Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Slow Cooker Saucy Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks

Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours, 25 minutes
Servings: 4-6 servings
This recipe for saucy barbecue chicken drumsticks is perfect for a no-fuss chicken dinner any night of the week! You may need some extra napkins!

This quick prep dinner for saucy barbecue chicken drumsticks just may be the easiest slow cooker recipe! If you are like me, you probably have a pantry full of ingredients just waiting to become a delicious meal. Two ingredients most often found in the pantry are barbecue sauce and salsa in a jar. I enjoy barbecue sauce, but I find that many store-bought versions are too sweet for my liking. So, to suit my taste, I like to mix in some tomato-based smooth salsa. For this recipe, I let my slow cooker do most of the cooking and then finish with some broil time. The broiling at the end with the added agave or honey yields a saucy and sticky chicken. And that's what I love about barbecue chicken drumsticks!


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  1. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat in a large skillet for a minute. Add the onions, garlic, poblano (or green bell pepper) and jalapeƱo. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sauteed onion mix to the bottom of the slow cooker. Also add the thyme and cilantro.
  4. Add a couple more tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat to medium for 2 minutes. Brown the chicken in batches for 5 minutes. Turn as needed.
  5. While chicken browns, mix the barbecue sauce, salsa, vinegar, sugar and agave (or honey) together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like it spicy, add a couple dashes of hot sauce.
  6. Pour half of the sauce on top of the onions in the slow cooker. Layer the browned chicken drumsticks in the slow cooker, then pour the remaining sauce over the top. Cook covered on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
  7. When ready, transfer the chicken to a baking dish. Remove the cilantro and thyme from the sauce. Stir the sauce and ladle on a generous amount over the chicken. Drizzle the top of the chicken with a little agave or honey. Place under the broiler for 3 minutes, baste and turn. Repeat and broil for 3 minutes. Serve with a salad, rice or fried potato wedges.

Chef Notes

You can follow this same recipe and prepare a beef chuck roast or pork roast. If you want to add some vegetables, add potatoes and carrots during the last half of cooking time. Cook until vegetables are fork tender.

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