Butterflied chicken legs in oven or air fryer butterfly drumsticks are a cheap and fun meal kids love too. Brush with bbq sauce or simple salt and pepper for a healthy dinner.
Have you seen or tried this fun way of cooking drumsticks before? If so it is easier to do than you might think. They not only look different but they cookt faster filleted open too. We’ve cooked it on a baking sheet and air fried too. Let us show you how to make the best chicken leg recipes. (affiliate links present)
How to Butterfly Chicken Legs
You are going to need a cutting board and a sharp knife to get started. Whether you bake them or make chicken legs in air fryer you will follow these same step by step instructions below. Make sure you keep your fingers away of course and this should be done by an adult.
- Using a sharp knife, slice one area on the drumstick from top to bottom
- Cut all the way clear down to the side of the bone.
- Pull apart the 2 sides with your hands and begin separating the meat from the bone
- At this point the drumstick should be open and flayed so you can lay it flat.
Now we will go over a few different methods. If you want to know how long to boil chicken legs this way we have those instructions here. Take note that those won’t get crispy at all but the meat will become extremely tender and easy to shred. Of course you can broil or air fry these at the end but that can be a pain to do both.
Butterfly Chicken Legs
You should account for 2-3 pieces per person. If you are serving with a number of side dishes then go for lesser. With hungry teen boys or men you may need closer to 4 for them, just depends. Now you will need thawed pieces of course to slice them open. If you find yours aren’t, follow our Instant Pot frozen chicken legs instructions.
- 6-12 chicken legs butterflied open
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper sprinkled on each one or use your favorite seasonings y’all
- 1 c barbecue sauce or your favorite one is great to use at the end
You don’t have to brush a sauce on at the end but that is our favorite way to make and eat them. Teriyaki chicken drumsticks are amazing too if we are craving an Asian touch. Anything goes though, spicy with Franks red hot sauce can be great for the big game. The choices as far as that goes is endless…..
Oven Baked Butterflied Chicken Legs
How long to bake chicken drumsticks at 400 will vary a bit depending on their size of course. The thickness is what will change it most. I always suggest organic, grass fed pieces which will be more of a “normal” size vs. huge ones you have seen at the store.
- Preheat oven to 400 F and have a baking sheet ready.
- Using a sharp knife, slice one area on the drumstick from top to bottom all the way down to the bone.
- Pull apart the 2 sides and begin separating the meat from the bone so that the drumstick is flayed open and flat.
- Use paper towels to blot top and bottom to remove the moisture from your pieces so the oil and seasoning will stick well.
- Brush each side of the chicken with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place skin side down, onto the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes cooking time.
- Flip over the chicken and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- may take 15 minutes if you are using very large pieces
- Remove from oven, brush with barbecue sauce and return to oven for 5 minutes until sauce is hot.
Always with all of our quick and easy chicken recipes you should use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature with poultry or pork of course. Test removed from the oven in the thickest portion to ensure it reaches 165 F.
Air Fryer Butterflied Chicken Drumsticks
Ok so if you want to cook butterfly chicken legs in air fryer they will cook faster. They will get much crispier this way too so if that is really important to you, you might consider this method. This will take closer to 25 – 30 minutes total so a 10 minute savings or so, and an all around different texture.
- Preheat machine to 400 for 5 minutes while you’re prepping
- Follow the same instructions with butterflying chicken legs, brushing with olive oil and seasonings.
- Spray basket with non stick spray.
- Transfer pieces to air fryer basket. Cook at 400 degrees F for 20 mins
- Flipping half way through cooking time.
- Brush with sauce of your choice, flip again and cook for another 5 minutes or until temp is 165 F.
Drumsticks on the grill will work a similar way. As long as you can keep it at a steady temp you too will get those great grill marks on the outside and with the sauce at the end it will kinda’ caramelize all around each piece. I like this one better though when it is cold and miserable outside, you know what I mean.
Fried Butterflied Chicken Legs
If you want really crispy skin with a coating like KFC, follow our fried chicken legs instructions. These won’t take quite as long since they are sliced open and thinner.
Chicken Drumsticks Butterflied
You could do a similar thing with chicken thighs where you slice it in the middle but not all the way thru. Then pull apart and flatten as much as possible. These wouldn’t take as long since there is no bone. We love all the cuts and it is fun to transform each one just a bit to see if we like it better this way or that. Just this small change may make your family love it that much more.
If you have leftovers by all means keep them for later. Make sure you allow them to cool down completely first. Then put into a thick storage bag and into the fridge, or wrap with foil. You can reheat in the oven at 360 for 10 minutes or so but it is way faster to reheat chicken in air fryer for sure. Not only does it take less time but fixes the ewww softer texture.
You can jump to recipe and get started. If you have any other questions or comments once you are done let me know below. I will help if you need it for sure. Kid you not your kids will fall in love with these like mine did. Don’t know why they seem so much more fun this way but they always are. You can serve with a side of different sauces too which makes for a cool meal.
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Butterflied Chicken Legs
- 6-12 chicken legs butterflied
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 c barbecue sauce
- Preheat oven to 400 F and have a baking sheet ready. Using a sharp knife, slice one area on the drumstick from top to bottom all the way down to the bone. Pull apart the 2 sides and begin separating the meat from the bone so that the drumstick is flayed open and flat.
- Use paper towels to blot top and bottom to remove the moisture from your pieces.
- Brush each side of the chicken with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place skin side down, onto the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Flip over the chicken and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with barbecue sauce and return to oven for 5 minutes until sauce is hot.