Easy BBQ Chicken in the Oven

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.

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


  • 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:

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.

how to make bbq chicken in the oven slathering sauce on chicken for baked bbq chicken recipe

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.

how to make bbq chicken - bake in 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 165°F when testing with a meat thermometer, another 15 to 20 minutes.

baked bbq chicken out of the oven

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

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  • Chitta Gangopadhyay

    Just did it today. Excellent five star. Will do again soon. It’s too cold outside for bbq in Michigan.

  • Eliza

    Never thought of browning the chicken first. I have made BBQ chicken in the oven for years. We do use breast meat since hubby doesn’t like the dark meat. It turns out great, just have to keep an eye on it. Made it last night with your method of Browning first, turned out perfect, thank you!


  • Tammie

    My family loved. Even my husband who says he doesn’t like chicken. Easy to follow recipe and great anytime of the year.


  • 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?

    • 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?

    • Kim

      Didn’t the recipe say 350?

  • 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 :)

    • 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.

  • 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 :-)