Slow Cooker Spicy Barbecue Drumsticks

No ratings yet

This sweet and spicy chicken is fall-off-the-bone delicious!

Our slow cooker spicy barbecue drumsticks are full of delicious flavor!

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

Take a bite out of these juicy and tender drumsticks.

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

The whole family will love these flavor-loaded wings!

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!

These spicy barbecue drummies are perfect for dinner, or an appetizer for a party!

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! 

No ratings yet

Slow Cooker Spicy Barbecue Drumsticks

These drumsticks are made with both spicy and sweet flavors, so eat up and enjoy.
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Yield 4 people
Serving Size 2 drumsticks
Course Dinner
Cuisine American


  • 8 drumsticks skin removed (optional, 3 split breasts or 6 thighs)

Barbecue Sauce

  • 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

Spice Rub

  • 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.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 2drumsticks | Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 140mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 24g |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 12
Keywords dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Slow Cooker

Have you made this recipe?
Tag @skinnyms on Instagram or hashtag it #skinnyms

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:

Don’t miss out on any of our delicious recipes! Subscribe to our eNewsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Pinterest to stay in-the-know!

Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published on May 26, 2017.

This post may include affiliate links.

Create a FREE account for quick & easy access

Gale Compton

Gale co-founded SkinnyMs. with a goal to provide women with delicious recipes, fitness routines, and ways to reach their ideal weight. Gale has been featured on the Today Show in which she won a cook off for the best Lasagna. Be sure to search for her winning recipe, Skinny Lasagna Rolls.

Guided by her firm belief in healthy eating and the power of exercise, Gale has written two cookbooks and several fitness ebooks. She earned her Fitness Training Certification from, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association. Gale loves to run with her dog Maggie and has completed numerous half-marathons.

More by Gale


  1. So I have a family of 4 teen boys and Bella who is 3….needless to say it is not fun trying to find food that all will eat and I refuse to make 5 meals. Anyway this was a hit with everyone!!! Plus with working all day it makes it so convenient to cook in the crockpot!!! I am really trying to cook healthier and try new things and this site has been a big help. 

  2. So I have a family of 4 teen boys and Bella who is 3….needless to say it is not fun trying to find food that all will eat and I refuse to make 5 meals. Anyway this was a hit with everyone!!! Plus with working all day it makes it so convenient to cook in the crockpot!!! I am really trying to cook healthier and try new things and this site has been a big help. 

  3. What suggestions would you make to using bone- in thighs or split chicken breasts. Perhaps double the homemade barbecue sauce. I just don’t cook drumsticks these days. Prefer the breast or thigh meat. Like the idea of my own sauce as my husband cannot find one that isn’t too sweet for him. I do like your website.

    1. Mary, Thank you! I would suggest doubling the sauce recipe and using enough to cover the chicken. You can always use the remainder of the sauce another day. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating