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A moist, flavorful Baked BBQ Chicken Breast recipe that has an easy dry-rub seasoning and a maple chipotle BBQ sauce! You can use this foolproof method for baked chicken with any store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce.

baked bbq chicken in skillet.

I have a strong, well-documented aversion to dry chicken. Nothing makes me more sad than dry chicken breasts (or dry chocolate cake to be honest). This easy baked bbq chicken recipe uses my sear and bake technique that I perfected with these moist grilled chicken breasts!

Searing the chicken locks in the moisture quickly and keeps all those juices inside while the chicken bakes to perfection. Adding a dry-rub and bbq sauce not only adds flavor but it locks in all those juices. Serve this with extra sauce for kick and my sweet cornbread to tame the heat.

Why You Will Love this Baked BBQ Chicken

  • A flavorful way to make skinless chicken breasts. This easy chicken dinner is kid-friendly and finger-licking good! It can be doubled to feed a crowd or scaled down for 2.
  • All of the flavor without the marinade. With the spice dry rub and barbecue sauce combination, there is no need to marinate the chicken breasts before cooking. They will be just as flavorful and twice as moist.
  • Moist chicken in 30 minutes. Searing then baking in a 400°F oven cook the chicken quickly and evenly. Prepare the spice mix and sauce ahead of time for an even faster weeknight meal.
  • A sweet-spicy sauce makes the dish. The homemade BBQ sauce for chicken has the tang you would expect plus smokey chipotles and maple syrup.
sauce on sliced chicken white plate.
cheesy chicken being served from pot.
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Professional Tips for Making Moist Baked Chicken

  • Sear on the stovetop before baking. It is one extra step but searing the chicken creates a seal to lock in the natural juices. Baking the chicken will cook it quickly from all directions keeping it from drying out.
  • Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts to cook faster. Cutting out the bone decreases the cook time by half! Purchase them boneless or remove the bone yourself using my tutorial for deboning a chicken!
  • Don’t crowd the pan. Preheat the pan and leave a little space between the pieces of breast and thighs. Putting to many pieces too close together will cause the chicken to steam rather than brown. This will not lock in the moisture like searing and could cause your seasoning to steam off.  

Ingredients Needed

chipotle bbq sauce ingredients in pot.
baked bbq chicken breast ingredients on marble.
  • Dry Rub Spices: sweet smoked paprika (Hungarian paprika), brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle powder, kosher salt, black pepper
  • Chicken breasts & thighs: I use boneless, skinless chicken breast and thighs for this recipe, so there is a little something for everyone. It is completely up to you.
  • Ketchup: Use a brand you like. I like to make sure it has no added ingredients or sugars.
  • Maple Syrup: Pure maple syrup adds a sweetness and tempers the heat and smokiness of the chilis. Any quality pure maple syrup will be good. Don’t stress about the grade.
  • Unsulphered Molasses: Molasses adds sweetness and complexity.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider adds that needed tang. It rounds out the flavors and brightens the ketchup flavor.
  • Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce: The chipotle chilis bring the heat and the adobo sauce adds a welcome smokiness to the bbq sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Nothing adds subtle depth to a sauce like Worcestershire sauce. I use it in these spicy peach pork chops and my brown sugar glazed meatloaf recipe.
  • Dry mustard
  • Onion & Garlic Powder
  • Canola Oil: This is for searing the chicken. You can use avocado oil or another oil of your choice.

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

Variations & Substitutions

  • Healthy BBQ Chicken: To make these healthier omit the brown sugar in the spice rub and purchase a low-sugar bbq sauce or make this keto bbq sauce.
  • Make them less spicy: The chipotle bbq sauce below does pack some heat. Try my easy bbq sauce recipe instead for a more mild barbecue sauce that still has kick.
  • Turn the leftovers into sandwiches: Shred the chicken breasts, toss in some extra sauce and make bbq chicken sandwiches or sliders with healthy creamy coleslaw. Bonus points for making brioche buns! They’re incredible for my juicy turkey burger recipe, and they’d be perfect for this as well!
  • Make this recipe in a crockpot: Follow the instructions in my slow cooker bbq chicken sandwiches recipe for making juicy chicken breasts in the slow cooker.
baked bbq chicken in skillet.

How to Make Juicy Baked BBQ Chicken

Use these instructions to make moist baked bbq chicken breasts every time! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F conventional.

Make the Sauce:

Step 2: In a small saucepan whisk together the sauce ingredients: ketchup, maple syrup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, minced chilis in adobo sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, onion powder and garlic powder.

Step 3: Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes to marry the flavors. Set aside.

bbq sauce ingredients in small pot.
boiling chipotle bbq sauce in small pot.

Make sauce up to 2 weeks ahead of time. Simply cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. There is no need to heat it up before preparing the chicken.

Prepare the Chicken:

Step 4: In a small bowl combine all ingredients under “For the Chicken” through black pepper (paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle powder, kosher salt, and black pepper).

