Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken
Yields: 6 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 15 Mins Cook Time: 6 Hr Total Time: 6 Hr 15 Mins

Savor the tantalizing flavors of slow-cooked BBQ pulled chicken, an irresistible dish perfect for any gathering or a cozy night in. Using simple ingredients and your trusty slow cooker, you can create a meal that’s both effortless and bursting with rich, smoky flavors. This recipe serves a crowd, making it an excellent choice for potlucks, family dinners, or meal prep for the week.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through each step to achieve the perfect BBQ-pulled chicken, with expert tips to enhance your cooking experience.

What is Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken?

Slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken is a delectable dish made by slow-cooking chicken breasts in barbecue sauce until they are incredibly tender and can be easily shredded. This method infuses the chicken with deep, smoky flavors, making it a favorite for sandwiches, salads, or as a hearty main course.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Effortless Cooking: Simply set your slow cooker in the morning and come home to a meal ready to be served.
  • Versatile Dish: Serve it in various ways, making it perfect for repurposing throughout the week.
  • Crowd-Pleaser: Loved by adults and children alike, it’s a guaranteed hit at any social gathering.

Ingredients Needed to Make Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

  • Chicken Breasts: About 2 pounds (or 0.9 kg), boneless and skinless work best.
  • BBQ Sauce: Use 1 cup (8 ounces) of your favorite brand to get that classic barbecue flavor.
  • Brown Sugar: Adds a hint of sweetness; 2 tablespoons are just enough.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 tablespoon to balance the sweetness with a bit of tang.
  • Garlic Powder: 1 teaspoon for a touch of sharp, aromatic flavor.
  • Onion Powder: Also 1 teaspoon, to enhance the overall savoriness of the dish.
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste, usually about 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper will suffice.

Equipment Needed

  • Slow Cooker: Essential for cooking the chicken over several hours.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurately measuring your ingredients.
  • Two Forks: For shredding the chicken once it’s cooked.

Instructions to Make Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

Step 1: Prepare the Chicken

Begin by placing the chicken breasts at the bottom of your slow cooker. Ensure they are spread out evenly to cook thoroughly.

Step 2: Mix the Sauce

In a separate bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Step 3: Add Sauce to Chicken

Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker, making sure to coat the chicken breasts completely.

Step 4: Set the Slow Cooker

Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it to cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. The goal is for the chicken to be tender enough to shred easily.

Step 5: Shred the Chicken

Once the chicken is cooked and tender, use two forks to shred it directly in the slow cooker. Stir the shredded chicken to ensure it’s well coated with the BBQ sauce.

Step 6: Serve or Store

Serve the BBQ pulled chicken immediately, or keep it in the ‘warm’ setting if you’re not ready to serve just yet.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe

What Do I Serve With Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken?

  • Fresh Coleslaw: A classic pairing, the crispness of coleslaw complements the tender, flavorful chicken perfectly.
  • Baked Beans: For a hearty and traditional side, baked beans offer a sweet and savory flavor that matches well.
  • Cornbread: Serve your BBQ pulled chicken with a side of warm, buttery cornbread for a comforting meal.
  • Over Rice: Spoon the pulled chicken over a bed of steamed rice to soak up the delicious sauce.
  • Inside Sandwiches: Stuff the pulled chicken into buns for delicious BBQ chicken sandwiches, ideal for lunches or casual dinners.

Pro Tips to Make Perfect Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

  • Choose the Right Cut: While chicken breast is leaner, chicken thighs can also be used for a juicier alternative.
  • Low and Slow: Opt for cooking on low heat to keep the chicken moist and tender.
  • Customize Your BBQ Sauce: Experiment with different types of BBQ sauce to find the flavor profile you love best.

Variations of Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

  • Spicy BBQ Chicken: Add a tablespoon of hot sauce or a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce for a kick.
  • Hawaiian Style: Mix in a half cup of pineapple juice and some chopped bell peppers for a tropical twist.
  • Root Beer BBQ Chicken: Substitute half of the BBQ sauce with root beer for a unique flavor with a slight tang and sweetness.

How do I Store Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Leftovers?

  • Refrigerate Promptly: Cool the BBQ pulled chicken quickly and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze for Longer Storage: For longer storage, freeze the pulled chicken in sealed containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Properly stored, it can last up to 3 months.

How do I Reheat Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Leftovers?

  • In the Microwave: For a quick method, place the pulled chicken in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • On the Stovetop: Reheat gently in a saucepan over medium heat, adding a splash of water or extra BBQ sauce to keep the chicken moist.
  • In the Oven: Spread the pulled chicken in a baking dish, cover with foil, and reheat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through.


Can I use frozen chicken breasts to make slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken?

Yes, you can use frozen chicken breasts in your slow cooker. However, it’s recommended to thaw them first to ensure even cooking and to prevent the slow cooker from staying too long at low temperatures, which could be unsafe.

How can I make my BBQ pulled chicken spicier?

To add more heat to your BBQ pulled chicken, incorporate spices like cayenne pepper, chopped jalapeños, or hot sauce into the sauce mixture. Start with a small amount, taste, and adjust according to your preference.

What are some healthy sides to serve with BBQ pulled chicken?

For healthier side options, consider serving your BBQ pulled chicken with sides like quinoa salad, steamed vegetables, or kale and apple salad. These sides provide nutritional balance and complement the flavors of the BBQ chicken.

Is it possible to overcook pulled chicken in a slow cooker?

Yes, it is possible to overcook chicken in a slow cooker, especially if left on the high setting for too long. Overcooked chicken can become dry and tough. To avoid this, keep an eye on the chicken and check for doneness near the end of the cooking time.

Final Words

This slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken recipe is not only delicious and easy to make but also versatile and sure to impress. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or just looking for simple meal prep ideas, this recipe provides a dependable and delightful option. Don’t hesitate to tweak the ingredients and cooking methods to suit your personal taste and make this dish uniquely yours. Enjoy the rich flavors and the convenience of this superb slow-cooked delight. Happy cooking!

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