BBQ chicken recipe displayed

We all need a reliable BBQ chicken recipe in our back pocket. Plain ol’ baked or grilled chicken can get real old, real quick, so it never hurts to zest up your poultry with the right sauce, prepared just the right way.

This fool-proof BBQ chicken recipe comes to you courtesy of Kristen Carli, registered dietitian and founder of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness in Scottsdale, Arizona. While this recipe is obviously for meat eaters, Carli also maintains a blog full of plant-based recipes over at Mostly Green, just an FYI for you or for all the vegetarians and vegans you know and love.

This particular recipe for barbecue chicken breasts does not require a lot of time or a lot of ingredients since you’ll be using store-bought BBQ sauce. Meal prep this chicken for a few days’ worth of lunches, or serve it up to a party of three for a simple but tasty dinner. Read on for more details on how to prepare this recipe to perfection.

Assemble the ingredients for this BBQ chicken recipe

BBQ chicken recipe ingredients on counter

It will take you all of five minutes to prepare this BBQ chicken recipe in the oven. You’ll need three chicken breasts (pound them out a little on a cutting board if you like a thinner cut of meat), salt, pepper, olive oil, and your favorite barbecue sauce.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chicken breasts on a rimmed baking sheet (or in a baking dish like you see in the photo here) and brush both sides with olive oil. Then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.

We always like to ask the recipe developer what their favorite brand is when the recipe calls for something broad like BBQ sauce. There are so many to pick from, and if this is your first foray into making BBQ chicken at home, it’s totally warranted to want a good recommendation for what to buy. Carli tells us, "I love using Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. It’s my favorite!"

Bake the chicken breasts for this BBQ chicken recipe

BBQ chicken recipe in enamel dish

When the oven is done preheating, put the seasoned chicken breasts in and bake them for 30 minutes, keeping in mind your own oven’s tendencies. Some ovens do cook faster or slower than others.

You may be wondering if this BBQ chicken recipe is applicable to other parts of the chicken. Perhaps you’re jonesing for some BBQ chicken thighs instead of the standard go-to breasts? There are plenty of dark meat enthusiasts out there, so you aren’t alone. Carli confirms, "You can sub wings and thighs, but cooking times would need to be altered. Less for wings, more for thighs."

Remove the chicken breasts from the oven and brush with sauce for this BBQ chicken recipe

BBQ chicken recipe brushed with BBQ sauce

After the chicken breasts have been in the oven for 30 minutes, it’s now time to slather on the barbecue sauce. Remove them (leaving the oven on) and use a pastry brush to spread the BBQ sauce across the top of the chicken breasts. There is no need to turn the chicken breasts over in order to coat both sides in this step. If you don’t have a pastry brush, you can use a spoon to scoop the sauce onto the breasts, then use the back of that spoon to smooth it across the top, making sure every visible inch of chicken is properly coated.

Return this BBQ chicken recipe to the oven

BBQ chicken recipe cooking

Once the BBQ sauce has been applied to the baked chicken breasts, return the dish or tray with this BBQ chicken recipe to the oven. You will cook the chicken for an additional 15 minutes, really letting that sauce soak into the meat and making sure the chicken is fully cooked through. It should be all white and no pink when you cut into it (which you probably already know).

Side note: It’s possible to make this same recipe in a slow cooker. Carli reassures us, "You can absolutely make it in the slow cooker too and shred it if you would rather have that texture. When you make it in the slow cooker, you can omit the oil." For three chicken breasts, it’d be roughly three hours on low in the slow cooker (and you can add the BBQ sauce in the final 30 minutes).

Serve this BBQ chicken recipe

BBQ chicken recipe completed

Congrats, your BBQ chicken is finished and ready to eat or get snapped into a meal prep container. The beauty of this BBQ chicken recipe is that it’s super versatile in terms of how you serve it up. It all depends on what you like to eat with barbecue-flavored things. For example, Carli suggests her slow cooker mac and cheese recipe as an excellent accompaniment to this BBQ chicken, but you could also do baked beans, collard greens, cornbread, or another form of mac and cheese. You pretty much can’t go wrong with any mac and cheese.

But if you want to keep it light, it will also taste great with a side of pretty much any roasted vegetable, corn on the cob, or on a bed of greens. Carli also told us, "I also actually served this on top of salad with ranch dressing, corn, and tomatoes for a little BBQ chicken salad." There you go, BBQ chicken salad in your kitchen, courtesy of you.