Perfect for a crowd, this slow cooker bbq chicken is made with just 3 simple ingredients! The shredded meat is great piled on a bun, used in quesadillas, salads, pizzas, and more!
This is one of my Slow Cooker recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
If your summer is starting off anything like mine, it’s pretty darn busy. And after a day of dealing with the heat, the last thing I feel like doing is standing around in a hot kitchen for an hour.
But with this amazing recipe, you don’t have to!
The chicken cooks in the slow cooker (no heating up your house!), literally takes 5 minutes to throw together in the morning, and you only need 3 ingredients.
Like any recipe that has minimal ingredients, you want the ingredients to be quality, so I recommend using your favorite bbq sauce.
How to make bbq chicken in the slow cooker?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Add chicken to slow cooker. Top with onion and bbq sauce.
- Cook. I recommend cooking on LOW.
- Shred. I have some of those “bear claw” tools for shredding, but usually end up just using 2 forks.
- Return to slow cooker and toss in sauce.
You might notice that there’s no liquid in this recipe. During testing, I found it just wasn’t necessary, and it watered down the sauce/flavor. The chicken gives off liquid as it cooks, which is sufficient for this recipe. However, if you’d like to add some, check out the “variations” section below.
Variations of this recipe
- Chicken – if you’d like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe, you can, with no changes.
- Barbecue sauce – I tested this recipe using store-bought and homemade sauce, so feel free to use your favorite!
- Onion – the onion adds depth of flavor, but can be omitted if you’d like a “no chop” meal.
- Garlic – to really add that extra “oomph” of flavor, try adding a couple of cloves of minced garlic with the onion.
- Spices – for extra flavor, try adding 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Liquid – as mentioned above, no liquid is needed for this recipe, but if you’d like to add some, add about 2/3 cup of water, chicken broth, or beer.
Using frozen chicken in a slow cooker is advised against by the USDA, so I can’t recommend it. The slow temperature rise allows the meat to stay in the “danger zone” for bacteria growth for too long. If you have frozen chicken, thaw it in the refrigerator before use.
I’m sure it can, but without extensive testing, I can’t speak with true certainty to the cooking time. My guess would be to cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, with a 5-10 minute natural pressure release. I would also add a cup of liquid (water, chicken broth, or beer) so the pot can come up to pressure.
Making bbq chicken ahead of time
While this recipe certain doesn’t take much time to throw together, but you can make it entirely ahead of time.
Reheat the shredded chicken gently on the stovetop or in the slow cooker on low until hot throughout. You may want to add a splash of water, chicken broth, or additional bbq sauce as it reheats.
The thing I love so much about shredded or pulled chicken is that is freezes perfectly!
Just make sure it’s completely cooled, then transfer to freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3-6 months.
Leftover pulled chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoyed within 4-5 days.
I had this crockpot for a while now, and I really love how it cooks. The locking lid feature is amazing for taking foods to potlucks or other gatherings!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups bbq sauce use your favorite brand (or use homemade – see note #1 below)
- 1/2 cup diced white or yellow onion optional but recommended
- Chop onion, if using, and gather ingredients.
- Add chicken to bottom of a slow cooker insert (this recipe was tested using a 6 quart slow cooker).
- Top with onion and bbq sauce, then cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours. For best texture, I do recommend cooking on low, but if you have to, you can cook it on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred, using two forks or tongs.
- Return the chicken to the slow cooker and toss in the sauce. Alternately, you can add the chicken to a bowl after shredding, and add ladles of the sauce. This will allow you to control the "sauciness" level.
- Serve on buns if desired.
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- The two homemade sauces we love for this recipe are: balsamic bbq sauce or bourbon bbq sauce.
- I highly recommend a great coleslaw to go alongside this shredded bbq chicken. Either of these two would be great options: Chick-Fil-A copycat coleslaw or classic sweet and tangy coleslaw
- We love to pile this bbq chicken on a bun, but it’s also great on bbq chicken pizza, in wraps, in quesadillas, etc.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.