You only need 5 ingredients and 5 minutes to put these chicken leg quarters together. This recipe is ridiculously easy and the result is way more flavorful and delicious than you would imagine. Because this recipe just calls for olive oil, salt, paprika, garlic powder and pepper, these chicken quarters are also naturally keto, paleo, whole30, dairy-free and gluten-free.
I am so excited about today’s recipe. We’ve made a ton of chicken leg quarter recipes and this is, by far, our favorite and definitely the easiest.
It’s my go-to recipe when I realize that we don’t have any leftovers and I don’t have enough time to stand around in the kitchen to prepare something.
Even if I do have the time, I still make these about once a week. I actually made a whole chicken yesterday and my husband was a little disappointed that I hadn’t made these roasted chicken leg quarters instead.
They’re just so good! I can’t blame him.
Whenever it’s his turn to make dinner, he usually makes these. I make up a huge batch of the spice mix so all he has to do is put some olive oil and the spice mix on the chicken.
What are chicken leg quarters?
Chicken thigh + drumstick (which is the lower part of the leg) + part of the back = chicken quarters. If you need a chicken thigh recipe, try these baked chicken thighs.
What makes baked leg quarters so great?
If your family fights over the dark meat, chicken quarters are where it’s at.
They’re inexpensive, moist, meaty and so easy to prepare. Compared to white meat, they have a juicier flavor, are richer and harder to dry out.
I love whole roasted chickens but I have a knack for overcooking them. I also don’t like preparing them. These quarters are just so much easier.
There’s nothing not to love about them, unless you dislike the flavor.
Are they healthy?
I’m sure you’ve heard that white meat is a healthier choice than dark meat. It’s true that dark meat has about double the amount of saturated fat as white meat, but it’s still a small amount. It also has double the amount of healthy unsaturated fat.
Some studies even indicate that dark meat is healthier than white meat. It has more nutrients and contains more zinc and iron. That is great news, right? 😄
One thing everyone agrees on is that the skin is unhealthy. But bake the chicken with the skin on.
It keeps the chicken moist! And it’s much easier to remove after cooking.
For another healthy chicken recipe, check out my Paleo Chicken Meatballs! Just like these baked chicken quarters, they’re naturally gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo.
How to bake chicken leg quarters
Baking chicken leg quarters in the oven is the easiest method to prepare them.
If you want the bottoms of the chicken quarters to be crisp, you need to place them on a cooling rack in the pan as you see in the photos.
I prepared them that way for the pictures because I know most people want those crisp bottoms. I don’t eat the skin so I don’t care if the bottoms are soggy.
So what I actually do is put the chicken in the pan, without a rack, and then fill up the rest of the space with potato and sweet potato chunks as well as some carrot slices. They should be in a single layer – not piled on top of each other.
Add a bit of olive oil and maybe about 1/2 portion of the spice mix. They’re my favorite potatoes! They suck up the chicken juice and fat and become the most flavorful potatoes.
If they don’t brown enough for your liking by the time you take out the chicken, just remove the chicken from the pan, turn up the heat a bit and let the potatoes get golden brown.
But even if they’re not golden brown, those potatoes are crazy delicious. I often skip the browning step because I simply can not wait any longer to eat the potatoes. 😂
If you don’t want to make roasted potatoes, these Dairy-free Mashed Potatoes
make an excellent side dish!
What temperature to bake chicken quarters
I’ve tried baking chicken quarters at 300 °F, 350 °F and 400 °F. I thought slowly cooking them on low would yield the best results but 400 °F was the winner.
And it takes the least time, which is another bonus.
How long to bake chicken leg quarters
Here’s another reason why chicken quarters are better than roasting a whole chicken (at least if you like the dark meat). Chicken should be cooked to 165 °F. It’s often recommended to stop cooking at 160 °F and letting it come to 165 °F while it rests.
That’s usually not an issue when roasting a whole chicken. White chicken meat is the best right at 165 °F and once you start going over that, it starts to dry out.
But did you know that the dark meat gets even more succulent when you cook it to between 185 °F and 190 °F? If you do that with a whole bird, the white meat will be overcooked and dry.
To actually answer the question – at 400 °F, you only need to bake chicken leg quarters for 40-50 minutes.
How do I know if they’re cooked thoroughly?
They used to say that once the juices are clear and the meat isn’t pink, then it’s done. But that’s not true. You can’t tell just by looking at the meat, bones or juices. You need a good digital thermometer.
But like I said earlier about dark meat – it’s almost impossible to overcook it. If you don’t have a thermometer, just cook the meat for 50 minutes and you should be fine.
If you have some monstrous chicken quarters and you think they don’t look done enough, put them back in for another 5 minutes.
Can I use a different cut of chicken for this recipe?
You can use the spices on any kind of chicken but you’d need to look up exactly at what temperature and for how long to cook the cut of chicken you’re using.
Can I omit the salt / paprika / garlic / black pepper?
Of course, but they won’t be as delicious. 😉
Speaking of paprika, we’ve made these with hot paprika and smoked paprika. I’ve never tried it with regular paprika (which is sweet paprika) but I’m assuming it’d work.
If you have kids and are worried about the hot paprika – you can just not put as much of the spice on the pieces for the kids. Or use half hot and half sweet. My toddler ate them with the full amount of spice with no complaints and I can’t handle much heat, so I don’t think they’re overly spicy.
Can I use fresh garlic?
If you use fresh garlic and put it on the chicken with the rest of the seasoning at the beginning, it’ll burn. If you want to use fresh garlic, use a tablespoon of minced garlic and brush it (with the help of fat that has dripped down) on the chicken during the last 10 minutes of baking.
What can I use instead of olive oil?
Butter or another type of oil works just as well.
I think that’s about it. If you try this recipe out, I’d love to hear what you think!
Chicken Leg Quarters Recipe
- 4 chicken leg quarters (mine were 3 1/4 lbs or 1.5 kilos total)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (2 if you like things salty)
- 1 teaspoon hot or smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F (205 °C).
- Place an oven-safe cooling rack on a baking tray big enough to fit all the chicken.
- Stir together the spices in a little bowl.
- Place the chicken on the cooling rack (in the pan) and drizzle the olive oil over the top.
- Rub half the spice mix between the skin and the meat. Rub the other half on top and on the bottom of the chicken. On the bottom, there's just a little drumstick meat that you need to rub - no need to rub the bones.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the internal temperature is 185 °F (85 °C) and the skin is browned and crisp. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- If you have any leftovers, let them cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days.