Entertaining/ Main Course/ Recipes

Dead Sexy Balsamic & Hoisin Barbecue Chicken

You’ve got a pile of fried chicken in front of you on a platter. You get first dibs on whatever piece you want.  What do you pick?  The pragmatist in me says, go for the breast.  More meat, less skin.  But the eight year old in me wins out, I’m going right for the drumstick.

In the time before McNuggets, was I given the drumstick, as the natural kid piece of chicken?  I don’t remember.  Probably not. I was an only. I must have gravitated to it. Eh, any which way, the drumstick never steers you wrong, whether it’s at KFC, Ma’ono, or in my own kitchen.

Now compare that drumstick to the drumette. No, wait, don’t, because a drumette is a wing. A too-much-work-for-too-little-meat wing! Spring for the chicken legs, your guests will eat a couple per person and move on to the next nibble.  So let’s get to it.  Balsamic-Hoisin Barbecue Chicken.

This sauce doubles as a marinade and a barbecue sauce and takes advantage of the tangy-sweetness of reduced balsamic vinegar. I keep a bottle of Whole Foods 365 balsamic in the cabinet specifically for sauces.  It’s on the sweeter side and at about $6 a bottle, I don’t cringe when I pour a cup of vinegar into a measuring cup.

The hoisin is basically a barbecue sauce itself, but adding the vinegar, a little garlic and a little lime adds to its complexity. The red pepper flakes don’t make the sauce truly spicy.  If you like spicy, add more, or add a little sriracha.

These chicken legs are good both hot and cold, and in fact I had one today just leaning over the sink.

Whatever you do, make sure to line your baking pan with foil, or like me, you’ll be soaking that pan for two days and working up a sweat scrubbing off the baked on-caked on sauce. Enjoy.

balsamic hoisin bbq chicken legs

Dead Sexy Balsamic & Hoisin Barbecue Chicken

Print Recipe


  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. hoisin sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • a few cracks of black pepper
  • 6 chicken legs
  • 2 green onions, sliced on the bias (for garnish, if desired)



Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour half into a plastic ziptop bag with 6-8 chicken legs and marinate for a couple of hours or longer.


Pour the remaining sauce into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer until thickened and reduced, about 7 minutes. Whisk occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking and burning.


Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with foil and put a cooling rack onto the pan. Arrange the marinated chicken legs on the rack. Bake for 20 minutes, then baste with sauce and turn over the chicken. Bake for another 10 minutes, baste again and bake another 10 minutes, for a total of 40 minutes.


Baste the legs one last time as you pull them out of the oven. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

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