Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven

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Photography Credit: Elizabeth Stark

Grilling might not be for everyone. But delicious, tender BBQ chicken legs certainly should be.

If you don’t have a grill or the weather is keeping you inside, this easy technique for making barbecue chicken in the oven is all you need.

Easy BBQ Chicken in the OvenTaking cues from the grilled version of this recipe, the chicken gets a quick sear under the broiler to brown the skin, and then a longer roast in the oven until the chicken is completely tender.

A quick marinade in the barbecue sauce before roasting helps enhance the flavor and improve the tenderness of the chicken. The barbecue sauce bakes into the skin and caramelizes during cooking.

I also like to cook the chicken on a metal rack over a baking sheet to allow even heat and continuous airflow on all sides. This helps prevent soggy skin.

BBQ Chicken in the OvenI usually make this recipe with chicken legs, but you could also make it with a mix of legs and thighs. For optimum flavor, I recommend you stick with these dark meat cuts and avoid breast meat.

You can use any variety of thick, tomato or mustard-based sauce with this method, so use your favorite! For this recipe, I used a spicy store-bought tomato barbecue sauce made with vinegar and sugar.

Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven Recipe

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  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Marinating time: 30 minutes or overnight
  • Yield: 4 servings

Liquid smoke adds a hint of smokiness to the chicken. Look for it with the condiments in the grocery store.

You can easily double or triple this recipe for a larger crowd; just make sure there is a little space between each chicken leg on the pan and work in batches if necessary.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (skin-on, bone-in) chicken legs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (any tomato- or mustard-based sauce), divided
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

Special equipment:

Method

1 Marinate the chicken: Set the chicken legs in a shallow dish and sprinkle both sides with salt. If you're using liquid smoke, mix it into the barbecue sauce. Brush the legs all over with 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce, reserving the rest. Cover, and set in fridge to marinate at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.

Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven

2 Prepare the chicken for cooking: Set the broiler to high with a rack positioned a few inches below. Set a metal cooling rack (like the ones used for baking) inside a rimmed baking sheet, or use a broiler pan. Arrange the marinated chicken legs on the wire rack with a little space between each leg.

3 Sear the chicken: Slide the pan under broiler, and broil chicken on one side until you begin to see dark brown charred spots, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip, and sear the second side, 2 to 4 minutes.

Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven

4 Turn the oven to 300F and reposition the rack in the middle of the oven.

5 Finish cooking the chicken: Brush chicken all over with all but a tablespoon of the remaining sauce. Slide into the oven and bake 15 minutes. Flip chicken, and brush with the remaining sauce anywhere it's needed. Continue baking until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven

6 Serve chicken right away while hot, with extra barbecue sauce on the side.

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Elizabeth Stark

Elizabeth Stark, along with her husband Brian Campbell, shares her passion for simple, seasonal recipes on the award-winning food blog, Brooklyn Supper. Though Brooklyn will always have a place in her heart, she now lives with her family in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

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BBQ Chicken in the Oven

7 Comments

  1. Barbara Bovee

    I made this recipe tonight and loved the technique which yielded a much better skin. My one comment is that the 300 degree oven didn’t cook the chicken, even after 45 minutes. Maybe I should’ve broiled the it longer?

    • Elizabeth Stark

      Hi Barbara,
      I’m glad you liked the recipe, but am sorry the cook time didn’t work for you. Sometimes if chicken is at all frozen it can throw cook time off. Might this have been the case? Oven temps are also not always accurate – do you have an over thermometer?

  2. Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    I’m definitely a chicken liking gal and I like to try each good recipe :D

  3. Muna Kenny

    If I can’t serve the chicken right away can I cover it immediately or do I have to wait until it comes to room temp? The skin looks a little crisp in the photos (which I love) and I don’t want to have a moist chicken skin. Thank you :)

    • Elizabeth Stark

      Hi Muna, This chicken has crispy skin right out of the oven, but I don’t think there’s a way to preserve it after it’s cooled or sat for a while under a cover. I did eat much of this chicken re-warmed or even right out of the fridge – it was tasty but the skin wasn’t crispy.

  4. Susan Walter

    Lapsang Souchong tea, ground to a powder and used as a seasoning works well to add smoke flavour if you can’t find liquid smoke. It’s undrinkable as tea, so you might as well use it as smoke flavouring if someone gives you a packet :-)

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