Cast Iron Chicken Legs with Vinegar Slaw & Low-Sugar BBQ Sauce

Elevate the classic chicken skillet with this smoky homemade BBQ sauce that adds flavor without going overboard on sugar.

Serves 4


For low-sugar BBQ sauce:

  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot)
  • 1 cup water

For vinegar slaw:

  • 16-ounce bag shredded cabbage mix
  • ¼ cup sauerkraut
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, sliced super thin
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, sliced super thin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper, to taste

For chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon tajin seasoning
  • 8 chicken legs, bone-in, skin-on, patted dry
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup low-sugar barbecue sauce, such as Sweet Baby Ray’s brand or from scratch
  • ½ cup chipotle pepper sauce
  • ¼ cup Cholula hot sauce
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken stock


  1. Combine all sauce ingredients and let simmer 1 hour.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss together all slaw ingredients. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving or make up to 2 days ahead and store in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat your cast iron skillet over low heat. While your skillet is slowly heating, prepare chicken. Mix 2 tablespoons salt and tajin in a small bowl and rub over dry chicken legs.
  4. Turn up your skillet to medium-high heat and add olive oil. Sear your chicken, fattest side down, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with vinegar and turn down heat to medium-low, letting the vinegar almost completely reduce, 3–5 minutes.
  5. Add barbecue sauce, chipotle sauce, hot sauce and chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook, turning chicken frequently to coat it in the sauce. Let simmer for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Season with salt and enjoy immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.