Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken is over-the-top flavorful and guaranteed to be a family favorite! This easy recipe is chicken thighs simmered in the Crockpot with a tasty homemade BBQ sauce until tender. Shred the chicken, then serve it piled on toasted Brioche buns with coleslaw, over a salad, stuffed in a taco, baked potato or in a wrap. The options are endless!
This is the best recipe I have found for chicken in the slow cooker. And the tip for using your stand mixer to shred it is so good! It worked perfectly. All of your tips and suggestions are great, thank you for sharing.— Imsen
You guys are LOVING my slow cooker pulled pork recipe, so I had to come up with an equally delicious slow cooker pulled chicken recipe. After a bit of trial and error, we’ve got a winner! You guys are going to want to add this dish to your regular meal rotation!
It’s the perfect meal for those days when I know I’m going to be really busy. It has just a handful of ingredients, is a breeze to throw together, can be eaten in so many different ways, and it’s a total crowd pleaser. I know your families are going to enjoy this slow cooker BBQ chicken just as much as mine does!
These are all items, you probably already have in your kitchen. They’re so easy to just throw in the slow cooker before lunch and have a great dinner all set and ready!
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs. I highly recommend using chicken thighs for this recipe. The thighs stay juicy and succulent, shred easily, and absorb the sauce nicely. Chicken breasts tend to dry out quickly and won’t absorb the sauce as well.
- Ketchup. Any brand works! We love Heinz® ketchup (not sponsored).
- Dark brown sugar. Light or dark brown sugar will work. Personally, though, I think dark brown sugar gives this chicken the most flavor.
- Worcestershire sauce. This ingredient adds to the depth of flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar. The vinegar helps to balance the sweet and savory blend of the sauce.
- Yellow mustard. The tang from the mustard is the perfect compliment to the sweetness of the sauce.
- Spices. We’re adding garlic salt and a small amount of cayenne pepper for even more delicious flavor.
How to make this recipe
This pulled chicken recipe is so super simple! Below, you’ll find a rundown of the basic instructions and then you can find the full, printable recipe at the bottom of the page.
- Pre-cook chicken. Brown the chicken for four minutes on each side in about one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. This is an extra step, but it’s so worth it for the most flavorful pulled chicken
- Make the sauce. Stir together all of sauce ingredients to make the homemade barbecue sauce that’s SO tasty!
- Slow cook. Place chicken in the slow cooker and pour the homemade sauce evenly over the top of the chicken. Cover and cook on high for one hour. Reduce heat to low, and cook five to six hours. If you won’t be able to adjust the temperature setting after one hour, simply cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Pull chicken. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the slow cooker using a slotted spoon and place it onto a cutting board. Using two forks, pull apart each chicken thigh until your chicken is fully shredded. Add the shredded chicken back to the slow cooker and stir it into the sauce.
- Serve. Pile shredded chicken on buns to enjoy as a chicken sandwich or enjoy another preferred way!
Frequently asked questions
Yes, it is possible to overcook chicken in the slow cooker. If the meat is cooked too long it could end up dry and not juicy and tender. See the recommended times in the recipe card for juicy results.
Yes! The terms pulled chicken and shredded chicken are used interchangeably.
Yes, you can put raw chicken in a slow cooker! Slow cookers and Crock-Pots are designed to cook raw meats. The direct heat from the pot, lengthy cooking time and steam created from the tightly covered container destroys bacteria, making slow cooking safe. You can put frozen chicken in a slow cooker, too!
There are so many ways to make this pulled chicken recipe into a meal! Here are some of my family’s favorites:
- Sandwiches. Add a generous scoop of coleslaw right on top of the meat, top with a toasted Brioche bun, and dig in!
- Main course. Serve with a variety of sides, like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, potato salad, deviled eggs, beans or whatever other sides you have available.
- Stuffed potatoes. One of my favorites! Roast up some russet potatoes or sweet potatoes and stuff them with the pulled chicken. You can add shredded cheddar cheese or whatever other toppings you like.
- Salad. For a lighter meal option, make a BBQ chicken salad.
- Nachos. Use leftover chicken to make BBQ chicken nachos along with cheese and other toppings.
- Pizza. Make your own pizza with leftover meat, extra BBQ sauce, shredded cheese, and other toppings.
Even though this pulled chicken recipe is really quite simple, here are a few tips for best results.
- Browning the chicken thighs is optional, but it brings a lot of extra flavor to the recipe. If you have the time, I recommend it.
- To shred the chicken super quick, add it to a large bowl and use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer to shred it.
- This recipe feeds about 4 adults. If you are feeding a crowd, you can easily double or triple the recipe.
- Meal prep ahead of time! I love having this on hand in the fridge because it’s so versatile and makes weeknight meals a cinch.
Store, freeze & reheat
- Storage. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container or bag and kept in the refrigerator for up to about 4 days.
- Freezing. Allow the pulled chicken to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer safe bag or container. It will stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Reheating. To reheat, you can place it in the crock pot and place it on “warm” to warm it back up. Alternatively, you can simply reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Once you try this easy crockpot BBQ chicken, you’ll be making it on repeat! With a handful of basic ingredients, this chicken dish is quick to put together and is a hit with both kids and adults.
If you try this, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 hamburger buns
- homemade coleslaw (can also used store-bought bagged coleslaw
- Brown chicken for four minutes on each side in one tablespoon of hot oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.** Remove from heat and place in a slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, combine ketchup and next six ingredients for the BBQ sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
- Cover and cook on high for one hour. Reduce heat to low, and cook five to six hours. Alternatively, if you won’t be able to adjust the temperature setting after one hour, simply cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Remove chicken from sauce and then shred it on a large cutting board or plate, using two forks or your hands. Stir shredded chicken into the sauce. Spoon mixture onto buns with coleslaw, serve over a salad, or baked potato… the options are endless!
- Storage. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight bag or container and kept in the refrigerator for up to about 4 days.
- Freezing. Allow to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer safe bag or container. It will stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Reheating. To reheat the leftover chicken, you can place it in the slow cooker and place it on “warm” to warm it back up. Alternatively, you can simply reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Did you make this recipe?
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This is the best recipe I have found for chicken in the slow cooker. And the tip for using your stand mixer to shred it is so good! It worked perfectly. All of your tips and suggestions are great, thank you for sharing.
Awesome! So happy that you love this recipe! Thanks for your feedback.
This turned out so good! The chicken was juicy and flavorful. Will definitely make again!