This magic Oven Baked Barbecue Chicken is made with chicken baked in a tasty made-from-scratch broth that magically transforms into a classic barbecue sauce!
The chicken comes out tender, sticky and smothered in what might be the best homemade barbecue sauce you’ll ever have because it’s loaded with the juices from the chicken. Super fast to make – 5 minutes prep, dump and bake!
This recipe started out innocently enough. I was planning to make a batch of homemade barbecue sauce to use for basting onto chicken. As I plonked all the barbecue sauce ingredients in the saucepan and prepared to simmer it for an hour, it suddenly dawned on me: Why don’t I just bake the chicken IN the barbecue sauce ingredients? It takes almost an hour to bake bone-in chicken thighs, but I figured the sauce would thicken faster because a baking dish has a larger surface area than a saucepan.
I also figured that the chicken would almost semi braise in the flavoured broth before it reduced down into what I hoped come out as barbecue sauce, thereby eliminating the need to marinate the chicken to get flavour into the flesh.
So I dumped the barbecue sauce ingredients into a baking dish, plonked the chicken in and baked it.
And well, what do you know! It worked! A sticky glazed barbecue chicken sitting in a pool of homemade barbecue sauce!
This actually worked better than I expected. The chicken comes out really nicely glazed, thanks to the sugar in the barbecue sauce. I was worried about how sensitive the barbecue sauce would be in terms of being prone to drying out. As it turns out, once the barbecue sauces transforms from the watery liquid into a sauce consistency, it settles on the base of the baking dish and is mostly covered by the fat from the chicken which protects it from drying out.
It’s also really easy to salvage if it gets too thick (just add a touch of water) or if it is too watery, just take the chicken out and return the pan with just the sauce into the oven. It thickens super quickly.
The added bonus of this is that excess chicken fat is really easy to drain off without losing any barbecue sauce because the sauce is thicker than the fat.
This recipe makes enough for a generous slathering of sauce for each piece of chicken. It doesn’t make tons, but you don’t need to drown the chicken in the Barbecue Sauce because it has some flavour inside the flesh because it is braised in the sauce.
I find that this recipe works best with bone-in, skin-on chicken because you need the fat in the skin to help make the sauce jammy and the chicken sticky. Also, boneless cuts like breast and boneless thigh cook faster than the sauce. The sauce really does need a minimum of 45 minutes for the flavours to develop – just like if you made it the traditional way in a saucepan.
I served this with Mashed Potatoes and a Brussels Sprout Salad that my Brussels-Sprout-Hating friend requested I share (yes, it’s that good!). For a really quick side, serve it with crusty bread (to mop up the sauce) and a handful of salad greens drizzled with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Bon appetit! – Nagi x
- 1 cup (250 ml) ketchup or Australian/UK tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp lemon juicy or white vinegar (or 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar)
- 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp mustard powder (or sub with Dijon mustard)
- 2 tsp onion powder (or sub with garlic powder)
- 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
- 5 bone-in , skin-on chicken thigh cutlets, large (2.2 lb / 1.1 kg) (Note 1)
- Fresh parsley , for garnish
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Mix Sauce ingredients in a baking dish. Add chicken and turn to coat. Place chicken skin side down.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, turn chicken, spoon over Sauce.
Bake for a further 30 minutes, then remove. Change to broiler/grill on high.
Sauce should be thickened but not thick - it will thicken more. (Note 2) Optional: Tilt pan and spoon or drain off excess fat.
Spoon sauce over chicken generously.
Place under grill / broiler for 3 minutes to caramelise the chicken and the sauce to thicken more.
Serve chicken, garnished with parsley. I served it with a Brussels Sprout Salad and mashed potato.
1. This recipe is best made with bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces like thigh, drumsticks and dejointed chicken pieces.
To make this with chicken breast, add 2 tbsp olive oil into the Sauce, bake breast for 15 minutes, then turn and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove chicken then return sauce to oven for 15 minutes or until thickened. Return chicken to baking dish, smother with sauce and broil/grill on high.
For boneless chicken thighs, follow the same steps as chicken breast but do not add the olive oil.
2. Cook time for the sauce will differ depending on strength of oven, how snug the chicken is in the baking dish and how juicy / fatty the chicken is. But the sauce is very forgiving and easy to adjust. If it is too thick, add a splash of water - it mixes in easily. If it is too thin, take the chicken out and return just the pan to the oven - it thickens very quickly.
3. Barbecue Sauce recipe adapted from this one by the Neely's from Food Network.
4. Nutrition per serving, assuming excess fat is spooned off and all sauce is consumed.
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