Chicken is baked in a made from scratch cranberry-orange BBQ sauce until fork tender. This Oven Baked BBQ Chicken is a rustic, satisfying meal anytime of year.
It happens every year as we head into the rainy season. I find myself craving barbecue in a way that cannot be denied. I’ve developed lots of recipes over the years that allow us to enjoy classic summer flavors during the colder months and this easy Oven Baked BBQ Chicken recipe is one of my favorites.
The oven BBQ method produces super juicy chicken coated with a unique sauce that is sweet and tangy with just a hint of heat. I like to serve it with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes because, well, I like to serve almost everything with mashed potatoes. Life is better with mashed potatoes. Add the veggie of your choice for a comforting winter BBQ meal.
- Chicken – Meaty, skinless bone-in chicken pieces of your choice. I like to use breasts and thighs.
- Onion – Finely chopped white or yellow onion.
- Minced garlic
- Cranberry sauce – I prefer using a can of jellied cranberry sauce instead of whole berry so the BBQ sauce will have a smoother consistency. This recipe is a great way to use up any stray cans of cranberry sauce that end up in your pantry after the holidays.
- Tomato sauce
- Brown sugar
- Apple cider vinegar – For that tang!
- Worcestershire sauce
- Orange juice and zest – The juice and zest of an orange add yummy fresh flavor to the sauce.
- Chili powder, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper – This trio of seasonings adds warmth, smokiness, and a touch of heat to the sauce. You can easily control the level of spice by increasing, limiting or eliminating the crushed red pepper altogether. When made as written, the sauce will be mildly spicy.
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh parsley – An optional but pretty garnish for the finished dish.
How to Make Cranberry-Orange BBQ Sauce
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the cranberry sauce and tomato sauce. Cook and whisk the mixture to allow the cranberry sauce to begin to break down and mix into the sauce. Add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and the orange zest and orange juice.
- Use your whisk or the back of your spoon to squish up any remaining chunks of cranberry sauce which should be breaking down at this point. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
The sauce can be made a day or two in advance. Allow it to cool slightly and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
How to Make Oven Baked BBQ Chicken
- Use paper towels to lift and pull the skin off your chicken pieces and place them in a 13-x 9-inch baking dish. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Don’t go too heavy on either since we are adding the flavor packed sauce soon. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and spoon off and discard most of the cooking liquid from the bottom of the pan. You can leave a little behind to mix in with the sauce but you don’t want to leave too much or the sauce will be too thin.
- Pour about half the sauce or more, over the chicken until each piece is coated. Use tongs to flip the chicken over in the sauce to coat both sides. The chicken should be meaty side up before you put the pan back in the oven.
- Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees and return the uncovered pan to the oven. Bake the chicken until the internal temperature in the thickest pieces registers at least 165 degrees F when measured with an instant read thermometer. This should take about 30 to 35 minutes. While it cooks, spoon some of the sauce from the bottom of the pan over the pieces once or twice.
For a pretty touch, garnish the Oven Baked BBQ Chicken with a little chopped fresh parsley.
Spoon any reserved BBQ sauce into a small bowl and serve it along with the chicken.
Promptly refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days.
Leftovers can be consumed cold or reheat the chicken in the microwave for about 2 minutes, or just until warmed through. Use it for sandwiches, toss it into a salad, or stuff it into baked potatoes with shredded cheddar cheese and a drizzle of Ranch dressing.
Cold Weather BBQ Favorites
- Crock-Pot BBQ Beef
- BBQ Country Style Ribs
- BBQ Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes
- BBQ Style Braised Short Ribs
- BBQ Chicken Salad Wraps
Oven Baked BBQ Chicken
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 14 ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 6 to 8 meaty bone-in chicken pieces
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, optional garnish
Cranberry-Orange BBQ Sauce
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over LOW heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the cranberry sauce, tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper, black pepper, orange juice, and orange zest. Increase the heat to MEDIUM-HIGH and bring the mixture to a low boil. Reduce the heat to LOW and simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Baked BBQ Chicken
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Remove and discard the skin from the chicken pieces and transfer to prepared baking dish, meaty side up. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and use a spoon to remove most of the cooking liquid from the pan. Pour about half of the BBQ sauce over the chicken (reserve remaining sauce for serving) and using kitchen tongs, flip the pieces over to coat both sides well with sauce making sure they end up meaty side up before going back in the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and return the baking dish to the oven for an additional 30 to 35 minutes. Check occasionally and spoon some of the sauce from bottom of dish over the chicken. Remove from the oven when the thickest piece of chicken registers an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F when measured with an instant read thermometer.
- Serve with additional sauce on the side.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
This post was originally published on February 17, 2013. It has been updated with new text and images.