Chicken legs, trimmed, skinned and wrapped in bacon before being smoked and seared and finally glazed to make bacon wrapped chicken lollipops which gives us that lovely smoky flavor, savory bacon, and juicy chicken all in a wonderful hand held appetizer.
At our Live Fire Legends event in Fairhope Alabama this year, I watched some poor souls laboring over chicken legs to turn into bacon wrapped chicken lollipops that my friend Dan Phelps cooked to perfection. The prep work looked like a monumental pain in the ass. And when I began trimming my chicken legs to make these, I thought it would take me hours just to get them on the grill (in this case a kamado). The first three or four took soooo long. But then I got into a groove and the rest took less than a minute each. So take fair warning here, the first few of these will take some time. But I have some tips to increase that learning curve and make it easier. The payoff is phenomenal, so don’t sweat the prep.
Bacon Wrapped Chicken Lollipops Ingredients:
- 1 dozen chicken legs
- 1 dozen slices of bacon
- Your favorite barbecue rub
- Your favorite barbecue sauce (optional). We used W Sauce.
No salt needed here. The bacon and the rub cover all we need.
What part of chicken is used for the lollipop?
Chicken lollipops can be made with the drum of the wing or from the chicken leg. The drum from the wing is is a little more work and a lot less meat than using the chicken leg. So we always use the chicken legs or drumstick.
Are chicken lollipops and drumsticks the same?
How do you turn a chicken leg into a lollipop?
Let’s start off with the prep on the chicken legs. Grab some nitrile gloves and a roll of paper towels. Both will help a great deal with this prep. Start by slicing around the ‘handle’ part of the chicken leg which means to keep rotating the leg to completely sever all skin, tendons and meat:
Then take a paper towel and grab the skin/meat/cartilage we just severed at the top of the handle and pull it free:
Then flip that chicken leg around and lop off the bottom of the leg so the chicken leg will stand straight up:
At this point, we have a choice. We can leave the skin around the thick meat at the bottom of the drumstick or we can pull it free and replace it with a slice of bacon. In this chicken lollipop recipe, we plan on adding the bacon, so let’s pull that skin free.
Now work your fingers under the skin and pull one side up and over the top of the leg and yank it clean:
And now we have a clean chicken lollipop:
Next up, grab a slice of bacon:
That one slice should wrap around that leg twice:
Now repeat that eleven more times. I know, it will seem daunting after the first one, but I promise by the third or fourth one it happens MUCH quicker. I actually did this 14 times. It was so quick at the end that when I had two legs left, I decided to knock those out rather than pitch them and save time. At the beginning of the process I thought I would be lucky to get 10 done.
When all 12 of your legs are done, lay them over on their side and sprinkle the rub on the bacon wrapped chicken lollipops:
Then roll them over and season the other side:
At this point, we could prep the oven by setting it to 300F and standing our bacon wrapped chicken lollipops on a cookie sheet and they would be delicious, but I want to make smoked chicken lollipops.
How to grill bacon wrapped chicken lollipops
Time to prepare the grill. I used my Primo kamado which has plenty of room with the oval shape so I can put my coals and smoke wood on one side and my chicken legs on the other which is known as two zone grilling or indirect grilling. And when I go to sear these off and crisp up that bacon, I don’t have to remove the hot grill grate and plate setter like with most kamado grills. I just pour in a little more charcoal, add a grill grate and wait a few minutes for that fire to get blazing hot and set the legs over the hot coals to sear them:
Close the lid and let the heat and smoke work their magic. Target temp inside the grill is anywhere from 275-325:
I smoked these legs until they browned up nicely and the internal temp hit north of 165:
Yes, those look good enough to eat right there, but we aren’t done quite yet. And while chicken only needs to be cooked to 165F, I like to take dark meat closer to 175 as it takes longer for that fat to render. So smoke them to 165 THEN stoke up the side with the coals and add grill grates to the Primo:
Searing the bacon wrapped chicken lollipops
I don’t recommend searing our bacon wrapped chicken lollipops all at once. I did them in batches of 5-6 so that none burned:
Keep an eye on them and peek underneath often because barbecue rubs often have lots of sugar in them and can blacken quickly. I flipped these just as they darkened a bit:
Keep browning and crisping that bacon on all twelve (or in my case, 14):
You just counted my chicken legs, didn’t you?
This one looks amazing:
Once they are all browned, get ready for that sauce:
For the barbecue sauce, I used W Sauce which is actually Worcestershire sauce. I thought about listing that ingredient as, “Your favorite Worcestershire sauce,” but 99% of all Worcestershire is that thin, wimpy sauce we all have in our kitchens somewhere. W Sauce is a thick, gooey sauce with a boatload more flavor than standard Worcestershire. It has more of a barbecue sauce consistency. Standard Worcestershire sauce just wouldn’t work. So if you don’t have W Sauce (which I highly recommend), substitute a barbecue sauce.
Time to sauce the chicken lollipops
Grab a wide tumbler or rocks glass and pour your sauce inside about halfway up the glass. Yeah, I used a crystal glass for this. In the immortal words of Cousin Eddie, “Nothin’ but the best!” Dunk each bacon wrapped chicken lollipop:
Now place the sauced chicken lollies on the side of the grill away from the heat to caramelize the sauce:
Close the lid and let that sauce thicken. After a few minutes, remove from the heat and serve:
I left a few of these unsauced and they were very good, but the sauced ones were dynamite:
Yes, these are a bit of work on the prep, but once you get the process down, it’s not a big deal. I could knock out a huge pile of these on my own and if I had just one other person that was as adept at this as I am in 30 minutes could we prep for an army. It just takes a little practice and these aren’t bad to prepare at all. The payoff is sooooo worth it!
If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
Bacon Wrapped Chicken Lollipops
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- 12 slice bacon
- your favorite BBQ rub
- your favorite BBQ sauce optional
- Take a knife and trim around the top of the chicken leg between the meat and the knob of the bone, severing the meat, skin and tendons completely all the way around
- Then grab a paper towel and grab the skin and meat around the top of the leg and pull it off completely
- Lop off the base of the chicken leg so they will stand straight up
- Pull the skin free from around the meat on the leg
- Wrap a slice of bacon twice around the meat of the chicken lollipop
- Repeat that for all the chicken legs
- Lay all of them bacon wrapped chicken lollipops on their sides and season with the barbecue rub
- Roll them over and season the other side
- Set up the grill for two zone grilling with hot coals and smoke wood on one side and the meat on the other
- Smoke the chicken lollies until they hit north of 165F
- Crank up the coals and sear the chicken legs a few at a time to brown the outside and crisp up the bacon
- Fill a wide rocks glass halfway up with the sauce and dunk each chicken leg
- Place all of the dunked bacon wrapped chicken lollipops on the side of the grill with no coals and close the lid until the sauce thickens and the internal temp of the chicken legs gets around 175F
- Remove from the heat and serve