Easy Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken

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This Easy Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken is made with simple ingredients, but packed full of delicious flavor! There are so many ways to serve it and for us, it’s a go-to dinner option on busy weeknights! It’s also an easy meal to whip up for parties and family gatherings.

Looking for more easy chicken recipes? Try my Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs, this One Pan Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi, or this Creamy Chicken and Mashed Potatoes.

Slow cooker pulled chicken in the crockpot with a wooden spoon.

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • EASY BREEZY- With only a few minutes of prep, this meal is virtually hands-off!
  • FAMILY FRIENDLY MEAL– This delicious meal will be loved by the whole family! My kids love piling the chicken onto sweet Hawaiian rolls!
  • GREAT FOR ENTERTAINING – Easy way to feed your guests at large gatherings.
  • SUPER VERSATILE – There are SO many ways to enjoy this simple recipe! Scroll down to the “Your Questions Answered” section where I give you five of my favorite ways to enjoy it!

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Easy BBQ Chicken in the Crockpot:

Ingredients needed to make this easy crockpot pulled chicken.

INGREDIENT NOTES

BBQ Sauce: Use a sauce you love! My all-tine faves are Sweet Baby Ray’s (available pretty much everywhere), and Kinders (available on Amazon).

Garlic: I love using fresh garlic, but jarred, minced garlic is a quick and easy option.

Vinegar: Balsamic vinegar gives such a rich color and flavor to the chicken, but feel free to use apple cider vinegar or whatever you have on hand.

HOW TO MAKE EASY CROCKPOT BBQ PULLED C CHICKEN: STEP-BY-STEP

Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the full printable recipe card below!

Step 1: In a medium bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Set aside.

Then, in the bottom of your slow cooker, place chicken breasts, sliced onions, and minced garlic.

Seasoned chicken breasts in the crockpot with onions and garlic before being cooked.

Step 2: Pour BBQ sauce mixture over the top of the chicken.

Chicken breasts in the crockpot with BBQ sauce before being slow cooked.

Step 3: Cook the chicken on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 160-165°F and is fall apart tender (easily shreds with a fork).

Easy slow cooker pulled chicken in the crockpot before being shredded.

Step 4: Carefully remove the chicken breasts from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board or in a large bowl. Using two forks, shred the chicken. You can also shred the chicken right in the slow cooker, if you like!

Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir to coat with the sauce. Serve warm and enjoy.

Crockpot Pulled Chicken in the slow cooker being shredded with two forks.

RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS

  • Meal Prep: This is a great recipe for meal prep. Make a big batch on Sunday night and enjoy it in different ways over the next few days (see ideas on how to serve below).
  • Don’t Overcook: Don’t set the slow cooker and forget it! Use the cook times in the recipe card as guidelines and check the chicken at the 3-hour mark (if cooking on low) and the 6-hour mark (if cooking on high).

Confidence Tip

This crockpot recipe is PERFECT and EASY for entertaining large crowds. Double or triple the recipe (Click 2x or 3x on the recipe card) and feed the masses!

STORAGE & REHEATING

Storage: Store leftover BBQ chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Reheating: Reheat in a pan or in the microwave until warm. Add additional BBQ sauce if needed.

Freezing: This chicken freezes well! Cool completely. Then place in a freezer bag and store flat in the freezer for 3-4 months for maximum freshness. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat per the instructions above.

Additions & Substitutions

ADDITIONS:

  • Spice: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for a bit of spice. For smokey (but mild) spice, substitute chipotle chili powder for regular chili powder.

SUBSTITUTIONS:

  • Chicken: You can sub boneless, skinless chicken thighs for breasts.
  • BBQ Sauce: Switch up your sauce for different flavors or make your own homemade BBQ sauce! You can swap out traditional BBQ sauce for gold or Carolina-style BBQ sauce for a different flavor profile.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: I love the color and the depth of flavor from balsamic, but you can substitute apple cider vinegar as well.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

What’s the best way to shred this Crock Pot BBQ chicken?

