Sticky Lemonade Chicken Drumsticks

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

About This Lemonade Chicken Recipe

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

What makes this recipe different? We use lemonade. Yes, stay with me. The sugars and citrus not only add a sweet sharpness to the chicken, but also tenderises the chicken as it marinates overnight. The lemon will also help break down some of the proteins in the bird, which allow the other flavours in the marinade to get into and enrich the meat!

But it doesn’t stop there. This recipe is perfect for any time of day and any day of the year. Whether it be picnics, part of a buffet spread for entertaining, or a finger-licking dinner!

The recipe has a very small amount of active time as most of the work is done in the fridge and oven. The most input you’ll have to contribute is for the glaze. You have the option for a more mellow glaze by reducing the marinating liquid or for a more sticky citrus punch, you can add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch to the simmering glaze before brushing over the drumsticks and returning to the oven to crisp up.

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

Lemonade Chicken

What You Need for This Butterfly Chicken Recipe

Lemonade Chicken Ingredients

Ingredient Notes

  • Free-Range Organic Chicken Drumsticks: Free-range and organic chicken will always be best. 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: Fresh still lemonade is best 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. As 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 flavour.
  • Soft Dark Brown Sugar: As the lemonade is so bright and sharp, we need to balance that with the deep molasses flavour of brown sugar. Contrasting flavours to balance the dish.
  • Fresh Rosemary: Chicken, lemon and rosemary have been a successful flavour trio for millennia. Similarly to the brown sugar, the rosemary contrasts with the brightness of the lemonade and the deepness of the sugar adding a soft aromatic balance into the mix.
  • Garlic Cloves: Any form of allium will always add flavour, penetrate the meat, and speak volumes to the final dish. Crushing the garlic cloves, as opposed to chopping or mincing, adds a subtle background flavour as to not overpower the bright flavour of the lemon.
  • Cornstarch: The best thickener in the game! Cornstarch is added to soups, stews, stocks and sauces to thicken. 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 as the recipe reads.
  • Garlic: The marmite of the allium world! If you’re not a fan of garlic breath, instead you can use 1 small chopped red onion or 2 banana shallots in the marinade.
  • Fresh Rosemary: Chicken is a wonderfully versatile meat. Instead of rosemary, you can use 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 but maximum flavour recipe. Chicken drumsticks are fantastic vehicles for flavour. This recipe uses the bright sharpness of lemonade and the depth of molasses and soy sauce to deliver a succulent, flavour-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 but ideally overnight.

    Lemonade Chicken Step 1
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 400F. 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 aluminium foil and place a rack on top. Space the chicken drumsticks apart and cook for 20 minutes at 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, 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!

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