These sweet and spicy drumsticks are sticky, crispy and covered in a marinade that you’ll be thinking about all week – perfect for game night, or any night!
These sweet and spicy chicken drumsticks are the perfect appetizer to feed a game day crowd or great for a simple weeknight dinner! The marinade for these drumsticks is an Asian-inspired mixture with a perfect balance of sour, sweet, spicy and savory, and I love to create a big batch of the marinade at the beginning of the week so that I can create additional meals throughout the week with tons of flavor in a fraction of the time.
To bulk out this recipe into a full meal I paired them with some baked spicy fries, that are thick-cut and coated with a moreish seasoning mix. After a lot of experimentation, I’ve also found the perfect secret ingredient to add into your coating to ensure that your fries are crispy and golden, just like ones you would get at a restaurant!
Why You’ll Love These Sweet and Spicy Drumsticks
With only 20 minutes prep time, this recipe is perfect to throw together on a weeknight, whether it’s just for you or for a crowd. You can easily change the ratios in the marinade if you want it more or less spicy or sweet, and the marinade works perfectly on any other cut of chicken or even fish or tofu! With the addition of the crunchy, thick-cut fries this meal is as filling as it is tasty, so you definitely won’t have anyone going hungry!
- Chicken Drumsticks: I love using chicken drumsticks because they are such an affordable option to feed a crowd, or just to save some budget in your regular weeknight meals. But if chicken drumsticks aren’t your preference, you can replace the drumsticks with any cut of chicken that you prefer.
- Rice Vinegar: The addition of rice vinegar in the marinade helps to tenderize the chicken, and balance out the sugar – if you can’t find rice vinegar at your local supermarket, try an asian grocery store or you could swap it out with white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Cornstarch: This is the ingredient that will take your home-made chips to the next level – the addition of cornstarch is what makes your coating crunchy and golden, just like restaurant fries. It’s often used to thicken sauces or soups, and you can find it in the baking aisle at your local supermarket.
- Grapefruit Juice: This is the sour element in the marinade, and I love to use fresh grapefruit for this but if you can’t find any then you can buy grapefruit juice, or even use lemon or orange juice instead.
(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and instructions.)
How to Make these Sweet and Spicy Drumsticks
- Marinade: Toss your chicken with the marinade ingredients, and let sit for around 20 minutes.
- Grill: In a skillet on medium-high heat, sear the chicken on both sides until the skin is golden, then reduce the heat and cook for a further 5 minutes with the lid on.
- Fries: Add your sliced potatoes and coating to a large ziplock bag and toss to coat.
- Bake: Bake the fries on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes at 400, turning halfway.
For even more flavorful chicken, you can prepare the marinade the night before and soak the chicken drumsticks overnight in the fridge. I also love to double the marinade recipe so that later in the week I can cook more chicken in a hurry! The marinade will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days before you put the chicken into it, or you could even freeze the marinade for up to three months.
- Chicken drumsticks are very easy to overcook! I like to go by internal temperature, and pull them out when they reach 165 degrees.
- If you have any spare time, try par-boiling your potatoes really gently before coating them – it makes them a bit more delicate to handle but I find it results in an even crispier coating!
- If you have leftover fries, a great way to use them up is to cut them up into little chunks the next morning and sear them in a pan for a breakfast hash.
- Vegetarian: A fantastic Indian alternative to chicken is Paneer is a firm, non-melting cheese that is pressed into blocks. You can slice it into blocks, marinade and pan fry until the edges are slightly crispy.
- Sesame Free: If you don’t have any tahini on hand, you can spread a thin layer of the Greek yogurt on your wrap or even mix it up with hummus or peanut butter.
- Low Carb: There are so many fantastic low carb wrap options out there these days that you could use one of them, or if you want something a bit lighter and fresher, I love making lettuce wraps by layering cos or romaine lettuce. It’s a good idea to wrap lettuce wraps up in baking paper because it makes it a little easier to cut them, and keeps everything together!
- Sweet & Spicy Marinade:
- 5-6 drumsticks (skin-on)
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 tbs. freshly grated ginger
- 2 tsp. sriracha
- The juice of ½ grapefruit
- 2 tbs. rice vinegar
- 2 tbs. honey
- 1 tbs. sesame seeds
- 1 serrano chile (De-seeded)
- Spicy Fries
- 2 russet potatoes (peeled and cut into thick slices)
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- Sriracha for serving (I mixed mine with a tbs. of greek yogurt)
- Sweet & Spicy Chicken
- In a medium-sized bowl combine the ingredients for the marinade (leaving out the chicken) and whisk together until well combined. Add the chicken and toss together to coat.
- Let sit at room-temp for about 20 minutes.
- Heat a skillet (I used cast-iron) over a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the chicken skin-side-down. Allow to sear (about 3-4 min) on both sides then reduce the temp and cook for another 5 minutes (with lid on).
- Spicy Fries
- In the meantime, add your sliced potatoes to a large Ziploc bag along with the seasonings. Close the bag and shake to evenly coat the fries.
- Evenly spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through. (or until golden brown).
Try these appetizer recipes next!