Brined & Roasted Chicken Legs for Two (Adapted from The Pioneer Woman) + Curry Mayo

I was a hesitant Pioneer Woman fan.

When her cooking show first aired, I wasn’t sure I liked her. Soon, I found myself watching her show with surprising regularity and setting my DVR to record it. And when she made those darn hand cookies, well, I just found myself wishing I could make hand cookies with her, too.

I recently watched an episode where Ree prepared Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs and decided to give them a try even though Jake’s not crazy about chicken pieces with bones. He prefers boneless-skinless chicken breast, which I hate. Slowly but surely, I’m trying to change his perspective by feeding him as delicious chicken thighs as I can prepare. He may still prefer white meat, but at least he doesn’t hate those thighs anymore.

I needed to thaw my chicken legs and remembered how Danelle, of My Total Perspective Vortex suggested defrosting meat in brine. I based my brine on Michael Ruhlman’s Quick Brine Recipe and let the chicken soak for two hours. This was enough time to ensure the meat was juicy and flavorful from the inside-out.

A Cook’s Notes
The excess butter may drip onto the pan and smoke. I transferred the chicken legs onto a clean pan and reduced the heat to 375℉ to avoid setting off my smoke alarms. After they cooked for 1/2 hour, I broiled them until the skin was crispy.

I served the chicken with basmati rice cooked in chicken stock with sautéed onions + sliced brussel sprouts sautéed and then steamed until tender with Asian flavors like ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and a little sugar. I also whipped up a quick curry mayo for dipping. 

Pioneer Woman Chicken Legs

Here’s my take:

6 chicken drumsticks (1 pack)

Chicken Brine:
5 cups water
2.5 Tablespoons of salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 bay leaf
Tablespoon dried sage

Chicken Butter:
1/2 stick butter
1/3 teaspoon seasoned salt
Cayenne pepper, a good dash
1 teaspoon hot madras curry powder
Lemon juice, about two tablespoons

Our Favorite Curry Mayo for Dipping
Mix together mayonnaise (could substitute greek yogurt, sour cream, or a combination), hot madras curry powder, cayenne, garlic or garlic powder, a spritz of lemon juice, and a little dash of sugar. We like it spicy so I use a lot of curry and cayenne.


  1. Prepare the brine for the chicken by mixing the water, salt, sugar, bay leaf and safe until combined. Mine doesn’t follow Ruhman’s Quick Chicken Brine in exact proportions because I can’t do math, but it’s close enough. Allow the chicken to soak in the brine for a couple of hours. Remove the chicken and pat dry.
  2. Prepare the chicken butter by melting the butter, salt, cayenne, curry and lemon juice in a small saucepan. I love hot Madras curry and add it to everything, but you can use whatever seasonings you like.
  3. Swish the chicken legs around in the butter and place them on a baking rack set on a baking sheet. Baste with butter, again.
  4. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. You might need to replace the pan underneath and reduce heat to 375 if the butter and juices smoke too much.
  5. If the chicken isn’t browned enough after cooking, broil until the skin is crispy and golden brown.


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Those look and sound tasty. Where do you find the hot madras curry? Is it in a special section of the grocery store? It seems like it would be an amazing way to spice up any type of dish .

    • Jeni Flaa

      I think I found it at a regular grocery store in Fargo-haven’t looked for it around Mason City, yet. It might be in the International foods aisle or spice aisle? I’ll run out soon.

  2. Kelli @ The Sustainable Couple

    I really like how you adapted this recipe for two people. It’s just John and I – no children – so I often hesitate to try a new recipe if I can’t easily adapt it for two people. You’ve done that work for us!

    (Side note: I have a few recipes ‘for two’ coming up on the blog in March. I’d love your feedback, since you’re more of a foodie than I.)

    • Jeni Flaa

      I adapted it out of necessity. I realized I only had one pack of meat-I should buy it in larger quantities but then I have too many leftovers. I am excited about what’s coming up on your blog. And your chickens:)

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