Main Dishes

Tuscan-style Chicken Drumsticks

Tender, juicy Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks marinated in lemon, garlic, herbs and seared to perfection in a cast iron skillet. Quick and easy meets delicious for a chicken dinner you can’t resist!

Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks on top of a giant pile of brown butter mashed potatoes.

When my schedule is full, I need dinner to be quick, easy, and packed with flavor. These Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks check all three boxes and some. Tender, juicy chicken marinated in lemon and herbs and charred to perfection. A citrusy, refreshing way to get dinner on the table FAST.

I’ll never forget the first time I tried Tuscan chicken—I was S M I T T E N. It was at a friend’s house in Boston and her family made chicken wings in their outdoor wood-fired pizza oven. They tossed them in this bright herbaceous, lemony marinade that was *chef’s kiss* perfection—citrusy and bright, but savory and smokey. So I had to take it home to DTR.

Jump to Recipe

The Breakdown

Tuscan chicken is the epitome of Italian cooking—fresh, simple flavors using high quality ingredients. It’s what I love about Italian food – they don’t overcomplicate it. The marinade consists of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. That’s it!

The savory notes from the garlic and herbs complement the acidity and brightness of the lemon, which make a great marinade for lighter proteins like seafood and poultry, but can also be delicious over pasta. Shrimp scampi, anybody??

Pan full of crispy charred Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks with lemon twists and fresh aromatics.

Tips for Making the Best Tuscan-style Chicken Drumsticks

The best part about this Tuscan-style chicken is the playful contrast between the smoky charred skin and the bright, citrusy flavors of the marinade. If you don’t have access to a wood-fired oven (who does?) or grill, a cast iron skillet is a beautiful way to get a nice char right inside your kitchen.

You want your skillet to be screaming hot before adding the chicken, to assist with those beautiful marks. You’ll know it’s hot enough when you hover your hand about an inch above the surface and can only handle keeping it there for a few seconds. If using a cast iron skillet, it’ll start to smoke when it’s ready.

Because there are so few ingredients, you want to make sure you’re getting the highest quality ingredients in order to maximize flavor. If available, try to get your lemons and herbs from a local farmer’s market. Or if purchasing at the grocery store, opt for organic ingredients. I like to get Meyer lemons whenever possible, as they are slightly sweeter with a subtle pine flavor, which complements the savory herbs. They also have a thinner skin, which equals more juice, baby!

The chicken will need to marinate for at least 30 minutes to really soak up the flavor, but you don’t want to marinate it for longer than two hours or the acid from the lemon juice will start to break down and ruin the texture of the chicken. Before pouring your marinade over the chicken, reserve a portion for tossing at the end. I also like to baste them while they are cooking for optimal flavor.

Plate of two Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks layered on top of mashed potatoes with extra brown butter on the side.

You’ll want to use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked through, but not dried out. The ideal temp for these chicken drummies is between 165-175 degrees F. For succulent, juicy chicken I like to pull it off when the thickest part reaches 165 degrees F, as it will continue cooking after you pull it off. Also, make sure not to touch the bone with the thermometer as it won’t be an accurate reading of the temp.

How to Ditch the Recipe: Tuscan-style Chicken Edition

Chicken: You can use any cut of chicken you’d like—drumsticks, thighs, breasts, wings. I love to keep the bone-in and skin on to get a crispy exterior, but skinless and boneless is great too. It will cook up a bit faster than bone-in thought, so keep an eye on it.

Citrus: Meyer lemons are my favorite for this recipe because they are slightly sweeter and have a hint of pine, which pairs nicely with the herbs. Orange would be a delicious substitute, but I would still add some lemon to balance out the sweetness with some acid.

Herbs: Any combination of basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, oregano, or fennel seeds. You can also use Italian seasoning in a pinch.

Aromatics: Any crushed red chiles (I love Calabrian), garlic, onion, shallot, ginger.

Serve with salad and grains such as rice, quinoa, couscous, or try with our Brown Butter Sage Mashed Potatoes. TRUST ME.

Plate of two Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks layered on top of brown butter sage mashed potatoes.

Alright, my friends. Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments and if you make this Tuscan-style chicken, let me know how you ditched the recipe! Make sure to share it on Instagram and tag @ditchtherecipe—I love to see what you’re making.

Enjoy.

Check out some of our other fav chicken dinners!

Pan of charred Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks styled with lemons twists, fresh herbs, and a bulb of garlic.

Tuscan-style Chicken Drumsticks

Lauren Regnier
Tender, juicy Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks marinated in lemon, garlic, herbs and seared to perfection in a cast iron skillet.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Marinating time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 drumsticks

Ingredients
  

  • 8 chicken drumsticks skin on
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes options
  • A few pinches salt and pepper

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients (except chicken) in a mixing bowl to make the marinade. Set aside a couple tablespoons of marinade to toss chicken in after it's cooked.
    Add chicken drumsticks and the rest of the marinade to a large ziplock bag and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
    Do not marinate chicken longer than 2 hours as it will compromise the texture.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over med-high. You want it super hot—it'll start smoking when it's ready.
    Warning: It can get a little smoky, so you may want to open a window or turn on the vent (or disable the fire alarm). 
    Remove chicken from the bag and reserve marinade for basting.
  • Sear the drumsticks for a few minutes until the skin is nice and charred and removes easily from the pan. Flip and repeat this process until all four sides are nice and crisp.
    Turn down the heat to med-low and continue flipping every few minutes or so, basting the chicken with the marinade as you go.
    Cook chicken until internal temp in the thickest part of the chicken (not touching the bone) reaches between 165-175° (about 25-30 minutes).
  • Take chicken off and let rest for 5 minutes. Toss drumsticks with the marinade you saved in the beginning, right before serving.

Notes

*To avoid dried out chicken, I suggest taking it off the grill at 165° as it will rise another 5 degrees or so when it rests.
For more helpful tips, check out the Tips for Making the Best Tuscan-style Chicken Drumsticks section in the blog post. 
 
 

Did you make this Tuscan-style chicken?

Tag @ditchtherecipe on Instagram and hashtag #ditchtherecipe

Pan layered with Tuscan-style chicken drumsticks with text over top reading "TUSCAN STYLE CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS — ditchtherecipe.org"

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