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