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Smothered Barbecued Chicken

My Smothered Barbecued Chicken recipe is sticky, juicy, tender chicken braised in your favorite barbecue sauce. It’s Southern comfort food at its best!

Finished chicken arranged on a white serving platter.

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I wonder how many people have ever heard of smothered chicken? In case you haven’t, it’s chicken that has been either deep fried or pan fried, then a gravy is made and the chicken is returned to the pan to “smother” in the gravy for an hour or so.

The chicken becomes so, so juicy and falling-off-the-bone tender. Really good old-fashioned comfort food.

Well, take that idea, and instead of the gravy, “smother” the chicken in barbecue sauce. Oh. my. goodness. Juicy, tender, rich, deep dark flavor.

By the end of the cooking time, the chicken and sauce have taken on a deep mahogany color and a sticky sweetness that children, especially, really like. Just be sure to put a bib on the little ones and have plenty of napkins for everyone!

Now, before I start the recipe, let me just clear up one thing about “barbecue.”

In some parts of the world, cooking outdoors over a flame is called a “barbecue.” In the South, that is called “grilling” or “grilling out.” In the South, barbecue is any meat that has been cooked and a barbecue sauce has been applied. It does not mean that the meat has been cooked outdoors on a grill, although it very well may have been. A steak cooked outdoors on a grill is a grilled steak, but not barbecued unless you have put some barbecue sauce on said steak. That all cleared up for you? Good.

❤️ Why We Love This Recipe


  • Succulent chicken that almost melts in your mouth.
  • Surprisingly easy to make!
  • A satisfying, heartwarming family favorite that all ages will like.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING …

One of the best BBQ chicken recipes out there. I always come back to this one. Always comes out juicy and delicious!
— Luke

🛒 Ingredient Notes


All ingredients needed to make this recipe.

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  • Frying Chicken: Have the butcher cut a small frying chicken into eight pieces for you. Or choose any combination of pieces that your family likes. You’ll need about 3 to 3.5 pounds of chicken.
  • Seasoned Salt: My favorite seasoned salt is Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt but you use whatever you enjoy.
  • Canola Oil and Butter: I typically follow the rule of “oil for heat; butter for flavor”  when pan frying.
  • Barbecue Sauce: Use your family’s favorite barbecue sauce, whether it’s smoky, sweet, or tangy. I always use our family barbecue sauce recipe that has been handed down for generations.

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make Smothered Barbecued Chicken


  1. Use paper towels to make sure the chicken is dry before beginning. A wet chicken will just sit in the pan and boil instead of getting nice and dark and crispy like we want for this recipe.
  2. Place the chicken on a cutting board or other washable surface. Sprinkle all sides liberally with seasoned salt.

👉 PRO TIP: I use only seasoned salt in this recipe, but do feel free to add a little black pepper if you like.

  1. Add the canola oil and butter to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Add the seasoned chicken, skin side down, and cook until a deep brown color forms. Turn the chicken oven and repeat on the other side.
  2. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and place them on paper toweling to drain. Pour off excess fat from the pan.
  1. Add all the chicken pieces back to the pan, nestling them in so that they all fit. Pour over the barbecue sauce.
  2. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the chicken is tender. Check frequently during the cooking time and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water if needed to prevent the barbecue sauce from burning, but not so much that the sauce thins out.
Finished chicken arranged on a white serving platter.
  1. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter and pour all the pan juices over the chicken.

⚠️ Troubleshooting Tips


Sauce Too Thick or Thin:
Advice: If the barbecue sauce becomes too thick during cooking, add a small amount of water (1/4 cup at a time) to thin it. If it becomes too thin, simmer uncovered for a few minutes to thicken it.

Sauce Too Sweet or Spicy:
Advice: If the sauce seems too sweet, balance it with a touch of vinegar or lemon juice. If it’s too spicy for you, add a small amount of sugar or honey to mellow the heat.

Chicken Sticking to Pan:
Advice: Make sure the skillet is heated and coated with the canola oil and butter before adding the chicken. If the chicken sticks, use a spatula to gently loosen it from the pan.

Burnt Sauce:
Advice: Burning can occur if the heat is too high. Reduce the heat to a low simmer after bringing the sauce to a boil. Check frequently and monitor the heat to prevent burning.

🔀 Recipe Variations


  • Give the recipe a spicy kick by adding some cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to the barbecue sauce.
  • Enhance the smoky flavor by adding a touch of liquid smoke to the sauce.
  • Brighten up the flavors with a teaspoon of lemon or orange zest.
Finished chicken arranged on a white serving platter.

🍽️ How to Serve


Smothered Barbecued Chicken pairs easily with any classic barbecue side dishes. Cool, crunchy coleslaw, hearty baked beans, macaroni salad, potato salad, and grilled corn all go well with this and other barbecue recipes. Add a fresh garden salad with a tangy lemon vinaigrette or a colorful fruit salad to balance the meal.

🍚 How to Store


Completely cooled leftovers may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, and used within 2-3 days. To freeze, transfer to a freezer-safe container and keep frozen for up to 2 months.

To reheat, place in a baking dish covered with foil and reheat in a low oven until warmed through. If reheating from frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

❓ Questions About Smothered Barbecued Chicken


What type of barbecue sauce works best?

