Crockpot BBQ Chicken
Crockpot BBQ Chicken is the easiest pulled chicken you’ll ever make, and quite possibly the most delicious. The slow cooker guarantees tender, easy-to-shred meat, while the sauce is sweet, tangy, and irresistible.
Serve this BBQ chicken on sandwiches, in tacos, in wraps, on pizza, or in bowls. It’s so simple and easy to make ahead, perfect for easy family dinners or feeding a crowd.
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Once you realize how easy it is to make pulled chicken in your slow cooker, you might find yourself asking how often is too often to enjoy it. I say, personally, the limit does not exist. 😉
Why You’ll Love It
- Dump and Go. I normally cringe at the term “dump” recipe, but with two little kids and a raft of sports and other events to manage myself, I totally understand the concept’s appeal. This recipe absolutely fits the bill. Everything goes in the crockpot in the morning, you shred the meat at your convenience, and that’s all there is to it.
- Tender and Moist. Slow cooking results in reliably tender meat, because the lower temperatures break down the muscle fibers, while the moisture of the sauce prevents the meat from drying out. Food science for the win!
- Insane Flavor. Use your favorite BBQ sauce for this, then add a few extras from your pantry to take it from good to great.
- Crazy Convenient. Once the meat is shredded, it’s easy to keep warm in the slow cooker for several hours. It won’t dry out and will actually just get more flavorful. This makes this meal perfect for any kind of event when you want to have food ready, waiting, and kept warm for guests to eat at their leisure.
Ingredients & Common Substitutions
- Chicken. I like to use boneless, skinless breasts. You could use chicken thighs, as well, though the cooking time will be longer. Bone-in chicken should also work, but would be more work to shred at the end.
- BBQ Sauce. Our favorite lately is Trader Joe’s Kansas City-style sauce. Use any you like!
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Thins out the sauce a bit for cooking, and adds a bit of extra tang.
- Brown Sugar. A little extra sweetness goes a long way, and the molasses in brown sugar adds that “little something” that keeps everyone coming back for more.
- Sea Salt and Garlic Powder. If you don’t have sea salt, you can use table salt, but cut the amount in half. You can also use fresh minced or grated garlic, though I find garlic powder to taste the same here and be more convenient.
You’ll also add a bit of water to thin out the sauce a bit more. If you prefer, you can use chicken broth instead.
You can also add a bit of finely chopped onion — red, sweet, or yellow — or onion powder, if that suits you.
How To Make Crockpot BBQ Chicken
The simplicity of this recipe cannot be beat. You’ll simply stir the BBQ sauce, vinegar, water, brown sugar, and seasonings together in the bowl of a slow cooker, then nestle in the chicken breasts.
They should cook for approximately 2-3 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low. For the most tender results, I recommend the longer cooking time on low if you have time.
When the meat is cooked through, you simply need to shred it into bite-sized pieces as shown here:
How To Shred Chicken
Shredding chicken and other meats used to intimidate me, but now that I realize how easy it is, making things like pulled chicken or pork is very approachable. The simplest way to shred chicken is by using two forks: one to hold the chicken breast in place, while the other, in your dominant hand, literally pulls small pieces off one at a time.
If the meat is cooked properly, it should be very tender and this will be very easy to do. You might need to try pulling at the chicken in a couple of places to find the direction where it’s easiest to get those long shreds. Once you get it, you can probably shred a full chicken breast in less than a minute.
I find it easiest to remove the chicken from the crockpot and do this on a cutting board, but if you can get a good angle and do it inside the crockpot, go for it!
An alternative way to shred chicken is to place the cooked breast into the bowl of your stand mixer and run it on low speed. I find this creates slightly smaller pieces than I prefer for this BBQ chicken, but it is a very quick and easy method.
What Size Slow Cooker To Use
I make this in my 6-quart Crockpot, which has a ton of room — enough that you could make a double batch with no problem. Keep in mind, though, that if you doubled the recipe, you’d most likely need more cooking time.
How To Serve It
Our go-to way of enjoying this BBQ chicken is in sandwiches with some cabbage or slaw. Bonus points for homemade burger buns! It’s also delicious in wraps, tacos, or bowls, and when you have just a little bit left, it makes a fun pizza topping.
For a picnic, potluck, or party, serve this chicken straight out of the crockpot. After you shred the meat, it keeps wonderfully inside the slow cooker for several hours on the “keep warm” function, so you can have it all ready to go, with sandwich fixings and sides set up nearby. Think corn-on-the-cob, pickles, chips, a simple salad.
Storage & Freezing
Crockpot BBQ chicken keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 4-5 days. You also can freeze it, tightly-sealed in any freezer-safe container, for 3-4 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then warm in the microwave or on the stove over medium-low heat. It will be just as juicy and delicious as when first made.
More Easy Crockpot Recipes
- Crockpot Beef Barbacoa
- Creamy Crockpot Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Skinny Crockpot Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Crockpot Honey Apple Butter
If you try this Crockpot BBQ Chicken, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Crockpot BBQ Chicken
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt see note
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- In the bottom of a slow cooker, combine barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, water, brown sugar, sea salt, and garlic powder. Stir well to combine.
- Nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce, turning to be sure they are fully coated. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours, until the chicken is very tender and easy to pull apart with two forks.
- Shred chicken. You can do this either inside the crockpot, or by removing the chicken to a cutting board. (I usually find it easier to remove it.) Return shredded chicken to the crockpot and stir well; serve right away, or leave on the slow cooker’s keep warm setting for up to 2-3 hours.
- Serve in sandwiches, wraps, bowls, salads, as you like.
- Amounts: This recipe is flexible. I’d use the same amount of sauce for up to roughly 2 pounds of chicken, and increase the amount of sauce beyond that.
- Salt: If using regular table salt, reduce the amount to 1/2 teaspoon.