Chicken is one of the most beloved cuts of meat to barbecue, coming behind only steak and burgers, according to , and it's no wonder why. Before you take a bite of grilled barbecue chicken, you're first met with its signature scent — a smoky, sweet, and saucy aroma. After you're lured in by that wonderful smell, you grab one of those glazed BBQ drumsticks, thighs, or wings, and bite into the tender, succulent meat accompanied by the tangy sweetness of the sauce. However, nothing is as lackluster as a soggy bite of chicken — everyone loves a crispy skin paired with the tender, juicy meat within, after all. So how do you achieve that perfectly crispy chicken skin, you ask?
You can , but to specifically achieve crispy skin on barbecue chicken, pivot in your cooking process when making this dish. Instead of cooking, flipping, and basting your barbecue chicken on a grill, simply opt for roasting the chicken in the oven and cooking the chicken and barbecue sauce separately. Not only does cooking the chicken on its own result in much crispier chicken skin, but it also makes for a much more efficient cooking process.
When grilling barbecue chicken, you must slowly and steadily grill one side of the chicken at a time at high heat, hoping for it not to burn as you glaze it with sauce. This can be a lengthy process. Alternatively, when you roast barbecue chicken in the oven sans sauce, you allow the chicken to bake at a consistent medium heat temperature that cooks it evenly on all sides, all at once, ensuring an extra crispy texture. This is just one of the many benefits of using an versus cooking on the grill.
Not only will the uninterrupted cooking temperature give you crispy chicken skin, but you'll also save yourself cooking time by not having to constantly interrupt the roasting of the chicken to apply BBQ sauce. In this oven-roasting scenario, your barbecue sauce will be sitting on the stovetop waiting to be basted onto the chicken once it's done cooking and crisping up. Since you've now got some time to focus your attention elsewhere as your chicken roasts in the oven and your sauce simmers on the stove, you can whip up some other dishes that pair well with your barbecue chicken.
There are tons of classic barbecue chicken and side dish combinations, so no matter what you pair your chicken with, it's hard to go wrong. One classic dish you can start with is a bowl of baked beans, which is a staple of outdoor barbecues. Baked beans often have a slightly sweet flavor that offers a nice contrast to every bite you take of your charred barbecue meat. To further balance out the smokiness of that lightly burnt chicken, pair it with a creamy mayo-based coleslaw or a tangy vinegar-based slaw.
In addition to balancing the flavor of barbecue chicken with a side dish, you also want a nice contrast to the blistered texture of the chicken as well. The silky smooth creaminess of mac and cheese can do the job here, so use those leftovers to make some . Additionally, the buttery, fluffiness of cornbread — another common dish at outdoor barbecues — also provides a soothing textural contrast to the scorched skin of your barbecue chicken.
Once you've selected your side dishes, you'll be ready to choose a complementary dessert that you can enjoy after devouring those smoky barbecue flavors. Since your barbecue chicken will be a savory meal, sweeten up your palate with the softness of corn pudding. For a healthier option, try fruit salad. The sweet and sour flavors of the fruit salad offer a nice contrast to the smokiness of the chicken. Once you've chosen the best side dish and dessert to pair with your barbecue chicken, enjoy your flavorfully balanced meal — crispy skin and all.