Do they make dairy free drumsticks?

Quick Summary

Yes, dairy free drumsticks do exist. Many brands like Tofurky, Quorn, and Beyond Meat offer plant-based drumsticks made without any dairy ingredients. These dairy free options provide a vegan and lactose-free alternative to traditional chicken drumsticks for those with dietary restrictions or preferences. Dairy free drumsticks mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of real chicken but are made using plant-based proteins like soy, wheat, or pea protein. When shopping, look for drumsticks labeled as “dairy free” or “plant-based” to ensure they do not contain milk, cheese, butter, or other dairy ingredients. With the growing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives, finding dairy free drumsticks at mainstream grocery stores and online retailers is becoming easier.

What Are Drumsticks?

Drumsticks refer to the lower portion of a chicken’s leg. They consist of the thigh and shank bone attached to the meaty part of the leg. Drumsticks are one of the most popular cuts of chicken. They contain a significant amount of meat, tend to be juicy when cooked properly, and the bone lends itself well for holding onto while eating. This makes drumsticks a convenient finger food. Most drumsticks are sold with the skin on and bone in. However, skinless boneless options are also available.

Chicken drumsticks can be prepared in a variety of ways including baking, frying, grilling, steaming, and in soups or stews. Their stronger flavor stands up well to bold seasonings and sauces compared to chicken breasts. Common seasonings used for drumsticks include paprika, garlic, lemon, herbs, and pepper. Barbecue sauce, honey mustard, and Buffalo style hot sauce are popular condiments paired with drumsticks.

In their whole form, a chicken drumstick contains just over 100 calories and 5 grams of fat. Skinless drumsticks are lower in calories and fat. Drumsticks are a good source of protein, iron, zinc, potassium, and B vitamins.

Popularity of Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are popular for several reasons:

  • They contain a good meat to bone ratio.
  • The price is often lower compared to chicken breasts or wings.
  • The flavor holds up well to various cooking methods.
  • The bone makes them easy to hold and eat by hand.
  • They work well in a variety of dishes.
  • The skin provides added texture and flavor.

In the poultry industry, the demand for chicken drumsticks remains high. Chicken legs, including drumsticks and thighs, account for about 30% of total chicken production globally.

The appealing price point and versatility of chicken drumsticks make them popular at barbecues, picnics, and other casual gatherings where finger food is desired. Restaurants frequently offer drumsticks as an à la carte menu item or as part of fried chicken buckets or barbecue combination platters.

For home cooks, drumsticks require minimal preparation and can be made quickly on busy weeknights. Their kid-friendly size and gripability also make drumsticks a convenient option for feeding children.

Are There Dairy Free Options?

Traditionally, chicken drumsticks are inherently dairy free. Fresh drumsticks only contain chicken meat, skin, and bone with no dairy ingredients included. However, the breading, batter, sauces, glazes, and seasoning mixes paired with chicken drumsticks frequently contain milk, cheese, butter or other dairy products. For example, drumsticks may be coated in buttermilk before breading or served with creamy dipping sauces.

Luckily for those avoiding dairy, there are more options now to purchase dairy free drumsticks:

Plant-Based Meat Alternatives

Several brands offer convincing plant-based chicken drumstick options made without any dairy:

  • Tofurky: Their vegan plant-based drumsticks mimic the savory taste, fibrous texture, and stringy pull of chicken. They come with an oven-roasted skin and are sold frozen.
  • Quorn: Their vegetarian naked chick’n drumsticks are made with mycoprotein and have the look of a real drumstick without breading. They are sold refrigerated.
  • Beyond Meat: Their new plant-based chicken tenders could be used as a drumstick replacement and are sold in the fresh meat section.
  • MorningStar Farms: While not a true drumstick shape, their chick’n tenders are a convenient dairy free option.

When browsing the vegetarian meat section, look for packages labeled as dairy, lactose, or milk free to ensure the drumstick replacement does not contain hidden dairy ingredients.

Dairy Free Breading & Sauces

For homemade dairy free drumsticks, season plain drumsticks with oil and spice blends instead of buttermilk. Use an egg wash or dairy free milk substitute if a binder is needed. Then coat with dairy free breadcrumbs or flour mixes seasoned with herbs and spices. Bake or air fry instead of frying in butter or oil.

