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An easy dinner recipe comes to the rescue! Crockpot BBQ pulled chicken is a family-friendly meal that only requires about 5 minutes of prep. Serve it on a salad, stuff it in sandwiches, or wrap it in tortillas — the freezer-friendly, versatile pulled chicken appeals to just about everyone at the table. We love the sweet and savory pulled BBQ chicken recipe with cornbreadbiscuitsmac and cheesecollard greens, or coleslaw.

Close up side shot of a slow cooker bbq chicken sandwich on a tray.
Table of Contents
  1. How to Make Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken | 1-Minute Video
  2. Why You’ll Love this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
  3. Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken Ingredients
  4. How to Make Pulled BBQ Chicken in Crock Pot
  5. The Best Way to Shred Chicken
  6. What to Serve with Pulled BBQ Chicken
  7. How to Store Leftover BBQ Pulled Chicken
  8. Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Recipe Variations & Cook’s Tips
  9. Crockpot BBQ Chicken Recipe

If you’re looking for even more Crock Pot chicken recipes, try this Crock Pot chicken stew, slow cooker chicken and gravy, and Crock Pot garlic sesame brown sugar chicken, too!

How to Make Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken | 1-Minute Video

Why You’ll Love this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

  • Easy. This crockpot BBQ chicken recipe is one of my go-to dinner options on busy weeknights when I don’t have time to cook. All you need to do is dump the simple ingredients into the pot and go!
  • Bold Flavor. Some slow cooker dinners become watered down as a result of the condensation in the pot. Not here! The bbq sauce is thick, rich, zesty, and full of flavor.
  • Versatile. Serve the tender, juicy, fall-apart pulled BBQ chicken on a barbecue chicken sandwich, a cob salad, a taco, BBQ chicken nachos, or your favorite veggies and sides. You can even use the pulled chicken on a flatbread BBQ chicken pizza!
A woman pours a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce into a large crockpot.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for our favorite crock pot BBQ chicken recipe. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Barbecue sauce: I like a thick sauce for this dish (such as Sweet Baby Ray’s) so that it doesn’t get too watery and thin in the slow cooker. Feel free to use your favorite BBQ sauce.
  • Brown sugar: a dark brown sugar adds great molasses flavor, but light brown sugar will also be fine. This adds sweetness but also helps to thicken the sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: for umami flavor.
  • Apple cider vinegar: a tangy, bright addition that cuts through the sweet, rich meat.
  • Olive oil: for richness and a smooth, flavorful sauce.
  • Smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder: classic ingredients in our favorite dry rub BBQ seasoning. Adding extra spices to the slow cooker prevents the dish from tasting bland and watered down.
  • Chicken: you’ll need about 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs. The dark meat thighs tend to stay juicier over the long cooking time, but either option is great.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
A woman holds a plateful of raw chicken breasts on a plate over a large slow cooker. The chicken breasts are seasoned with salt and pepper.

How to Make Pulled BBQ Chicken in Crock Pot

This idea came from my sister-in-law, who made a similar dinner when we were visiting a couple of years ago. With many small children to keep track of, the crockpot BBQ chicken was an easy way to get a tasty, easy meal on the table without spending too much time in the kitchen.

It has a rich, sweet, and savory taste that can’t be beat. Jackie served the chicken with oven-roasted sweet potatoes and coleslaw from the deli, but it’s really versatile and pairs nicely with so many different sides.

Here are the quick steps to make this easy crockpot BBQ pulled chicken recipe: 

  • Whisk together the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, olive oil, and seasoning in a slow cooker.
  • Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Add the chicken to the Crock Pot and spoon some of the sauce over the meat.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours.
  • Remove the chicken to a cutting board or a large bowl and shred the meat with two forks.
  • Return the pulled chicken to the slow cooker, stir with the sauce, and then serve as BBQ chicken sandwiches or on its own!
Side shot of a bowl of crock pot pulled bbq chicken.

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 chicken the first time you prepare this easy recipe. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

The Best Way to Shred Chicken

There are a few easy ways to shred slow-cooked BBQ chicken. The first and most basic is with two forks. Slow-cooked, tender chicken will shred easily with forks. You can either shred the chicken right in the crockpot or remove it from the slow cooker and shred it in a bowl or on a cutting board.

Another easy way to shred chicken is with a hand mixer. Put the cooked chicken in a bowl and use the hand mixer on low speed. The mixers will make easy work of shredding the BBQ chicken. You can also use a stand mixer or a chicken shredder tool. It may seem kind of gimmicky, but it certainly works!

How long does it take to cook BBQ chicken in a slow cooker?

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.

In general, cooking chicken on low shouldn’t take longer than 6-7 hours, and cooking on high shouldn’t take longer than 3-4 hours. Again, variations like the thickness of the meat, if it’s thawed or frozen, and if there is more or less meat in the slow cooker will all affect the cooking time. Using a meat thermometer and testing the internal temperature periodically is the best way to monitor doneness. 

Do you need to put liquid in the slow cooker when cooking BBQ chicken?

No, with this recipe, you do not need additional liquid in the slow cooker! The BBQ sauce provides plenty of liquid. However, if you prefer your sauce to be thinner, add water or chicken broth into the crockpot with the chicken. Additionally, I recommend covering the bottom of the slow cooker with a spoonful of extra sauce, which will ensure all sides of the chicken are coated with sauce and will stay nice and moist.

