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How Long to Boil Chicken Legs

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs?

If you’re asking “how long to boil chicken legs?”, you’re not alone. Boiling chicken legs seems simple, but nailing the right cooking times can be tricky. Undercook them, and you risk food poisoning from bacteria. Boil them too long, and you’ll end up with dry, rubbery chicken.

This comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about boiling chicken legs. You’ll learn how long to boil fresh and frozen drumsticks and thighs based on size. We’ll also cover proper techniques, equipment, and tips for maximizing flavor and tenderness. With this handy resource, you’ll be able to serve juicy boiled chicken legs the whole family will love.

How Long to Boil Chicken Legs?

When boiling chicken legs, the most important factor determining cooking time is the size and quantity you are cooking. Let’s break it down:

Size and Quantity of Chicken Legs

Larger pieces of chicken legs take longer to cook than smaller pieces. Chicken drumsticks are smaller than leg quarters, for example, so they require less boiling time. The more chicken you are cooking, the longer the boiling time as well.

Fresh vs. Frozen

Fresh chicken legs cook faster than frozen ones. Frozen chicken must first thaw before cooking, which extends the boiling time required. For food safety, always thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

Desired Level of Doneness

The longer you boil chicken legs, the more cooked they become. If you prefer very well done chicken, boil for longer. For juicier, more tender chicken, use shorter boiling times.

Recommended Boiling Times

Use this handy chart as a guide for how long to boil different cuts and quantities of fresh and frozen chicken legs:

Fresh Chicken Drumsticks

  • 2-4 drumsticks: 18-20 minutes
  • 6-8 drumsticks: 22-25 minutes

Frozen Chicken Drumsticks

  • 2-4 drumsticks: 25-30 minutes
  • 6-8 drumsticks: 30-35 minutes

Chicken Leg Quarters

  • 2-4 leg quarters: 20-25 minutes
  • 6-8 leg quarters: 25-30 minutes

Frozen Chicken Leg Quarters

  • 2-4 leg quarters: 25-35 minutes
  • 6-8 leg quarters: 30-40 minutes

Using a Meat Thermometer

While the boiling time estimates above work well, the most foolproof way to ensure chicken legs are fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Chicken is safely cooked once it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

To use a meat thermometer for boiled chicken legs:

  1. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, avoiding any bones.
  2. Leave the thermometer in during the last few minutes of boiling.
  3. Once the chicken reaches 165°F, it is fully cooked and safe to eat.

Using a meat thermometer protects you against undercooked chicken and provides peace of mind that your chicken legs are perfectly boiled.

What to Serve with Boiled Chicken Legs

Boiled chicken legs pair deliciously with all kinds of sides. Consider:

  • Rice, quinoa, or couscous cooked in the delicious boiling broth
  • Roasted vegetables like potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts
  • Fresh green salad or pasta salad
  • Grilled veggies or fruit salsa
  • Buttery mashed potatoes
  • Warm bread rolls

You really can’t go wrong – boiled chicken legs are versatile and complement most side dishes beautifully.

Storing Cooked Chicken Legs

Proper storage keeps boiled chicken legs fresh and safe to eat. Here are some tips:


  1. Let chicken cool at room temperature about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Remove meat from bones and place in airtight container.
  3. Refrigerate at 40°F (4°C) or colder for up to 4 days.


  1. Let chicken cool completely before freezing.
  2. Remove meat from bones and place in freezer bag or airtight container.
  3. Squeeze out excess air, label, and freeze.
  4. Frozen chicken legs last about 6 months in the freezer.


Thaw frozen chicken in the fridge before reheating. Reheat boiled chicken legs to 165°F. Soups, stews, and casseroles work great.

Tips for Perfectly Boiled Chicken Legs

Tips for Perfectly Boiled Chicken Legs

Finally, keep these handy tips in mind for flawlessly boiled chicken every time:

  • Use a large, deep pot so chicken legs can be fully submerged.
  • Bring liquid to a boil before adding chicken.
  • Use a tight-fitting lid and turn down heat once boiling.
  • Simmer gently over medium heat for tenderness.
  • Use a meat thermometer for perfectly cooked chicken.
  • Let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.


How do you know when boiled chicken legs are fully cooked?

Chicken legs are fully cooked once they reach an internal temperature of 165°F on a meat thermometer. The meat will look white with no traces of pink when cut into.

Can you overcook chicken legs by boiling too long?

Yes, boiling chicken legs too long can make them dry and rubbery. Follow recommended cooking times for tender, juicy chicken. Using a meat thermometer prevents overcooking.

Is it better to boil or bake chicken legs?

Both methods work well, but boiling helps chicken legs cook evenly. The liquid keeps the meat moist. Baking chicken legs can dry them out more easily unless brined first.

Are boiled chicken legs healthy?

Yes, boiled chicken is a healthy, lower-fat cooking method. Chicken provides lean protein, vitamins, and minerals. Limit skin intake to reduce fat and calories.

Should you boil chicken legs fast or slow?

For tenderness, gently simmer chicken legs at a moderate boil. Rapid boiling can make the meat tough. Slow cooking for long periods yields fall-off-the-bone chicken.

The Takeaway

If boiling chicken legs seems intimidating, don’t sweat it! Just follow the recommendations in this guide for perfect drumsticks and thighs every time. The key is using the proper sized pot, covering with liquid, maintaining a gentle boil, and most importantly, double checking for doneness with a meat thermometer.

With this foolproof process, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious boiled chicken leg dishes that are moist, flavorful, and rich in protein. Try incorporating them into soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and more for hearty nutrition. Soon boiling chicken legs will become one of your go-to easy dinner recipes!

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