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Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Legs with Pesto



Sheet pan meals are all the rage these days, at least if you spend more than a biscuit over on Pinterest. The concept is simple. Place a bunch of ingredients on a cookie/baking sheet, throw it into the oven until everything is done. I took this concept to the grill (of course) and used some Reynolds Wrap® Non-Stick Foil so none of the delicious flavors stick to the pan and clean-up is a breeze. If you have a family and are looking for great weeknight meals that are easy to prep, cook and clean up, all the while getting your grilling fix, pay attention, this one is for you. Let’s get on with it and get to making our Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Legs with Pesto. 

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Legs with Pesto Ingredients:

8-10 Chicken drumsticks (legs)

Garlic and herb seasoning (substitute your favorite BBQ rub/seasoning)

1 roll of Reynolds Wrap® Non-Stick Foil

2 small golden potatoes chunked

1 sweet potato chunked

12 each mini-onions both purple and yellow

Garlic infused olive oil to coat (sub regular olive oil)

Salt to taste

Pesto – we used store bought but here’s a recipe you can make

Pesto Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/3 cup walnuts (can sub pine nuts which is the more traditional recipe)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

Pesto Instructions:

In a food processor add the basil and nuts and pulse a few times

Then add the garlic and cheese and pulse a few more times, making sure to scrape down the sides after every couple of pulses

Then start the food processor on a low speed and slowly pour in the olive oil until desired consistency, stopping occasionally to scrap down the sides with a rubber spatula

Add salt to taste

OK, now that we have our basil pesto (and we bought ours, so that’s perfectly acceptable), it’s time to get down to making this dish. And our recipe starts off this way:

Didn’t see that coming, did you?

We are going to tighten up that chicken skin just a bit. Start by boiling about a half-gallon of water and then placing 2-4 chicken legs in a colander in the sink:

Being very careful not to burn yourself, pour some of that boiling water over the chicken legs for 3-5 seconds and watch the skin shrink up:

Those two pics above are the exact same chicken legs. The top one is before the boiling water, the bottom is after. What we have done here is tightened the skin up. We basically pre cooked it. This helps to make sure the skin isn’t rubbery at the end of the cookout.

Repeat the process with all the chicken legs and then season them with salt and the garlic/herb seasoning:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

Make sure to do both sides:

Now it’s time to prepare the pan itself. Start off by laying down a layer of Reynolds Wrap® Non-Stick Foil putting the dull side up (which is the non- stick side) onto a baking sheet:

Despite the way the light hit that foiled pan, I promise you that’s the dull side which is the non-stick side.

Now, let’s chop some potatoes and veggies. So, for this one we made a mistake. Not a huge mistake, but one we don’t want you to repeat. When we started cutting up the sweet potato and the gold potato, we found the orange sweet potato was REALLY dense. Particularly compared to the yellow potato. So we figured it would take quite a bit longer to cook. To compensate, we sliced each type of tuber differently. We sliced the sweet potatoes fairly thin and the yellow spuds quite a bit thicker:

Don’t do this. Cut them the same thickness. They cook at just about the same rate, density notwithstanding. Cut them both thin like the sweet potato in the pic above. If you cut them too thick, they will take longer to cook than the chicken, but even if you do, we have a way to compensate for that later. 

One other item that we thought was clever on our part, wasn’t all that clever. Notice the ingredient shot at the beginning of this post? See those different color carrots of different sizes? Notice how we have whole carrots and then the little baby carrots which are also in multiple colors? Well, once these carrots roast, they all look pretty much the same. Not identical, but they blend together pretty well. Same with the white and purple onions. The next time I make this, I’m using the little orange carrots and just one color onion. The multi color stuff looks fantastic in the raw ingredient shot, but in the grand scheme of things, they don’t have that much impact on the final dish.

Back to the recipe. 

So chunk up the ingredients and spread them onto the foiled baking sheet and then drizzle with garlic infused olive oil:

Then hit it with some salt and more of the garlic and herb seasoning:

Ready for the chicken and a smoke/heat bath:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

Now let’s go find a grill. We preheated it to 400F:

And once inside, we set a probe thermometer to be able to monitor our progress:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

After 40 minutes, our chicken was at 160F. Our target is between 170F-180F. I know, I know. Chicken only needs to be 165F to be safe to eat. But that’s really the chicken breast. That dry white meat that we’re all sick of eating. The legs are dark meat and carry a higher fat content, which makes them taste better than chicken breasts. Not to mention that handy dandy handle that has been amazing us since we were all three years old. At 160F pull the chicken out of the grill and platter it, leaving the veggies in the smoker:

Why leave the veggies in there? Because my gold potatoes were still really firm. So I left my chicken legs out for about 10 minutes while I applied the basil pesto and let those taters soften up in the smoker. In the meantime, I had to thin out my store bought basil just a little bit, so I added some garlic infused olive oil:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

Now it’s time to dunk the chicken legs:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with PestoGrilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

And here we have all our legs dunked and ready to go back into the heat:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

Here’s a close up of those pestoed legs (not sure if that is a word, but it should be):

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

Also, while someone was dunking chicken legs, someone else was flipping the veggies on the baking sheet. I’m just going to say that the Reynolds Wrap® Non Stick Foil was a life saver here. Had we used regular foil it likely would’ve torn in multiple spots. 

