I love using sous vide to cook bone-in poultry, whether it’s chicken thighs, chicken wings, a whole chicken, or these chicken drumsticks. It’s a great way to achieve that delicious fall off the bone texture without running your oven for hours.

This post covers a range of times and temperatures for different results. 165 degrees F for 6 hours is my favorite when I have the time!

Sous vide chicken legs on white platter garnished with parsley.

Why Sous Vide Chicken Drumsticks?

Sous vide is my preferred cooking method for chicken legs because it gives you that delectable, fall-off-the-bone texture while keeping the chicken juicy. It’s also an excellent way to make sure the chicken is fully cooked, something that can be tricky with traditional methods.

A great tip I’ve discovered is to sous vide the chicken legs before deep frying them for the ultimate fried chicken experience. Make sure to check out my Sous Vide Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe, also in my cookbook, Sous Vide Meal Prep.

But that’s not all…

  • They’re always perfectly cooked. Consistently juicy, exactly to your liking.
  • You can simply drop them into a water bath and set a timer, freeing up your time to prepare sides or go about your day. No need to watch over them.
  • Clean up is as easy as throwing away the vacuum seal bag or putting your reusable bag in the dishwasher!

What You Need for Sous Vide Chicken Legs

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    Tips for Making Sous Vide Chicken Legs

    Here are some tips to make sure you cook the tastiest chicken legs:

    • Always season the drumsticks before sous viding (see the next section for ideas).
    • Make sure the chicken is fully submerged while cooking. I like to use sous vide magnets or place a ceramic plate or bowl on top of them in the water.

    Marinades and Seasoning Ideas

    Get creative when it comes to giving your chicken legs flavor! There’s no shame in store bought marinades and seasonings (I love Yoshidas as a marinade), but you can also DIY it – I have lots of marinade and rub recipes here on the blog and in my cookbook, Sous Vide Meal Prep.

    Chicken legs in marinade in glass dish.

    One of the cool things about sous vide cooking: you can cook the chicken legs right in the marinade, and the marinade also makes a great sauce! Since you cook the marinade, too, there’s no risk of contamination.

    If you want to keep things simple, go with salt and pepper. I always use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

    Time and Temperature for Sous Vide Chicken Legs

    When cooking chicken legs sous vide, you can take a couple of different approaches to get different texture results. I love chicken legs that are just beginning to pull away from the bone but are still nice and juicy. 165 degrees F for 6 hours is my favorite when I have the time!

    For bone-in chicken legs, you should always cook them for at least 2 hours. That pesky bone means it takes a little longer to ensure the drumsticks are completely cooked through.

    ResultTemperatureTime
    Very juicy and firm150 degrees F
    65 degrees C
    2-4 hours
    Juicy, mostly tender155 degrees F
    68 degrees C
    2-4 hours
    Juicy and completely tender165 degrees F
    74 degrees C
    2-4 hours
    Fall off the bone texture165 degrees F
    74 degrees C
    6 hours

    How to Finish the Chicken Legs

    When it comes to getting the skin crispy, you have a few different options:

    • Broil. Preheat the oven to broil on high. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange the legs on the sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes until golden, flip, and repeat.
    • Grill. Preheat your grill on high. Grill the chicken legs for 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
    • Pan fry. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough canola oil to the skillet so there’s 1/4 inch of oil. Cook on one side for 1-2 minutes and rotate until completely golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

    Why Can I Cook Chicken at a Lower Temp than 165 degrees F when Sous Viding?

    Information from sources like the USDA often simplifies food safety guidelines. While it makes them easier to understand, the specifics often get lost. The chicken cooking standard of 165 degrees F is not the full story.

    Temperature guidelines aim to ensure you kill bacteria, with salmonella being a primary concern when cooking chicken. We want to pasteurize our chicken, a process that’s linked to both time AND temperature.

    The reason 165 degrees F is often quoted is because chicken is instantly pasteurized at that temperature. However, the lowest temperature I recommend for cooking chicken is 140 degrees F. As long as your chicken maintains a temperature of 140 degrees F throughout for at least 27.5 minutes, it will be pasteurized! That’s why I recommend a minimum of 2 hours to allow the chicken to reach temperature and stay there for far longer than 27.5 minutes.

    At 145 degrees F, you only need 9.2 minutes, at 150 degrees F you only need 2.8 minutes, and at 155 degrees F, just 47.7 seconds are enough! Interesting, isn’t it?

    To learn more about this, I recommend this article from Serious Eats.

    You can also view this recipe as a step-by-step web story here.

    Sous vide chicken legs on white platter garnished with parsley.
    5 stars from 2 reviews

    Get the Recipe:

    Sous Vide Chicken Legs (Tender or Fall Off the Bone)

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Yield: 4 people
    Sous viding has become one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken legs. I love drumsticks that are just starting to pull away from the bone but still juicy. 165 degrees F for 6 hours is my favorite!

    Ingredients
     

    • 8 chicken legs
    • Seasoning of choice or salt and pepper

    Instructions
     

    • Preheat a water bath using an immersion circulator to your desired temperature.
      150 degrees F for firm and juicy legs.
      155 degrees F for juicy, mostly tender legs.
      165 degrees F for juicy, completely tender legs or fall off the bone legs (time varies for each result).
    • Season the legs with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning blend, or marinate for at least 3 hours prior to sous viding.
    • Add the drumsticks to a vacuum seal bag and remove the air, or use another air removal method.
    • Add the bag to the preheated water bath and keep submerged with sous vide magnets or by placing a ceramic plate over them. Cook for 2-4 hours. For fall off the bone legs, cook for 6 hours at 165 degrees F.
    • When done, remove the bag from the water bath. To crisp up the skin, you have a few options:
      Broil. Preheat the oven to broil on high. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange the legs on the sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes until golden, flip, and repeat.
      Grill. Preheat your grill on high. Grill the chicken legs for 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
      Pan fry. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough canola oil to the skillet so there's 1/4 inch of oil. Cook on one side for 1-2 minutes and rotate until completely golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
    Cuisine: American
    Course: Dinner
    Author: Chelsea Cole
    Calories: 551kcal, Carbohydrates: 0.4g, Protein: 42g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 240mg, Sodium: 216mg, Potassium: 523mg, Vitamin A: 237IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 2mg
    Did you make this recipe?Mention @aducksoven on Instagram or tag #aducksoven.