Soy Garlic Chicken Drumsticks, a Korean Style and Sesame-Free Recipe

soy garlic chicken drumsticks served in a white serving bowl, with a fork on the side

My recipe for Soy Garlic Chicken Drumsticks is an easy chicken dinner recipe. This recipe is nut-free, sesame-free, and not spicy. It’s a mashup of my Super Easy Chicken Drumstick and Korean Style Beef Short Ribs recipes.

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Soy Sauce Garlic Chicken Drumsticks with a Korean Style Marinade

This marinade is very similar to what’s used to make chicken Korean bulgogi, a soy sauce garlic grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I recently baked some beef galbi and impulsively decided to see if I could reuse the remaining marinade for chicken drumsticks. After marinating overnight, I baked the chicken drumsticks the way I usually do. The chicken was so good!

That was the inspiration for this recipe with sesame-free marinade flavored with grated apples. I decided to make it sesame-free for readers who are allergic to sesame. I remember how we missed eating Korean food when my son was allergic to sesame. Omitting sesame is the main allergy related related modification in this Korean inspired recipe. If you aren’t allergic to sesame, you can add some sesame oil and roasted sesame seeds to the marinade.

The second modification was to substitute an Asian pear with an apple. The store I shopped at didn’t have Asian pears that day and I didn’t want to go to another store. Typically grated Asian pears help to tenderize tough cuts of meats and add natural sweetness. Chicken doesn’t need a lot of tenderization but the apples add some natural sweetness to the marinade.

soy garlic chicken drumsticks served with rice and stirfried romaine lettuce on a white plate
Soy garlic chicken drumsticks served with rice and stir-fried romaine lettuce

Shopping and Preparation Tips

I used chicken drumsticks for this Korean-style chicken drumstick recipe. Whenever possible pick a tray with the biggest drumsticks, they will be meatier and juicier. Otherwise, select a tray with similar sized drumsticks so they will cook evenly.

I marinate the chicken in a gallon-sized plastic bag. Fold down the top and place the open bag in a large bowl. Add all the ingredients to the bag, stir, and then add the chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and flip the bag around every 10 minutes to coat all the chicken pieces. You could marinate overnight, but no more than 24 hours, otherwise the chicken might have a rubbery texture. You can marinate in a bowl instead of a bag, but stir the chicken a few times while marinating.

The recipe uses about half of an apple and half of a sweet onion. To protect your fingers, you will want a whole apple or onion and grate what you need. Use a whole apple or onion so that you have a handle and then when you are done grating, reserve the other half for other uses.

I use a rimmed baking sheet and line it with foil for quick and easy clean up. The rimmed walls keep the juices in the pan but the rims are not too tall which helps with browning.

How to Bake Chicken Drumsticks That is Juicy

Here’s my no-so-secret to juicy chicken that is baked perfectly. Broil the chicken on both sides until slightly browned and then move the tray to a middle rack to bake at 350°F. It takes 35 minutes total, so easy. And you can bake it the same way regardless of how you marinate or season the chicken drumsticks. The results are a juicy chicken, not dry or chewy.

soy garlic chicken drumsticks served in a white serving bowl, with a fork on the side

Allergy Aware Chicken Drumsticks

This recipe is free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, and sesame as written. It’s easy to adapt as a gluten free recipe by using a gluten free tamari sauce. And if allergic to soy, try making it with a soy-free soy sauce.

soy garlic chicken drumsticks served in a white serving bowl, with a fork on the side
5 from 3 votes

Soy Garlic Chicken Drumsticks, a Korean Style and Sesame-Free Recipe

My recipe for Soy Garlic Chicken Drumsticks is an easy chicken dinner recipe. This recipe is nut-free, sesame-free, and not spicy. It's a mashup of my Super Easy Chicken Drumstick and Korean Style Beef Short Ribs recipes.

Course Dinner entree, Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Keyword chicken drumsticks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
marinate 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6
Author Sharon Wong (Nut Free Wok)


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chopped (2-3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper ground
  • 1/2 medium apple grated
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion grated
  • 3 stalks scallions chopped (reserve some for garnish)
  • 3 pounds chicken drumsticks approximately 10-12


  1. In a large gallon sized zippered bag or a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Add the chicken drumsticks and combine to coat evenly. Marinate for 30 minutes and stir to combine. If prepping ahead, marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. When ready to bake, check that the racks are at the correct positions (second from the top and middle), turn on the broiler and preheat for 5 minutes. Line a large rimmed baking pan with foil for easy clean up and arrange the chicken drumsticks on the baking pan.
  3. Broil the chicken for 3-4 minutes on the second from the top rack and flip the chicken drumsticks over. Broil the chicken for 3 more minutes and when you see a little bit of char on the chicken, turn your oven off, switch to bake at 350°F and move the chicken to a middle rack. Set a timer for 28 minutes.
  4. The chicken is ready when a little bit of the drumstick bone is exposed on one of the smaller chicken drumsticks. Serve immediately and garnish with reserved scallions.

Recipe Notes

If you are not allergic to sesame, then you can add some sesame oil and sesame seeds into the marinade. 

Related Recipes

Since this recipe is Korean-inspired, you might like eating it with some Delicious Beef Japchae, A Korean Glassy Noodle Stir Fry. You can omit the beef and eat it as a side dish.

This chicken drumstick recipe is super tasty. It goes well with other dishes that are lighter and less seasoned, such as plain rice. Consider making some simple vegetable stir fries such as Yu Choy with Garlic or Mung Bean Sprouts.

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About Sharon Wong 282 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.


  1. 5 stars
    These turned out great! I’m always looking for new recipes that use chicken drumsticks, because it’s the most affordable cut of meat.

  2. 5 stars
    What a fabulous looking and sounding chicken dish. The flavors are just what my family loves. They are going to really enjoy these.

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