Sticky Lemonade Chicken Drumsticks

A super-fast, low-effort recipe for bright, citrusy, lemonade chicken drumsticks with a sweet and sticky glaze!

About This Lemonade Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

Chicken drumsticks are often an overlooked and under-utilized part of the bird, which is a dreadful shame as they’re the perfect vehicles for flavor. And if cooked right, often the juiciest part.

So, what makes this recipe different? Lemonade.

Yes, stay with me.

The sugars and citrus not only add a sweet sharpness to the chicken, but they also tenderize the meat as it marinates overnight. The lemon will also help break down some of the proteins in the bird, allowing the other flavors in the marinade to enrich the meat!

This recipe is perfect for any time of day, any day of the year — be it picnics, part of a buffet spread, a cookout, or a finger-licking dinner!

With most of the work done in the fridge and oven, there is very little active time for you to be involved. The most input you’ll have to contribute is for the glaze. You can either opt for a more mellow glaze by reducing the marinating liquid or be bold with a stickier citrus punch. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch to the simmering glaze before brushing over the drumsticks and returning to the oven to crisp them up.

These drumsticks are incredibly delicious and will leave you yearning for more.

Lemonade Chicken

What You Need for This Lemonade Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

Lemonade Chicken Ingredients

Ingredient Notes

  • Free-Range Organic Chicken Drumsticks: Free-range and organic chicken is always recommended as the birds would’ve had a better lifestyle and diet, which will pay dividends to the final quality of the meat and the tenderness of the final cooked dish.
  • Still Lemonade: It’s better to use fresh still lemonade for this recipe. You can use sparkling if you must, but reduce the brown sugar by 1 tbsp.
  • Dark Soy Sauce: Soy sauce has a saltiness that is uncompromisable to generic salt. And since it’s a liquid, it’s the perfect choice for a marinade as it’ll penetrate the protein of the meat and add depths of flavor.
  • Soft Dark Brown Sugar: The deep molasses flavor of brown sugar will balance out the bright and sharp taste of the lemonade.
  • Fresh Rosemary: Chicken, lemon, and rosemary have been a successful flavor trio for millennia. Much like the brown sugar, the rosemary contrasts with the brightness of the lemonade and the richness of the sugar by bringing a soft aromatic balance into the mix.
  • Garlic Cloves: Any form of allium will always add flavor to the meat and speak volumes to the final dish. Crushing the garlic cloves as opposed to chopping or mincing adds a subtle background flavor as to not overpower the bright flavor of the lemon.
  • Cornstarch: The best thickener in the game! Cornstarch is added to soups, stews, stocks, and sauces to thicken them. If you want to yield a thick, sticky glaze from any marinade, then cornstarch is the best way to do so.

Lemonade Chicken

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Lemonade: If you aren’t a fan of lemonade but still want to try chicken drumsticks with a citrus punch, you can swap the lemonade for equal amounts of orange juice and continue with the recipe.
  • Garlic: The marmite of the allium world! If you’re not a fan of garlic breath, you can instead use 1 small chopped red onion or 2 banana shallots in the marinade.
  • Fresh Rosemary: Chicken is a wonderfully versatile meat. You can swap rosemary for basil, thyme, sage, or even tarragon!


How do I store leftovers?

Once the chicken has cooled to room temperature, you must put the drumsticks into an air-tight container and straight into the fridge within 2 hours. They will keep for up to 3 days!

I can’t get drumsticks, will this recipe work with chicken wings?

Yes, it will! However, you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. As chicken wings are much smaller than drumsticks, I’d recommend cooking them for 15 minutes, adding the glaze, then returning to the oven for 5-7 minutes.

Sticky Lemonade Chicken Drumsticks

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 30 min Total Time 45 mins


An incredibly low-input and maximum flavor recipe. This recipe for chicken drumsticks uses the bright sharpness of lemonade and the depth of molasses and soy sauce to deliver a succulent, flavor-packed, moreish dish suitable for any day of the year!

Yield: 8-10 chicken drumsticks


How To Make Lemonade Chicken Drumsticks Step By Step

  1. In a large bowl, combine the lemonade, dark soy sauce, brown sugar, rosemary, and garlic. Stir to combine and carefully tumble in the chicken drumsticks. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.

    Lemonade Chicken Step 1
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 400℉. Remove the chicken drumsticks and empty half of the marinade into a saucepan (through a sieve to catch the garlic and rosemary). Place the saucepan over medium heat, uncovered, and allow the liquid to reduce to half. Tumble in the cornstarch (if using) and whisk to combine. The sauce should thicken very quickly. Remove from the heat and empty into a heatproof bowl. If you’re opting for a thinner glaze, omit the cornstarch.

    Lemonade Chicken Step 2
  3. Whilst the sauce is reducing, line a roasting tray with aluminum foil and place a rack on top. Space the chicken drumsticks apart and cook for 20 minutes in the top of the oven.

    Lemonade Chicken Step 3-1

    Lemonade Chicken Step 3-2

  4. Retrieve the sauce and using a pastry brush, coat the chicken drumsticks generously before returning to the oven for 10 more minutes.

    Lemonade Chicken Step 4
  5. Allow the chicken drumsticks to rest for 5-10 minutes, and then enjoy them warm!

    Lemonade Chicken step 5


  • It’s important to rest the drumsticks for at least 5 minutes after removing them from the oven. As we’re cooking the chicken at a fairly high temperature, there is always a chance the chicken may dry out. Leaving it to rest ensures the juices will flow back inside the meat, ensuring succulent chicken!