How Long to Boil Chicken Legs?

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By: Tom Valenti


Chicken legs are a staple at many family dinners, but a number of people are confused about how long to boil them for a perfect result. Boiling chicken legs isn’t something that everyone knows how to do well, which is why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to teach you all you need to know!

Here, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions and guidance on how long to boil chicken legs so that each batch comes out juicy and perfectly cooked – no matter how big or small they might be. Keep reading to learn the key tips for boiling chicken legs like an expert!


How Long to Boil Chicken Legs?

When it comes to how long to boil chicken legs, the answer is: The cooking time required to boil chicken legs can vary depending on a few factors such as the size and quantity of the chicken legs, whether they are fresh or frozen, and the desired level of doneness.

Use the recommended cooking time chart provided below to achieve the ideal level of doneness for your chicken legs:

  • Boil chicken drumsticks from fresh: approximately 18 to 20 minutes 
  • Boil frozen chicken drumsticks: 25 – 30 minutes.
  • Boil chicken leg quarters: 20 – 25 minutes.
  • Boil frozen chicken leg quarters: 25 – 35 minutes.

It’s always best to use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C), indicating that it is safe to eat.

How To Boil Chicken Legs?

How To Boil Chicken Legs


  • Pot with lid
  • Stove or cooktop
  • Slotted spoon
  • Thermometer (optional)


  • Chicken legs
  • Water or chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper (optional)
  • Herbs and spices (optional) such as bay leaves, thyme, garlic, onion, celery, and carrots
  • Lemon or vinegar (optional)


  1. Rinse the chicken legs under running water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a large pot, add enough water or chicken broth to cover the chicken legs. You can also add herbs, spices, and vegetables to the pot to infuse the chicken with extra flavor.
  3. Be sure to add enough salt to the water to season the chicken legs properly and prevent them from tasting bland. The water should have a noticeable salty flavor.
  4. Place a lid on the pot, put it on the stove, and boil the chicken drumsticks over medium heat for a duration of 20 minutes.
  5. Check the temperature of the chicken legs with a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature has reached 165°F (74°C), which indicates that they are fully cooked.
  6. Once the chicken legs are cooked, use a pair of tongs to remove them from the pot and place them on a plate.
  7. Let the chicken legs cool down for a few minutes before serving them with your desired side dish or using them in other recipes.

What to Serve with Boiled Chicken Legs?

What to Serve with Boiled Chicken Legs

If you’re searching for a side dish to complement your boiled chicken legs, there are numerous options available. 

You can choose from a range of roasted vegetables, including squash, potatoes, and carrots, or try serving the chicken with rice, quinoa, or couscous mixed in a light broth.

Fresh salads, grilled pineapple and mango salsa, and flavorful pasta dishes also make for delicious accompaniments to boiled chicken legs.

How To Store Cooked Chicken Legs?

After boiling chicken legs, storing them properly is important to ensure their safety and freshness. To do this, allow the chicken to cool down at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes. Then, remove the meat from the bones and place it in an airtight container. You can keep the drumsticks whole if you prefer. Make sure the container is placed in the fridge at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or lower. Cooked chicken legs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. 

If you need to store the chicken for a longer period, freezing is a good option. To freeze the chicken, let it cool down completely, remove it from the bones and store it in an airtight container or freezer bag. Ensure that you remove any excess air to prevent freezer burn, label the container with the date and contents, and then place it in the freezer. Cooked chicken legs can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. When reheating the chicken, make sure to heat it to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure it’s safe to eat.

Tips For Boiling Chicken Legs

Have you known the ideal time for how long to boil chicken legs? Now, let’s seek a few tips that can help ensure that the chicken is cooked perfectly:

  • Select a pot that is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate all the chicken pieces you intend to boil.
  • Ensure that the chicken in the pot is submerged in water by at least half an inch.
  • Heat the water until it reaches a complete boiling point.
  • While boiling, place a lid on top to cover the pot.
  • To ensure that the chicken is cooked through, use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F (74°C).


How to Know If Boiled Chicken Legs Are Cooked?

The best way to know if boiled chicken legs are cooked is by using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165°F.

Can You Boil Chicken Too Long?

Overcooking chicken can result in a dry and tough texture, as well as a loss of flavor and nutrients. It is important to follow the recommended cooking time and temperature for the type and size of chicken you are cooking.

Is It Better to Boil or Bake chicken?

Both boiling and baking can be great cooking methods for chicken, but they have different outcomes and benefits. Boiling chicken is quicker and produces tender and moist meat, which is good for shredded chicken dishes like soups and stews. Baking chicken takes longer but can result in a crispy exterior and juicy interior, which is ideal for whole or bone-in chicken pieces. 

Are Boiled Chicken Legs Healthy?

Boiled chicken legs can be a healthy choice, depending on how they are prepared and consumed. Chicken is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and boiling can be a healthy cooking method that does not add any extra fat or calories.

Is it Better to Boil Chicken Leg Fast or Slow?

It is better to boil chicken legs at a moderate speed rather than a rapid boil. Boiling chicken too fast can result in overcooked, dry, or tough meat, as well as cause the meat to fall off the bone. Slow-boiling chicken legs at a moderate temperature allows the meat to cook evenly and stay moist and tender.


Boiling chicken legs may seem intimidating at first, when you may not know exactly how long to boil chicken legs, but with the right technique and following these instructions, you’ll be cooking them like a pro in no time.

Boiling chicken legs is a simple way to get a tasty and juicy entree that’s also quite economical. So go ahead and try out some easy recipes with boiled chicken legs; you won’t regret it!

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Tom Valenti

Chef/Owner of both Ouest and ‘Cesca, and the Executive Chef of Le Cirque, Alison on Dominick, and Butterfield 81.

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