These are absolutely the best baked BBQ chicken thighs I’ve ever made or tried anywhere. They are fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy inside, covered by a layer of crispy skin, which in turn is covered by deliciously caramelized, in some spots even slightly charred, BBQ sauce. It’s hard to believe that they are not grilled. Only lack of smoky flavor is what really gives away the fact that these chicken thighs are baked, not smoked. Needless to say, when I make these tasty morsels they just disappear in the blink of an eye. People forget about side dishes, salads, bread and just munch on these chicken thighs, until they are gone. You can’t blame them.
How to make the best baked BBQ chicken thighs?
Making great tasting BBQ chicken thighs in the oven may seem like a simple thing, but it’s not. Just slapping some tasty BBQ sauce on some thighs and baking them won’t do the trick. You really need to build the layers of flavor and texture to get those amazing BBQ chicken thighs. That said, once you know a few tricks, the process becomes as easy as pie.
First, you need to bake the thighs on convection at a very high heat. This will do two things – the thighs will cook quickly, resulting in a very juicy meat, while the skin will be nicely browned and crisped up. Using a little bit of baking powder will help get an even crispier skin. According to Cook’s Illustrated, tossing chicken thighs with baking powder and salt helps break down the proteins within the skin, as well as aiding in browning. So, do not skip that baking powder. I’ve used it on chicken wings and chicken thighs before and it works like magic.
Second, once the skin is nice and crispy, you brush the thighs with the BBQ sauce and bake again for a short while. What this does is it thickens and caramelizes the sauce, making it more intensely flavored and tastier. Cooking on convection helps with caramelization of the sauce, creating some charred spots here and there. This makes chicken thighs taste almost like grilled ones.
That’s all there is to it. It’s not exactly simple but it becomes very easy once you know the process.
Looking for more great chicken thigh recipes? Check these out:
- 12 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 Tbsp baking POWDER (do NOT use baking soda, it's NOT the same)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
For the BBQ sauce
- 3/4 cup BBQ sauce (you can go up to 1 cup if you like more BBQ sauce)
- 1/4 cup hot sauce
- 4 cloves garlic (pressed)
- Preheat oven on 450F convection for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper and baking powder over the chicken thighs. Gently rub the thighs with your hands to evenly spread the seasonings.
- Arrange the thighs on a baking sheet, lined with foil and fitted with a cooling rack. Using a cooling rack is optional but will help with keeping grease off the thighs.
- Bake the thighs at 450F convection for 20 minutes. The thighs should be browned and have a crispy skin.
- Combine the BBQ sauce, hot sauce and pressed garlic in a large bowl. Add cooked chicken thighs and toss. Transfer back to the baking sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes at 450F convection.
- Remove the thighs from the oven and serve immediately with your favorite side dish.
Does the hot sauce make it spicy at all?
It will be mildly spicy.
My favorite chicken bbq chicken (without the bbq)! Crispy, juicy, and so easy! Thank you!
Glad to hear it Chiara. Enjoy!
To start, I don’t have a convection oven. 😩 I used to but then we moved and it is what it is. I will have one again eventually. But for now, I cooked the chicken at 450 for 40 minutes before adding the sauce. With that being said, it ended up being very delicious. I can see where a convection would work better. Next time I’m sticking them in the air fryer. I didn’t this time since I was worried about space. These were a keeper. 5 stars! Thanks for the recipe!
You are very welcome. Enjoy!
Want to keep it Low Carb and lower Calories? Try using G. Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free BBQ Sauce. It come in a variety of types — Original, Honey, Hickory, Maple Brown, Sweet Heat, Mesquite, and Sweet & Spicy. I buy it at Kroger’s. It is also available on Amazon. Great taste and like I mentioned LOW CARB + LOW CALORIES
Delicious and easy to make. Love this recipe!
I’ve bookmarked this recipe as many places as I can…
May even write it down so I never cook chicken thighs different again!
Thank you for bestowing your baked chicken knowledge.
One thing I would suggest to add into the recipe…is to face skin/fat up. My skin stuff to the foil bc I placed it down.
Still came out the juiciest chicken I’ve ever made.
Baking powder and convection is key.
LoL Glad you liked it. It never occurred to me to specify that chicken needs to be placed skin side up as I never do it the other way… but fair enough. You can also bake on parchement paper, chicken doesn’t get stuck to it. Happy cooking!
Mine is taking a very long time than in the recipe. Still in the oven and its an hour. Inside is nt looking and the skin is burnt already
Different ovens cook differently, oven thermostats are notorious for misreporting the temperature especially as they get older. I’d play with your oven’s cooking temperature and time to get the results you want.
I could repeat the above paragraphs to the letter. I have tried so many thigh recipes but none have ever given me the crispy skin and absolutely juicy meat that this recipe has. Even with bbq sauce the skin stayed crispy and delicious. Thank you.
You are very welcome, Becki. Glad that you liked it. Enjoy!