And now back on the grill:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

You see that stuff on the platter there. Don’t run that down the sink. That’s some serious flavor. Drizzle it over the food on the baking sheet:

Now close the lid:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

And when they hit between 170F-180F they are done:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

Transfer the veggies to a platter and top with the legs. Make sure to drizzle all the juices from the baking sheet to the finished platter:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

And then serve:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

And clean up is this easy:

We also learned as we were researching this dish that there are baking sheets of all different sizes. A small sheet like this could be used to make individual Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Legs with Pesto:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

And I have to tell you, that the chicken was magnificent, but the potatoes really stole the show. They got crispy on both sides and were simply amazing:

Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Pesto

Truth be told, I think I ate five of these chicken legs. Maybe six. We made more than one dish, so I didn’t hog them all, but I did mow down a bunch of these. With school back in session, and me being head of a family of six with four kids all in grade school/middle school, this is a perfect meal for the crowd that lives in my house. It came in just under an hour of cook time, with less than 10 minutes of prep and minimal clean up thanks to the Reynolds Wrap® Non-Stick Foil. I call that a win!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or send me an email. 

I’m oh so proud that this post is brought to you by Reynolds Wrap®. I’ve been working with Reynolds Brands since 2016, but have been using their products during my cookouts since closer to 1996. Yeah, I’m that old. It fills me with pride that a company that I firmly believe in and have been using for multiple decades wants to work with me and be part of the silly stuff we do on the grill here at Here were my first two recipes we worked on together. Hasselback Potatoes and What is the Texas Crutch. 

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Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Legs with Pesto
Author: Scott Thomas
Recipe type: One Sheet Pan Meal
Cuisine: Barbecue
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-5

This one sheet pan meal is as simple as it is delicious. We combine kid friendly chicken legs, potatoes, veggies, onions and some basil pesto to create Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Legs with Pesto
1 Sheet Pan Meal
  • 1 roll of Reynolds Wrap® Non-Stick Foil
  • 8-10 Chicken drumsticks (legs)
  • Garlic and herb seasoning (substitute your favorite BBQ rub/seasoning)
  • 2 small golden potatoes chunked
  • 1 sweet potato chunked
  • 12 each mini-onions both purple and yellow
  • Garlic infused olive oil to coat (sub regular olive oil)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pesto-we used store bought but here's a recipe you can make
Basil Pesto
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • ⅓ cup walnuts (can sub pine nuts which is the more traditional recipe)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste

One Sheet Pan Meal
  1. Begin by boiling some water and place chicken legs, 2-4 at a time into a colander in the sink and pour boiling water over them for 3-5 seconds to firm up the skin.
  2. Season the chicken legs with salt and garlic and herb seasoning
  3. Heat grill to 400F
  4. Cover sheet pan with Reynolds Non-stick Foil with dull side up
  5. Chop and distribute carrots, potatoes, and onions onto sheet pan
  6. Drizzle with olive oil
  7. Season with salt and the garlic and herb seasoning
  8. Drizzle the veggies with garlic infused olive oil
  9. Place chicken legs on the sheet pan
  10. Place in the grill until the chicken reaches 160F
  11. Remove chicken from the heat, leaving the veggies in the grill if the potatoes have not softened yet, and dunk the legs into the basil pesto
  12. Replace the pesto dunked chicken legs onto the sheet pan, making sure to drizzle the remaining basil pesto from the platter over the food on the sheet pan
  13. Close the lid until the chicken reaches an internal temp between 170F-180F
Basil Pesto
  1. Place the basil and walnuts into a food processor and pulse a few times
  2. Add the garlic and cheese, pulsing a few more times making sure to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula every couple pulses
  3. Set the food processor on to a low speed, slowly drizzle olive oil into the pesto until desired thickness
  4. Add salt to taste


The post Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Legs with Pesto first appeared on GrillinFools.

Author information

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.

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By: Scott Thomas
Title: Grilled Sheet Pan Chicken Legs with Pesto
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Published Date: 09/21/21

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