Step 5: Dry chicken with a paper towel and place on a clean plate. Sprinkle seasoning generously over both sides of the chicken. Fine Cooking suggests covering the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerating for 2-3 hours. I never have that kind of time, but it can only make it better, right?

Step 6: Heat your large cast iron skillet or oven-proof pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 Tablespoons of canola oil and heat the oil until it shimmers. Add chicken to the pan. Brown both sides.

Color is more important than time when it comes to searing meat. Pans that are colder will take longer to get a nice sear or adding a lot of cold chicken to a hot pan can lower the surface temperature substantially. Look for a nice golden brown before flipping, which will take anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Heating it too long in the pan will begin to dry it out on the edges.

Step 7: Brush sauce generously over both sides of meat and place in preheated oven. After 5 minutes brush additional sauce over chicken and check for doneness. Chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F.

dry rubbed chicken breasts on white plate.
searing chicken breasts in black cast iron skillet.
brushing bbq sauce on baked chicken breasts in cast iron skillet.

Try not to poke a bunch of holes in your chicken when determining doneness. When you poke a hole to test the temperature, the juices run out. Those are the very same juices that keep it moist and juicy, and you just lost them! Instead press the top of the breast with the back of a fork or metal tongs, and when the fattest part of the breast feels firm like a flexed muscle, test the biggest breast’s temperature.

Step 8: Remove the chicken from the pan onto a clean plate (not the one that had the raw chicken!) Let the chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving. You can loosely tent the whole plate if you need to let it sit longer than 5 minutes.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Prepare the spice mix and chipotle maple bbq sauce in advance for a simple way to meal prep. My baked sweet and spicy chicken wings use the same sauce, so make a double batch and serve the wings another night!

What to Serve with Baked BBQ Chicken

sliced chicken breast on white plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Storage Suggestions

Refrigerated: Cool chicken to room temperature and store refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Frozen:
For the best texture, I don’t suggest freezing and thawing baked bbq chicken, but you absolutely can. Ideally thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Any other method will dry it out even more.

How do you reheat bbq chicken?

I reheat covered in the microwave because it is fast and will retain more moisture than baking.

Do you put barbecue sauce on chicken before or after baking?

I brush the sauce on before baking and then again during the baking process, but the second application isn’t necessary. I just love a saucy baked chicken breast! I do the same process in my bbq chicken recipe.

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!

bbq chicken baked in black skillet.
5 from 2 ratings

Baked BBQ Chicken Breasts

A moist, flavorful Baked BBQ Chicken Breast recipe that has an easy dry-rub seasoning and a maple chipotle BBQ sauce! You can use this foolproof method for baked chicken with any store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients 
 

For the Sauce:

For the Chicken:

For Red Kale:

  • 1 bunch Red Kale
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ lemon juiced

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.

Make the Sauce:

  • In a small saucepan whisk together the sauce ingredients: ketchup, maple syrup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, minced chilis in adobo sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, onion powder and garlic powder.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes to marry the flavors. Set aside.

Season & Cook the Chicken:

  • In a small bowl combine all ingredients under “For the Chicken” through black pepper (paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle powder, kosher salt, and black pepper).
  • Dry chicken with a paper towel and place on a clean plate.Sprinkle seasoning generously over both sides of the chicken.
  • Heat your large cast iron skillet or oven-proof pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 Tablespoons of canola oil and heat the oil until it shimmers.
  • Add chicken to the pan. Brown both sides. This will take 3-5 minutes per side.
  • Brush sauce generously over both sides of meat and place in preheated oven. After 5 minutes brush additional sauce over chicken and check for doneness. Chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F.
  • Let chicken rest for 5 minutes.

Easy Sautéed Red Kale:

  • Gently cook over medium heat 1.5 Tablespoon minced garlic and 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger in 1 Tablespoon canola oil until the garlic is just starting to brown.
  • Add chopped kale (1 bunch or ~4 cups) to the pan and toss to coat. Add ~ ½ cup water to the bottom of the pan and stir. Squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over kale and stir. Kale will be done in 1-2 minutes.

Notes

Yield – Serves 4-6 depending on portion size.
Flavor Tips – Don’t skip the searing, this locks in moisture and adds flavor.
Variations –Use store-bought bbq sauce for an easier and faster meal.
Storage – Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
The bbq sauce recipe is from Feb/March 2013 Fine Cooking Magazine. (RIP)

Nutrition

Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 612mg | Potassium: 801mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 3102IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Calories: 418
Like this? Leave a comment below!

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed chicken recipes, like these Ground Chicken Tacos!

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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4 Comments

    1. Hi Janet! It should take about 15 minutes to bake in the oven (after the sear), but breast thickness and oven temperatures vary, so you’re really going to want to check with your instant read to make sure the internal temperature is 165°F. Enjoy!!

  1. haha–glad you liked the cartoon–my mother (who loves her iron skillet as well) sent it to me. This chicken looks wonderful!! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for passing on the cartoon and for the beautiful card as well! Let me know what you think when you do try it!