Pioneer Woman’s Barbecue Chicken

Barbecue Chicken

TPW_2748This is my second this-has-absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-Easter-or-Passover recipe of the week. Welcome to my world!

I made barbecue chicken a few days ago, and instead of grabbing one of the four million delicious bottled options in my pantry (can someone explain to me why I have four million bottles of barbecue sauce in my pantry?) I decided just to whip up my own. Delicious storebought barbecue sauces are available everywhere, and I tend to think it’s one of those convenience foods that’s often just as good as something you can make at home. Still, the first time I made my own barbecue sauce (it was a necessity; I’d brought home five pounds of brisket and sausage from our local barbecue joint and discovered that we were plum out of sauce at the house, which is probably why I felt the need to stockpile my pantry with four million bottles. Mystery solved!) it was surprisingly good. Most of the time, I still grab a bottle from the pantry. But when time permits, it really is fun to whip up a batch from scratch. The great thing about making your own sauce is, you can churn out exactly the sauce you want.

And it makes you feel empowered. A nice little added benefit.

I like barbecue sauce that’s very vinegary and very sweet at the same time. I like it dark and flavorful. And I like it spicy.

Here’s how I make it.

TPW_2668Begin with a bunch of chicken. I’m a dark meat girl, and I love legs. Oh, how I love legs. But you can do thighs, too. You can also do both. Or you can do neither. You can do breasts, if you prefer white meat. But if you do breasts, please do bone-in breasts with the skin…not the boneless, skinless buttheads. Or you can if you want. Or you can’t if you don’t want. Or you can’t not if you don’t not want.

Never mind. In any event, throw the chicken onto a pan like the one you see above (so the grease can drain) and roast them in a 425 degree oven for about twenty minutes.

TPW_2670While the chicken is roasting, dice up a little onion (not much, just a little) and a couple of cloves of garlic. Add them to a saucepan with a little oil.

TPW_2672Stir them around and cook them over medium-low heat for five minutes or so…

TPW_2681Until they’re translucent and flavorful.

TPW_2679Next, grab this stuff: ketchup, brown sugar, white vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, salt…and that mysterious red substance.

Can you guess what it is?

TPW_2675It’s the sauce from…

TPW_2676A can of chipotle peppers. So, basically, adobo sauce that a bunch of smoky chipotles have been swimming in.

And here’s why I used it: it’s smoky. There are some things like this that I’d just spike with a little Liquid Smoke (my brisket recipe has it) but I like the tangy red spice of the adobo sauce. It adds a smokiness and a spiciness at once, but the spiciness isn’t overwhelming. It’s like adding chipotles without adding chipotles.


TPW_2685To the saucepan with the onions and garlic, add ketchup and brown sugar…

TPW_2688Molasses for depth of color, consistency, and flavor…



And a note: I added enough vinegar to really taste that bite, but you can certainly pull back on this quantity.

TPW_2695And the chipotle adobo stuff and a dash of salt.

TPW_2700Stir it all together, then reduce the heat to low and simmer while the chicken roasts.

TPW_2703It’ll get nice and bubbly and wonderful. When the chicken’s ready, turn off the heat.

Back to the Chicken: After the chicken has roasted 20 minutes, crank up the broiler to high and broil the chicken for 5 minutes, just to give it a little color on top. Then remove the chicken from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. The chicken is done at this point, but we’re going to return it to the oven with the sauce in a second.

TPW_2712Use tongs to dunk each chicken legs into the sauce, submerging it completely.

TPW_2719Place the coated chicken back onto the pan, then return the chicken to the oven for five minutes, just to anchor this base of sauce onto the chicken.

TPW_2741This is five minutes later. See how we’ve made sort of a “base” of barbecue sauce?

TPW_2748Finally, brush or dab plenty of extra sauce all over the legs.

TPW_2755Lay it on thick, making sure to get some chunks of onion involved. Then just let the chicken sit for awhile before serving. It only gets more and more delicious.

TPW_2786And that, my friends, is some darn good barbecue chicken. Stand at the counter and just snarf it all straight from the pan, or serve it with salad and bread for a yummy meal.

Be sure to play with the barbecue sauce to make it your own: spice it up or down, depending on how you like it. Add diced jalapenos to the sauce, or whiskey, or maple syrup, or different spices. It’s all yours, baby.





Barbecue Chicken Legs

10 Minutes
25 Minutes
9 Servings
  • 18 whole Chicken Legs
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 1/4 whole Onion, Diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (additional) Brown Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Distilled Vinegar (less To Taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Molasses
  • 4 Tablespoons Chipotle Adobo Sauce (the Adobo Sauce Chipotle Peppers Are Packed In)
  • Dash Of Salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken legs on a broiler pan or any pan with a rack, then roast for 20 minutes.

While the chicken is roasting, heat canola oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for five minutes, stirring, being careful not to burn them.

Reduce heat to low. Add all remaining ingredients and stir. Allow to simmer while the chicken roasts. Taste after simmering and add whatever ingredient it needs (more spice, more sugar, etc.)

After 20 minutes of roasting, crank on the broiler to get a little color on the legs. Broil for five minutes.

Remove chicken legs from oven. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. With tongs, dip each chicken leg into the sauce, submerging completely. Place back onto the pan. After all chicken is coated, return pan to oven for five minutes, or until hot and sizzling.

Remove from oven. Brush/dab generously with remaining sauce. Allow chicken to sit a few minutes before serving.