Pulled Chicken (Crockpot BBQ Chicken)

Crockpot BBQ Chicken (also known as pulled chicken) is made with just a few ingredients and right in your slow cooker. Perfect for sandwiches, wraps, pizza and more!

Here’s another easy dinner idea to add to your recipe box. Pile this Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken on sandwiches or flatbread and serve it up with some of our favorite sides, like Classic Macaroni Salad and Broccoli Salad.

A bbq chicken sandwich topped with coleslaw and sliced pickles on a sesame seed bun

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Recipe (aka Pulled Chicken)

Crockpot meals are an easy go-to for dinner, especially during the summer when turning on the oven is the last thing you want to do. Just dump a few ingredients in your slow cooker and turn in on. Set it and forget it – that’s my kind of easy!

This Crockpot BBQ Chicken comes in especially handy when I have a lot of hungry mouths to feed. You can double or even triple the recipe to feed as many people as you need to, and it only takes about 4 hours in the slow cooker. Set up a sandwich bar for a game day or summer party – keep the chicken warm in the slow cooker and set out large rolls or slider buns and all the toppings you can think of.

A crockpot filled with bbq chicken

How to make crockpot bbq pulled chicken

Pulled Chicken refers to a method of cooking chicken until it’s fork tender, then shredding it or “pulling” it apart. You can use oven baked chicken, boiled chicken or this easy crockpot bbq chicken.

  1. Place thawed chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker. You can use frozen if you like, just add about 30 minutes to the cook time (there will be extra liquid with frozen chicken). Sprinkle chicken with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Brush some of the barbecue sauce over the chicken, then reserve the rest for later. We love Sweet Baby Rays but you can use your family’s favorite brand. Feel free to change it up with different flavors from spicy to sweet. I prefer to only use half of the bbq sauce for cooking because it tends to thin out. Adding the rest of the sauce at the ends makes this crockpot bbq chicken nice and thick.
  3. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
  4. Shred chicken with two forks, return to the slow cooker and stir in the remaining sauce. Cover and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes.

How do you shred cooked chicken?

There are three main methods used for shredding pulled chicken:

  • By hand – Allow chicken to cool until you’re able to handle it. Gently pull the chicken apart and into small chunks.
  • With two forks – Place chicken on a cutting board and pull apart using two forks to create small chunks.
  • With an electric mixer – Place warm or cooled (not hot) chicken in a large mixing bowl. Place the beaters of an electric mixer into the bowl and turn it on to low. You can gradually increase the speed and continue until you have your beautifully shredded chicken. This method tends to make much smaller (and sometimes stringier) shreds than the other two methods. Use a lower speed for larger chunks and a higher speed for smaller shreds.

Shredded chicken in a slow cooker with barbecue sauce and two forks

Can you overcook chicken in a slow cooker?

Overcooked crockpot chicken is tougher and drier than normal and just doesn’t taste as good, so you do want to monitor it and not deviate from the recommended cooking times. For this crockpot BBQ Chicken recipe that means 3-4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. I recommend using the high setting, as in my experience cooking chicken on low, even at the recommended time, can end up a little on the dry side.

Chicken is cooked when it reaches 160 degrees F. I love this slow cooker from Hamilton Beach because it has a thermometer built right in so you can know exactly when you’re chicken is fully cooked. If your chicken is a little on the dry side, it can be salvaged with a little extra bbq sauce!

How to serve bbq pulled chicken

How you serve this bbq chicken is totally up to you. Here are some of the ways we like to use it:

  • BBQ Chicken Sandwich – pile chicken on fancy buns and top with coleslaw and pickles!
  • Chicken Wraps – fill a tortilla with the crockpot bbq chicken and top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes or other fillings, the roll into a wrap.
  • Quesadillas
  • Tacos
  • Rice bowls
  • Salads

What to do with leftovers

Pulled chicken freezes beautifully! Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature for 1-2 hours, then separate into portions and place in freezer bags. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat in the microwave on on the stovetop, adding a little more bbq sauce if needed.

PRO TIP: Pressing the air out and making the bags as flat as possible for freezing will make for much quicker thawing time.

2 Crockpot BBQ Chicken piled onto sesame seed buns with coleslaw and pickles, sitting on a wooden cutting board.

More BBQ recipes you’ll love:

More crockpot chicken recipes you’ll love:

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Social media image of Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Crockpot BBQ Chicken (aka pulled chicken) is made with just a few ingredients and right in your slow cooker. Perfect for sandwiches, wraps, pizza and more!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 5 mins
Course Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 6 sandwiches
Calories 175kcal

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker

Ingredients
  

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 18-ounce bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce more or less to taste

For sandwiches

  • 4 sandwich rolls or buns
  • Coleslaw/cabbage mix
  • Sliced dill pickles

Instructions
 

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken

  • Place chicken in a slow cooker and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Brush chicken with 1 cup of BBQ sauce. Place the cover on your slow cook and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
  • Transfer chicken to a plate or cutting board and shred with two forks. If there is a lot of thin liquid left in your slow cooker, drain the juices then place chicken back in. Stir in remaining BBQ sauce, cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.
  • Serve as desired.

To make the sandwiches:

  • Toast open faced rolls or buns in the oven under the broiler for a couple of minute, just until golden. Top bottom halves of the rolls with BBQ chicken, sliced pickles and coleslaw mix. Serve immediately.
  • Crockpot BBQ chicken is also perfect for wraps, pizza or flatbread, quesadillas, sandwiches and more.

Notes

  • Nutritional information is for the bbq chicken only and does not include any toppings. This information may vary depending on the type/brand of bbq sauce you use.

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 32gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 371mgPotassium: 565mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 45IUVitamin C: 1.8mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 0.6mg
Keyword crockpot bbq chicken, pulled chicken

A pinterest friendly image of a bbq chicken sandwich with title text overlay.

A collage of images depicting bbq chicken made in a slow cooker.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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