Maple Syrup Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are usually associated with summer grilling. Who doesn’t love a good barbecued drumstick hot off the grill? Although you can cook up some drumsticks in the oven, this method takes a long time and just doesn’t produce the same flavor as the gas or charcoal grill.

Now that fall and winter are coming, you may think that chicken drumsticks will have to wait until spring. Well think again, because I have an easy winter recipe that will give you tender, flavorful drumsticks (and chicken thighs) with almost no preparation.

This recipe relies on a slow cooker. The benefits of using a slow cooker are many, but perhaps the biggest one is being able to “set it and forget it.” A large slow cooker is a must-have appliance for every kitchen. It gives you the ability to cook food slowly, keeping in the best nutrients and creating that home cooking feel, with minimal preparation and no supervision. That makes the slow cooker ideal for people who are always on the go.

Maple syrup is the most important flavor for this chicken. I was also inspired by Asian drumsticks, which are traditionally very flavorful and tender. That’s why I recommend serving this up over a bed of Jasmine rice.

What You Need

8 skinless drumsticks (if you prefer you can leave them on; they will fall off and add excellent flavor)
1/4 cup pure Maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp garlic salt
Fresh cracked pepper


Season the chicken with garlic salt and pepper and place in slow cooker. Combine the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture over the legs, making sure the chicken is covered. If you want to double the recipe, make sure you also double the mixture, to ensure that the chicken is covered while it cooks. If you do not have enough liquid mixture, just add a bit of chicken broth or chicken stock to fill the crockpot sleeve, again just so that all chicken legs are covered.

Set a 6-quart slow cooker on high and cook for 4 hours, or until the meat is cooked through and tender. The meat will fall right off the bone. Make sure you carefully check for tiny chicken bones, as they tend to splinter after all day cooking.

You can easily make this with chicken thighs. In some slow cookers, you will cook the meat for slightly less time. Chicken thighs are traditionally used in Asian cooking. Because they are darker meat, they tend to be less dry than chicken breasts and are full of flavor.

I recommend serving your chicken with Jasmine rice. Jasmine rice is native to Thailand and is named for the flower that gives the rice its flavor. Mahatma is my favorite brand of Jasmine rice, but Uncle Ben’s and other well known brands also sell their own versions of the long-grain rice. Don’t forget to use the leftover juice to flavor your rice. Simply ladle some of the mixture over the chicken and rice, to taste.

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