What are the best toppings for BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches? 

There are tons of options — use your favorite toppings for customized flavors! Here are some popular options: 

  • Cheese like cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, or Monterrey jack cheese pair well with BBQ flavors. 
  • Vegetables like sliced red onions, pickles, jalapeno slices, or fried onions. 
  • Extra sauce. Drizzle with extra BBQ sauce, Italian dressing (adds a tangy zing), mustard, or mayo.
  • Coleslaw is a no-brainer. A creamy coleslaw adds tang and sweetness. A dry, vinegar-dressed coleslaw adds a delicious crunch.

What to Serve with Pulled BBQ Chicken

Pile the shredded chicken on hamburger buns, use it on pizza, nachos, tacos, salad, or offer the tender, flavorful meat on its own with your favorite side dishes. It’s also a great recipe to use for meal prep, as you can make a large batch at once and it stores well. Here are some easy options that go well with BBQ chicken:

Square side shot of crockpot bbq chicken sandwich.

How to Store Leftover BBQ Pulled Chicken

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

How to Freeze Pulled Chicken

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 Pulled Chicken

Place the cooked chicken and extra barbecue 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).

Crockpot bbq chicken sandwich on a wooden board.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Recipe Variations & Cook’s Tips

  • Use your favorite homemade BBQ sauce in this recipe rather than the store-bought version.
  • Add extra flavor, like a Hawaiian twist with crushed pineapple and juice, or a spicier version with chipotle and peppers.
  • Serving a larger group? Double all of the ingredients. (Keep in mind the capacity of your slow cooker.)
  • Make it spicy by adding some cayenne pepper to the spices.
  • Want to make pulled BBQ chicken in the Instant Pot? My root beer barbecue chicken recipe is my favorite way to cook chicken in an Instant Pot. 
  • Use either boneless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. We find that the dark meat thighs stay a bit juicier during the slow cooking process, but they are both great.
  • 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.
Overhead shot of a bowl of crock pot bbq chicken.

More Easy Crock Pot Chicken Recipes to Try

Square side shot of crockpot bbq chicken sandwich.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
0 minutes
Total: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 382 kcal
This easy meal is ready with about 5 minutes of prep! Crockpot BBQ pulled chicken is zesty and flavorful, perfect for pulled chicken sandwiches, nachos, tacos, and countless other easy-prep meals.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional, for serving: coleslaw, sandwich buns, pickles

Instructions

  • In a large slow cooker, whisk together the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder.
    Pouring bbq sauce into a slow cooker
  • Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Place the chicken in the slow cooker and spoon some of the sauce over top.
    Adding boneless skinless chicken breast to a slow cooker
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks. Stir the meat back into the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
    Overhead shot of a bowl of crock pot bbq chicken.

Video

Notes

  • Use your favorite homemade BBQ sauce in this recipe rather than the store-bought version.
  • Add extra flavor, like a Hawaiian twist with crushed pineapple and juice, or a spicier version with chipotle and peppers.
  • Serving a larger group? Double all of the ingredients. (Keep in mind the capacity of your slow cooker.)
  • Make it spicy by adding some cayenne pepper to the spices. 
  • Use either boneless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. We find that the dark meat thighs stay a bit juicier during the slow cooking process, but they are both great.
  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the chickenCalories: 382kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 33gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 1086mgPotassium: 824mgFiber: 1gSugar: 38gVitamin A: 665IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 51mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: bbq chicken recipe, crock pot chicken recipe, crockpot bbq chicken, pulled BBQ chicken in crock pot, slow cooker barbecue chicken
Course: Dinner
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. Trish - Mom On Timeout says:

    Love slow cooker meals Blair and this one looks fabulous – pinned!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Trish! I hope that you all love it!

      1. Sharon L Roberts says:

        I have a pork butt roast in the freezer would that work for this recipe? If so, I’m assuming would need to double bbq ingredients the roast weighs 3.83lbs.

        1. The Seasoned Mom says:

          It should work! You will likely need to adjust the cooking time a bit, and yes we would recommend doubling the ingredients.

  2. Rachel says:

    5 stars
    This was DELICIOUS. The best BBQ chicken I have ever made. I served this with your baked bean recipe and it was a huge hit!

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that, Rachel. Thank you!

  3. Donna says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious! It says to spoon “some” of the sauce over the chicken in the crockpot. What do you recommend doing with the rest of the sauce? Thank you!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Hi Donna,
      We’re so glad you enjoyed it! We love to save the rest of the sauce to serve on the side for those who prefer more sauce or as a dip.

  4. Tiffany Podlesni says:

    Going to make this for the Super Bowl looks super yummy! I see you note if you want to make spicy add cayenne. How much would you add to a single batch?

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      You can use as little or as much as you want, depending on how spicy you want your chicken! We recommend starting with 1 teaspoon, and adjusting it as needed.

  5. Jayme says:

    I have the worlds pickiest boyfriend. Made this for him after a long ER shift & he couldn’t get enough! New favorite here!! Thank you, Blair 🙂

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Amazing! I’m so happy to hear that!