Yum yum yum!! Easy and delicious. Finished it off under the broiler as I like a pretty crispy skin
We don’t have convection in our oven , now what?
I have been searching for years to find a really good, crispy skin bbq chicken recipe! Well, my search is finally over, this is IT! Do not skip the baking powder! I did rinse/dry and season with dry bbq seasoning blend then bagged it up tight and threw them in the fridge over night. I did use an all natural store brand of original bbq sauce to save time.
Perfect, delicious, crispy bbq chicken. Thanks so much
You are very welcome.
The best chicken thighs I have ever made. Cooked 30 minutes brushed w BBQ sauce then cooked another 8 minutes. Juicy and crunchy. It melted in my mouth! Thank you.
You are very welcome.
this is awesome I love it everyone should try it
Made this today with Grill mates vintage smokehouse bbq sauce and sriracha and added some honey too. The best oven grilled chicken I ate so far ❤️ Looked exactly as in illustration pic and tasted so good. Tq so much for this wonderful recipe✨ (totally foolproof)
You are very welcome, Archanna. Enjoy and be sure to try my other recipes.
If you don’t have a convection oven, what temperature and cooking time do you recommend?
Joyce, you can try the same method that I described in the note section of my extra crispy oven fried chicken thighs recipe, but add the sauce 10 minutes before the thighs are done.
Can you use skinless chicken thighs?
No, not in this recipe. Skinless chicken will dry out. But I have a few good skinless chicken thigh recipes on my blog, check them out.
No, skinless and convection don’t really play well together – the meat tends to dry out very easily.
Which barbecue sauce did you use may I know ?
I used Duff’s BBQ and Duff’s hot wing sauce which I buy at Wegman’s if that helps. I like those a lot.
I don’t have a convention oven! Would a microwave work? Or just a regular oven???
No, a microwave will not work unfortunately, only regular oven for this recipe.
Ah-Mazing recipe!!! Crispy skin, juicy chicken and the sauce made it… kids loved it too which is a huge plus! This will now be my go to recipe 🙂
Can this be done in a regular oven?
Yes, check my extra crispy chicken wing recipe, I provided the details there for an alternative method.
This recipe is in the regular rotation at our house! It is so good. But I was wondering what you use for the “hot sauce”. I’m in Texas and that can mean many things- salsa, tobacco, saracha… so, what type of hot sauce do you use?
Hi Annie, good question. I fell in love with Duff’s hot wing sauce a few years back and that’s what I use most of the time now. I buy it at Wegman’s.
These were delicious😋! I set my convection oven at recommended temp. My oven automatically adjusts the set temp down by 25°F, because a regular oven runs 25°F higher. The thighs cooked perfectly at the time stated in recipe.
Next time, to get a smoky flavor, I will reduce some cayenne 🌶 and add some mesquite seasoning and smoked paprika to the sauce.
Thank you for sharing your recipe WITH tips on how to get crispy skin!
These were delicious. My 12 year old boy didn’t much care for the spicy sauce though. I think I will use little to none of the Mexican hot sauce (Valentina mild) that I had on hand, for the next batch. I am impressed that someone wrote that their 4 year old ate the chicken!
Furthermore, perhaps due to big pieces, I too had to cook these a lot longer than directed. Convection 450° for 30 minutes, applied sauce, convection 450° another 10 minutes, then regular bake at 350 for 10 minutes. I was taking the temp on my largest thighs just to be on the safe side. Also could have made half of the salt, pepper, baking powder mixture and still had enough.
I am scared of prepping raw chicken (fear of salmonella poisoning), but I am so glad I took a chance and tried this. Can’t wait to have the leftovers!
Tried this last night, and it was AMAZING!!!! So easy, and the chicken was the juiciest ever!!
Maybe a dumb Question. It says 450 convection so my oven when I set temp 450 convection it lowers temp to 425. Should the actual convention temperature be 450 which would mean I set mine to 475 to actually get the temp at 450?
Yes, I would then set it to 475F. But do check early as everyone’s oven bakes differently as they say. You may have to make adjustments to fit how your oven bakes.
Love this recipe! But how do you save your oven from being destroyed (splattered with grease)
I’ve noticed, and a few people commented on that too on this or another post, that fattier chicken splatters a lot. I am talking about the one that is yellow-skinned with lots of visible fat under the skin. Picking the one with blueish colored skin (much less fat) helps a lot with that problem. I practically don’t see any splattering when I use it. That said, I cook a lot so I stopped fussing about how clean my oven is in between regular cleanings. It’s just how it is. You can try foiling the sides and maybe putting some foil on the top rack above the chicken, that will surely help some.
This thigh recipe was AMAZING! Everyone in my family loved it – including the picky kids! Thanks so much for this recipe – this is now a family chicken staple in our home 🙂
So happy to hear that, Heather. Thanks for your feedback.
