These sweet and sour chicken legs are one of the easiest ways to enjoy chicken baked in the oven. They’re smothered in a sweet and sour sauce and can be served over egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes for a cheap easy meal idea. We love this recipe because it’s a quick and simple way to bake a large batch of chicken drumsticks.
Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs Recipe
We are creating more and more budget-friendly recipes (like our 109 cheap easy meal ideas) as the price of food continues to rise at the grocery store. This recipe is no exception! It is low on cost but doesn’t compromise on flavor.
- Affordable – Chicken legs tend to be the cheapest chicken cut at the grocery store, which is why we enjoy making recipes like oven-baked chicken legs or an easy sheet pan chicken legs with sweet potatoes.
- Fuss-Free – These are baked in the oven with sauce poured overtop. What could be easier than that?
- Serve – To keep this recipe low-budget, we served the chicken legs over egg noodles. You can also serve it with rice, mashed potatoes or quinoa.
Pro Tip: The key to juicy chicken legs is to ensure the right cooking temperature. A meat thermometer is a perfect way to test when the chicken is done. Just poke in the biggest part of the meat. Chicken should be cooked until it reaches 165°F.
- Chicken Legs: Look for a 2 lb package of chicken drumsticks that are similar in size so that they will cook evenly. You might need to adjust the cooking time depending on the size of the chicken legs.
- Tomato Sauce: A jar or can of tomato sauce is used for the base of the recipe. This will be turned into a sweet and sour sauce. I used a 14 oz can but a jar of sauce will also work. Choose a tomato sauce with no added herbs or spices.
- Brown Sugar: This will sweeten the sauce. Coconut sugar would also taste wonderful in this recipe because of its caramel flavor.
- White Vinegar: Adds acidity to the sauce.
- Worcestershire Sauce: It’s the perfect way to deepen the flavor of uncooked sauces.
- Salt and Pepper: Used to season the raw chicken legs before baking.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Avocado Oil: Drizzled on the chicken legs before baking. Either one will work as they both have high smoke points and an earthy flavor that pairs well with chicken.
How To Make Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs
- Bake Chicken – Preheat the oven to 375°F and add a bit of cooking oil spray to a large casserole dish. Add in the chicken. Drizzle the chicken legs with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Make Sauce – While the chicken is baking, mix together the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl; tomato sauce, brown sugar, white vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Pour Sauce On Top – After 30 minutes of baking, remove the foil and pour the sauce overtop of the chicken. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the chicken legs are fully cooked and reach an internal temperature of 165°F with a thermometer. Let the chicken sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Pro Tip: For crispier chicken legs, turn on the broil setting and broil the chicken for 2-3 minutes before it’s fully cooked.
Ways To Serve Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs
There are so many different ways to serve this sweet and sour chicken recipe. Feel free to pair it with any favorite side dish. Here are a few ideas:
- With potatoes – Serve the chicken with crispy rosemary garlic potatoes, our farmers market hash browns, mashed sweet potatoes or crispy air fryer potatoes.
- A side of grains – Pair it with white rice, wild rice, quinoa, or buckwheat groats.
- On top of pasta – We served our chicken with egg white noodles, but any style of pasta will work great here!
- Low Carb – For an easy dinner, serve it with buttered carrots, green beans with bacon, or air fryer broccoli.
How To Store
Make a large batch of chicken legs for easy meal prep. These keep well in the fridge for easy leftover lunches.
- To refrigerate: Store the chicken legs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- To reheat: Add them back to a casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350°F until the chicken is warmed through.
The best way to check if the chicken is done is by poking it with a meat thermometer. Once it reaches 165°F the chicken is done.
It takes about 50-60 minutes to bake chicken legs in the oven. The time will vary depending on the quantity and size of chicken legs. The more chicken legs you have, the more time it will need to bake.
Yes, you can freeze oven-baked chicken legs. Add the chicken in a single layer in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible. They can be frozen for up to 4 months.
Yes, chicken legs can be cooked on a baking sheet. Add them to a baking sheet with foil, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375°F. Then drizzle the sweet and sour sauce over the chicken and bake for another 20-30 minutes more.
More Chicken Leg Recipes
If you enjoyed this easy meal idea, then you’ll also love these chicken leg recipes:
- Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
- Sheet Pan Chicken Legs and Sweet Potatoes
- Baked Ginger Garlic Chicken Legs
- Oven Baked Chicken Legs
- Air Fryer Parmesan Chicken Legs
Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cook noodles, rice or mashed potatoes to serve with (this is an optional step).
- Lightly grease a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add the chicken legs. Drizzle with cooking oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together.Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce, brown sugar, white vinegar, Worcestershire sauce to a medium bowl. Mix together.
- Pour the sauce on top of the chicken and toss together. Bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and reaches 165°F when poked with a meat thermometer.
- Serve the chicken legs with egg noodles, other pasta noodles, mashed potatoes or rice.