the oven, then dribble only a thin sheen of cooking oil on your baking tray to prevent the chicken from sticking. Place the drumsticks on the tray and the tray in the middle of the preheated oven, for best results.
Pan-frying breaded drumsticks uses less fat than deep-frying, but more fat than baking. Pan-frying is generally easier for home cooks to execute, particularly if you don’t have an at-home deep fryer. Use a heavy-bottomed pan with sides rising up a minimum of 2 inches. As with deep-frying, drain your chicken after it is cooked to absorb excess grease, and do not overcrowd your pan. Too many pieces of chicken at once will significantly lower the cooking temperature of the oil, causing your chicken to absorb more oil than necessary, as it takes a longer time for the pieces to cook.
While deep-frying breaded drumsticks will preserve the juices and produce a crunchy outer coating, it is a high-fat cooking method. It can also be difficult for home cooks to execute, because it is time consuming and messy. If you must deep-fry chicken, do not overcrowd the fryer, and use oil between between 325 and 375 F. Proper deep-frying technique will help prevent drumsticks and breading from absorbing more oil than necessary.
Boost Flavor With Less Fat
To keep breaded drumsticks a healthy, use skinless drumsticks rather than skin-on drumsticks. Or choose meat-only drumsticks, which have the bone and skin removed, for quicker cooking. A drumstick with skin contains 5 calories more per drumstick than one without; a drumstick with skin has 214 calories, while one without has 209 calories. For flavor, add dried or fresh spices and herbs, such as paprika, thyme, oregano and pepper, to the breading mixture.