Everyone loves a great Crock-Pot or slow cooker recipe, and if it’s cheap and easy, that’s even better! I’ve made these slow cooker Thai sweet chili chicken drumsticks several times in the last few weeks, and they’ve been a hit with our family.
I think of chicken drumsticks as being a lot like chicken wings, because you can flavor them almost any way you want, and serve them with a yummy dipping sauce. I always say “drumsticks are the new wings.” Drumsticks are a lot cheaper, though. At Costco I bought enough drumsticks to make 3 meals for about 10 dollars.
I love chicken drumsticks, but only if they’re cooked long enough to tenderize them and cook out excess fat. Undercooked drumsticks can be tough and fatty. That’s why cooking them in the Crock-Pot is perfect. After a few hours in the slow cooker, drumsticks are well done and tender. Then they go under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp the skin and develop a nice char.
If you prefer chicken thighs, you can use those in this recipe. Either bone-in or boneless thighs will work.
You can buy Thai sweet chili sauce at Costco or most grocery stores, or it’s easy to make your own sweet chili sauce. If you make your own, you can control the amount of heat by deciding how many pepper seeds to use.
This recipe is adapted from The Asian Slow Cooker: Exotic Favorites for Your Crockpot, a terrific recipe book by Kelly Kwok.
Marinating the Chicken
Start your slow cooker Thai sweet chili chicken by patting dry 8 chicken drumsticks with paper towels. If you want more drumsticks, you could use as many as 12. There will be plenty of marinade and sauce.
Mix up the marinade ingredients in a bowl or jar. Place the drumsticks and the marinade in a large zipper-type plastic bag. Massage the bag so all the chicken pieces are coated with marinade. Place the bag inside a bowl or other container to prevent leaks, and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
If you want to avoid using plastic bags for environmental reasons, marinate the chicken in a glass bowl with a tight fitting lid.
The one tricky thing about this recipe is that you have to leave time for the chicken to marinate. My strategy is to mix up the marinade and pour it on the chicken while I’m making dinner the night before. The chicken can marinate in the refrigerator overnight, and you can put it in the Crock-Pot the next day.
Slow Cook 3-6 Hours
After your Thai sweet chili chicken has marinated for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours, remove the drumsticks from the marinade. Usually by this time the chicken skin is out of place, so stretch the skin back out to neatly cover the meat. It’s like a sock that’s fallen down and needs to be pulled back up. Place the drumsticks in the slow cooker skin side up. It’s okay to stack them if necessary.
Cook the drumsticks in the slow cooker on low for 6 hours, or on high for 3 hours. I like to use a slow cooker liner to make cleanup easier. While the drumsticks are cooking, you can make the dipping sauce.
Brown Chicken Under the Broiler
Once the drumsticks are thoroughly cooked, (to an internal temperature of 180 degrees), it’s time to put them under the broiler to brown them and make the skin crispy. The Crock-Pot is wonderful for making meat tender, but it’s not much for browning. Broil the drumsticks for 2-5 minutes or until they are almost beginning to char.
Brush with Sauce and Garnish
Brush the browned drumsticks with a little more sweet chili sauce, then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and finely chopped cilantro. I bought a big container of already toasted sesame seeds at Costco, and I keep them in the freezer so they stay fresh. The sesame seeds and cilantro are mostly to make the chicken look nice, but I think it’s worth it. When food looks pretty, my family seems to enjoy it more!
Serve the Crock-Pot sweet chili chicken drumsticks with the dipping sauce. I would serve these drumsticks with cooked rice, plus stir-fried snow peas and carrots. Because they’re small and have their own built-in handle, these drumsticks would also make a great addition to a party or game day buffet.
I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this recipe. If you make it, be sure to leave a review!
If you like this recipe, be sure to check out some of FoodLove’s easy chicken drumstick recipes:
Or check out more slow cooker chicken recipes:
Slow Cooker Thai Sweet Chili Chicken
For the drumsticks:
- 8-10 chicken drumsticks
- ½ cup Thai sweet chili sauce store-bought or homemade
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce optional
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons hot chili oil or chili paste optional
- Additional sweet chili sauce for brushing on drumsticks
- Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
For the dipping sauce:
- ½ cup Thai sweet chili sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
- ¾ teaspoon crushed garlic optional
- 1 teaspoon hot chili oil or chili paste optional
- Rinse the drumsticks and dry on paper towels. Whisk together the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, grated ginger and hot chili oil in a mixing bowl or large measuring cup.
- Place the chicken drumsticks in a large plastic bag and pour on the marinade. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Remove the drumsticks from the marinade, and stretch the chicken skin to cover the meat. Place drumsticks skin-side up in the crock pot, and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours
- Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by whisking together all the ingredients. Set aside.
- When the drumsticks are cooked, preheat broiler. Remove drumsticks from crock pot and place skin side up on broiler pan. Broil until browned. This will take 2-5 minutes depending on heat.
- Brush the drumsticks with a little additional sweet chili sauce, so the garnishes will adhere to the chicken. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and chopped cilantro. Serve the drumsticks with dipping sauce.
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