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This easy BBQ chicken recipe with homemade BBQ sauce can be baked in an oven or cooked on the grill! Moist, flavorful chicken for an easy weeknight dinner!

cooked bbq chicken in cast iron skillet.

This BBQ chicken recipe is on regular rotation in my house. I always keep extra homemade easy BBQ sauce on hand, so it is easy to make on a weeknight in under 30 minutes, but you can also make it with your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce.

My love of barbecue predates living in Atlanta, but it was in the A that my love turned into an obsession. The perfect sauce, the perfect sides, the perfect sweet cornbread, and juicy, tender meat! I suggest you complete this easy dinner with my healthy creamy coleslaw and a can of baked beans.

Why You Will Love this BBQ Chicken Recipe

  • Sweet & spicy homemade sauce. The recipe includes my sweet and spicy BBQ sauce, which compliments and doesn’t overwhelm the chicken flavor.
  • Prepare either grilled or baked. In include instructions for grilling and baking, so you can have the perfect chicken no matter the weather!
  • Easy recipe for moist, flavorful chicken. There is no need for spice rubs or marinading the chicken ahead of time. This recipe makes moist chicken in a fraction of the time!
  • Great for family weeknight dinners or to serve a crowd. Make a small batch or fire up the grill for July 4th, Memorial Day, or a fun Cookout party!
chicken breast on white plate with bbq sauce.
cheesy chicken being served from pot.
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Professional Tips for Making Barbecue Chicken

  • Let the chicken rest 5 minutes. This resting relaxes the proteins and allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat resulting in more moist chicken.
  • Sear the chicken on both sides first. If baking the chicken, I take 5 minutes to sear both sides of the chicken before adding the sauce and baking. This locks in moisture and helps the chicken cook evenly without drying out. I use this method in my baked BBQ chicken breast recipe and in both these ground chicken burgers and turkey burgers!
  • Choose the chicken cut you prefer. I like to make both boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, but you can use your family’s favorite. Bone-in chicken will have more flavor but it does take longer to cook.

Ingredients

bbq sauce ingredients.
bbq chicken ingredients on marble.
  • Onion Powder: Onion powder is optional, but I love the added flavor to the chicken.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs. Removing the skin allows for the flavors to permeate the chicken meat and give you a nice sear. You can use bone-in chicken but it will take longer to cook. Larger chicken breasts are often not as flavorful as smaller, natural breasts.
  • BBQ Sauce: Use about 1 cup of your favorite store-bought sauce or the homemade bbq sauce recipe below.
  • Neutral Oil: If you are baking the chicken, you will need 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil, canola oil, or another neutral flavored oil for searing.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make The Best BBQ Chicken

Use these instructions to make moist, juicy barbecue chicken in either the oven or on the grill! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Prepare the BBQ Sauce:

Step 1: In a small sauce pot, combine all ingredients except salt. Whisk to combine.

Step 2: Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat to low. Add ½ teaspoon salt.

Step 3: Simmer covered over low heat for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld and deepen.

all bbq sauce ingredients in pot.
adding salt to taste.
boiling homemade bbq sauce.

Taste and add additional salt as needed. The amount of salt will depend on the ketchup brand you choose.

Baked in the Oven:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375°F. Adjust the racks so your pan can fit, if necessary.

Step 2: Pat chicken dry, fold the thighs in half so that the smooth part is on the outside (this makes them as thick as the breasts so they cook evenly). Season both sides with salt, pepper and onion powder.

You can simply add the chicken to an oven-safe pan or pot, pour sauce over and bake, but I find that searing the chicken first enhances the flavor and locks in the moisture.

Step 3: Heat an oven-proof skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sear chicken breast and thighs until golden brown, flip using a fork or tongs, and sear the second side.

seasoning chicken on white plate.
searing bbq chicken.

Step 4: When both sides are a deep golden brown, spoon or pour approximately 1 cup BBQ Sauce over the chicken. Cover and bake in preheated oven for an additional 8-12 minutes depending on the size of your chicken. The internal temperature should read 165°F when taken in the center of the thickest part of the breast or thigh.

If you did not sear the chicken before baking, then it will need to cook 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the breasts and thighs.

adding sauce to bbq chicken.
cooked bbq chicken in skillet.

This can also be cooked completely on the stovetop. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.

Grilling Chicken:

Step 1: Preheat the grill to high heat, brush the cooking grates clean. Right before adding the chicken, brush the grill grates with canola oil.

