Barbecuing weather is here and this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated is a terrific way to kick off the season. Brine chicken drumsticks in salted water for 30 to 60 minutes, coat them in a spice rub and then grill them over indirect heat for about 55 minutes. Grilling over indirect heat keeps the meat tender, the fat renders and there are no flare-ups! To finish the chicken, crisp the drumsticks up over direct heat for about five minutes before serving.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check your spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Prepare spice rub and put it on a plate

Dip brined drumsticks in spice rub to evenly coat them

Grill over indirect heat for about 25 minutes

Rearrange drumsticks so the other side is closer to the heat and grill for another 20 to 30 minutes

Grilled spice-rubbed chicken drumsticks



½ cup (125 ml) salt

5 pounds (2.26. kg) chicken drumsticks

Spice rub

3 tablespoons (45 ml) packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) paprika

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chili powder

2 teaspoons (10 ml) garlic powder

¾ teaspoon (3.75 ml) salt

¾ teaspoon (3.75 ml) pepper

¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) cayenne pepper


Dissolve salt in 2 quarts (1.89 L) cold water in large container. Submerge drumsticks in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Place spice rub on plate. Remove drumsticks from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Holding 1 drumstick by bone end, press lightly into rub on all sides. Pat gently to remove excess rub. Repeat with remaining drumsticks.

FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). Adjust primary burner or, if using three-burner grill, primary burner and second burner. as needed to maintain grill temperature between 325 and 350 degrees F (163 and 177 degrees C).

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place drumsticks, skin side down, on cooler side of grill. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Rearrange pieces so that drumsticks that were closest to edge are now closer to heat source and vice versa. Cover and cook until drumsticks register 185 to 190 degrees F (85 to 87 degrees C), 20 to 30 minutes. For an accurate reading, insert a probe into the thickest part of the drumstick until it hits the bone and then pull back about ¼ inch (0.63 cm).

Move all drumsticks to hotter side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until skin is nicely charred, about 5 minutes. Transfer to platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Serves 6.

From Cook’s Illustrated