Sticky-sweet BBQ chicken is the quintessential summer dinner that shouldn't be limited to the lucky folks with backyard grills. The oven has the power to quickly turn chicken pieces into crispy, slightly charred BBQ goodness for a not-boring chicken dinner any time of year.
This recipe is super simple with just five ingredients (including the salt), but a shortcut changes this BBQ chicken from basic to brilliant. Here's how to make the easiest, tastiest BBQ chicken without a grill.
The Easiest BBQ Chicken in the Oven: Watch the Video
Oven Roasting Makes Easier, Tastier BBQ Chicken
I love BBQ chicken from the grill as much as anyone, but if we're being really honest here, it is kind of time-consuming to do well. You've got to cook the chicken pretty perfectly without the sauce, and once the sauce is added you have to spend a lot of time flipping and basting to get that burnished-but-not-burned coating we all crave. Oven-roasting the chicken is mostly hands-free cooking — leaving more time for making sides or just sipping lemonade.
Reduce the Sauce for Faster Cooking
Up to a certain point, we are going to cook the chicken and the BBQ sauce separately. It might sound a little fussy, but it guarantees us a few things. First, cooking the chicken on its own makes for crispy chicken skin. It also helps the chicken cook faster — there's no sauce impeding cooking or opening and closing the oven to slow the cook time. Meanwhile, we'll be simmering the BBQ sauce on the stovetop to make it thicker, stickier, sweeter, and ready for a final basting. No burnt sauce or undercooked chicken here!
Key Steps for BBQ Chicken in the Oven
- Line your baking sheet with foil. BBQ chicken is messy and sticky; prepping the pan with foil makes for way easier cleanup.
- Season the chicken directly and starting roasting it first. Another advantage of cooking the chicken solo for a bit? You can generously and directly season it. I think salt and a little garlic powder are all you need, but you could use your favorite spice mixture or rub too.
- Meanwhile, reduce the sauce. Right after you get the chicken in the oven, pour a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. The sauce will take about 25 minutes to reduce by half and should sync up nicely with the cooking time of the chicken.
- Crank up the heat to finish. Rather than turn on the broiler and risk burning the sauce in the final minutes, coat the chicken with the reduced sauce and turn up the oven's temperature. This makes for chicken that is sticky and burnished all over.
Serving BBQ Chicken
You're likely to have some leftover reduced sauce even after coating the chicken, but don't waste it — it is extra flavorful. Serve it right alongside the finished chicken. You'll want plenty of napkins, too.
This chicken is so easy — don't reserve it for weekend get-togethers only! Make this the BBQ chicken you eat weekday to weekend, all year long.
How To Make the Easiest BBQ Chicken in the Oven
Serves 4 to 6
What You Need
bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
Rimmed baking sheet
Measuring cups and spoons
Heat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil — this will make cleanup so much easier.
Season the chicken with salt and garlic powder. Combine the salt and garlic powder in a small bowl. Place the chicken on the baking sheet, and season all over with the garlic powder mixture.
Roast the chicken skin-side down for 25 minutes. Arrange the chicken skin-side down in a single layer, spacing them evenly apart. Roast for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, simmer the sauce.
Reduce the barbecue sauce by simmering on the stove. Place the barbecue sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, until reduced by about half, 20 to 25 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 450°F and brush with the reduced sauce. After 25 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Brush the chicken with the reduced sauce, flip the chicken over, and brush the skin and sides with sauce.
Roast the chicken for 10 minutes, then brush with more sauce. Return the chicken to the oven and roast for 10 minutes more. Brush the chicken all over again with the sauce.
Roast for an additional 10 minutes until burnished and sticky. Return the chicken to the oven for one last round of roasting. Roast until the chicken is sticky and darkened in spots, about 10 minutes more.
Serve the chicken with any remaining reduced sauce. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and serve with any remaining sauce.
Make ahead: The sauce can be reduced, cooled, and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let come to room temperature before brushing on the chicken.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.