OK, so this is cheating. Well, sort of.
This may not be real barbecue, but it is one of my favorite ways to make chicken legs: Indoors. In the oven. Seared, then smothered in hot, spicy sauce and slow baked.
Let’s face it: Nothing can replace good, outdoor barbecue.
But, sometimes you just don’t feel like firing up the grill. (Or, sometimes you do, and you’re out of propane, or it’s pouring cats and dogs, etc…)
This is a great way to approximate some of that barbecue-y goodness indoors.
Chicken leg quarters are a great way to feed a crowd on a budget.
They’re generally pretty inexpensive. (Dinner for two for $2.94? Um, yes please!)
And because they’re fairly fatty in comparison to chicken breast, they’re really forgiving to cook.
It takes a lot to dry a chicken leg out.
In terms of technique, I seared the leg quarters to render off some fat—a move which gives your bird extra flavor, and helps the skin crisp up in the oven.
Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken: A note on barbecue sauce
For barbecue sauce, you can make your own, or use your favorite store bought sauce.
My favorite sauce du jour is Fighting Cock Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Sauce.
It’s fairly thin, but is packed with great hot and spicy flavor.
And I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for a good label.
Depending on the size of your chicken legs and the consistency of your bbq sauce, you may need more or less than 3/4 of a cup.
I made this to serve two, but you can easily use this same method to feed a roomful of friends.
Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken
4 chicken leg quarters
spray canola oil
3/4 – 1 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken: Do a little prep
Line a sheet pan with foil. Set a rack in the pan. Set aside while you sear the chicken.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Grab your chicken leg quarters.
Give them a rinse and pat them dry.
Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.
Set a nonstick pan on the stove over high heat and spray with a little canola oil.
Let it heat up for a minute or two.
Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken: Sear the chicken legs
When the pan is hot, drop in a few of the chicken leg quarters, skin-side down.
You don’t want to crowd the pan (or your chicken will steam, not sear), so do this in a few batches.
My chicken leg quarters were pretty big, so I could only fit two at a time in my 12-inch frying pan.
Cook them on high like this for a few minutes, until the skin is nice and brown, like this.
You’re going to make a little smoke. That’s just fine.
When the skin is browned, transfer the chicken to your prepared pan.
Repeat with the rest of the chicken. (I only brown the skin side. I find that intense high heat on the skinless underside can sometimes actually dry the meat out a teensy bit.)
Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken: Brush the chicken with sauce
When all your chicken is browned, you’re ready to coat it in barbecue sauce.
Put the sauce in a medium-sized bowl so it’s easier to work with.
Using a brush, paint each piece of chicken on all sides with barbecue sauce.
Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken: Bake for 15 minutes, then brush with more sauce
When each piece of chicken is coated, pop the pan into your preheated 375 degree oven.
Bake like this for 15 minutes.
After about 15 minutes, yank the pan out of the oven. Your chicken should look about like this.
(The color will vary based on the sauce you use and how much sugar is in it…the more sugar, the darker it will likely be.)
Brush with the remaining barbecue sauce, covering each piece on all sides again.
When the chicken is coated again, pop the pan back into the oven.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes more, until they’re cooked through completely. (Your chicken should be in the oven for a total of 45-50 minutes.)
After 30-35 minutes, they should have a nice crust.
If you’re a meat thermometer type, you want a reading of 165 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken (without touching a bone).
Transfer to a serving platter.
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Serve and enjoy!