Appetizers, Entrees

Buffalo Smoked Chicken Drumsticks Recipe: Ingredients and Preparation

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Last updated on October 19th, 2022 at 11:49 am

This buffalo smoked chicken drumsticks recipe features the best of both worlds—it’s easy to prepare and is delicious, but doesn’t taste like your average chicken drumstick.

This one is a twist on the classic buffalo wing. So make these if you are feeling like chicken wings, but want a bit more smoky, tender flavor. Make these as an appetizer for your next gathering, or even as a main course with a few sides.

Smoked chicken drumsticks slathered in a tangy buffalo sauce

If you’re a fan of spicy, smoked chicken—then buffalo smoked chicken drumsticks are for you. I call these buffalo wings, but they’re really drumsticks. The recipe is simple and fun. The result is juicy, smoky drumsticks, flavored with a simple mixture of ground peppers, garlic, and salt then tossed in a buffalo sauce. The perfect recipe for game night or tailgating!

This recipe is great if you’re looking for something a little different as an appetizer or for the main course and want to serve up some delicious drumsticks.

Using a Dry Rub to Season the Drumsticks

Chicken is ubiquitous. It’s delicious and can be nutritious, and healthy. But maybe a little bit less health-conscious with our preparation today.

However, we’ll be focusing on a little less popular cut of chicken – the drumstick. And thankfully, because they are a little less popular, chicken drumsticks can usually be found on the cheap. I got the ones for this recipe at just 99 cents per pound.

Chicken drumsticks ready to be rubbed with spices and butter

To season the chicken drumsticks, we’ll use a dry rub. A dry rub is a mixture typically consisting of salt and various powders and seasonings.

I love using dry rubs to season my chicken drumsticks. They are fast, cheap, and give me more control over the flavor profile of my finished chicken. As a bonus, most people will have the ingredients needed to make a dry rub in a decently stocked spice pantry.

Drumsticks rubbed with dry rub spices to add flavor in the smoking process

Dry rubs can be very useful for adding flavor to meats. It can help to impart flavor and tenderness to your meat. For smoking, dry rubs tend to be easier than wet sauces. Wet sauces can burn and change the flavors unless added much later in the cooking process.

For this rub, we’ll combine salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, ancho chili powder, and chipotle powder to make a spicy, smoky flavor. Before applying the rub, brush a bit of melted butter on the drumsticks.

How to Smoke Chicken Drumsticks

Smoking chicken drumsticks is a pretty straightforward process. You may want to check out my top ten summer grilling tips for a few helpful hints.

The smoking process will help the chicken stay moist and become tender. Smoking is easy to do if you own equipment. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees for about 15 minutes. Then lay the drumsticks out on the grates with some space in between for smoke to flow.

We’ll cook the chicken for about an hour. You can flip halfway through to try and give both sides some grill marks.

Smoking the chicken on a Traeger grill

Smoking is an easy way to prepare chicken. You should remember that smoking does take time, so you should start cooking early. Once you have everything prepared, it is time to put the chicken on a rack over the pan. The chicken should be above the smoke, so it shouldn’t touch it. Smoking is all about cooking low and slow. You should remove the chicken from the smoke before the skin turns black.

Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure that the chicken is cooked properly. When the temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the chicken is done. Then we will turn up the heat to 400 degrees to try and crisp up the skin a bit.

Saucing Your Drumsticks

After you have smoked your chicken and ensured they are cooked through and crisp, it’s time to add some buffalo sauce. This adds even more flavor to the chicken. If you want a few different flavor options, look to the next section for some good ideas.

Smoked chicken drumsticks in a bowl with a bit of homemade buffalo sauce

I highly recommend following my classic hot buffalo wing sauce recipe. But you can also prepare or buy whatever buffalo sauce you prefer.

To mix the smoked chicken drumsticks with the buffalo sauce, you will need to put them in a bowl and pour buffalo sauce on top. Pick the bowl up and toss the drumsticks around in the sauce. Depending on the size of bowls you have available and how much you want to handle at once, you may want to do this in batches.

Once you have fully coated the drumsticks, remove them from the bowl and out of any excess sauce. Now, you’re ready to serve them however you’d like.

A metal bowl with buffalo-sauced chicken drumsticks

Variations on the Drumsticks

Now, I had always planned on saucing these drumsticks after smoking them on the Traeger. But after they finished cooking I knew I had to give them a try without any sauce whatsoever. Just straight smoked chicken drumstick with the homemade dry rub.

And they are certainly delicious straight from the smoker with no added sauce. So if you want something a little simpler, then just omit saucing the drumsticks altogether.

Drumsticks straight from the smoker with no added sauce

The regular recipe calls for turning the heat up to 400 for 15 minutes at the end of the cooking time. But, you can crisp up the skin a few different ways. Try using an air fryer or deep fryer set to 400 to crisp the skin for 2 to 5 minutes. You can also use the oven to crisp up the skin at 450 degrees if you don’t want to keep using the smoker to cook.

Finally, you can try using a different sauce entirely on these drumsticks. Try any of the following options to flavor your chicken:

What to Serve with Buffalo Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

They’re small enough to eat while standing up at a bar but hearty enough to satisfy a big appetite. So, they make a great appetizer at a party or as a main course for dinner. These are a great appetizer and you can serve them up just about any time of day.

Now that you’ve got the buffalo smoked chicken drumsticks all cooked, it is time to decide what to serve on the side.

If you are serving these as an appetizer, then consider some dip options and maybe some veggie options. Give these a try:

  • Creamy Ranch Dressing
  • Carrot and Celery Sticks
  • Blue Cheese Dip
  • Blistered Shishito Peppers
  • Jalapeño Cream Cheese Poppers
Ranch-drizzled, buffalo-coated chicken drumsticks ready to serve and eat

There are many different foods that you can serve with buffalo smoked chicken drumsticks when serving it as a main course. So if you are looking for something to serve with your drumsticks, here are a few ideas that you might want to consider:

This is a chicken drumstick recipe with a unique flavor and aroma that you will surely enjoy!

How did yours turn out?

I’d love to hear when you try making buffalo smoked chicken drumsticks! Take a pic of your food and share your success with me by adding it to your Instagram stories or feed, and tagging me @doyouroux, or by using #doyouroux.

Plus, leave a rating to let me know how you liked the recipe. It helps me out a lot to know how things worked out… or didn’t.

Buffalo Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

Recipe by Marc PetersonCourse: Appetizers, MainDifficulty: Intermediate


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This is the perfect buffalo smoked chicken drumsticks recipe, with a smoky, tangy flavor on tender, juicy chicken.


  • 1 tbsp kosher salt

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder

  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder

  • 8-10 pounds chicken drumsticks

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 and 1/2 cups buffalo wing sauce


  • Preheat the smoker to around 225°F (110°C)
  • Make the dry rub by combining the salt, garlic powder, paprika, ancho powder, and chipotle powder in a small bowl and mix thoroughly
  • Lay the drumsticks out on a large baking sheet, brush them with the melted butter, and sprinkle both sides of the drumsticks with the rub
  • Place the drumsticks on the preheated smoker and cook for about 1 hour, until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C)
  • Once the drumsticks are at 165°F, turn the heat up on the smoker to 400°F (205°C) for about 15 minutes to crisp up the skin, or take them inside and fry or air fry them until crisp
  • Place the cooked drumsticks in a bowl with the buffalo sauce and toss them to coat, doing so in batches if necessary
  • Remove the coated drumsticks from the bowl, serve, and enjoy

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