This sweet and spicy chicken is fall-off-the-bone delicious!
I have a friend who recently requested a healthy recipe for barbecue chicken in the slow cooker. She couldn’t decide if she wanted sweet or spicy, so we chose to go with a little bit of both! That’s how we created our slow cooker spicy barbecue drumsticks. They’re a touch on the hot side, but they’re balanced with a hint of sweetness. So yummy!
Homemade Sauce Makes All the Difference
Our homemade barbecue sauce is not only super flavorful, but it’s also the perfect combination of hot and sweet flavors. The spiciness comes from the dijon mustard, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and chili powder, while it gets its sweetness from honey. While making your own sauce requires a bit more effort than buying a bottle at the store, we promise the effort will be worth it!
How to Make Slow Cooker Spicy Barbecue Drumsticks
Making this dish is so easy. It starts by heating some canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once hot, saute the onion and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Then, add the tomato sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Let the sauce simmer until it has thickened, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking. After about 30 minutes, the sauce is finished!
While the sauce is cooking, combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl: chipotle chili powder, dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, ground mustard, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. This spice rub will add another layer of awesome flavor to these drumsticks! Grab your skinless drumsticks and coat all of the sides of each drumstick with the rub mixture. Once the sauce is finished, place the drumsticks in the slow cooker and pour the barbecue sauce on top. You can move them around a bit until the sauce has evenly coated all of the drummies.
Place the cover on the slow cooker, turn to high, and cook for approximately three hours, or until the chicken is cooked through. If you have more time, you can also cook it on low for five to six hours.
Main Course or a Party Snack!
The next time you are asked to bring an appetizer to a potluck or backyard barbecue, this spicy barbecue chicken is a great option. Of course, if you choose to enjoy this classic American BBQ recipe as a main course, or you’re hosting a cookout with your family and friends, you’re going to need some side dishes! Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered there, too! Try any or all of these healthier, homemade side options:
You can’t go wrong with a delicious, crowd-pleasing recipe like this one. Especially when it is so easy to prepare!
Slow Cooker Spicy Barbecue Drumsticks
- 8 drumsticks skin removed (optional, 3 split breasts or 6 thighs)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 sweet onion finely diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 8 ounces tomato sauce can
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar use white balsamic vinegar for gluten-free
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Red Hot Sauce 'Frank's Red Hot' was used in this recipe
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- sea salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- sea salt to taste
- In a medium saucepan add canola oil, turn to medium-low heat and saute onion and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining barbecue sauce ingredients, stir and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. While the sauce is cooking down, combine spice rub and coat all sides of drumsticks.
- After the sauce has cooked down and thickened, place drumsticks in the slow cooker, pour barbecue sauce over and ensure all drumsticks are covered.
- Cover, turn to high and cook approximately 3 hours or until cooked through. Or, turn slow cooker to low and cook 5-6 hours.
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Related Barbecue Chicken and Pork Recipes
If you loved this slow cooker spicy barbecue drumsticks recipe, we think you might also like to try these healthier versions of the American classic:
- Slow Cooker 3-Ingredient Glazed BBQ Chicken Breasts
- Instant Pot Barbecue Ribs
- Barbecued Beans and Chicken Joes
- Barbecue Chicken and Avocado Quesadillas
- Slow Cooker Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken
Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published on May 26, 2017.