Grilled Chicken Drumsticks with Spicy Apple Glaze
I am in complete astonishment that this weekend is already Memorial Day. The (un)official start to summer. How did this happen? I’m still sort of half-waiting for the meteorologists to tell us that a freak snow storm is on its way. That’s probably not going to happen at this point, so let’s get started on some summer food. It’s time to get those grills fired up! These chicken drumsticks are the perfect way to usher in the new season, and they take grilled chicken to an entirely new level. They start out with quick brine, soaking in a mixture of water, salt, and brown sugar. Then, they’re patted dry and covered in a smoky paprika rub. Onto the grill they go, and then they get slathered in the most amazing spicy apple glaze. Yesterday, I wanted to cover everything in salted caramel sauce. Today, I want to smear this spicy apple glaze on every savory piece of food I meet.
Usually, chicken on the grill would rank a lowly third for me in terms of cookout meat choices. First, I’ll always take a completely charred hot dog (I don’t like them any other way!), then comes hamburgers, and then… chicken. Truly, though, I don’t often encounter chicken at cookouts, but this one recipe has completely turned my preconceived notions upside down. It helps that the drumstick is my favorite part of the chicken, but between the rub and the glaze? Oh my. They’re smoky, they’re spicy, and they’re sweet. A trifecta that results in amazing grilled chicken. I couldn’t think of a better side dish to go with this chicken than my favorite Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread – an old favorite that I love to make as often as possible.
These drumsticks will definitely be making repeat appearances on the grill this summer! I tend to fall victim of getting stuck in a chicken rut and preparing it the same way over and over, and I’m thrilled to have had such an amazing recipe break the vicious cycle. Here’s to delicious, inventive, and not-the-least-bit-boring chicken!
What’s your favorite food on the grill?
Grilled Chicken Drumsticks with Spicy Apple Glaze
- 2 to 3 pounds (0.91 to 1.36 kg) chicken drumsticks
For the Brine:
- 2 quarts (1.89 l) cold water
- ½ cup (146 g) kosher salt
- ¼ cup (55 g) light brown sugar
For the Smoked Paprika Rub:
- 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 4 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) dried oregano
For the Spicy Apple Glaze:
- 3 cups (708 ml) apple cider
- 1 cup (239 ml) cider vinegar
- 1 cup (244 g) applesauce
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (110 g) light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (24 g) thinly sliced fresh ginger
- ½ (0.5 ) cinnamon stick, about 1½ inches
- ½ (0.5 ) vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out and reserved
- 6 black cardamom pods
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) salt
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cold water, kosher salt, and brown sugar. Stir well to dissolve the salt and the sugar. Pour the mixture into a gallon-size zip-top bag and add the chicken drumsticks. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 1½ hours, turning the bag occasionally.
- While the chicken sits in the brine, prepare the Smoked Paprika Rub. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Next, prepare the Spicy Apple Glaze. Combine all of the ingredients, including the vanilla bean and seeds, in a 6-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cool until it is reduced to about 1 cup and has a glaze consistency, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and strain the glaze through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the solids. Set the glaze aside until ready to use.
- Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine) and pat the drumsticks dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with the Smoky Paprika Rub and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- While the chicken is resting, preheat the grill to a medium-high heat.
- Spray the grates of the grill with nonstick cooking spray or brush them with olive oil. Place the drumsticks on the grill and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Once they are seared, move them to a cooler part of the grill and close the lid. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. During the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking, brush the drumsticks all over with the Spicy Apple Glaze. You can apply multiple coats of the glaze if you like.
- Remove the drumsticks from the grill to a clean plate and cover with foil if you're waiting a few minutes to eat. Serve with an extra drizzle of the Spicy Apple Glaze, if desired.