Simply use your favorite store-bought bbq sauce or a homemade version if you have a favorite recipe. The choice of sauce is up to you—whether you like it sweet, smoky, or tangy.

Can I make this recipe in advance?

Absolutely! You can cook the recipe in advance and either hold it in a very low oven or refrigerate it and reheat it just before serving. 

How do I prevent the sauce from burning during simmering?

To prevent the barbecue sauce from burning, make sure there’s enough liquid in the pan. Check frequently and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water as needed during cooking, being careful not to dilute the sauce too much.

Lana Stuart.

More Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

Finished chicken arranged on a white serving platter.

Smothered Barbecued Chicken

My Smothered Barbecued Chicken recipe is juicy, tender chicken braised in barbecue sauce. It's Southern comfort food at its best!
5 from 5 votes
Print It Rate It Save Text It
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 759kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds frying chicken cut up
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt (recommend: Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • Use paper towels to make sure the chicken is dry before beginning.
  • Place the chicken on a plastic cutting board or other washable surface. Sprinkle all sides liberally with seasoned salt.
  • Add the canola oil and butter to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Add the seasoned chicken, skin side down, and cook until a deep brown color forms. Turn the chicken oven and repeat on the other side.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and place them on paper toweling to drain. Pour off excess fat from the pan.
  • Add all the chicken pieces back to the pan, nestling them in so that they all fit. Pour over the barbecue sauce.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the chicken is tender. Check frequently during the cooking time and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water if needed to prevent the barbecue sauce from burning, but not so much that the sauce thins out.
  • Arrange the chicken on a serving platter and pour all the pan juices over the chicken.

Notes

  • Completely cooled leftovers may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, and used within 2-3 days. To freeze, transfer to a freezer-safe container and keep frozen for up to 2 months.
  • To reheat, place in a baking dish covered with foil and reheat in a low oven until warmed through. If reheating from frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • May be prepared in advance and either held in a very low oven or refrigerated and reheated just before serving.

Nutrition Information

Calories 759kcal | Carbohydrates 58g | Protein 32g | Fat 44g | Saturated Fat 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat 8g | Monounsaturated Fat 18g | Trans Fat 1g | Cholesterol 153mg | Sodium 3427mg | Potassium 644mg | Fiber 1g | Sugar 48g | Vitamin A 899IU | Vitamin C 3mg | Calcium 70mg | Iron 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Smothered barbecued chicken with lemons on a white plate.

— This post was originally published on March 19, 2010. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

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16 Comments

  1. Treasa Whitley says:

    Hi Lana, I am thoroughly enjoying your recipes. I live in NC and am very familiar with so many of those recipes. While looking at the smothered barbecued chicken I went to know if you would mind sharing your family recipe for bbq sauce. The picture makes my mouth water. Thanks so much.

    1. That barbecue sauce is one recipe I’ve never shared. There’s not even a recipe for it! Maybe I’ll try to measure ingredients and actually write it down one of these days!

  2. 5 stars
    Yum! that’s all..thank you for recipe!

  3. One of the best BBQ chicken recipes out there. I always comes back to this one. Always comes out juicy and delicious!

  4. My mother used to make this when we were young 30 or 40 years ago. It has always been a family favorite. Make sure to do some mashed potatoes because the sauce is better on them than any gravy!

  5. My Mom made something similar to this when I was growing-up. She would fry the chicken, like you, then throw it in the slow cooker with the BBQ mixture. I loved it so much. I’ve asked her for the recipe, and she tells me what she remembers, but something doesn’t seem right about it. She can’t remember the BBQ sauce she used and that is probably one of the biggest defining components of it. :( Makes me so sad, I miss it so much!

  6. made this last night. It was OK. …chicken was very moist. Now to find a good bbq recipe haha. I will definitely be doing this again. thanks

  7. using my family’s decades old barbecue sauce recipe
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    No chance of getting a copy of that is there…..the recipe looks too good for KC masterpiece (?). Regardless, I cant wait to try this…thanks.

    1. Clive – You know, that barbecue sauce is probably the only recipe I have that I wouldn’t share. I wish I could because it’s soooo good, but I’m afraid that several generations of Taylors would turn over in their graves. Not to mention the reactions of the ones who are still “with us.” Just use whatever happens to be your favorite store-bought brand :-)

      1. I understand!

        Will let you know how it turned out. many thanks, your site is awesome

  8. Yum is all I can say!

  9. It looks delicious, I will have to try this….RaeDi

  10. I love how you clarified BBQ! ;) I think I should have been born and raised in the south. LOL. I love southern way of thinking!

  11. Thank you for the clarification as to the Southern distinction between barbecued and grilled. That one seems to really trip up transplants.

    It looks fabulous.

    Miss P

  12. jenn (Bread + Butter) says:

    I remember doing something similar once. I used my slow-cooker to make it. I’ve got a serious craving for chicken all of the sudden. :-D

  13. Barbecue Recipes says:

    Smothered Barbecued Chicken? Now, that sounds interesting! The ‘barbecue’ part got me going already, ‘smothered chicken’, hmmm, I got to try this!