Easiest Way–Two Forks: Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board and use two large forks to shred OR shred it directly in the slow cooker. 

Most Finely Shredded and Pretty Way — Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer: Place cooked chicken in a large, deep bowl. Use a hand mixer on low speed to gently break apart the chicken–this method works like a charm!

You can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low. 

What are some ways to serve this BBQ Chicken?

OMG, there are so many ways to serve up this pulled chicken:

1) BBQ Chicken Sandwiches: It’s our favorite way to serve this chicken. We pile the BBQ chicken onto toasted hamburger buns then top with a store-bought or homemade cole slaw. We love a simple potato salad or french fries on the side.

2) BBQ Chicken Nachos: Nothing says game day like a tray full of BBQ Chicken Nachos! I make them exactly like these nachos, but swap the chili for pulled chicken!

3) Tacos: Pile chicken on hard shell or soft tortillas, along with all of your favorite taco toppings!

4) BBQ Chicken Rice Bowl: BBQ chicken bowls are sooo yummy! Start with a bed of white rice, add BBQ chicken, lettuce, corn, black beans, and avocado. Drizzle with a little extra BBQ sauce and some ranch dressing.

5) BBQ Chicken Pizza: This one gives me California Pizza Kitchen vibes! My favorite version is a pizza with Monterey Jack cheese, BBQ chicken, red onion, and cilantro!

6) In Macaroni Salad: This BBQ chicken macaroni salad might be my all-time favorite summer side dish!

How do I keep this BBQ chicken from drying out?

DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT overcook your chicken!! I will say that the BBQ sauce and liquid make this recipe fairly forgiving, but slow-cooking your chicken correctly will produce a much better result.

Slow cook on HIGH for only 3-4 hours (monitor at the 3-hour point to see if it shreds easily). Or cook on LOW for 6-7 hours (monitor at the 6-hour point to see if it shreds easily).

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A sandwich made with slow cooker pulled chicken on a white plate with cole slaw.

I hope you love this Easy Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Crockpot bbq pulled chicken on a burger bun with cole slaw.

Easy Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Casey Rooney
This Easy Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken is made with simple ingredients, but packed full of delicious flavor! There are so many ways to serve it and for us, it's a go-to dinner option on busy weeknights! It's also an easy meal to whip up for parties and family gatherings.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 322 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 4 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced can sub 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce Use your favorite BBQ sauce–we love Sweet Baby Rays
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar can sub apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

Instructions
 

  • Prep: In a medium bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Set aside.
  • Place & Pour: In the bottom of the slow cooker, place chicken breasts, sliced onions and minced garlic. Pour BBQ sauce mixture over the top of the chicken.
  • Slow Cook: Cook the chicken on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 160-165°F and is fall apart tender (easily shreds with a fork).
  • Shred: Carefully remove the chicken breasts from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board on in a large bowl. Using two forks, shred the chicken (for more ways to shred the chicken, see Notes below).
    Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir to coat with the sauce. Serve warm and enjoy.

Notes

How to shred chicken:
  1. Easiest Way–Two Forks: Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board and use two large forks to shred OR shred it directly in the slow cooker.
  2. Most Finely Shredded and Pretty Way — Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer: Place cooked chicken in a large, deep bowl. Use a hand mixer on low speed to gently break apart the chicken–this method works like a charm! You can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low. 
 
Nutrition is only an estimate based on the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator
 
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Nutrition

Calories: 322kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 52gFat: 3.2gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 912mgPotassium: 138mgFiber: 0.7gSugar: 13gCalcium: 53mgIron: 2mg
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6 Comments

  1. I love this idea. I’m a huge fan of pulled pork, but pulling all that fat off of it after it’s done cooking grosses me out. I bet a pulled chicken sandwich is amazing!

  2. This bbq chicken recipe turned out so tender and was packed with flavor!! We used it as a base for tacos when we had friends over for taco night, and it was a hit!