The marinade is the star of the show in this recipe for roasted chicken drumsticks. Mila Clarke pulls from her family's Jamaican heritage tradition by using a complex marinade made with soy sauce, ginger, lime, cinnamon and habanero peppers to create these oven-baked drumsticks that are delightfully savory but have a spicy kick. A simple cabbage slaw, which comes together in minutes, is the perfect accompaniment., June 2021


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

20 mins
2 hrs 40 mins

Here's how we made over this recipe to be healthy and diabetes-friendly:

1. We use a marinade to add flavor. The marinade is made up of low-sodium soy sauce, fresh citrus juices and plenty of herbs and spices. Food science research tells us that only 12.5% of a liquid marinade can be absorbed into meat, so we know that most of the sodium in this marinade stays behind. This infuses the chicken with flavor while keeping it lower in sodium.

2. We opt for drumsticks over thighs. This keeps the portion size at two drumsticks per person. Choosing two drumsticks instead of a drumstick and a thigh saves 60 calories and 2 grams saturated fat. (One skin-on chicken thigh has 221 calories and 4.5 g saturated fat, while one skin-on drumstick has 161 calories and 2.5 g saturated fat.)

3. We serve the chicken with a side of vinegar-dressed cabbage slaw. Choosing slaw over a starchier side like rice or beans keeps carbs to a minimum. This simple slaw is made with a very light dressing, which adds just enough flavor but doesn't weigh down the cabbage. We also opt for bagged slaw mix, which cuts down on prep time and makes this side dish come together in minutes.

Having diabetes doesn't mean you have to give up all of your favorite foods. You just need the know-how (and easy cooking tips) to make better choices. In Make Over My Recipe, a fun cooking show geared toward beginner cooks, Mila Clarke takes classics like mac and cheese, meatloaf, brownies and more comfort foods and uses simple tricks to make them healthier—but just as delicious as ever.

Tips From the EatingWell Test Kitchen

Can I use a different cut of chicken? 

We haven't tested this recipe using other cuts of chicken, but it will be most successful with another bone-in cut, like chicken thighs or breasts. Purchase the same amount (in weight) and cut breasts in half. Follow the recipe as written, noting that cooking time might be different. Be sure to check for doneness using an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part without touching bone to ensure it reaches 165°F.

Can I use cabbage instead of coleslaw mix?

That's a great idea! If you have a head of cabbage on hand, core it and slice it thinly for that classic coleslaw appearance. If you have a food processor with a shredding blade attachment, you can use that too.

I love my grill; can I use it to grill the chicken?

Grilling is so much fun and, yes, you can grill these chicken legs. Preheat your grill to medium-high, then clean and lightly oil the grill grates. Drain the chicken from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Place the chicken on the grill grates and grill, turning often, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F.

Can I make the slaw ahead of time?

We love that you want to get some prep work out of the way, but we have a suggestion when it comes to the slaw. To prevent it from becoming a soupy mess, we recommend making the dressing up to 1 day in advance but don't mix it quite yet with the cabbage. Instead, cover it and refrigerate until ready to use. Then, 30 minutes before you're ready to eat, toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing and refrigerate.




Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare chicken: Whisk soy sauce, orange juice, lime juice, scallions, onion, habanero (or Scotch bonnet), ginger, garlic, canola oil, allspice, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg and paprika in a shallow nonreactive baking dish. Add chicken; marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 475°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard the marinade). Arrange the chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, basting occasionally with pan juices, until nicely browned and crisped and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165°F, about 25 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, prepare slaw: Whisk vinegar, olive oil, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add slaw mix and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to eat to let the flavors meld.

  • Serve the drumsticks with the slaw.


Parchment paper

To make ahead

Marinate chicken (Step 1) for up to 12 hours.

Nutrition Facts

2 drumsticks & 1 1/3 cups slaw
376 calories; fat 15g; cholesterol 252mg; sodium 750mg; carbohydrates 9g; dietary fiber 2g; protein 49g; sugars 5g; niacin equivalents 20mg; saturated fat 4g; vitamin a iu 1605IU; potassium 580mg.