One of the best parts of the chicken is the legs and thighs in my opinion but when smoking the skin often ends up less crispy than what many people enjoy although it does a great job of protecting the delicious juicy meat inside. These bacon wrapped chicken drumsticks are made by removing the chicken skin, seasoning with my very own original rub recipe* and wrapping in a stretched piece of bacon.
Chicken lovers and bacon lovers alike will adore this recipe!
These are finished with a Dr Pepper glaze made using Jeff's barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce)
For this recipe, the skin will be replaced by bacon so we have to remove it. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to do.
Pull the skin down toward the narrow end then grasp it with a paper towel and pull it clean off.
You are left with a skinless drumstick..
When you've done all of them, you'll have a pile of skinless drumsticks
I decided to use Dijon mustard to create a base for the seasoning. About 2/3 cup of my original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) should be enough for a dozen legs.
Place the chicken legs into a plastic zip top bag first to make it easier and less messy.
Massage the bag to make sure the mustard gets on to all of the chicken.
Now pour about ½ cup of Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) into the bag and once again roll the bag around and massage it to make sure the rub gets distributed evenly onto all of the chicken.
Once it looks good, the chicken can be removed from the bag at this point or stored in the fridge overnight until you are ready to cook them.
I recommend using the thinnest bacon you can find. Look for pound packages that have 16+ slices.
Lay a strip of bacon on the cutting board or wax paper.
Lay one of the chicken drumsticks on top of the bacon as shown.
Wrap the short end of the bacon over the top of the chicken.
Wrap the remaining bacon around the rest of the chicken.
Repeat this process for all of the chicken legs and place them on a pan/rack, Weber grill pan, etc.
You can sprinkle a little more of the Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) for extra flavor if you like.
The bacon wrapped chicken drumsticks are now ready to smoke.
Set up your smoker for cooking at about 250°F using indirect heat.
If your smoker has a water pan, fill it up.
Use hickory wood for smoke. Other smoking woods will work just fine as well.
Once the smoker is preheated, place the chicken into the smoker and let the good times roll!
When the chicken reaches about 145°F, it's a great idea to glaze the chicken with some delicious sauce. I like to use my barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) thinned with Dr Pepper and sweetened a little more with honey.
Add all ingredients and stir to combine.
Brush the sauce liberally onto all sides of the chicken. Multiple coats can be applied during the remaining time if you want them extra sticky.
You can expect bacon wrapped chicken drumsticks to take a total of about 2 hours at 250°F. If you have to use a slightly lower temperature, it may take a little longer.
The higher temperatures will help to get a better finish on the bacon.
Use a quality digital meat thermometer such as a Thermopop (reads in 3-4 seconds so you can check all of them quickly).
Chicken is technically done at 165°F however, I like to take these on up to about 175°F for extra tenderness and because they are not lean like the breast meat, they handle it wonderfully and are better for it in the end.
Serve with warm sauce on the side for dipping and watch everyone licking their fingers and reaching for more. 😉