Orange Saffron Marinade for Chicken Legs (Baked or Grilled)
Orange Saffron Chicken Legs can be baked or grilled, and with a little touch of that fancy spice, you can make a simple dish extra special. An easy marinade with exotic citrus flavors infuses juicy drumsticks that you can toss on the grill or in your oven.
Originally published July 21, 2016.
I know many people who read my blog are parents. So you can relate to the stress and overwhelm that sometimes comes with the job.
But then there are the moments of unconditional love that make you melt into a puddle. Like when after a rough day your kid says to you, “Mommy, you know how you said a little while ago that you try to be the best mommy. Well, you don’t have to try. You just are the best mommy.”
As my hubby says, parenting is a whole lot of work with moments of joy, but it’s those moments of joy that make it all worth it.
Here is a terrible segway, but there is one particular ingredient that is so special that just a little pinch is all you need to be totally worth it.
What is saffron?
Saffron is a spice derived from a crocus plant. The small threads are actually the stamen of the flower. Because of its rarity and tedious harvest process, it is the world’s most expensive spice. But just a pinch imparts a bright, golden color, and a sweet and grassy exotic flavor.
It is most frequently used in Spanish paella, Italian risotto Milanese, and many Indian, Persian, and Arab dishes.
In this recipe, a lot of orange juice and zest and just a bit of saffron in the chicken leg marinade gives the drumsticks a ton of flavor. A nice long soak combined with a hot grill or oven leaves you with moist and juicy drumsticks that taste absolutely incredible.
Orange Saffron Chicken Leg Marinade
Whether it’s summertime and you are ready to fire up the grill, or winter and you want comfort food coming out of your oven, do yourself a favor and invest in a little package of saffron so you can make this marinade for chicken legs. It is a super simple but extra special addition to your dinner table.
And this chicken marinade is gluten free, keto, and paleo. So based on your choice of side dishes, you’ll have everyone digging into this pile of baked or grilled chicken legs!
Here is a brief overview so you can see just how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full quantities and details.
But don’t skip my PRO TIPS below!
- Olive oil
- Oranges – zested and juiced
- Dry thyme leaves
- Saffron threads
- Chicken legs
Directions overview – scroll to the recipe card for the full set of instructions
- Combine the marinade ingredient in a zip-top storage bag and add the chicken legs. Marinate for at least 6-8 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and dry with paper towels.
- To bake: preheat the oven to 450°F, and place chicken a cooling rack set on top of a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, flip the legs, then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat reaches a temperature of 165°F.
- To grill: preheat your grill to medium heat, and grill over indirect medium heat for 40-50 minutes, flipping occasionally, or until the juices run clear and the meat reaches a temperature of 165°F.
Serve right away. Leftover can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in the oven.
Side dishes for grilled chicken legs
- Brown rice, white rice, or cauliflower rice
- Roasted potatoes
- Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Manchego Cheese
- Steamed fresh or frozen vegetables
- Sauteed Summer Vegetables
- Buttered Carrots and Peas
- Mediterranean Corn Salad
More grilled chicken recipes
- Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken Breasts
- Grilled Chicken Salad with Berries, Goat Cheese, and Pecans & Blueberry Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs
- Grilled Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Coconut Basil Grilled Chicken from All Day I Dream About Food
- Grilled Brick Chicken from Kiss My Smoke
Orange Saffron Marinated Baked or Grilled Chicken Legs Recipe
Baked or Grilled Orange Saffron Chicken Legs
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
- 2 oranges zested and juiced
- 1 clove garlic minced or crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 3 pounds chicken legs
- Combine all ingredients except the chicken in a large plastic zip-top storage bag and mix to combine.
- Add the chicken, seal the bag, and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.
- If you are baking, preheat the oven to 450°F, and place a cooling rack on top of a cooking sheet. Remove the chicken from the marinade, dry with paper towels, and place on the rack. Bake for 30 minutes, flip the legs, then bake for and additional 10-15 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat reaches a temperature of 165°F.
- If you are grilling, preheat your grill, remove the chicken from the marinade, dry with paper towels, and place on the grill. Grill over indirect medium heat for 40-50 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat reaches a temperature of 165°F.