Brown Sugar Chicken

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I’m always looking for new ways to jazz up basic chicken dinners. As much as I love a classic roasted chicken, it can get boring week after week. Recently, I had a craving for something sweet and savory with warm, complex flavors.

After tossing around ideas, I landed on baked chicken coated in a quick brown sugar and spice rub. The brown sugar beautifully caramelizes under the oven’s heat, forming an irresistible crispy glaze on the outside of juicy, tender chicken. One bite will have you amazed that such simple pantry ingredients can yield such incredible depth of flavor.

The rub takes just minutes to throw together and lets the chicken marinate while the oven preheats. In under half an hour, I have a brand new family favorite chicken dish that feels like a special occasion meal. Even my pickiest eaters approve!

Here’s my easy method for making this sweet and savory brown sugar baked chicken worthy of the highest praise.

Why You’ll Love Brown Sugar Baked Chicken

  • It transforms boring chicken into a flavor bombshell. The humble ingredients yield incredible baked chicken.
  • The prep work is super fast and easy. A quick mix-and-marinate is all these flavors need.
  • It makes the house smell insanely delicious. Baking brown sugar fills your kitchen with mouth watering aromas.
  • The flavor profile is unique and addicting. Sweet and savory with a subtle heat and herbaceous twist.
  • The texture combo can’t be beat. Crispy, caramelized exterior and moist, juicy meat.
  • It’s budget-friendly and family-friendly. Chicken dinners don’t get easier or more crowd-pleasing.


  • Pat chicken dry so the rub adheres properly for maximum flavor
  • Use bone-in chicken pieces for even more juiciness and deeper flavor
  • Mix up the dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, cumin, five spice, etc.
  • For extra crispy skin, broil for 1-2 minutes at the end
  • Bake in a foil-lined pan for easy cooking and clean-up
  • Brush chicken with maple syrup or honey for a lacquered finish
  • Serve pan juices as an easy au jus or gravy

The Ingredients

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

This easy recipe calls for simple boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Avoid using bone-in to reduce cooking time. Skinless is important as the skin prevents the marinade from penetrating the meat.

Brown Sugar

You’ll need 1/3 packed cup of regular brown sugar. Dark brown sugar would also work well for deeper molasses notes. The brown sugar is key for creating that rich sweet flavor with a slight crispy texture on top.

Olive Oil

Olive oil helps the spices coat the chicken evenly. Use 2 tablespoons – a flavorful extra virgin olive oil is nice.


Garlic adds a wonderful zing. Use 3 minced cloves – adjust to taste if you love lots of garlic flavor.

Paprika & Oregano

Smoked paprika adds warmth while dried oregano provides an aromatic, lemony kick. Use about 1 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon oregano.

How to Make Brown Sugar Baked Chicken

Step 1 – Preheat Oven & Prepare Pan

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a baking dish with parchment paper for easy cleanup.

Step 2 – Pat Chicken Dry

Pat the chicken breasts completely dry with paper towels. Removing excess moisture allows the marinade to really stick.

Step 3 – Make the Marinade

In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar, olive oil, minced garlic, paprika, oregano, salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional for heat).

Step 4 – Coat the Chicken

Place chicken in the bowl and rub the marinade all over both sides, coating evenly. For best results, let marinate 30 mins – 1 hour.

Step 5 – Bake

Place chicken in a prepared baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes until fully cooked (165°F internal temperature).

What to Serve with Brown Sugar Baked Chicken

  • Rice – White or brown rice
  • Roasted Potatoes – Crispy roasted potatoes are a perfect pairing.
  • Roasted Veggies – Try roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli.
  • Salad – Freshen up the meal with a nice green side salad.
  • Garlic Bread – Cheesy garlic bread soaks up the delicious juices.


  • Instead of brown sugar, use honey, maple syrup, agave, or apricot jam.
  • Switch up the herbs like rosemary, cilantro, basil, or sage.
  • For oil, try avocado, vegetable, canola, etc.
  • Rather than chicken breasts, make with chicken thighs.
  • For a gluten-free version, use tamari instead of soy sauce.


What sides go well with Brown Sugar Baked Chicken?

The sweet and savory chicken pairs nicely with rice, potatoes, vegetables, biscuits, pasta salad, and more.

Can I use frozen chicken breasts?

Yes, thaw them completely first and pat extremely dry. Bake until fully frozen for 30-35 minutes.

How long does the baked chicken keep leftovers?

Store leftovers for 3-4 days tightly sealed in the fridge. Reheat until piping hot.

What’s the minimum marinating time?

For pressed-on-time nights, the rub only needs about 10 minutes to impart decent flavor. 30-60 minutes is best for maximum infusion.

Can I make this recipe in advance?

Yes! Marinate up to 24 hrs ahead. Bake just before serving. The brown sugar rub also keeps 2 weeks refrigerated.

What if my chicken looks burnt on top?

The brown sugar can darken as it caramelizes but shouldn’t taste burnt if cooked properly. Lower oven 25°F next time.

Brown Sugar Chicken

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken
Servings: 4


  • Baking Dish - 9x13 inch glass or metal baking pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Mixing Bowl - For the marinade
  • Measuring Spoons & Cups
  • Knife & Cutting Board
  • Aluminum Foil (optional) - Can cover dish while chicken rests


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes optional


  • Preheat Oven to 375°F. Line a baking dish with parchment paper.
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
  • In a bowl, mix together brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, paprika, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (optional).
  • Rub marinade all over the chicken. Let sit for 30 mins - 1 hour if possible.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Let chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!