Bite into these grilled Korean BBQ Chicken Drumsticks which are slowly smoked, glazed with strawberry chile sauce, and seared to crispy perfection. Topped with sesame seeds and more chile flakes, each bite is crispy, spicy, and sticky.
Korean BBQ chicken has so many different varieties with recipes and cuts of chicken. This is my version utilizing the unique Korean BBQ seasoning and Korean BBQ sauce recipes found on Chiles and Smoke.
Why This Recipe Works
- Layers of flavors. Smoked chicken drumsticks are coated with flavorful seasoning, glazed with sticky sauce, and dusted with sesame seeds. Combined with the char from the grill, these are the most flavorful drumsticks you’ll ever bite into.
- Simple process. There are two stages for smoking chicken drumsticks, and it doesn’t take long. Once you have the seasoning and sauce ready the process is very straightforward.
Key Ingredients for this Korean BBQ
This recipe focuses on smoked chicken drumsticks, but any cut of chicken would work with these flavors. There are a couple of absolutely key ingredients you’ll need to prepare ahead of time – trust me when I say it’s worth the effort.
- Korean BBQ Seasoning – This homemade blend of spices includes Korean chiles (gochugaru), chipotle, fennel, garlic, coriander, and more.
- Korean BBQ Sauce – Flavors of strawberry, ginger, and gochujang fortify this sauce into an incredibly rich and complex flavor.
- Sesame seeds – Trust me, this finishing touch adds a little crunch of nutty flavor.
Prepping the Drumsticks
Lightly oil the drumsticks first, which helps to promote crispy skin and prevents the chicken from sticking to the grill.
Season each of the drumsticks generously. This can be done a couple of hours ahead of time if needed, as long as they remain in the fridge.
Smoking the Chicken
Set up your smoker to 275-300°F. If using a charcoal grill (see above) put the coals on one side so you have 2 cooking zones.
Take the chicken out of the fridge while you prepare the grill, giving them a little time to naturally warm up.
Place the seasoned drumsticks on the grill or smoker once preheated. Allow them to cook for about 60-80 minutes undisturbed.
The time can differ depending on the size of the drumsticks, the amount that you’re smoking, and the type of grill you’re using. We are aiming for an internal temperature of about 165°F.
Does dark meat need to be cooked to a higher temperature?
Yes, for the purpose of eating and enjoying it. While it’s safe to eat chicken at 165°F the dark meat cuts such as thighs and drumsticks end up being more tender and crispier when cooked up to 175-190°F.
You’ll notice that all of our chicken wing recipes on the site also reflect instructions to cook this way.
Glaze and Sear
Take the Korean BBQ sauce and generously coat the chicken drumsticks. It’s time to finish these bad boys off.
- Pellet Grill – Turn the heat up to 400°F and cook the drumsticks, flipping as needed to crisp up both sides.
- Charcoal Grill – Make sure the coals are warm, but not blazing hot. Spread them out a little if needed or the skin will burn quickly. Sear the chicken on each side for a couple of minutes, flipping as needed.
Season and Serve
Remove the drumsticks from the grill when ready and allow them to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
This is where I like to add the sesame seeds, and even additional chile flakes if you’d like to continue kicking up the heat!
Time to crack open an adult beverage and dig in. Don’t forget the napkins, these are sticky.
More Spicy Recipes to Love
If you like the heat from these Korean BBQ chicken drumsticks, check out some of these other popular recipes on our menu:
- Mexican Buffalo Wings
- Smoked Buffalo BBQ Wings
- Grilled Kung Pao Chicken Wings
- Grilled Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
- Bacon-Wrapped Sausage Popper Boats
- Pat the drumsticks dry, and rub in the oil to coat the surface. Sprinkle a generous amount of seasoning on each. Place them on a wire rack with a baking sheet in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Preheat the smoker to 275-300°F. Remove the drumsticks from the fridge and allow them to come to room temp while the smoker warms up.
- Place them in the smoker when preheated, allowing them to cook for about 80-90 minutes undisturbed. Check on them after an hour, the target temperature we’re looking for is just about 165°F or slightly higher.
- Glaze the drumsticks with the Korean bbq sauce and get ready to crisp them up.
Pellet Grill – Turn the heat up to 400°F and cook the drumsticks, flipping as needed to crisp up both sides.
Charcoal Grill – Make sure the coals are warm, but not blazing hot. Spread them out a little if needed or the skin will burn quickly. Sear the chicken on each side for a couple of minutes, flipping as needed.
- Remove the drumsticks when they reach about 180-185°F. They tend to be a little more crispy, falling off the bone, and easier to eat at this higher temperature.
- Allow them to rest for 5-10 minutes and serve. Garnish with sesame seeds and additional Korean chile flakes as desired.
- While it’s safe to eat chicken at 165°F the dark meat cuts such as thighs and drumsticks end up being more tender and crispier when cooked up to 175-190°F.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Optional Marinade: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 80-90 minutes
- Category: Chicken & Poultry
- Method: Smoking
- Cuisine: Dinner
Keywords: korean bbq, bbq chicken drumsticks, korean chicken, grilled chicken drumsticks, smoked chicken drumsticks, chicken legs, korean bbq chicken