Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

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These Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs are juicy, SUPER flavorful, and a great recipe for busy weeknights! These chicken thighs come out fall-off-the-bone tender, coated with a smokey sauce! The skin gets nice and crisp with just a few minutes under the broiler. This easy crockpot recipe will be devoured by the whole family!

Slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs on a white platter.

Cooking chicken in the slow cooker with BBQ spices and sauce is my favorite way to make “BBQ Chicken” when I can’t use the grill! This recipe is almost completely hands-off and the flavors are just delish!

Grilling gives you that nice, crispy skin but that problem is easily solved with a few minutes under the broiler! A little liquid smoke added to the sauce also helps with the smokey, grilled flavor!

Serve this chicken up with a nice pasta salad, cornbread, or green beans!

Love chicken thighs?! You have to try this super easy Greek Chicken Thighs recipe–it’s ready in about 20 minutes! Or these amazing Smoked Chicken Thighs or this Easy Crockpot BBQ Chicken both have so much flavor and they are super easy to make!

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE

  • Tender, super juicy chicken thighs!
  • Delicious meal with minimal effort = WINNING!
  • Quick prep time–just 10 minutes (quicker if you use a pre-made spice rub!)
  • Super easy to get nice, crispy skin by broiling for about 5 minutes!

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

You’ll need the following ingredients to make these amazing Crockpot BBQ Chicken Thighs:

Ingredients needed to make slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs.

INGREDIENT NOTES

Chicken Thighs: Bone-in chicken thighs work best with slow cooking and longer cook times. I prefer skin-on but you can remove the skin if you like.

BBQ sauce: Use your favorite!

Spices + Brown Sugar: If you have a favorite BBQ rub, feel free to use that in place of the salt, onion powder, garlic powder smoked paprika, and brown sugar. My family is obsessed with this Kinder’s Wood Fired BBQ Rub!

HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER BBQ CHICKEN THIGHS: STEP BY STEP

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

Step 1: Combine spices, then generously coat the chicken with the spice mixture.

Chicken thighs on a baking sheet coated with a spice rub.

Step 2: Place chicken in the crockpot and brush with BBQ sauce so each thigh is coated with sauce. DO NOT ADD ANY EXTRA LIQUID TO THE CROCKPOT! Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or on LOW for 4-5 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Bone-in skin on chicken thighs in the crockpot with BBQ sauce.

Step 3: Transfer cooked chicken to a baking sheet and brush with some extra BBQ sauce. Broil for 4-6 minutes until skin begins to sizzle and get crisp!

BBQ Chicken thighs after being cooked in the crockpot on a baking sheet brushed with BBQ sauce.

Step 4: Allow a few minutes for the chicken to rest and enjoy.

Chicken thighs after being under the broiler.

RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS

  • Do not add any liquid to the crockpot (like chicken stock or water)–I promise, enough liquid will come from the chicken thighs and you won’t need it!

  • This recipe is a crowd-pleaser! If you have a large crockpot, double the recipe to feed a crowd! You may just have to add a bit more cooking time. Remember, make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is 165° or more.

⭐️ CONFIDENCE TIP ⭐️
Broiling is absolutely optional but if you are using skin-on chicken thighs, it helps get the skin crispy and delicious. Broil for 4-6 minutes until you see and hear the skin SIZZLE!

STORAGE & REHEATING

  • Reheating: Leftover chicken can be reheated in the microwaved until warmed through (cover to prevent BBQ sauce splatters!) or in the oven or air fryer.

  • Freezing: You can freeze leftover cooked chicken in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for about 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat according to the instructions above.

SIMPLE SUBSTITUTIONS

Here are a few substitutions you can make:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: You can use boneless chicken thighs but the cooking time will be less. I personally think they cook too quickly and it’s easier to dry them out if you aren’t watching them closely.

  • Chicken legs (drumsticks): Chicken legs work great as a substitute for bone-in thighs! Cook time is roughly the same–look for an internal temperature of 165°F. You can also use chicken leg quarters (which is the thigh and leg)–they will take slightly longer to cook.

