By Christie Vanover | Published June 9, 2019 | Last Updated June 13, 2022
If you want chicken that is truly finger-licking good, grill up some Asian sticky chicken legs dunked in sweet and spicy barbecue sauce.
I love barbecue chicken that leaves me licking my fingers. The barbecue sauce in these Asian sticky chicken legs has the perfect balance of heat, sweet and umami.
Whenever I cook drumsticks, I like to go the extra mile and lollipop the legs. It makes for a fun presentation and gets rid of the tendon that can be a little tough.
To butcher the lollipops, lay the drumstick on its side. Using a sharp chef’s knife or butcher knife slice off each end of the bone. For the thick end, this will create a flat surface, so the drumstick can stand up. For the thin end, this will help with the next step.
Place the knife about halfway down the drumstick and slice down to the bone, rotating the leg as you slice. Push the meat, skin and tendon toward the thin end of the bone, removing as much as you can.
Stand the leg straight up, and push down the remaining meat with your fingers. There you go.
Marinate the Chicken Overnight
This recipe uses an easy overnight marinade of water, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey and olive oil.
Combine the marinade ingredients with the chicken in a zip-top bag, remove the air from the bag and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Grilling the Chicken
Anytime you make barbecue chicken, you want to sauce it at the very end. Barbecue sauce has a lot of sugar. If you add it too soon, it will burn before the chicken has a chance to cook all the way through.
Set your grill up with a direct and indirect heat zone. I like using the KUDU Grill for barbecue chicken, because you can both raise and lower the grate and move it from side to side over direct and indirect heat.
It will take about 25-30 minutes for the chicken to cook to an internal temperature of 165F degrees. If the outside starts to char too quickly, move the pieces to a cooler part of the grill.
While the chicken is grilling, you can start preparing the side dish. Charred bok choy is a great side to accompany Asian sticky chicken. Bok choy is a hardy Chinese cabbage with a very mild flavor.
It only needs a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a splash of rice wine vinegar.
Once the legs are cooked through, it’s time to give them a bath in a sweet, spicy, sticky Asian barbecue sauce.
The spice in the sauce comes from sambal oelek, which is an Asian chili garlic sauce. You should be able to find it in the Asian aisle of your grocery store. If not, you can pick it up online.
The recipe calls for 1/3 cup, which gives a nice little fire in your mouth. If you don’t care for heat, leave it out, or use a little less.
Dunk the legs in the BBQ sauce, and place them on the grill. The sauce will start to get tacky. After a couple minutes, dunk them again, and repeat. For extra stickiness, dunk one last time, and grill for another couple minutes.
Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions, and serve them up with the charred bok choy and red peppers.
Asian Sticky Chicken
- 12 chicken legs
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Asian Sticky Barbecue Sauce
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup sambal oelek
- 3 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 green onion sliced
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Place the
chicken legs in a zip-top bag. Pour in the marinade. Remove the air, and seal the bag. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- Setup your grill, so you have a direct and indirect heat zone.
- Place the chicken on the grill over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally. If the chicken begins to char, move it to the indirect heat zone, as needed.
- If preparing the boky choy, start cooking it at this point.
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a pot and heat.
- After the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165F degrees, dunk each leg in the sauce. Return to the grill for 2-3 minutes.
- Dunk again, and cook a few more minutes. Then, dunk one more time, and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions.
Skillet Charred Bok Choy with Red Peppers
- 4 bok choy
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Slice the bok choy in half vertically. Cut the red pepper into
- Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bok choy cut side down along with the pepper strips.
- Cook for 10 minutes, until charred.
- Flip the bok choy. Add the vinegar and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.