Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven

DinnerGame DayBBQGluten-Free

Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven! Works with any barbecue sauce. Ready in an hour, including marinating and cook time.

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 Oven

Taking 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. (Note that while the chicken picks up a nice “grilled” flavor from the broiler, the skin probably won’t get quite as crispy.)

BBQ Chicken in the Oven

I 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

  • 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.


  • 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:


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. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a metal cooling rack (like the ones used for baking) inside (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, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip, and sear the second side until also browned, another 3 to 5 minutes or so.

Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven

4 Turn the oven to 350F 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

Showing 4 of 9 Comments / Reviews

  • Kate

    During snowy cold winter in Alberta we really miss grilled meat, so this was a super quick and yummy. Even without liquid smoke.


  • Reen B

    Grilling chicken can be tricky…this is a far more foolproof way to get a little char plus cooking it all the way through. Perfection! Instead of marinading/saucing, I let my drumsticks sit coated with a BBQ rub overnight (the Texas way), followed your cooking instructions to the letter, then served with BBQ sauce for dipping. Crispy and just the right flavors. Thanks!

  • 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?

  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

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

  • 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 :)

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