Shaq's Crispy Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs Dinner Is A Winner

Shaquille O’Neal fans know barbecue chicken holds a special place in his heart, and not just on the plate. “During my time as an analyst on Inside the NBA, I’ve been known to issue ‘Barbecue Chicken Alerts’—that’s when a player is gonna smoke another player,” says O’Neal. “It’s a player who’s the truth, looking at his opponent like he’s something you can cook, roast and eat up all game.”

This recipe for Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs With Sweet Potato Bake, from his new cookbook, Shaq's Family Style, means business too. “When I say this is gonna be barbecue chicken, I mean it’s gonna be barbecue chicken—it’s gonna deliver when it counts,” he promises. And it does: His smoky-sweet DIY barbecue sauce acts as both a marinade and a glaze at the end to help the skin brown and crisp up deliciously. The sweet potato casserole would be a winner on any Thanksgiving table too.

Shaq's Recipes

[Reprinted from Shaq’s Family Style. Copyright © 2022 ABG Shaq, LLC. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Eva Kolenko. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House.]


  • 2½ cups ketchup

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

  • ¼ cup honey

  • ¼ cup chipotle chiles in adobo, minced

  • ¼ cup yellow mustard

  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

  • 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp onion powder

  • 12 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Chicken Thighs

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk first 11 ingredients. Place chicken in a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag (or 2 smaller ones). Add marinade. Seal bag; turn to coat chicken. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

  3. In a medium bowl, combine onion and oil; toss to coat. Spread onion on prepared baking sheet. Remove chicken from bag, allowing any excess marinade to drip back into the bag (reserve marinade). Place chicken skin-side up on top of onion in a single layer. Bake 35–45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F.

  4. Remove baking sheet from oven. Turn broiler on to high. Brush chicken with reserved marinade. Broil 3–5 minutes or until nicely browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Sweet Potatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Prick sweet potatoes with tines of a fork. Wrap each in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake 1 hour or until very soft when pierced with a knife or fork. Let stand until cool enough to handle (keep oven on).

  3. Peel sweet potatoes; discard skins. In a large bowl, combine flesh, ¾ cup brown sugar, orange zest and juice, and melted butter. Lightly coat a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Scrape sweet potato mixture into casserole.

  4. In a medium bowl, place pecans, oats, flour, remaining ½ cup brown sugar, cold cubed butter, cinnamon, salt and ginger. Use your hands to combine, working in butter until mixture is uniform and crumbly. Spread pecan mixture over sweet potatoes. Bake, uncovered, 40 minutes or until hot all the way through and topping is browned. Cover with foil to keep warm. Serve with chicken thighs.