Crockpot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

By Polly Conner
March 23, 2021

Our Crockpot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks are sticky, sweet, and just a little spicy. Drumsticks made in the slow cooker are economical, kid-friendly, and tasty. The secret to making these crispy is giving them a few minutes under the broiler at the end.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks on a white plate

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Why Chicken Drumsticks Made in the Slow Cooker are the Bomb

No matter the stage of life you are in, dinnertime can be a challenge. Whether you have a fussy toddler on your hip or find yourself busy with kid activities in the evening, sometimes we just need a no-brainer meal that everyone will like.

That’s why I am obsessed with this super simple recipe that:

  • Only requires a few simple ingredients (a rub, BBQ sauce, and drumsticks).
  • Can be doubled and a second batch frozen for later to save time. (See our freezing instructions below.)
  • Is gluten-free and dairy-free.
  • Everyone in the family enjoys them! I love a kid-friendly freezer meal!

Plus, making these chicken drumsticks in the slow cooker, in particular, results in fall-apart tender and moist chicken on the bone. With a few minutes under the broiler at the end, you’ll have a crispy and perfectly seasoned dinner ready to go in no time.

bbq chicken drumsticks on a white platter

Ingredients You’ll Need for the Rub

A big part of making drumsticks come to life is the rub you put on them before cooking them. Here is the magic combo you’ll need:

  • Brown sugar 
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder 
  • Onion powder
  • Salt & Pepper

Tip: You can use the same blend for all cuts of chicken!

How to Make Crockpot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Watch this 1 minute video to see how easy it is to make drumsticks in your Crockpot.

BBQ chicken in the slow cooker

Can I Make BBQ Drumsticks in the Instant Pot?

Oh yes! We love a recipe that can be made in both the slow cooker AND the Instant Pot. The great news is, these drumsticks work in both!

Try our Instant Pot version here: BBQ Instant Pot Drumsticks.

How to Make This Recipe Into a Freezer Meal

When you combine the magical powers of the Crockpot AND freezer cooking, you practically set yourself up for hands-free cooking. That’s because after you safely thaw your chicken, you can just dump it all into the Crockpot, push a button, and you’re done!

BBQ chicken drumsticks as a freezer meal

Freezer Meal Instructions for Drumsticks

Freeze for Later: Make the seasoning mix and rub all over the drumsticks. Place the seasoned chicken and the BBQ Sauce in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Safely thaw your chicken. Then, follow the cooking instructions! Here is how long to cook chicken in the slow cooker by the way. Hint: You have probably been overcooking it!

Want More Crockpot Freezer Meals?

We have an amazing collection of Crockpot Freezer Meals. Make sure to hop over and browse around.

20+ Crockpot Freezer Meals

What to Serve with Chicken Drumsticks

Next up is figuring out what to serve with these crispy drumsticks. We recommend going simple and kid-friendly. Try some of these favorites…

Creamy Mashed Potatoes (in the Instant Pot)

Mashed potatoes

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Oven roasted broccoli

Sweet and Savory Roasted Carrots

sweet and savory roasted carrots in a bowl

Bottom Line: Whether you want a healthy, kid-friendly dinner or a freezer meal on hand for later, we think you’ll love the simplicity of these Chicken Drumsticks!

BBQ drumsticks on a plate

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings (2 drumsticks per serving) 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • About 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks (we get ours from ButcherBox)
  • 2 cups BBQ Sauce, store-bought or our homemade version


Make It Now:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the seasoning evenly over the drumsticks and rub it in to coat all sides. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the seasoned drumsticks in the slow cooker and cover with 1 cup of the BBQ sauce. Cover and cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours or until cooked through. 
  3. Position the top oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. (Note: You can also use the grill for this step instead of the broiler, placing the drumsticks directly on the grill.)
  4. Use tongs to place the drumsticks on the prepared baking sheet; discard any liquid. Brush the chicken with ¼ cup of BBQ sauce and broil until the chicken starts to brown and look crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the chicken over, brush with another ¼ cup BBQ sauce, and broil until the skin begins to brown and look crispy, 2 to 3 minutes more. 
  5. Serve warm with remaining BBQ sauce on the side.

Freeze For Later: Follow Step 1. Place the seasoned chicken and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce in the bag. Try not to stack the drumsticks in the bag; instead, place them flat, side by side. Use parchment paper to divide layers, if needed. Seal, toss to coat, and freeze flat. Pour the remaining BBQ sauce into a small freezer bag or container, seal, and freeze alongside the chicken. 

Prepare From Frozen: Completely thaw meal kit. Follow the cooking instructions above. 


Here are instructions on how to make BBQ drumsticks in the Instant Pot

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