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Sticky Sesame Chicken Drumsticks

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This easy recipe for sticky sesame chicken drumsticks is a hit. Sweet with a bit of heat, this dinner delivers a ton of flavor with minimal effort.

With tender and juicy chicken drumsticks coated in a flavorful sauce, this dish is a guaranteed favorite.

sesame chicken drumsticks on a sheet pan with green onions


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Sesame Chicken Drumsticks

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • A TON OF FLAVOR – By marinating the chicken drumsticks and finishing the dish with a sticky sauce, this chicken recipe has a ton of flavor.
  • EASY – This recipe offers the perfect balance between taste and simplicity. With straightforward instructions, you can effortlessly recreate this delicious dish in your kitchen. The taste is complex but the step-by-step instructions are easy.
  • VERSATILE – Whether it’s a family dinner, a casual get-together, or a potluck event, this recipe is sure to be a hit. The savory sesame chicken drumsticks appeal to a wide range of tastes and preferences, making it a crowd-pleasing option for any occasion. It pairs well with various side dishes, such as rice, noodles, or steamed vegetables.

Sticky Sesame Chicken Ingredients

chicken drumsticks, and ingredients for a sesame sauce
  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Garlic cloves
  • Ginger paste
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sichuan pepper powder
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Cornstarch

Approved Ingredient Substitutions

  • Soy Sauce: use coconut aminos (aka coconut sauce in Canada) to make a gluten-free sesame chicken sauce.
  • Sichuan pepper powder: You can use coarse black pepper or a peppercorn medley.
  • Chinese 5 Spice. If you can’t find this at your store you can make your own with this Chinese 5 Spice recipe or pull the dominating flavors and use star anise and cinnamon.
  • Cornstarch. Feel free to use arrowroot powder in place of cornstarch. I do this all the time and it works well.
  • Chicken drumsticks. You can use this marinade and sauce with chicken wings and chicken thighs, cook times will vary.

How to Make it Gluten Free

Before I go into the details on how to make the sesame chicken drumsticks gluten-free, please keep in mind to always check labels.

Manufacturers often change ingredients or suppliers, so what was gluten-free a year ago may not be gluten-free today.

Swap soy sauce for coconut aminos (coconut sauce) or gluten free tamari.

Swap hoisin sauce for a gluten free hoisin sauce.

Make sure your chili garlic sauce is gluten-free. Gluten free watchdog dog mentions that Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce is not labeled gluten-free but the manufacturer says it is.

If you’re cooking for someone with celiac disease, check your spices as well. My daughter was recently diagnosed and I’m truly learning it’s hiding everywhere.

close up of baked drumsticks with a sticky sesame sauce baked on

Tools you’ll need

Here are some supplies for this recipe: a baking pan, a mixing bowl, a meat thermometer, and parchment paper for easy cleanup.

FAQs about Stick Chicken Drumsticks

The soy sauce will have wheat, so look for a gluten-free variety like coconut aminos or tamari. The taste may be altered, but it will still be delicious! (Coconut aminos aka coconut sauce has a sweet taste.) You will also need a gluten free hoisin sauce.

You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs with this recipe. The cook time may vary, so make sure that the chicken meat reaches 165F.

It’s preferred you use hoisin sauce. It’s a blend of soybean paste (or soy sauce), garlic, sesame oil, chiles, and sugar. The Recipe Critic has a beautiful homemade hoisin sauce recipe. If you don’t have any of the ingredients you can try a teriyaki sauce, or play around with soy sauce, garlic, and something to sweeten it. However, I recommend sticking with what the recipe calls for.

tender baked chicken drumsticks with a sticky sesame garlic sauce

Side Dishes for Sesame Chicken Drumsticks

Here are a few ideas on what to serve the sesame chicken drumsticks with.

