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Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Date: May 15th 2022

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Easiest Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken! It’s made with tender flavorful chicken thighs, a simple spice rub, and robust store-bought sauces to save time. This chicken makes for the ultimate BBQ chicken sandwiches!


Sweet, savory, salty, smokey, tangy and with great depth of flavor. Here you get all the things you are looking for in homestyle BBQ pulled chicken and then some.

But no need to break out the grill or smoker. Here the crockpot does most of the work!

At the end you just shred (or in other words “pull”) the chicken into pieces and pile over (optionally) buttered and toasted hamburger buns. And if you want to make it extra delicious mound on the easiest coleslaw as well (with blue cheese if you’d like!).

To finish, pair it with a side of buttered corn (on the cob is best!), crisp potato chips, and sweet apple slices or fruit salad for a super easy summer inspired meal!

Photo: Ingredients used to make slow cooker barbecue chicken. Includes chicken thighs, bbq sauce, steak sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, buns, and yellow onion.

  • Chicken thighs: Use boneless skinless thighs. If you insist, chicken breasts will work too.
  • Chili powder: I use traditional chili powder but you can use another type like ancho chili powder.
  • Smoked paprika: If you don’t have smoked the standard sweet paprika will work too.
  • Garlic powder: 1 garlic clove will work in its place.
  • Cayenne pepper: Another hot spice such as red chili flakes or dried chipotle pepper can be used.
  • Salt and pepper: I like to use a fair amount of black pepper but you can adjust to taste.
  • Yellow onion: In a pinch, red onion will be fine.
  • BBQ sauce: My go-to store-bought brand is Bullseye original, but you can use another flavor you prefer. Just avoid those that are overly sweet or acidic.
  • Steak sauce: Recipe was tested with A1.
  • Hamburger buns: Large dinner rolls, subs, or hot dog buns work fine too. You could even use hearty white bread if that’s what you’ve got.

How to Make Pulled Barbecue Chicken in the Crockpot

  1. Add raw chicken to crockpot: Place chicken in 5 – 7 quart slow cooker.
  2. Mix spices: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
  3. Toss chicken with spice mixture: Pour spice mixture over chicken and add grated onion. Toss well to evenly coat chicken with spices.
  4. Add half BBQ sauce: Evenly pour 3/4 cup BBQ sauce over the chicken.
  5. Cook on low until heated through: Cover and cook on low heat 4 – 6 hours until chicken shreds easily and registers 165 degrees in center.
  6. Transfer chicken, reserve liquid: Transfer chicken to a cutting board, reserve liquid liquid from the slow cooker. Skim fat from the liquid and discard.
  7. Shred chicken: Shred chicken with two forks (I do it a little larger than I want it to end up because as you toss again in the next step it shreds up a bit on it’s own).
  8. Heat sauces: Return chicken to slow cooker. Heat remaining 3/4 cup BBQ sauce with 2 Tbsp steak sauce in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave until warm (about 1 – 2 minutes).
  9. Toss chicken with reserved liquid and sauces: Pour 3/4 cup of the reserved liquid and the BBQ sauce mixture over the chicken then toss to evenly coat. If you feel it needs a little more moisture you can add another splash of the reserved liquid, also season to taste with a little more salt if needed.
  10. Serve in buns: Serve the pulled bbq chicken in hamburger buns.

Can it be cooked on high setting?

  • Yes, the chicken can cook on high setting of slow cooker in about 2 1/2+ hours.
  • Just keep in mind it just won’t be quite as tender.
  • Low setting is highly recommend for best results

Photo: Collage of four images showing slow cooker bbq chicken after cooking, then shredding, followed by finishing with more sauce. Then last shows a completed pulled chicken sandwich.


Helpful BBQ Chicken Tips

  • For best bbq chicken, use chicken thighs. They are super tender, don’t overcook as easily and don’t end up with a dry, almost starchy-like texture.
  • Every slow cooker brand/model is a little different. My go-to slow cooker is this one and Crockpot is known for cooking high so this is usually is done in 4 hours. Other models may take an hour or so longer.
  • Test chicken internal temperature to 165 degrees for doneness.
  • Don’t forget to heat the sauce (the second addition). If you were to add it cold right from the fridge it will make for a cold sandwich. You can even add the shredded chicken back to the slow cooker with the sauce and let it cook on low for a little longer to serve very warm.
  • You can keep the shredded chicken on the warm setting of the crockpot for up to 2 hours.

Source: https://www.cookingclassy.com/crockpot-bbq-pulled-chicken/


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