Excellent family and friends loved it quick and easy too. 👍🏻🤤
I used chicken legs and I think they are larger than might be appropriate for this recipe, so I baked them ten minutes longer at 450 before putting on the sauce. Nice and juicy and look and smell amazing. Taste? Excellent! Moist? Excellent!
Super good & easy. I love the bbq sauce with hot sauce & garlic. My picky kids liked it too!
I followed directions exactly and the chicken looked beautiful. Inside it was undercooked. I think the thighs were larger than usual. I put them back into the oven for a while longer at 350. A wonderful dinner!
This is a regular in my menu rotation. Chicken is always moist and tender. The skin gets crispy and the sauce adds so much flavour.
I’ve made this dish twice now and both times have been delicious 😋Will DEFINITELY be adding this to my small but growing collection of favorites!
Amazing! The chicken was so tender and juicy. The bbq sauce caramelized to perfection. This is a keeper for sure!
I love this recipe. It looks delish! Don’t have a convection oven. Will this be the same baked in a regular oven? Thank you.
Won’t have the same crispiness but you can get close if you follow the instructions that I provided below in my comment on November 17, 2018. Good luck.
I loved this! Even my 4 year old ate all of her serving. I did make a couple of changes. I didn’t use the hot sauce or garlic, but instead mixed bbq sauce with a splash of liquid smoke. OMGOODNESS!! Sooo good. Thank you for the fantastic recipe! 😁
So happy to hear that and especially glad that you 4 year old like this chicken – young kids are very picky eaters. You are very welcome and please check out my other recipes.
A++ Wow… these are soo good. I don’t know anything about BBQ sauce so I read several taste tests and decided to try Trader Joe’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce because it repeatedly rated high amongst BBQ lovers. I used chicken wings and didn’t put the hot sauce in (personal preference) but otherwise followed your instructions exactly. Next time, I will watch them closely that last 10 mins – as they did get dark fast, probably because I used wings. We LOVED these!!
Thank you SOO much for generously sharing all your experience, techniques and recipes. I have been reading all your chicken recipes and I will systematically try them all. You sure know your stuff!!
PS… I ordered one of those remote ThermoPro thermometers you mentioned in one of your recipes and my man loves it. Thanks for the tip.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind words. It gives me a lot of joy when people enjoy my recipes. Anything Trader Joe’s is awesome as my daughter says, so I am sure that BBQ sauce is awesome. Next time I am there I will pick up a bottle and give it a try as I’ve been using Duff’s BBQ sauce for too long;) And about those BBQ thermometers, I can’t imagine cooking without them any more… they are such help.
Easy to make and these turned out to be some of the best chicken thighs that I’ve ever tried. So tender and moist inside! And the skin is nice and crispy. The crispiness goes away a little after you put the sauce on but it’s super tasty.
This was the best recipe… so easy! It was just as described, crispy and so yummy! Thank you for the recipe!
You are very welcome. Glad you liked it.
If I use chicken breasts, how long would I bake them? Same temperature?
This recipe will not work for chicken breasts as convection will dry them out. To get crispy-skinned breasts, use this recipe – https://ifoodblogger.com/best-bone-in-chicken-breast-recipes/, only brush with BBQ sauce about 10-15 minutes before taking out.
Could you use leg quarters for this recipe?
Absolutely. It will work great for leg quarters.
Excellent! I rarely leave comments but I had to leave one for this. My hubby loved this so much that he asked me to make it again twice. The skin was exceptionally crispy before putting on BBQ sauce. If you season the thighs more from the beginning you can eat them like that. They taste exactly like deep-fried. BBQ sauce takes away some crispiness from the skin but the skin is not rubbery like when you put the sauce on from the beginning. This method is amazing! Will definitely be saving this recipe to make more in the future! Thank you!
Glad you guys liked it. You should also try my extra crispy chicken wings.
This sounds delish! But I see this recipe calls for baking in a “convection” oven, what would you set the temperature on for a “conventional” oven, and bake for how long?
Convection is a requirement in this recipe as you get better results – as in noticeably crispier skin and a shorter cooking time. You can even easily get away without baking them on a wire rack. However, if you don’t have a convection oven try the method below originally suggested by America’s Test Kitchen. You should get somewhat similar results but not quite the same crispiness and texture.
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Arrange thighs in single layer on a wire rack placed over a backing sheet. Bake on lower-middle oven rack for 30 minutes. Move to upper-middle rack, increase oven temperature to 425 degrees, and roast until the thighs are golden brown and crisp, 20 minutes longer, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Brush with BBQ sauce and bake for another 20 minutes.
I use the exact instructions in my conventional oven and it works great. Juicy and tasty, might be better with convection but I don’t have one and have never tried it so this tastes fine to me.
Hi there! If I could give this recipe 10 stars I would have. My husband still thinks grilled are better but promptly asked for seconds. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe with us.
You are very welcome! I have a similar recipe for chicken wings, you should try it.