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Tender, juicy, savory, and sweet — this Coca Cola chicken is an easy lunch or dinner option for the slow cooker. Serve it on sandwich buns with a side of coleslaw, stuff it in baked potatoes, pile it on rice or mashed potatoes, or pair it alongside biscuits and cornbread!

Close up front shot of crock pot coca cola chicken in a bowl with sandwich buns and potato chips and salad on the side
Table of Contents
  1. What does Coca Cola chicken taste like?
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to Cook Chicken with Coca Cola
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Storage
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Coca Cola Chicken Recipe
  8. Crock Pot Coca Cola Chicken Recipe

Crock Pot Coca Cola chicken is an easy and affordable dinner, so it’s ideal for busy days when you don’t have the time or attention to tend to a more high-maintenance smoker or grill. With just a few minutes of prep, you can have a big batch of tender, juicy meat to use in tacos, sandwiches, wraps, or salads all week long.

What does Coca Cola chicken taste like?

Coca cola chicken tastes like succulent and juicy pulled bbq chicken — with a flavorful punch! You’ll love the taste of the sweet and zesty bbq rub, the tender meat, and the richly flavored Coca Cola bbq sauce! It’s sweet, tangy, savory, and a little bit spicy.

Close up side shot of a crock pot coca cola chicken sandwich on a plate with coleslaw on top

Why do people put Coke on chicken?

Especially in the South, folks love to add Coca Cola to just about anything — from savory pot roasts to chocolate cakes! Here, the Coke serves two primary purposes: it tenderizes the meat, and it adds flavor to the dish. Other carbonated sodas will also do the trick, so pick your favorite. Diet Coke, Pepsi, root beer, and Dr. Pepper all work fine!

Adding chicken with bbq rub to a slow cooker

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for Coca Cola chicken in the slow cooker. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Chicken: I prefer boneless skinless chicken thighs for the Crock Pot, since they tend to stay juicer and more tender than white meat. That said, you can use an equal amount of boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you prefer.
  • BBQ rub: we use this simple homemade dry rub, which is a combination of onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, and kosher salt. It’s slightly sweet and zesty, but not too spicy. You can substitute with your favorite store-bought rub.
  • Onions and garlic: for savory flavor.
  • Coca-Cola: tenderizes and flavors the meat. Use another soda like Diet Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or root beer if you prefer.
  • Barbecue sauce: pick your favorite thick, rich sauce. I use Sweet Baby Ray’s brand for this dish.
Process shot showing how to make crock pot coca cola chicken

How to Cook Chicken with Coca Cola

It doesn’t get much easier than a Crock Pot chicken recipe with just 10 minutes of prep! Everyone will wonder about the secret ingredient, as the aroma wafts through the house all afternoon. I’ve included the full directions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, but here’s your quick version:

  1. Arrange the onion and garlic in the bowl of a slow cooker.
  2. Season the chicken with plenty of bbq rub, and then place it on top of the onions.
  3. Pour in the Coke, bbq sauce, and salt.
  4. Cover and cook until the chicken is fall-apart tender and shreds easily with two forks.
Overhead image of a bowl of crock pot coca cola chicken on a dinner table

Can you overcook chicken in a slow cooker?

Yes, chicken that’s cooked for too long in the Crock Pot will become dry and tough. Since every slow cooker runs at a slightly different temperature, it’s important to keep an eye on your meat the first time you prepare this recipe. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. This typically requires 2-3 hours on HIGH, or about 4-6 hours on LOW.

Square side shot of a crock pot coca cola chicken sandwich on a plate with pickles and potato chips

Serving Suggestions

Pile the shredded chicken on sandwich buns, use it on pizza, nachos, tacos, salad, or offer the tender, flavorful meat on its own with your favorite side dishes. Here are some easy options that go well with bbq coca cola chicken:

A table full of coca cola chicken with sides

Storage

Leftover Coca-Cola chicken will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

How to Freeze

To extend the life of your pulled chicken, store the leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

You can also freeze the raw ingredients together in a large Ziploc freezer bag if you’re prepping a batch of freezer meals. Thaw the bag in the refrigerator overnight, and then dump everything from the bag into a slow cooker when you’re ready to cook the meat.

How to Reheat

Place the cooked chicken and sauce in a saucepan on the stovetop. Cover with a lid and warm over low heat, just until the meat reaches the desired temperature (stirring regularly).

