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What temp are drumsticks done on grill?

Grilling drumsticks to the perfect temperature can seem tricky, but it’s easier than you think. The key is understanding what temperature cooked chicken should reach, how to best monitor and control the grill’s heat, and approximating cooking times for drumsticks. With a little knowledge and patience, you’ll be serving up juicy, flavorful grilled drumsticks in no time.

What is the ideal internal temperature for cooked chicken drumsticks?

The USDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F to eliminate any harmful bacteria like salmonella. For chicken drumsticks specifically, you’ll want to aim for:

  • 160°F – 165°F for juicy, tender drumsticks
  • 175°F+ for fall-off-the-bone drumsticks

Shooting for 160°F will leave them ever-so-slightly pink in the center while hitting 175°F cooks them until completely tender and easy to pull apart. Anything below 160°F runs the risk of bacteria and poor texture.

How to monitor the temperature of chicken drumsticks on a grill

A good instant read meat thermometer is indispensable for grilling chicken to the right temp. Here are some tips for monitoring temperature:

  • Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the drumstick, taking care that the probe doesn’t touch bone.
  • Test the temperature early and often. Start checking around 10-15 minutes into cooking.
  • Test both thicker and thinner drumsticks to account for uneven sizes.
  • When the drumsticks are around 155°F, keep a very close watch as the temperature rises quickly at the end.
  • Remove drumsticks from the grill as soon as they hit your target temp for ideal juiciness.

How to control grill temperature for chicken drumsticks

The key to perfect grilled drumsticks is keeping an even, consistent grill temperature between 325-375°F. There are a few ways to maintain this:

  • Use a grill thermometer placed at grill level.
  • Pay attention to temperature dials on gas grills.
  • For charcoal grills, spread coals evenly and adjust air vents.
  • Avoid frequent opening of the grill lid.

Approximate grill times for chicken drumsticks

Cooking times can vary based on the thickness of drumsticks and heat of the grill, but here are some general timelines:

Drumstick Weight Cook Time at 350°F
4-6 oz 25-35 minutes
6-8 oz 35-45 minutes
8-12 oz 45-55 minutes

The best way to tell if they’re done is by temperature, but these estimates give you a ballpark for when to really start checking with a thermometer. Remember that carrying over cooking will raise the temperature 5-10°F once removed from the grill.

Tips for maximizing flavor and texture

For the most flavorful, juicy grilled drumsticks, keep these tips in mind:

  • Brine drumsticks in saltwater or buttermilk before grilling for added moisture and flavor.
  • Season drumsticks well with spices, herbs, garlic, etc before grilling.
  • Sear drumsticks over direct heat first, then move to indirect heat to finish cooking.
  • Aim for light charring instead of blackened skin which can make the meat dry.
  • Let drumsticks rest 5-10 minutes before serving for juicier meat.


Cooking chicken drumsticks on the grill takes a little more attention than chicken breasts or pork chops. Monitoring the internal temperature and maintaining an even grill heat are key. With some practice, you’ll be able to achieve perfectly cooked, juicy and delicious grilled drumsticks every time your fire up the grill.