  • Chicken breasts: Bone-in chicken breasts work best and are a lot for forgiving than boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which tend to dry out easily in the slow cooker. I prefer bone-in meat for slow cooking.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are chicken thighs or breasts better in the slow cooker?

Either are just fine, but I HIGHLY recommend using bone-in vs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts. They hold up so much with the longer crockpot cook times and don’t dry out as quickly.

Do you have to add any liquid to the crockpot when you cook chicken thighs?

NO! I know it might seem odd, but you do not have to add any additional liquid. The chicken contains quite a bit of liquid that will release during cooking.

What can you serve with crockpot BBQ chicken?

Mashed potatoes, cole slaw, potato salad, this orzo salad, corn salad, green beans, or cornbread are all delicious sides for this BBQ chicken!

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A close up photo of BBQ chicken thighs after they have been cooked i the slow cooker and put until the broiler.

TOOLS FOR THIS RECIPE

Check out all of my kitchen essentials in my Amazon store!

Pioneer Woman Crockpot: I LOVE the simplicity of this crockpot and how pretty it is!

Brush: For brushing on your BBQ sauce!

Serving Platter: I use these white serving platters for everything!

TRY THESE NEXT…

I hope you love this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

Casey Rooney
These Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs are juicy, SUPER flavorful, and a great recipe for busy weeknights! These chicken thighs come out fall-off-the-bone tender, coated with a smokey sauce! The skin gets nice and crisp with just a few minutes under the broiler. This easy crockpot recipe will be devoured by the whole family!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 382 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce + more for brushing we LOVE Sweet Baby Rays, but use your favorite barbecue sauce!
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke

Seasoning Rub (See Note 1)

  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

Instructions
 

  • Prep: In a small bowl, combine spices for the seasoning rub. Trim any excess skin or fat off the chicken (using scissors works really well for this!) Then, rub spice mixture generously over the chicken thighs. Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies and try to even get a little under the skin if you can!
  • Mix & Add: Mix BBQ sauce and liquid smoke. Place chicken in the slow cooker and add sauce. Toss to make sure each piece of chicken is lightly coated with the sauce. DO NOT add any additional liquid to the crock pot!
  • Slow Cook: Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or on LOW for 4-5 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165°F when measured with a meat thermometer.
    Note: Time will depend on the size of your thighs and your crock pot, of course 🙂 You can cook them a bit longer if you want the chicken to be more tender. In my experience, I do not recommend going over 3-4 hours on high or over 5 hours on low.
  • Finish: Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shake off any excess liquid. Place chicken on a baking sheet and brush with a little extra sauce. Broil 4-6 minutes until the skin begins to sizzle and is slightly charred (crisp!) in some areas.
  • Rest: Remove chicken from the oven. Allow the chicken to rest for 2-3 minutes then serve right away!

Notes

Note 1: If you don’t have all the spices, feel free to use your favorite BBQ rub. My family is obsessed with this Kinder’s Wood Fired Garlic Rub! They literally put it on everything!
 
Nutrition is only an estimate based on the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator

Nutrition

Calories: 382kcalCarbohydrates: 18.3gProtein: 31.6gFat: 19.5gSaturated Fat: 5.4gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 1392mgPotassium: 398mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13.4gCalcium: 30mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating




13 Comments

    1. Hi Ellen, I have not tested this recipe in the Instant Pot and don’t want to give you any bad info 🙁 If you try it, report back and let us know how it comes out! XO ~ Casey

  1. 5 stars
    Super yummy recipe! Can’t wait to try it, thinking of a cabbage salad without mayo or some olive oil mashed potatoes as a side, what do you think?

  2. These chicken thighs are fantastic! I love how they are so tender yet the skin gets crispy with that quick extra broiler step.

  3. 5 stars
    Chicken is always my go to recipe. I love this slow cooker version of my favorite–chicken thighs. I finished them under the broiler and got that little bite of crispy topping. Delish!

  4. 5 stars
    These Chicken thighs were incredible easy to make and turned out so delicious! Super juicy and flavorful. My family devoured them and will definitely be on rotation. Thanks for the recipe!