A quick and easy BBQ chicken marinade is the secret to juicy, tender, and flavorful baked BBQ chicken thighs. The sticky sweet sauce caramelizes while the skin crisps and cooks until it
This recipe is a part of our 6 easy chicken marinades where we dive deep into how to marinate chicken. If you love this one, use this cooking method with any of our delicious marinades.
This isn't your typical baked chicken. Sure they're tender, with crispy skin, but they also feature the most delicious BBQ chicken marinade and a cooking method that bakes them evenly all the way through. The marinade uses bbq sauce and spices similar to the dry rub in our Instant Pot pulled pork.
It's also a similar cooking method to our Asian chicken wings. The wire rack helps the air circulate all the way around the chicken, cooking it evenly and eliminating the need to flip it halfway through.
What You'll Love About These Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs
- Moist and flavorful: Chicken thighs are naturally juicier and more flavorful than chicken breasts (thanks to the dark meat), and when baked with BBQ sauce, they become even more delicious. The BBQ sauce caramelizes and creates a sticky, sweet, and smoky glaze that enhances the flavor.
- Easy to prepare: BBQ baked chicken thighs are relatively easy to make and require minimal effort. Marinate the chicken ahead of time, then bake them in the oven when you're ready.
- Affordable: Chicken thighs are typically less expensive than chicken breasts, making this budget-friendly.
Grab These Ingredients
Here are the simple ingredients for this bbq chicken recipe. Most are pantry staples and easy (and affordable) to find at the grocery store. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Chicken thighs: we prefer bone-in chicken thighs because it keeps them really moist, but boneless skinless chicken thighs work too. You can even use chicken breast if you have that on hand (cooking time will vary).
- Oil: this is part of the marinade that helps keep the chicken really moist. We like to use an oil, like avocado oil with a higher smoke point, but olive oil works too.
- BBQ sauce: use your favorite barbecue sauce or homemade bbq sauce works too. We have a delicious whole30 bbq sauce that takes a few minutes to make. The most common BBQ sauce is sweet baby ray, but we also love Primal Kitchen as an unsweetened option and then add a bit of our own honey.
- Spice mixture: a mixture of smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, and pepper gives the chicken a delicious flavor. We also use fresh garlic cloves, but garlic powder and onion powder are great adds.
How to Make BBQ Chicken in the Oven
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through the easy steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This recipe for ground pork tacos is pretty simple, but these steps will make sure it turns out every time.
Video: watch how to make baked bbq chicken thighs.
Add all of the marinade ingredients to a glass bowl with a lid or a gallon freezer bag or reusable silicone bag and mix well. Place the chicken in the marinade and toss to coat then marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.
Remove them from the bag and place chicken thighs on a wire rack set on top of a parchment-lined baking tray. This is the best way to circulate air around the chicken and get it crispy and tender.
Bake the chicken thighs in the oven at 425 degrees f for 30-35 ish minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 155°F (the ideal temp is 165, but we'll be broiling them for a few minutes).
Remove the chicken from the oven, use a pastry brush to coat the thighs with more BBQ sauce and place back in the oven, and broil for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce starts to bubble. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!
Tools and Equipment
These are the ideal tools from your kitchen to help make this BBQ-baked chicken perfectly every time. It will still work if you don't have some of these, but I recommend using them as the recipe directs. This section may contain affiliate links.
You can bake chicken thighs at both 350°F and 400°F. Baking at a higher temperature (400°F) will result in crispy skin in a shorter amount of time. That crispy crust locks in the juices, making the chicken thighs really moist. A 350° F oven will still result in crispy skin, it will just take longer to crisp and cook all the way through. However, we like to bake them at an even higher oven temperature (425°F) for the same reasons.
You can easily use the same recipe and marinade to grill these thighs rather than bake them. Preheat the grill to about 400, oil the grill grates and grill the bone-in chicken thighs for 20-25 minutes or boneless chicken thighs for 8-12 minutes. See the notes section of the recipe card below for more information.
The decision to use boneless skinless chicken thighs or skin-on thighs is a personal preference. We love the juicy meat and flavor of skin-on because the skin protects the meat from drying out. However, they do take longer to bake. Boneless is just as delicious and takes less time.
It's best to put the majority of BBQ sauce partially through baking, to avoid burning the sauce because of the sugar content. We like to use a spice rub or marinade and bake the chicken thighs most of the way through then brush a generous amount of BBQ sauce on top and finish baking or broiling.
What to Serve with Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs
- Corn or corn on the cob: Corn is a classic side to go with BBQ chicken and can come in many forms from honey cornbread muffins, summer corn salad or our grilled zucchini salad (featuring corn and basil).
- Big Salad: add some extra veggies to the meal with a delicious grilled peach salad, strawberry spinach salad, or cucumber tomato avocado salad.
- Coleslaw: Creamy coleslaw is a refreshing side dish that provides a cool and crunchy contrast to warm and savory chicken. It takes a few minutes to throw this creamy coleslaw without mayo together.
- Potato salad: Potato salad is a hearty and filling side dish that can be served warm or cold. We love to serve these thighs with our easy sweet potato salad.
- Grilled vegetables: Grilled or roasted vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant, are easy and delicious. We love to do roasted veggies with quinoa or rice.
- Beans: baked beans or green beans make a delicious side to anything BBQ.
Store leftover chicken thighs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes covered with a damp paper towel or in the oven at 400°F until warmed through.
Check out our post on how to marinate chicken to learn more about freezing this recipe before baking.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Chicken Recipes
- Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs
- One Pot Hawaiian Chicken
- Crispy Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs
- 1 - 1 ½ pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (Note 1 for boneless)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- ⅓ cup of your favorite bbq sauce (Note 2)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 3 cloves minced garlic or 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Add all of the ingredients, except the chicken, to a glass bowl with a lid or a gallon freezer bag or reusable silicone bag. Whisk or mix everything together then add the chicken and turn to coat it well if using a bowl or dish. Close the lid and shake well to coat if you're using a bag.
- Pat the chicken thighs really well with a paper towel and place them in the marinade. Turn them over a few times until they’re fully coated. Marinate the chicken in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours. Do not exceed 24 hours.
- When you’re ready to make them, preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and place a wire rack on top. We used a cooking rack.
- Use tongs to remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and place the chicken thighs skin side up in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and wire rack. Discard any excess marinade.
- Bake the bbq chicken thighs in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until an internal temperature reads approximately 150-155°F. Remove the chicken thighs from the oven and brush them with additional BBQ sauce. Place back in the oven and broil for 2-3 minutes until the sauce begins to bubble. This helps the sauce stick to the chicken and helps the sugars in the sauce caramelize. The internal temperature should read about 160°F when you remove the chicken thighs to allow for 5 or so degrees of carryover cooking while it rests.
- Tent the chicken with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving to lock in the juices. Serve with additional BBQ sauce.