Step 2: Pat chicken dry, fold the thighs in half so that the smooth part is on the outside (this makes them as thick as the breasts so they cook evenly). Season both sides with salt, pepper and onion powder.

Step 3: Place chicken on hot grill and cook until they release easily (5-6 minutes) then cook on the second side for about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Brush the top of the chicken with sauce, flip and cook for 2 minutes, brush on more sauce, then flip again. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165°F when taken in the center of the thickest part of the breast or thigh.

No matter the cooking method, remove the chicken from the grill or the pan and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Prepare this BBQ chicken in the slow cooker following the instructions in this slow cooker pulled BBQ chicken post!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store leftover BBQ Chicken?

Store leftover sauce in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Store leftover cooked chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week, or frozen for 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or under cool running water. Reheat in a covered, oven safe dish with extra sauce to lock in moisture.  

Do you put BBQ sauce on chicken before cooking?

If baking BBQ chicken, I like to sear the chicken then add the sauce for an extra moist and flavorful chicken. This give you the flavor from caramelized chicken and the sauce. If grilling, brush on the sauce in the last few minutes of cooking so that the sauce doesn’t burn. The sugar in BBQ sauce will burn before the meat has a chance to cook.

How to serve BBQ chicken?

One of the things I love about this dish is that it goes with so many things. Choose some sweet sides like sweet potato casserole with pecans, moist sweet cornbread, or hasselback sweet potatoes. Then choose a few savory sides like rosemary roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes,

How do I make BBQ chicken without drying it out?

Cooking BBQ chicken for too long or at too high a heat will dry it out. Sear the chicken and then bake it or move it to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Cook just until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF or until the breast feels firm but still yields a bit under pressure. When in doubt use an instant read thermometer.

Ideas for leftover BBQ chicken?

Have leftover BBQ chicken but don’t want to serve the same thing? Make pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches on brioche buns, BBQ chicken salad or BBQ chicken pizza! Chop the leftover chicken and then make a quesadilla appetizer or stuff all butter pie crusts and make savory turnovers like these buffalo chicken hand pies!

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

cooked bbq chicken breast in skillet.
5 from 1 ratings

Easy BBQ Chicken

This easy BBQ chicken recipe with homemade BBQ sauce can be baked in an oven or cooked on the grill! Moist, flavorful chicken for an easy weeknight dinner!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings

Ingredients 
 

For the Chicken:

For the BBQ Sauce: [Or 1 cup store-bought BBQ]

Instructions 

Prepare the BBQ Sauce:

  • In a small sauce pot, combine all ingredients except salt. Whisk to combine.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat to low. Add ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Simmer covered over low heat for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld and deepen.
  • Taste and add additional salt as needed. The amount of salt will depend on the ketchup brand you choose.

Prepare the chicken:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Adjust the racks so your pan can fit, if necessary.
  • Pat chicken dry, fold the thighs in half so that the smooth part is on the outside (this makes them as thick as the breasts so they cook evenly).
  • Season both sides with salt, pepper and onion powder.
  • You can simply add the chicken to an oven-safe pan or pot, pour sauce over and bake, but I find that searing the chicken first enhances the flavor and locks in the moisture.
  • Heat an oven-proof skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat with 2 teaspoons olive oil.
  • Sear chicken breast and thighs until golden brown, flip using a fork or tongs, and sear the second side. When both sides are a deep golden brown, spoon or pour approximately 1 cup BBQ Sauce over each piece of chicken. Cover and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes depending on the size of your chicken. The internal temperature should read 165°F when taken in the center of the thickest part of the breast or thigh.
  • This can also be cooked completely on the stovetop. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.

Notes

Yield – 2 cups sauce, Serves 4-6 people
Grill Method –
Step 1: Preheat the grill to high heat, brush the cooking grates clean. Right before adding the chicken, brush the grill grates with canola oil.
Step 2: Pat chicken dry, fold the thighs in half so that the smooth part is on the outside. Season both sides with salt, pepper and onion powder.
Step 3: Place chicken on hot grill and cook until they release easily (5-6 minutes) then cook on the second side for about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Brush the top of the chicken with sauce, flip and cook for 2 minutes, brush on more sauce, then flip again. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F when taken in the center of the thickest part of the breast or thigh.
Storage – Store leftover sauce in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Store leftover cooked chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week, or frozen for 2 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 159mg | Sodium: 1284mg | Potassium: 749mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 520IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Calories: 482
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Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other delicious easy chicken recipes!

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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