How To Get A Crisp Finish On Baked BBQ Chicken Without Burning It Under The Broiler

Baked BBQ chicken is one of the best approximations of real outdoor barbecue you can make in your kitchen, and you only need a few tricks to make it taste just as good as on the grill. Unlike ribs or brisket, which take hours over the low heat of a smoking grill, chicken cooks quickly, and doesn't have time to take on too much flavor from the grill. Most of the BBQ flavor comes from the sauce and from the singed, charred flavor of live flames kissing your meat, which means all you need to do is mimic those effects with your stove. Cooking the barbecue sauce separately from your chicken at first can thicken and deepen the flavor of your sauce as the heat of the grill would, and cooking the chicken at a lower, slower temperature gives you that fall-off-the-bone texture. That just leaves the fire. You might be tempted to crank up your broiler, many recipes do suggest that, but there is a better way.

Instead of using the broiler to crisp up your chicken and get those nice charred bits, just turn up your oven to a higher temperature, around 450 degrees Fahrenheit, for the last five to 10 minutes of cooking. A broiler's high heat can take a barbecue sauce from browned to burned in seconds, but a slightly more gentle high temperature can still crisp your chicken and cook your sauce with a much larger margin for error.

A high heat finish and thickened sauce make perfect barbecue chicken in the oven

While getting the heat right will go far in giving you some nicely charred BBQ chicken in the oven, thickening the sauce first will complete the experience. You should be roasting your chicken sans sauce to start, which will help it crisp up without the extra moisture. While the chicken cooks, you can reduce your BBQ sauce by simmering it in a saucepan over medium-low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. Don't reduce it too far, as that could concentrate it too far and make it too salty, but a reduction of 25% to 50% will work great. Then just brush on the thickened sauce for that last round of high heat, and you get a glossy, enticing barbecue finish spotted with tasty black char.

The other nice thing about separating the cooking of your sauce and chicken is that it gives you a chance to elevate your barbecue sauce for the ultimate marriage of convenience and taste. Once your sauce is cooked down, just a dash of vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or hot sauce can make the flavors pop, and even out overly salty or sweet taste profiles. Adding garlic or spice mixes as you cook the sauce down can add depth to brands that are too one note. Combine those pumped-up flavors with the texture of sticky, crispy barbecue, and you have some real grill-worthy chicken.