Citrus Chipotle Chicken Legs


When I think 4th of July menu, the first thing that pops in my head is always some sort of barbeque. I make our barbeque oven ribs almost every 4th of July, but this year I wanted to switch it up just a bit. I am still using our favorite barbeque sauce and still avoiding the grill, but I swapped the ribs for chicken legs and added a sweet and spicy kick to the sauce. These citrus chipotle chicken legs are absolutely delicious, super simple to make, and are perfect for any summer get together.


For this you will need 12 chicken legs (skin on), your favorite barbeque sauce, a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 1 large orange, garlic, butter, cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.


Start by making the dry rub. This will give the chicken tons of flavor. I love this combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika- I use it on almost every chicken I make. Just combine the spices in a separate bowl and mix.


Place the chicken legs on a large baking sheet with sides. Season all sides with the dry rub and set aside while you make the citrus chipotle sauce. I just put some foil on the chicken and leave it on the counter top- cooking it at room temperature helps it to brown.


Start the citrus chipotle sauce by peeling 1 large orange. Be really careful to just get the rind and not the white part. I try to leave the rind in large pieces because you are going to remove it later.


Add the butter, 1 clove of garlic (which is just smashed with the back of my knife) and the orange rind to a small sauce pan.


Next, add in the juice of the orange.


Put the sauce on the stove over a medium/low flame and bring to a simmer. Let the sauce cook for about 5 minutes just to allow the garlic and orange flavor from the rind develop. After about 5 minutes, remove the sauce from the flame and remove the garlic and the orange rind.


Now add in the barbeque sauce


Next, add in all of the adobo sauce from the can of chipotle peppers. Then decide how spicy you want the sauce to be and start adding a few of the chipotle peppers. I added 3 and it had a medium spice level. Put the sauce back on the stove and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.


Remove 1/3 of the sauce and place in a separate bowl for the chicken. Leave the remaining 2/3rds of the sauce on the stove over a very low flame to keep warm for serving later.


Using a brush, coat all sides of the chicken legs with the citrus chipotle sauce.


Be careful not to get too much excess sauce on the pan and make sure to space out the chicken as much as possible so they are not touching each other. Pop the chicken in a 400 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes.


After 20 minutes, turn each leg over and add some more sauce. Put the chicken back in the oven and finish cooking for 20 minutes.


After 40 minutes total, the chicken is ready! If you want a little more color on it, you can pop it under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes.


Chop up some fresh cilantro


Top the chicken with the cilantro


Serve the remaining sauce (from the stove) on the side.



Citrus Chipotle Chicken Legs


  • 12 Chicken Legs
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Citrus Chipotle Sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 3 cups barbeque sauce
  • 11oz can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (use all of the sauce and 2-5 peppers)
  • Dry Rub
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Make the dry rub by combining the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika in a small bowl
  3. Place the chicken legs on a baking sheet and season all sides with the dry rub, set aside while you make the sauce
  4. Start the citrus chipotle sauce by peeling the orange (be careful to only get the rind and not the white part)
  5. Add the orange rind, butter and garlic clove to a small sauce pan
  6. Add in the juice of the orange and bring to a simmer over a medium/low flame (about 5 minutes)
  7. Remove sauce from the flame and remove the garlic and the orange rind
  8. Add the barbeque sauce and adobo sauce from the chipotle pepper can to the sauce
  9. Depending on the heat level you like, add in 2-5 chipotle peppers
  10. Stir and return to a medium flame until the sauce comes to a simmer
  11. Cook the sauce for about 15 minutes until it begins to thicken
  12. Remove the sauce from the heat and pour 1/3 of it into a separate bowl (to coat the chicken)
  13. Put the remainder of the sauce back on a very low flame to keep warm
  14. Brush all sides of the chicken legs with the sauce (be careful not to get excess sauce on the pan- it will burn)
  15. Bake the chicken legs for 20 minutes
  16. After 20 minutes, turn the legs over and add more sauce
  17. Finish cooking for another 20 minutes
  18. Top the chicken legs with fresh cilantro and serve the remaining sauce on the side
  19. Enjoy

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