Grilled Harissa Chicken Drumsticks

Six grilled harissa chicken drumsticks and lime wedges on parchment paper

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This Grilled Harissa Chicken recipe is a delicious change from the standard barbecue sauce for these drumsticks. They’re a little sweet, a little spicy, and a whole lot of flavour.

Six grilled harissa chicken drumsticks and lime wedges on parchment paper

Why Drumsticks?

Chicken drumsticks are juicy and tender and the ultimate finger food, loved by both kids and adults. You can slather them with an endless variety of sauces. (Try Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks, Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks or Smoky Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks for just a few examples.) Drums stand up to grilling very well without drying out.

Drumsticks are quick to cook and also very economical, so they’re perfect for feeding a crowd.

A tray of grilled Chicken drumsticks

Can I Use Different Chicken Parts In This Recipe?

Although I love drumsticks for this grilled harissa chicken recipe because the crispy skin covering juicy, tender meat is irresistible, any chicken parts can be used. Skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs are another good choice. You can also use chicken breasts, but if possible, choose bone-in breasts with the skin for the grill. And keep in mind that chicken breasts, because they are white meat and very lean, will require less cooking time. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are not ideal, as they will have a tendency to be dry as opposed to juicy.

Two grilled chicken drumsticks on a black plate with salad

Can I Make It In the Oven Instead of Grilling?

Maybe you don’t have a grill. Or maybe the weather isn’t ideal for cooking outside. That won’t be a problem because you can get the same results, minus the grill marks, using the oven. Put the chicken on a baking sheet and roast on high heat (425°) for 30-35 minutes, turning halfway through. The high oven temperature will result in crispy skin. 

30-35 minutes in the oven should bring the internal temperature to 165°. At that point, slather on your sauce and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 175°-180°.

Two plates of food on a table

How To Tell What Temperature Your Chicken is At

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you need to get one. Many recipes talk about cooking ‘until the juices run clear”. However, food safety is very important, and a thermometer is just the only way to ensure that the chicken is properly cooked. Getting a meat thermometer is a very inexpensive purchase and it’s worth it.

A meat thermometer will also give you precisely the result that you are looking for, yielding the most tender and delicious chicken. Or any meat for that matter. Most meat thermometers will have temperatures for rare, medium or well-done meats. Learn more about the proper use of a meat thermometer here: Using a Meat Thermometer

A plate of grilled chicken drumticks on a table

About Harissa Paste

Harissa is a delicious hot chilli paste condiment from North Africa. The paste is made by roasting peppers and hot chiles, then pureeing them along with garlic, lemon, and spices like cumin and caraway. I use my own recipe because it’s very easy to make. If you want to try making your own, check out that recipe: Harissa Paste

You don’t have to make your own, though, because harissa is quite easy to find in grocery stores and you can also buy it online.

A plate of food on a table


Tips For Perfect Grilled Drumsticks

Drumsticks are perfect for the grill. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when grilling them.

  • First of all, be sure to pat your chicken dry with paper towel before seasoning them. This will ensure a crispy skin, which is what we are aiming for.
  • Don’t baste the chicken in the sauce until the end of cooking, to avoid burning.
  • Heat your grill to 375° and make sure it is very well oiled.
  • Start your drumsticks on direct heat, turning often, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, abut 30 minutes
  • Watch for flare-ups, as chicken drumsticks do have skin which can catch the flames
  • Finish the chicken on indirect heat, basting with sauce, and allow to cook until the internal temperature is 175°- 180°F, about 10 minutes

Two black plates with Grilled Harissa Chicken Drumsticks

Six grilled harissa chicken drumsticks and lime wedges on parchment paper

Grilled Harissa Chicken Drumsticks

These Grilled Harissa Chicken Drumsticks are tender & juicy and packed with flavour from harissa paste and lemon.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine North African
Servings 4
Calories 294 kcal


  • Grill or Oven


  • 8 Chicken Drumsticks
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup harissa paste
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mint leaves chopped


  • Heat half of the grill to 350° Oil the grate liberally
  • Pat drumsticks dry with paper towels and season them with salt & pepper
  • Grill the chicken with the grill lid closed, for 30 minutes, turning often, until the internal temperature is 165°
  • Whisk together the harissa paste, lemon juice and honey in a small bowl
  • Move the chicken over to the unheated half of the grill and slather the harissa sauce all over it.
  • Close the lid and cook the chicken a further 10 minutes on indirect heat. Internal temperature should be 175 - 180°
  • Remove chicken from the grill and garnish with mint
  • Serve with lemon wedges


Bone-in chicken thighs with skin work just as well for this recipe.
If you have a very small grill and are unable to finish with indirect heat, you can simply turn the heat on your grill to it's lowest setting, and finish the chicken that way.


Serving: 1gCalories: 294kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 27gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 162mgPotassium: 412mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 157IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 22mgIron: 1mg
Keyword barbecued chicken, chicken drumsticks, harissa spice
Tried this recipe? What changes did you make?Let us know how it was!



30 thoughts on “Grilled Harissa Chicken Drumsticks

  1. Hey
    I must say its a different recipe then i normally found on web. I must try it. Normally i used to order online the tandoori chicken from the Tandoori EH restaurant in London Ontario and they are always comes with a great taste.

  2. I have never used Harissa! I love spice so I’m sure that I will love it! Thanks for the excellent grilling idea!

  3. I love chicken and this looks mouthwatering. It kinda remind me of tandoori chicken since it looks a similar recipe. I am not familiar with harissa paste, I think I will give it a try since I like spicy and sweet.

  4. These drumsticks look amazing!! I am on a road trip right now, so I am bookmarking it to make when I get back. Thanks for the recipe!!

  5. Harissa, honey, mint, and chicken? Heck yes! Fantastic flavours, and wonderfully paired/balanced. I’d be thrilled to put these on the grill any time. Cheers.

  6. I need to get a meat themometer! I tend to overcook chicken a lot. Love the harissa in this – it’s a nice switch from the usual barbeque flavour.

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