Serve homemade baked drumsticks with condiments like barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce, or sriracha that do not contain dairy. Or make your own dipping sauces with oil, vinegar, mustard, or other dairy free ingredients you like.

Ethnic Cuisine Options

Drumsticks used in various ethnic cuisines provide additional avenues for finding dairy free drumsicks:

  • Indian Chicken Curry – Richly flavored with aromatic spices instead of cream or yogurt.
  • Jerk Chicken – Jamaican style drumsticks infused with a spicy pepper marinade.
  • Hong Kong Soy Chicken – Drumsticks coated in a Chinese 5-spice and soy sauce mixture.
  • Cajun Blackened Chicken – Drumsticks crusted in cajun seasoning without butter.
  • Tandoori Chicken – Tandoor oven roasted drumsticks seasoned with yogurt-free masala.

When dining out or ordering takeout, check that these dishes are prepared without butter, cream, or other hidden dairy ingredients.

Nutrition & Benefits of Dairy Free Drumsticks

Dairy free drumsticks offer the same nutritional benefits as conventional drumsticks. Here is a nutrition comparison of a dairy free Quorn naked chick’n drumstick and a similar sized chicken drumstick:

Nutrient Quorn Drumstick Chicken Drumstick
Calories 60 110
Fat 1g 4g
Protein 9g 15g
Carbs 4g 0g

While the protein is a bit lower than real chicken, dairy free drumsticks offer an excellent plant-based protein source. They are lower in calories and fat compared to chicken, with zero cholesterol or saturated fat.

Going dairy free also provides benefits for people with lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, or those who simply wish to avoid milk products. Possible benefits include reduced inflammation, clearer skin, easier digestion, and weight loss.

Nutrients in Dairy Free Drumsticks

Both animal-based and plant-based dairy free drumsticks contain important nutrients:

  • Protein – For maintaining and repairing muscle tissue. Protein also keeps you feeling full.
  • Iron – For oxygen transport in the blood and energy metabolism.
  • Zinc – For immune function, cell growth, wound healing, and DNA synthesis.
  • Potassium – For fluid balance, nerve signaling, and muscle contractions.
  • B Vitamins – For converting food into energy and forming red blood cells.

Pea, soy, or wheat proteins used in plant-based options provide high quality vegan protein comparable to animal meat. Dairy free drumsticks make satisfying high protein snacks or additions to salads and grain bowls.

Where to Find Dairy Free Drumsticks

Dairy free drumstick options can be found in the following grocery store sections:

Meat Department

Check the fresh poultry section for plain chicken drumsticks without any batter, breading or sauce. Kosher chicken drumsticks are also dairy free.

Some stores may also stock refrigerated plant-based drumstick alternatives near the chicken. Brands like Quorn or Beyond Meat offer meatless drumstick replacements here.

Frozen Food Aisles

The natural frozen section is a good spot to look for plain frozen drumsticks as well as plant-based drumstick options. Tofurky and MorningStar Farms dairy free drumsticks are usually carried here.

Ethnic frozen foods like Indian chicken curries or Chinese stir fries with drumsticks may be dairy free. Check ingredients for milk, cheese, cream, or butter.

Vegetarian Meat Section

The vegetarian meat case features refrigerated and frozen meat alternatives. Look for plant-based chicken tenders, filets or nuggets that can substitute for drumsticks here. Brands like Beyond Meat, Alpha Foods, and Gardein offer dairy free options.

Spice Aisles

The dry seasoning and marinades section contains mixes for seasoning chicken drumsticks at home. Choose options that don’t list dairy components.

McCormick grill mates, Badia, and other brands offer dairy free jerk, tandoori, adobo, cajun, and lemon pepper blends.

Online Stores & Delivery

In addition to traditional grocers, dairy free drumsticks can also be ordered online for home delivery:


Amazon carries an extensive selection of plain chicken drumsticks, seasoned drumstick mixes, and plant-based drumstick alternatives from brands like Tofurky, Quorn, and Beyond Meat. Pricing is competitive and delivery is convenient through Amazon Prime.

