Sweet and Tangy Oven-Barbecued Chicken

Sweet and Tangy Oven-Barbecued Chicken

Just because it’s raining outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little barbecue. Enjoy the flavor of sweet, tangy barbecue chicken indoors with this delicious oven recipe.

Serves 4
Real maple syrup is preferable to imitation syrup, and "mild" or "original" molasses is preferable to darker, more bitter types. If you are content to use bottled sauce, we had the best luck with Bull’s-Eye Original, winner of a blind tasting held last year. Use 1¾ cups of sauce and, in step 3, reduce the sauce cooking time from 4 minutes to 2 minutes.

Some notes on equipment: First, to grate the onion, use a Microplane grater or the fine holes of a box grater. Second, resist the temptation to use a nonstick skillet; most nonstick skillets are not broiler-safe. Third, and most important, you should make this recipe only in an in-oven broiler; do not use a drawer-type broiler. Finally, be aware that broiling times may differ from one oven to another. For instance, in one editor’s powerful professional-style oven, the chicken took just 4 minutes to reach 160 degrees, so we urge you to check the chicken for doneness after only 3 minutes of broiling. You may also have to lower the oven rack if your broiler runs very hot.


1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons finely grated onion
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 6–7 ounces each (with tenderloins), patted dry with paper towels
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position, about 5 inches from the upper heating element; heat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk the ketchup, onion, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, maple syrup, vinegar, chili powder, and cayenne together in a small bowl; set aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, nonreactive 12-inch ovenproof skillet over high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown the chicken skinned-side down until very light golden, 1 to 2 minutes; using tongs, turn the chicken and brown until very light golden on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

3. Discard the fat in the skillet; off the heat, add the sauce mixture and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Simmer the sauce over medium heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula, until the sauce is thick and glossy and a spatula leaves a clear trail in the sauce, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, return the chicken to the skillet and turn to coat thickly with the sauce; set the chicken pieces skinned-side up and spoon extra sauce over each piece to create a thick coating.

4. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the thickest parts of the chicken breasts register 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 14 minutes. Set the oven to broil and continue to cook until the thickest parts of the chicken breasts register 160 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk to combine the sauce in the skillet and transfer to a small bowl. Serve the chicken, passing the extra sauce separately.