Coca cola chicken sandwich on a plate with sides in the background

Recipe Variations

  • Use your favorite homemade bbq sauce in this recipe rather than the store-bought version.
  • Serving a larger group? Double all of the ingredients.
  • Make it spicy by adding some cayenne to the bbq rub. You can also feel free to add other spices to your seasoning blend, including a touch of ginger or even some star anise.
  • Swap out the Coca-Cola and use Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, root beer, or Pepsi instead.
  • For a touch of salty umami flavor, add some Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.
Square overhead shot of a bowl of coca cola chicken

Tips for the Best Coca Cola Chicken Recipe

  • Adjust the amount of bbq dry rub to suit your taste. I know that ¼ cup sounds like a lot (and it is), but remember that you have a lot of meat to season. The flavor will also be diluted by the condensation in the slow cooker, as well as the Coca Cola and other cooking liquid. Crock Pot meals require a lot of seasoning so that they don’t taste watered-down.
  • Use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs. We find that the dark meat thighs stay juicier during the slow cooking process, but either works.
  • Pick a thick store-bought barbecue sauce, which won’t get too watered down and thin in the Crock Pot. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s brand for this dish.
  • Be careful not to overcook your chicken. I find that the chicken breast or thighs have the best texture when cooked in my slow cooker on HIGH for about 2-3 hours (at the most — sometimes they’re done in just 90 minutes). That keeps them moist and juicy, and prevents them from drying out. The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Also remember — every slow cooker runs at a slightly different temperature (which is why the recipe gives you general time ranges, rather than exact times). Since my slow cooker tends to cook at a relatively high temperature, I find that the meal is best when cooked on HIGH for about 2 hours or on LOW for about 4 hours. Just get familiar with your pot and adjust accordingly.
Sandwich made with coca cola chicken and coleslaw

More Crock Pot Chicken Recipes

Square overhead shot of a bowl of coca cola chicken

Crock Pot Coca Cola Chicken

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 421 kcal
Tender, juicy, savory, and sweet — this Coca Cola chicken is an easy slow cooker dinner with just 10 minutes of prep!

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs (or sub with boneless skinless chicken breast)
  • ¼ cup homemade barbecue rub (or store-bought brand of choice)
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 (12 ounce) can Coca-Cola
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving
  • Optional, for serving: chopped fresh parsley; sandwich rolls; coleslaw; cooked rice; noodles; mashed potatoes; baked potatoes; biscuits or cornbread

Instructions

  • Place the onion and garlic in the bottom of a slow cooker.
    Adding onions and garlic to a slow cooker
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels; season liberally with barbecue rub on all sides. Nestle the chicken in the slow cooker on top of the onions.
    Adding chicken with bbq rub to a slow cooker
  • Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt, Coca-Cola, and barbecue sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
    Process shot showing how to make crock pot coca cola chicken
  • Shred the chicken with two forks. Stir the meat back into the sauce. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or chopped scallions, drizzle with additional barbecue sauce, and serve on sandwich rolls with coleslaw; over rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes; tucked inside baked potatoes; or with biscuits or cornbread.
    Square overhead shot of a bowl of coca cola chicken

Notes

  • Adjust the amount of bbq dry rub to suit your taste. I know that ¼ cup sounds like a lot (and it is), but remember that you have a lot of meat to season. The flavor will also be diluted by the condensation in the slow cooker, as well as the Coca Cola and other cooking liquid. Crock Pot meals require a lot of seasoning so that they don’t taste watered-down.
  • Use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs. We find that the dark meat thighs stay juicier during the slow cooking process, but either works.
  • Pick a thick store-bought barbecue sauce, which won’t get too watered down and thin in the Crock Pot. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s brand for this dish.
  • Be careful not to overcook your chicken. I find that the chicken breast or thighs have the best texture when cooked in my slow cooker on HIGH for about 2-3 hours (at the most — sometimes they’re done in just 90 minutes). That keeps them moist and juicy, and prevents them from drying out. The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Also remember — every slow cooker runs at a slightly different temperature (which is why the recipe gives you general time ranges, rather than exact times). Since my slow cooker tends to cook at a relatively high temperature, I find that the meal is best when cooked on HIGH for about 2 hours or on LOW for about 4 hours. Just get familiar with your pot and adjust accordingly.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the chicken and sauceCalories: 421kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 46gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 700mgPotassium: 796mgFiber: 2gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 422IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 148mgIron: 6mg
Keyword: chicken coca cola, chicken in coca cola, coca cola chicken, coca cola chicken slow cooker
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. crystal says:

    Hi. I was wondering what was put over your crock pot coca cola chicken? In the picture the closest thing I could find you had was the fennel salad with apples and creamy apple cider dressing. If its not what is served over it would you mind giving me the description of what it is. Id appreciate it. Thanks.

      1. Crystal says:

        Thank you so much!!! That’s very helpful. I’m making the chicken tonight so far it’s coming out great!

        1. The Seasoned Mom says:

          We’re so happy to hear this, Crystal! We hope you enjoy it!