Thrive Market

This online marketplace specializes in natural, organic, vegan, gluten-free and specialty diet products. They offer a range of dairy free meat options including plain chicken drumsticks and plant-based substitutes.


The Walmart website provides the option to shop a wide selection of groceries for curbside pickup or delivery. This includes an array of dairy free drumstick choices similar to what can be found in-store.


Instacart partners with local grocery stores to provide delivery of everyday items. You can shop for plain or seasoned chicken drumsticks as well as vegan drumstick alternatives from stores in your area.


This popular meal kit company offers the flexibility to select dairy free recipes that feature drumsticks. Choose from options like jerk chicken drumsticks or tandoori chicken legs.

Dairy Free Drumstick Recipe Ideas

Here are some recipe ideas for preparing dairy free drumsticks at home:

Baked Barbecue Drumsticks

  • 1-2 lbs chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Pat chicken dry and place on prepared pan.
3. In a small bowl, mix spices and barbecue sauce. Brush mixture evenly on drumsticks.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes until drumsticks are cooked to 165°F internal temperature.

Baked Jerk Drumsticks

  • 2 lbs chicken drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp Jamaican jerk seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Pat chicken dry. Place in a bowl and add jerk seasoning, oil, and lime juice. Toss to coat evenly.
3. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes until cooked through.

Crispy Buffalo Drumsticks

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce

1. Pat drumsticks dry. Place cornstarch in shallow bowl. Dip drumsticks in egg then dredge in cornstarch.
2. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes until crispy.
3. Toss hot cooked drumsticks with buffalo sauce to coat.

Tips for Cooking Dairy Free Drumsticks

Here are some helpful pointers for preparing dairy free drumsticks:

  • Pat drumsticks very dry before seasoning or coating for best adherence.
  • Let drumsticks come fully to room temp before cooking for even browning.
  • Use oil instead of butter or shortening for pan frying or roasting.
  • Try dairy free milk substitutes like almond milk for batter binders.
  • Opt for lighter breading like panko crumbs rather than a heavy batter.
  • Bake, air fry, or pan fry instead of deep frying in oil for lower fat.
  • Brush with oil instead of basting in butter for added moisture when baking.
  • Make your own spice rubs and sauces to avoid hidden dairy.
  • Check labels of packaged sauces, coatings and seasoning for milk ingredients.

With the right substitutions and preparation methods, dairy free drumsticks can be just as juicy, tender and flavorful.

Common Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about dairy free drumsticks:

Are plain drumsticks dairy free?

Yes, plain chicken drumsticks without any added coatings or sauces are inherently dairy free.

What brands sell dairy free chicken style drumsticks?

Popular brands offering plant-based dairy free drumstick options are Tofurky, Quorn, Beyond Meat, MorningStar Farms, and Alpha Foods.

What is a good milk substitute for drumstick batter?

Unsweetened almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, and other dairy free milks work well for creating a crispy batter coating.

Can you make drumsticks dairy free at home?

Yes, season plain drumsticks with oil and spice blends instead of buttermilk marinades. Coat with dairy free breadcrumbs or flour. Bake or pan fry in oil instead of butter.

How can you tell if packaged drumsticks are dairy free?

Read ingredient labels looking for “dairy free” or “vegan” claims. Check the ingredient list for milk, cheese, cream, butter, whey, casein or other dairy components.


Dairy free drumstick options have expanded, making it easier for those avoiding milk products to still enjoy this popular chicken cut. Plain chicken drumsticks are naturally dairy free. Brands like Tofurky, Quorn, and Beyond Meat offer plant-based drumsticks without the use of dairy.

When shopping, look for plain chicken drumsticks without added batter or sauces or choose brands advertising their products as dairy or milk free. Cooking plain drumsticks at home and seasoning or breading them yourself using dairy free ingredients also ensures a dairy free end result.

Satisfy your cravings with dairy free baked, fried, or grilled drumsticks on the barbecue or as part of global cuisine dishes like curry, jerk, or tandoori chicken. Going dairy free doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the delicious taste and texture of juicy, tender drumsticks.

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