Crispy Baked Chicken Legs

Sometimes I just want or even have to cook something simple yet tasty. Such was the case yesterday, when I realized all the work my initial recipe for this post required and that I didn’t have the time to make it. Consequently, I opted for a far less complicated dish that despite its simplicity yielded loads of flavor: Crispy Baked Chicken.

The recipe by Ali Slagle is from the New York Times Cooking website, and I had saved it some time ago. Aside from chicken legs, salt, and pepper, it required only three other ingredients (dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, cayenne) and a minimum of effort (make the rub, rub in on the chicken, bake).

I must admit that I had some reservations about baking the chicken at 325 degrees for more than hour. However, Slagle advised that the low temperature would allow both the spices to “bloom but not burn” and the chicken fat to render.

Other than using two rather than four chicken legs, I followed the recipe exactly, keeping its measurements for the spices. Better to have more than less rub, I thought. Following some reader’s comments on the recipe, I also increased the recommended cooking time from 1 to 1¼ hours to 1½ hours.

Despite my aforementioned doubts, the chicken far exceeded our expectations both in texture and flavor. Moreover, the sweet and spicy aromas that wafted from the oven for over an hour whetted our appetites. At the table, the legs, with a drizzle of pan juices, were perfectly crisp and deliciously moist. Their flavors lingered on the palate. Indeed, the rub’s counterpoint between spicy and sweet reminded my husband of New Orleans blackened dishes. Given its ease in prep and cooking, this is a perfect dish for weeknight dinners.

We served the chicken accompanied by mashed potatoes and lightly creamed spinach.

Crispy Baked Chicken (adapted from a recipe by Ali Slagle from the New York Times Cooking website.)



4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or pimenton)
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
A heaping ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
4 chicken leg quarters (about 2 ½ to 3 pounds), at room temperature and patted dry


1. Heat the oven to 325°F.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, and cayenne with a fork or your fingers, breaking any lumps of sugar.

The spice mix

3. Rub the spice mix all over both sides of the chicken.

Rubbing the chicken

4. Place the chicken on a parchment-lined baking sheet, skin side up.

Rubbed legs on parchment paper

6. Bake, without flipping, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours. Spoon the pan drippings over the chicken and serve.


Wine Pairing: Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc

10 thoughts on “Easy Crispy Baked Chicken

  1. It’s a running joke in our home, Roland, that anytime I am wowed by a dish it turns out to contain brown sugar. So we will absolutely try this one. Thanks for this!

  2. Ali Slagle always delivers a tasty recipe. I like the low and slow method especially during the winter months on a Sunday afternoon.. The definition of heigge.

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