Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Easy peasy BBQ pleasing yummy Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken from your kitchen – 3 ingredients and you’ve got fall-apart tender, succulent, and flavorful, pulled chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce!

Kick up this easy meal by serving Broccoli Cauliflower Salad,  Corn on the Cob, and Easy Peach Cobbler along with these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken on a bun with coleslaw

It’s been one of those days, and you know tomorrow isn’t going to be any different, you need an easy chicken dinner recipe the whole family will love.

That’s where this super easy-to-prepare slow cooker pulled BBQ chicken recipe will save the day! 3-4 hours in the slow cooker on high, and everyone is happy with little effort!

The secret is in the sauce! Whether you like sweet and smoky or bold and spicey, you choose your family’s favorite, most savory, and flavorful BBQ sauce, and you’ve got a winner!

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken in a slow cooker

There’s A Lot To Love About This Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich Recipe!

  • Perfect for game day or family get-togethers when you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen.
  • Makes an easy and delicious meal any night of the week
  • Great for meal prep
  • Batch cook for quick lunches or to reheat for a lazy meal
  • Perfect for feeding a crowd
  • A crowd-pleasing dinner everyone likes

pulled chicken breast slow cooker opened sandwich

Just 3 Ingredients For Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Breast

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

Chicken – boneless, skinless, and thawed (see note below) chicken breasts, or you can also use naturally moist chicken thighs or a combination of the two. PRO TIP: I often use chicken breast tenderloins (or cut the chicken breasts into tenderloins) the smaller portions cook quicker. 

BBQ Sauce – using your favorite ready-made sauce is the key to ease in this recipe. If you have your own homemade sauce recipe, even better.

Chopped White Onion – creates depth and adds texture to the sauce, enhancing a homemade flavor profile. Feel free to use onion powder instead, or omit completely if you’re not a fan of onions.

Spices (optional) – This is the fun part and where you can get creative or just completely skip! I like to use seasoned salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika for extra flavor in our pulled BBQ chicken. But feel free to add what you like, or don’t add any at all. There have been plenty of times I just dump BBQ sauce over the chicken, close the lid and call it a day! 

how to make Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken photo collage

How To Make Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich In Your Crockpot

The only equipment you need for this easy recipe is a slow cooker. If you have a stand mixer with a paddle, take all the wrist work out of the equation and “shred” your chicken in no time!

STEP ONE: Mix BBQ sauce with onions and spices in a bowl. Place thawed chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker and cover with BBQ sauce
STEP TWO: Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours
STEP THREE: Shred chicken with two forks and put back in the sauce and mix thoroughly. Cook on low for a little longer.
STEP FOUR: If making sandwiches, serve with buns and coleslaw.

pulled bbq chicken on a cutting board

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Variations, Additions, & Tips

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of boneless chicken breasts, or a combination of the two would also work for this recipe. PRO TIP: Do NOT use frozen chicken in the slow cooker.
  • Reduce the BBQ sauce by ½ cup and add ½ cup of Italian salad dressing. 
  • Add ¼ cup of pickled jalapeno slices to the sauce.
  • Add a little hot sauce or a pinch of crushed red pepper if you’d like a little “heat” in your BBQ sauce.
  • Throw in your favorite BBQ spices like garlic, smoky paprika, even Worchester Sauce for increased flavor.
  • Allow the chicken to rest/cool slightly before shredding to lock in the juices, or shred right in the slow cooker with the BBQ sauce.
  • While BBQ pulled chicken is great as a sandwich with slaw, you can also eat pulled chicken as a slider or in a wrap, as a taco, in soup, or on pizza.
  • Split your buns and toast with butter, garlic salt, and parmesan cheese.

pulled chicken breast slow cooker sandwich

To Store, Freeze, And Reheat Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken 

Store completely cooled pulled BBQ chicken in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze in an air-tight freezer bag and use within 4 months.

This recipe can be reheated in the microwave or stovetop. You may need to add some water or BBQ sauce if reheating on the stovetop. 

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches topped with coleslaw

Pulled Chicken In The Slow Cooker FAQs

Can I use the Instant Pot instead of a slow cooker for BBQ pulled chicken?

This meal can be made in the instant pot by pressure cooking on high for 10 minutes with a 5 minutes natural release. Make sure to add the needed amount of water for your pressure cooker. You will need to add extra sauce after cooking since it will be a bit watered down.

Are pulled chicken and shredded chicken the same thing?

Yes and no. In the recent and not so recent past, “pulled” always meant that the chicken/meat was smoked or barbecued at a low temperature for a very long time. The meat would then fall off the bone or be tender enough to “pull apart” easily. 

Today, many cooks use these terms interchangeably to the point that shredded and pulled are usually considered the same.

Do you pull or shred the chicken before or after cooking it?

After! Once your chicken is fully cooked you can shred it right in the slow cooker with 2 forks in the BBQ sauce! This will keep the chicken from drying out.

You can also remove the cooked chicken from the slow cooker and let it cool 5-10 minutes and shred with two forks on a cutting board or put it into a bowl to shred with an electric mixer.

Why don’t you add water to the slow cooker for pulled chicken?

Chicken breast contains a good amount of water, and this will cook out and combine with the BBQ sauce, so it isn’t necessary for this recipe.

Can I use frozen chicken in the slow cooker for this BBQ pulled chicken sandwich recipe?

Another yes and no answer. The USDA particularly recommends thawing chicken before using it in a slow cooker. The main crux is that frozen chicken will remain in the “danger zone,” 40° F – 140° F, for far too long when cooked in a slow cooker. 

Many recipes will tell you it’s no problem to use frozen chicken instead of thawed. The chicken will reach the minimum desired 165° F internal temperature with a long cooking time. 

If you know you are going to throw together this super easy BBQ Pulled Chicken in the slow cooker, just put the frozen chicken breast in the fridge the night before to thaw. 

Life happens and doesn’t always work out that way, so err on the side of safety and check the internal temp with a good meat thermometer.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken on a bun

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken on a bun with coleslaw

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Yield: 6-8 sandwiches = About 3-4 cups pulled chicken (½ cup per serving)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes

Easy peasy BBQ pleasing Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken from your kitchen – fall-apart tender, flavorful, pulled chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce! Perfect for sandwiches, sliders, tacos, pizza, and more! PRINTABLE RECIPE at TidyMom.net

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bottled BBQ Sauce (we like Sweet Baby Rays)
  • ½ cup finely chopped white onion (or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Seasoned salt & ground pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Ingredients for Sandwiches

  • 8 buns (brioche or hamburger buns)
  • 2 cups coleslaw (with or without dressing)

Instructions

    1. In a bowl, whisk together BBQ sauce, onions, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
    2. Place the chicken in the bottom of a 6-8 quart slow cooker. Add sauce, fully covering the chicken.
    3. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours. 
    4. Shred with two forks in the slow cooker, or on a cutting board.
    5. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and mix with sauce. Cook on low for 30-60 minutes.
    6. If making sandwiches, serve with toasted buns and coleslaw.

Notes

  • Onion and spices can be omitted, just be sure to use a good flavorful BBQ sauce that you love!
  • This recipe is easy to adjust to the desired quantity. A good general rule to follow is 1 cup sauce per pound of chicken
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    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 sandwich
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 527Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 1199mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 3gSugar: 32gProtein: 41g

    Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

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    Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwich on a bun with blue napkin