How Long to Boil Chicken Legs Plus a REALLY Great Recipe!

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If you’ve never tried boiled chicken legs before then you’re in for a real treat! In today’s post, we will cover how long to boil chicken legs for various uses, as well as how exactly to go about doing it.

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Boiled chicken legs are an easy and cost-effective way to serve your family on a busy weekday night. After reading today’s post, we’re certain you’ll be eager to serve boiled chicken legs at your next family meal!

How Long To Boil Chicken Legs –plus A Really Great Recipe!

Table of Contents

How Long Do Drumsticks Take to Boil?

Before delving into how to boil chicken legs, we first want to run you through the gamut of scenarios you may encounter when trying to determine how long to boil your chicken legs (otherwise known as chicken “drumsticks”).

Generally speaking, you can expect your drumsticks to take about 20 minutes to boil. But there’s often more to it than that.

Sometimes chicken drumsticks are frozen and therefore need longer cooking times. Other times your drumsticks may need to be baked, and thus, will need to go in the oven for crisping afterward.

No matter what you plan to do with your boiled chicken legs, this post is intended to get you the information you need.

So, let’s get started.

How Long To Boil Chicken Legs –plus A Really Great Recipe!

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs Before Frying?

Boiling chicken legs before frying usually takes about 20 minutes.

When frying chicken, many people like to boil chicken before frying. This is a controversial first step for many as some people believe that boiling chicken beforehand may cause the meat to become bland once cooked. This is because some of the flavors of the meat can leach out into the water you’ve boiled it in. You also run the risk of overcooking your chicken.

But with a good boiled fried chicken recipe, you can enjoy tender freshly fried chicken without any loss of flavor in the process.

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs Before Grilling?

You can parboil your chicken legs for about 5 minutes before putting them on the grill.

Parboiling your chicken before grilling helps for even cooking, crispy skin, and juicy end results. It is for this reason that many people love parboiling their chicken legs before placing them on the grill, however, it isn’t a step that is necessary if you don’t have the time for it.

boiling chicken in pot

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs on Stove

Boil chicken on the stove for about 20 minutes to enjoy tender, juicy, and well-cooked chicken on a busy weekday night.

Know that boiled chicken may take longer to cook if it is frozen and may require up to 10 minutes of extra cooking time (or more).

For more information on how to enjoy yummy chicken legs on the stove, stay tuned! We will be giving you the details on how this is best done later on in our post.

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs For Soup

This is a tricky question to answer because it has two components.

First, if you are looking to boil your chicken to be shredded and added to soup later, you can plan for the chicken to cook for about 20 minutes (or 25-35 minutes from frozen) before being ready to add to soup.

How Long Do I Boil Chicken Legs to Make Broth?

If, however, you are boiling your chicken legs to create a broth for soup, then you will want to boil your chicken much longer than 20 minutes.

For the best flavor, we recommend boiling your chicken anywhere from 2-6 hours if you have the time (along with other aromatics thrown in for added flavor).

Don’t have that much time to spare? There are some recipes that call for only 1 hour of boiling chicken to make a good broth. But bear in mind, that these recipes won’t yield nearly as potent of a chicken flavor as one that requires 2-6 hours of cooking would.

(The recipe included at the bottom of this post will double as both a boiled chicken legs and broth recipe! Score!)

How Long Does It Take to Boil Chicken Legs?

Boiling chicken legs that are fresh should take anywhere between 18-20 minutes.

How Long to Boil Frozen Chicken Legs?

If you are attempting to boil chicken legs from frozen, you’ll want to cook your chicken legs anywhere from 25-35 minutes.

Be sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken before serving (internal temperatures should reach at least 165 °F to be considered safe).

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs Before Baking?

If you plan to boil your chicken legs before baking them, we recommend you boil them for about 18-20 minutes before roasting them at 425 °F for 12-15 minutes in the oven.

At this point, your chicken should have developed some color and a nice crispy crust.

How Long To Boil Chicken Legs –plus A Really Great Recipe!

Boil Chicken Legs Before Baking

If you’re boiling just chicken thighs, we have a separate blog for that. But for chicken legs, here’s what you do:


  • 6 Chicken Legs
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped or Quartered
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme or Rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2-3 Cups of Water or Chicken Broth (or more depending on pot, see notes on step #3 of recipe)
  • 1 Teaspoon Turmeric (optional, helps with color)
  • Salt to taste
  • Dried Parsley (optional, for serving)


How to Boil Chicken Legs

Prep chicken and tools

Clean your chicken legs and add them to a large pot. Make sure the pot is big enough to hold all of your chicken without the chicken becoming too cramped. This will help your chicken cook thoroughly.

Add seasonings

Add your onion, herbs, pepper, turmeric, bay leaf, garlic, and onion powder to the pot. 

Add broth and salt

Add chicken broth to your chicken until it reaches about an inch above your chicken legs. This may be only 2-3 cups, or you may need to use more. If using water instead of broth, be sure to salt the water very generously first. The salt will infuse your chicken and cause it to become more flavorful. 

Boil water

At this point, cover your pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the chicken for 20 minutes or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 °F or more. 


If the chicken proves to be cooked all the way through, it is now time to transfer the chicken to the baking oven. Be sure to save your broth! This can be used in soup or in a recipe that calls for chicken broth

Prepare oven and tools

Prepare a lined baking sheet and preheat your oven to 425 °F. For even crispier results, you can use an oven-safe cooling rack placed over your lined baking sheet to put your chicken on instead of adding the chicken directly to the baking sheet.


Bake your boiled chicken drumsticks for 6 minutes on each side, for a total of 12 minutes (or more depending on how brown and crispy you want your chicken legs).

Garnish and serve

Garnish with parsley if desired and serve alongside a delicious side dish.

How Do You Tell If Boiled Drumsticks Are Done?

It can be tricky to determine whether or not boiled drumsticks are actually done. Unlike other cooking methods, you can’t really depend on the color of the meat to guide you in your determination.

Because of this, we recommend that you use a meat thermometer to determine the internal temperature of the meat before deciding whether it is safe to consume.

Consuming raw chicken can lead to a whole host of negative outcomes if you aren’t careful.


How Long Do Drumsticks Take to Boil?

It will take around 20 minutes, up to 35 minutes if frozen.

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs Before Frying?

Boil for about 20 minutes before frying chicken.

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs Before Grilling? 

Since you’re still cooking the chicken anyway, boil for only 5 minutes.

How Long Do I Boil Chicken Legs to Make Broth?

2-6 hours is ideal, but you can also boil it for an hour.

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs? It Kind of Depends!

All in all, the consensus is that you’ll want to boil your chicken legs for about 20 minutes if using fresh chicken. However, depending on what you plan to do with it afterward, it could end up being much less (or much longer) time than you intended.

Remember that boiling chicken legs for chicken broth may take anywhere from 60 minutes to 6 hours depending on the depth of flavor you are trying to achieve, and that chicken legs used for grilling may only take 5 minutes of parboiling to reach the intended results. Frozen chicken will require at least 10 extra minutes of cooking time before it can be determined to be fully cooked through.

We hope this has helped you feel more confident when it comes to boiling chicken legs for cooking…Cheers!

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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