  • Steamed Rice: Serve the chicken drumsticks with a side of fluffy steamed rice. The rice will absorb the flavorful sauce and provide a neutral base for the dish.
  • Stir-Fried Vegetables: Prepare a colorful medley of stir-fried vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, and snap peas.
  • Asian Slaw: Toss together a refreshing Asian slaw with shredded cabbage, carrots, and a tangy sesame dressing.
  • Sesame Noodles: Prepare a batch of sesame noodles tossed in a sesame-ginger sauce. The nutty flavors of the noodles will complement the sesame chicken perfectly.
  • Chicken Fried Rice: Whip up flavorful fried rice with diced vegetables, eggs, and soy sauce. You can also try this cauliflower chicken fried rice recipe.
  • Cucumber Salad: Make a simple cucumber salad by slicing cucumbers and tossing them with rice vinegar, sesame oil, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. The cool and refreshing salad will balance the richness of the chicken.

How to Cook Sticky Sesame Chicken Drumsticks

Step 1: Marinate the Chicken

adding a homemade asian sesame marinade to a ziploc bag over chicken
  • In a ziplock bag, combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, minced garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, five spice, and red pepper flakes.
  • Add the chicken drumsticks to the bag and seal it. Give the bag a gentle massage to coat the drumsticks with the marinade.
  • Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to infuse.

Step 2: Cook the Chicken

baking chicken on a sheet pan
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Take the chicken drumsticks out of the marinade, but don’t throw away the marinade just yet.
  • Place the drumsticks on a non-stick baking sheet (I recommend laying parchment for easy cleanup), arranging them in a single layer.
  • Slide the baking sheet with the chicken into the oven on the center rack. Make the sauce (next step).

Step 3: Make the Sauce & Baste

basting chicken drumsticks with a sesame ginger garlic sauce
  • While the chicken is baking, make the sauce. Pour the remaining marinade into a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add ¼ cup of water to the saucepan and give it a stir.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil for 2 minutes. Reduce to a simmer, maintaining a gentle bubbling.
  • After the chicken has been baked for 25 minutes, take it out of the oven.
  • Carefully turn each drumstick over and brush each drumstick generously with the sauce from the saucepan.
  • Put the chicken back in the oven and continue baking for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F (74°C) for the chicken to be done.

Step 4: Finish the Drumsticks

sticky sesame chicken drumsticks
  • Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing ½ tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and add it to the sauce in the saucepan.
  • Whisk the sauce and cornstarch slurry together until it thickens. This usually takes about 2 minutes.
  • Once the sauce has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Toss the chicken in the thickened sauce, ensuring they are well coated.
  • Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the drumsticks and garnish the dish with chopped green onions.

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Sesame Chicken Drumsticks

You're going to love these oven baked Sesame Chicken Drumsticks! This easy recipe features tender chicken marinated in a blend of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and fragrant spices. Baked to perfection and garnished with sesame seeds and green onions, these drumsticks are perfect for weeknight dinners or entertaining guests.
5 from 2 votes
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close up of baked drumsticks with a sticky sesame sauce baked on
Prep Time:2 hours
Cook Time:45 minutes
Total Time:2 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients
 

Sauce

Instructions

  • Combine soy sauce, hoisin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, minced garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, five spice, and red pepper flakes in a ziplock bag. Add the drumsticks and seal. Massage the marinade into the chicken to coat. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and place onto a non-stick baking sheet. Do not discard the marinade.
  • Add chicken into the oven on the center rack and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pour remaining marinade into a saucepan over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of water. Bring sauce to a boil for 2 minutes, then lower heat to a simmer as the chicken cooks. Keep your eye on it, you don't want it to burn.
  • After the chicken has been baking for 25 minutes, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Turn the chicken over and brush each drumstick with the sauce. Return to the oven and bake for 20 more minutes. *Because cooking times may vary, check to be sure the chicken is done using a meat thermometer and do not solely rely on time. It should read 165F near the bone.
  • Add cornstarch slurry to the sauce and whisk. Once thickened (about 2 minutes), remove from heat.
  • Toss drumsticks in the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with green onions. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (2-3 drumsticks)Calories: 274kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 25gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 1737mgPotassium: 406mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 178IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 2mg
Servings: 5 servings
Calories: 274kcal


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