A family favorite, this easy recipe for Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs features bone-in, skin-on thighs slathered with a sweet, tangy homemade BBQ sauce. Then, they are baked in the oven until the thighs are tender, juicy, and delicious, and the savory BBQ sauce is caramelized with just a bit of crispy char.
Sweet, sticky baked barbecue chicken thighs make a perfect weeknight meal, a delightful entree for a Sunday supper, a nice change of pace for a gathering of friends or a game day party, and a great main dish to take to a potluck. Just remember to have plenty of napkins.
While there is nothing better than my Grilled Half Chicken or my Grilled Spatchcock Chicken, sometimes it’s too hot, cold, or rainy to grill outside. Also, cooking food on the grill takes longer, and it isn’t convenient when trying to get dinner on the table quickly.
Like my Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs, this easy Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs recipe solves that dilemma! It’s as simple as turning on the oven, slathering on some BBQ sauce, and then letting the oven do all the heavy work while you sit back and relax!
The secret ingredient in this recipe is my tasty homemade BBQ sauce recipe. It adds so much flavor and turns regular oven-baked chicken into a BBQ masterpiece.
Of course, if you are in a time crunch, you can also save a few minutes and substitute your favorite purchased BBQ sauce.
- Chicken thighs – skin-on and bone-in are perfect for this recipe.
- Ketchup -forms the base of this southern tomato-based BBQ sauce.
- Butter – adds richness and flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar – adds a bit of tanginess to the sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce – adds a deep, complex savory flavor and helps balance the sauce’s sweetness.
- Brown sugar – adds a bit of sweetness to the other flavors.
- Mustard – I like to use good old-fashioned yellow mustard, but you can also substitute dry mustard powder.
- Garlic & onion powder – because isn’t everything better with garlic and onion?
- Salt & ground black pepper – enhance all other flavors and bring them together.
How to make Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs:
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Add all the BBQ sauce ingredients plus a half cup of water to a small saucepan over low heat and stir to combine.
- Remove it from the heat when the butter is melted.
- Cover a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add the chicken thighs skin side down. Season the pieces on both sides with one teaspoon of kosher salt and one-half teaspoon of pepper.
- Use a pastry brush to coat the thighs liberally with the BBQ sauce, and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, add more BBQ sauce and bake for 30 minutes.
- Increase the oven temperature to broil. Slather the chicken thighs with more BBQ sauce and broil for a minute or two or until the sauce sizzles and develops a bit of char on the skin. (Watch carefully; this happens quickly. )
- Serve the dish immediately while it is still hot.
What to serve it with?
Oven-baked barbecue chicken, just like grilled barbecue chicken, pairs beautifully with casual sides such as:
- Twice Baked Potato Casserole
- Southern Potato Salad
- Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes
- Southern Black-Eyed Peas
- Baked Pineapple Cheese Casserole
- Southern Cornbread Pudding
- Air Fryer Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes
- Southern Broccoli Salad with Craisins
- Southern Deviled Eggs
If you need more menu ideas, you can find all of my side dish recipes here.
This recipe for oven-baked barbecue chicken thighs is versatile. Instead of thighs, you can substitute other cuts; however, keep in mind that different size pieces can take more or less time to cook. Therefore, it’s best to bake similar size pieces together.
Boneless, skinless thighs or breasts can also be substituted, but they will cook in less than half the time listed for the thighs.
The type of barbecue sauce you use can be switched up. Every region has a favorite BBQ sauce, from Carolina style to Texas style, to Alabama style. But all start with either a tomato, mustard, or mayonnaise base. I prefer a sweet tomato-based sauce, but you choose your favorite.
Depending on their size, it takes approximately 50 to 60 minutes for the internal temperature to come up to 175° F, which ensures that the thighs will be tender and juicy. Thighs, unlike breasts and other cuts of chicken, actually become more tender the longer they cook.
When grilling, most folks wait to add the barbecue sauce until after the chicken has been on the grill a bit because the sauce tends to burn. However, because the oven temperature is more controlled, you can add the sauce before baking.
Broiling helps to crisp up the skin and caramelizes the sauce. It also develops bits of char that mimic cooking them on the grill. The skin tends to be a little rubbery if you don’t broil them at the end.
Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for three days. They can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a 350° F oven for about 10 minutes.
Top tips and tricks:
Cover your baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil for easy cleanup, and spray with a non-stick cooking spray before adding your chicken.
Every oven bakes differently, so watch your chicken and bake it to the final temperature listed, not necessarily the time I have shown. Also, remember larger or smaller pieces will take longer or less time than listed.
More of my favorite chicken thigh recipes:
⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ If you make this dish, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones; I hope you come back soon!
Easy Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs
- Rimmed baking sheet
- 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on, about four pounds
- 1 cup ketchup
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Add all the BBQ sauce ingredients, including a half cup of water, one teaspoon of kosher salt, and a half teaspoon of ground black pepper, to a small saucepan over low heat and stir to combine. Remove it from the heat when the butter is melted.
- Season the chicken on both sides with half a teaspoon of kosher salt and half a teaspoon of pepper.
- Cover a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add the thighs skin side down.
- Use a pastry brush to coat the meat liberally with the BBQ sauce, and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, add more BBQ sauce and bake for 30 minutes. It's done when an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part, not touching bone, registers 175 °F.
- Increase the oven temperature to broil. Slather the thighs with more BBQ sauce and broil for a minute or two or until the sauce sizzles and develops a bit of char on the skin. (Watch carefully; this happens pretty fast. )
- Serve this dish while it is still hot. Be sure to have plenty of napkins available.