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What Is a Chicken Lollipop (and How to Make It)

The grilled chicken lollipop is a popular way to serve a standard chicken drumstick. As fancy as it looks, it’s relatively simple to prepare and grill especially when using a versatile Traeger wood pellet grill. It offers diners a way to eat drumsticks without as much mess.

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What Is a Chicken Lollipop?

A chicken lollipop is a chicken drumstick that has been Frenched; the meat is cut at the skinny end and pulled down to the other end to form a lollipop. Once cut properly, you can cook them to your liking (grilling or baking, and serving them in your choice of sauce).

Chicken “lollipops” have a nice look and the legs are easier to eat and can be less fussy for those who like to hold them in their hand. They are also incredibly versatile. Make them for lunch, dinner, or a hearty appetizer.

Where Did Chicken Lollipop Originate?

The chicken lollipop is commonly credited to Indian food culture, where they are battered or served in a spicy red sauce. As they became more mainstream, they have taken on new variations: barbecued, smoked, and even fried.

You can find a version of chicken lollipops served in many types of Asian restaurants today. They may be made from smaller drumsticks and offer a tiny bite that's loaded with flavor. Like a chicken wing, they may be marinated in a variety of ways from mild and sweet to full of heat.

While there may be different opinions on where the chicken lollipop started, almost everyone can agree that this unique spin on the humble chicken drumstick is here to stay.

How to Prep Chicken Lollipop

What makes a chicken lollipop so different from a standard chicken drumstick? The key to turning regular chicken legs into chicken lollipops is to cut them correctly. The technique is called "Frenching" and it's a simple preparation that yields beautiful results.

If you have never done this before, it can take around 1 or 2 minutes to French every drumstick before seasoning and cooking. As you gain experience, you will get faster and will be preparing a full pan of these delicious chicken treats in no time.

Frenching Chicken Drumsticks

All you need to create the look of a lollipop is proper tools and a little patience. Start with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Shears designed for kitchen use are better than a standard scissor since they are sharpened for this type of use. Make sure they are clean, and don't use them for anything else until you wash them (to avoid contamination).

Create a clean, flat cutting surface for your work. Then follow these steps to create chicken lollipop.

  1. Use either the shears or a knife to cut all the way around the leg at the narrow end, about 2 to 3 inches from the knuckle. Make sure you get through the muscle and tendons to the bone.
  2. After making a clean-cut line, push the meat with your hands so that it slides up toward the thickest end.
  3. Any meat, tendons, or skin left clinging to the narrow bone end should be cut or scraped away so that the bottom third of the leg is clean bone.
  4. If there is a small bone next to the leg, you can remove it with the shears.
  5. Cut away any tendons, skin, or grisly bits that stick out from the top so the lollipop is round and smooth looking.

How To Season Chicken Lollipops

The right seasoning can help elevate your dish, so taking a few minutes to add a rub before you grill can go a long way. Traeger’s Pork & Poultry Rub works well, and you only have to sprinkle it on each side of the drumstick. If you don’t have a poultry rub on hand, you can use a basic salt and pepper blend or incorporate smoked paprika for added heat.

Once seasoned, wrap each of the exposed bones (sticks) with a piece of aluminum foil. This keeps them from getting too charred on the outside and makes the bone nice and clean for serving later. Place the foil-wrapped chicken pieces in the refrigerator for an hour to let the seasoning soak in before grilling.

What Wood Pellets to Use for Chicken Lollipops

Any wood pellet designed for poultry will help these chicken bites stand out. Our own Apple Pellets help bring a smoky, sweet tone to the meat and won’t overpower the sauce you choose to incorporate into the dish. If you have our Signature Blend on hand, go ahead and use that. It works for almost anything you grill or smoke and doesn't disappoint.

How to Grill Chicken Lollipops

Chicken lollipop tastes great when grilled, and our simple Chicken Lollipops recipe demonstrates just how well these work on a Traeger grill. To begin, prepare the Traeger by setting it to 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes with the lid closed. If your Traeger has Super Smoke, use it for additional flavor.

When the grill is preheated, place the foil-wrapped pieces directly on the grill grate. Smoke for 30 minutes, then remove them from the grill.

Place a stick of butter into a baking pan, and turn up the grill temperature to 350 degrees. Place the pan with the butter on the grill grate, and close the Traeger lid, allowing it to come to temperature for 15 minutes.

Open the grill, and place the chicken lollipop drumsticks in the pan. Position them so the meat is facing down and the bone “sticks” are sticking straight up in the air. Close the lid, letting the chicken cook for an additional 40 minutes.

Now, you can brush the lollipop chicken with your favorite sauce, using a basting brush for even coating. Turn up the temperature of the Traeger again, this time to 450 degrees Remove the drumsticks from the pan and place them directly on the grill grates. Cook them for an additional 10 minutes, but don't let the glaze burn. When the outside gets crisp and caramelized – and the inside reaches proper temperature – they are ready to remove from the heat.

Allow them to sit for 10 minutes, using this time to prepare more sauce. Serve extra sauce alongside your chicken lollipop for dipping (and be sure the dipping containers are large enough for the fat end of the drumstick). You can also drizzle sauce on your chicken lollipop just before serving.

Internal Temperature for Chicken Lollipops

Chicken lollipops should be cooked to the same internal temperature as regular chicken drumsticks (175 degrees Fahrenheit). If you are going to be adding sauce, and want to have a nice, sticky glaze without overcooking the meat, stop cooking them at 165 degrees, baste with sauce, and place them back on the grill until they reach that proper internal temperature of 175 degrees.

Remember that not every piece will cook at the same speed, depending on the size of the drumstick and the thickness of the meat. Check every piece before serving.

How to Get Chicken Lollipop to Stand Upright on the Grill

To get your chicken “lollipops” to stay upright when grilling, make sure to cut the meaty tip of the drumstick. By doing so, you will be cutting through the bone and creating a flat surface for the “lollipops” to balance.

This will ensure the chicken pieces will stay upright during the grilling process.

What to Serve With Chicken Lollipop

Chicken lollipops look beautiful on a tray and may be served alongside any elegant salad or potato dish – like Asparagus and Spinach Salad or Crispy No-Fry Potatoes.

Because it has an amazing, smoky flavor and works well with traditional barbecue and grilling glazes, you may choose traditional picnic food as sides. Consider adding them to a plate with Loaded Baked Potato Salad, Traeger Smoked Coleslaw, and Baked Buttermilk Biscuits.

If you opt for a traditional Asian flavor, you might enjoy creating these Spicy Asian Brussel Sprouts.

Chicken Lollipop Recipes

While you can use any rub or sauce combination to make chicken lollipop your very own, we find this Smoke Chicken Lollipops with Champagne BBQ Sauce recipe hits the spot. It uses real bubbly to add some punch to an otherwise traditional grilled favorite. They also go great with our 3-2-1 BBQ Baby Back Ribs or paired with Bacon-Wrapped Stuff Chicken Breasts for a truly poultry-themed affair.

Once you make your first meal of grilled lollipop chicken, you may never go back to the old way of enjoying wings or drumsticks again. There’s something special about the look of this dish, which uses some of the cheapest chicken cuts you can buy and transforms them into something truly unforgettable.