Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken Drumsticks

Servings: 6-8 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 90 minutes

Cooking time: 75 minutes

Take me to the recipe

An easy chicken recipe that’s a favourite with my kids. It can be made ahead of time and reheated. 

sweet and sour chicken drumsticks

No more boring chicken

When I tell my kids we’re having chicken for supper they groan, except when I tell them we’re having Sweet and Sour Chicken Drumsticks.

In their minds it’s the next best thing to having wings for supper. And there is a little something about this recipe that reminds me of wings, especially if you bake the drumsticks longer and they get a little sticky.
sweet and sour chicken drumsticks

This recipe is extra easy to put together.

The flavourful sauce – made with orange juice, molasses and chili sauce – comes together in two minutes and then you put everything in the oven. All you need to do is baste the chicken a few times as it cooks

The sliced lemon adds a little zing to the sauce and the lemons caramelize nicely so can be eaten along with the chicken.

This method of cooking is ideal for chicken drumsticks since braising them in the flavourful sauce makes the meat extra tender. The recipe works well with chicken thighs too.

If you have made our Oven Baked Spareribs recipe you’ll see that I have used the same delicious sauce recipe.

Quick tips:

  • This recipe can be baked ahead of time (like the night before), refrigerated (sauce and all) and then reheated.
  • You can finish this recipe on the barbecue for a bit of smoky flavour (5-10 minutes on the grill).
  • Make a double batch of the sauce so you have it on hand for next time.
  • Look for thin-skinned lemons and slice them as thinly as possible.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

Serves 4-6


  • 3 lbs. chicken drumsticks
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chili sauce (choose gluten-free if necessary)
  • 2 Tbsp. dry mustard (powder)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Remove skin from chicken and place in a covered roasting pan or Dutch oven. (Make sure the pan is large enough to accommodate the chicken in a single layer.)
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dress with lemon slices and sprinkle over the onions.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk the chili sauce, mustard powder, brown sugar, molasses, orange juice and lemon juice.
  5. Pour half of the mixture over the chicken, cover and bake for 30 minutes, basting once with another spoonful of the sauce.
  6. Remove lid and continue to bake for another 30-45 minutes, or until meat is tender. Baste them a few times with remaining sauce and pan sauces. (Bake them longer if you want them a little sticky).

One more thing…
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22 thoughts on “Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken Drumsticks

  1. Bess Comeau says:

    love your recipes! we grew up eating Crosby’s molasses!

    1. MRS DORIS W JAMES / says:

      I love your recipes. always a hit

  2. andree says:

    Looks delicious, can’t wait for recipes.

  3. andree says:

    Looks delicious, can’t wait for recipes.

  4. Bettyanne says:


  5. Corsina fewer says:

    Always looking for new recipes and these look great.

  6. Alice says:

    Look very testy

  7. NOREEN BARRIE says:


  8. Sandy VonAlma says:

    I want to try these soon. They look really good

  9. Fern Sheppad says:

    we have sweet and sour recipe from early 1960 home Ec. textbook. Still works today. We tweak it a little here and there. Same for carrot pudding, pumpkin pie, cream puffs and whipped cream and a whole lot of other goodies – yummy yummy yummy

    1. Hi Fern, Your old cookbook sounds wonderful. Sometimes those older recipes are the best.

  10. Mary-Lyn says:

    Curious, why thinly slice the lemons when the recipe only calls for lemon juice?

    1. Hi Mary-lyn, you can cook the lemons along with the chicken and eat them together, so the lemon will adopt flavoring from the chicken

  11. mary kontos says:

    sometimes the oldies are the goodies. There weren’t as many choices on the store shelves. ie; bottled canned and pre made.

    1. Hi Mary, hope you enjoyed!

  12. Mae Atwell says:

    Yes, I would like to receive gluten free recipes by e-mail

    Thank you

    1. Kelsey Reid says:

      Hi Mae, if you’d like to receive recipes by email, simply enter your email into the subscription box at the end of the blog post.

  13. Vera says:

    I love your recipes and of course I also love molasses. Please keep them coming . I have tried some of recipes and enjoyed them very much and I will keep trying more recipes ..
    I live alone so I can not make to many … when I cook I usually make enough for 2 meals .. Thank you very much .

  14. Edith Elliot says:

    I just loved the Gingerbread cookie recipe. Tastes like my Grandmothers.
    I use to have a recipe for Molasses Taffy apples. Do you have this recipe?

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Edith, Yes, we have an old recipe for taffy apples. https://www.crosbys.com/taffy-apples/

  15. Donna says:

    I enjoy these recipe selections very much. I’m a diabetic and do have to be careful regarding sugar and carbs.

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