These easy baked bbq chicken thighs are sure to become your new favorite meal! Coated in a sugar-free homemade bbq sauce, they’re baked to crispy perfection in less than 30 minutes. Serve them with all your favorite sides for a kid-friendly recipe the whole family will look forward to eating.
Say goodbye to bland and boring chicken for good with these tray baked chicken thighs! Flavored with a better-for-you bbq sauce, they’re crispy and golden on the outside, tender and juicy in the center, and bursting with warm, sweet flavors and a hint of tang. With minimal prep work, they’re perfect for busy weeknights when you need to get in and out of the kitchen fast. Pair them with all your favorite sides for an easy meal that will have even the pickiest eaters coming back for seconds.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Naturally sugar-free
- High-protein, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free
- It’s quick to put together and bakes in minutes
- One batch makes 4 servings and can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd
- Leftovers store well and taste great with pretty much everything so you never get bored
Ingredients & Notes
- Ketchup - This forms the base of the bbq sauce. I like to use a natural, sugar-free ketchup whenever I can for a healthier option that doesn’t skimp on flavor.
- Mustard - Used to add a tangy, punchy flavor that balances out the acidity of the ketchup for a more balanced taste.
- Apple cider vinegar - Adds the familiar punchy taste we want in bbq sauce.
- Spices - Sea salt, garlic powder, chipotle powder, paprika, black pepper, and cinnamon combine to create a sweet and savory flavor with just a hint of spice.
- Chicken - I recommend using chicken thighs for this bbq chicken recipe as they’re juicier and have more flavor. However, chicken breasts can be used, if preferred.
Can I use store-bought BBQ sauce?
These bbq chicken thighs in the oven are one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make! You’ll need two bowls, a wire rack, a baking sheet, tongs, and a brush before you begin.
Step 1: Make the bbq sauce. In a bowl, whisk the ingredients for the sauce together until smooth.
Step 2: Coat the chicken. In a second large bowl, add the chicken thighs, and pour ¾ cup of the bbq sauce on top. Toss to combine and coat the chicken completely.
Step 3: Bake the chicken. Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the rack, leaving space between each piece. Use a brush to brush some of the extra bbq sauce over the chicken, and bake for 12 minutes.
Clean the tongs, flip the chicken over on the rack, and continue to bake until they’re cooked through. Brush more bbq sauce on top, and place the chicken thighs under the broiler until they’re crispy.
Step 4: Enjoy! Serve baked bbq chicken thighs warm with the remaining bbq sauce on the side.
- Make sure to reserve a little bbq sauce off to the side. Some can be used to top off the chicken thighs in the oven and on the side when serving.
- A wire rack is a must for this recipe if you want to achieve that crispiness like you would on the grill. Chicken thighs contain more fat and water than chicken breast so when baked in the oven they will release liquid which prevents them from getting crispy.
- Clean your utensils really well if you used them to handle the raw chicken. I will wash tongs really well if used to place the chicken on the wire rack and to flip them over in the oven.
What to serve with tray baked BBQ chicken thighs?
A few of my favorite bbq chicken sides:
- Caramelized Brussel Sprouts
- Lemon Orzo Salad
- Mexican Corn Salad
- Deviled Egg Pasta Salad
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Watermelon Salad
How to Store
Place the baked bbq chicken thighs in an airtight container. It’s okay if they all overlap. Store the container in the fridge. Keep some reserved BBQ sauce in a separate container in the fridge, too. When ready to enjoy, brush some of the bbq sauce over the chicken thighs. Heat them in the microwave in 15-second intervals until warm, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Nope! Using a wire rack allows heat to evenly distribute over the chicken thighs and create a subtle crispiness around the edges. Covering the chicken thighs won’t lead to the same results.
A high temperature like 425 F is needed to both cook the chicken from the inside out and provide a bit of char and crispiness to the outer pieces.
You’ll know your bbq chicken thighs are done cooking when they’re no longer pink and a meat thermometer can be inserted into the center and reads 170 F.
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Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs
- 1 cup ketchup - I used unsweetened
- 4 tablespoon mustard
- 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ chipotle powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 lb chicken thighs - boneless and skinless
- Preheat oven to 425 F. In a bowl, add the ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, garlic powder, chipotle powder. paprika, black pepper, and cinnamon. Whisk well to combine.1 cup ketchup, 4 tablespoon mustard, 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ chipotle powder, ½ teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- In a large bowl, add the chicken thighs and pour about ¾ cup of the bbq sauce over top (you want to leave a little extra bbq sauce off to the side). Toss the chicken thighs in the bbq sauce to coat.1 lb chicken thighs
- Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet (this is necessary to get crispy chicken!). Use tongs to place the chicken thighs on the wire rack, leaving some space in between each one. Use a brush to brush excess bbq sauce from the bowl over the chicken and bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Clean and wash the tongs and use them to flip the chicken thighs over on the wire rack and bake for another 12 minutes. Use a spoon or another clean brush to brush some of the reserved bbq sauce over the chicken thighs and broil for 1 - 2 minutes until crispy.
- Serve the chicken thighs while warm with extra bbq sauce if needed and enjoy!