BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Loving this classic BBQ Pulled Pork recipe (also in the slow cooker), I couldn’t help but want, need and long for a chicken version.

Something easy to throw together on a busy day when I need dinner ready but don’t have time to slave over it. Something hearty and filling to scarf before a rousing baseball game played by my resident 5- and 7-year olds. Something nutritious and delicious and all-around family pleasing for those days when I don’t want to fight the “I want to gag” battle with my kids.

This BBQ Pulled Chicken recipe was just that “something” I needed and has become part of my slow cooker rotation, not to mention the fact that it helps diversify the ways I can use the almighty boneless, skinless chicken breast, which remains plentiful in my freezer. Since my freezer also usually boasts a bag of already baked French Bread Rolls, this meal is an absolute no-brainer. And seriously, I don’t know what it is with me and my lazy tendencies these last few weeks, but no-brainers are just what I’m looking for. It doesn’t hurt when said no-brainer is extremely delicious, too.

What To ServeFrench Bread Rolls (for the bun)
An awesome side like this: Barbecue Macaroni Salad, Coleslaw, or these Boston Baked Beans
Fresh vegetables and/or green salad

One Year Ago: Healthy and Delicious Refrigerator Bran Muffins
Two Years Ago: Best Baked Manicotti
Three Years Ago: Easiest Brownies in the World

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches {Slow Cooker}

Yield: Serves 6

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches {Slow Cooker}


  • 1 small to medium yellow onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns or rolls (I used this French Bread roll recipe, subbing whole wheat for the white flour)


  1. Scatter the onions on the bottom of a slow cooker. Place chicken on top of the onions.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, molasses, onion powder, cumin, garlic powder, Tabasco and salt. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the chicken is fork-tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5-6 hours (add an additional hour if using frozen chicken breasts).
  3. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred the meat. Return it back to the slow cooker, mixing it with the sauce. Serve the chicken hot on whole wheat rolls, if desired.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from All You Magazine, August 26, 2011

53 Responses to BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches {Slow Cooker}

  1. […] slightly from this recipe on Mel’s […]

  2. Michele says:

    Wow, so flavorful. I used turkey tenderloins and cooked it for 5 hrs in my crockpot. Very moist. I will definitely make this again.

  3. Stefani says:

    Can you give instructions for using the InstaPot? Thank you!

  4. Jessica says:

    Can pork be used interchangeably with this recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Sure, I don’t see why not, although I would probably cook the pork much longer as it takes longer to get tender in the slow cooker than chicken.

  5. Samantha says:

    I finally tried this recipe over the weekend and the hubby and I loved it! I used some of the leftover pulled chicken for BBQ chicken nachos last night and it was so delicious! Thanks for another amazing recipe!

  6. Christina says:

    I am making them for the second time today, and my hubby can’t wait for supper!! These are amazing.

  7. Jessica says:

    Hi Mel! I was thinking of serving this at my daughter’s birthday party for the adults to eat for lunch. The party is in a park in August. It will be hot. I was thinking it might be easier to serve cold. Do you think that would taste okay cold? Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure about serving them cold – but maybe that’s because I’ve never eaten a cold BBQ chicken sandwich. Is there a way to use an electrical outlet at the park for a large roaster or crockpot?

  8. Kate says:

    In my crock pot right now as I prep for company tonight. When I bought molasses for this recipe, I bought the “full flavored” molasses. There was a mild option as well. (I had no idea!) What do you use? Thanks Mel!!! 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hey Kate – didn’t know Super One offered so many choices! 🙂 I almost always stick with the Grandma’s brand (yellow label). I think it’s mild flavored but I’m not completely sure.

  9. meg says:

    Hi Mel:) I hope Idaho is treating you well these days! Here is my long-winded question for you: I would like to make this pulled chicken as well as your pulled pork this coming Saturday for my oldest son’s baptism luncheon, and I’m wondering what the best way to prepare these and have them hot would be. . . make them in advance, freeze and crock pot them back to warm? Get up super early and start the crock pot then? What would you suggest? I am not as worried about the pork, but I just don’t want the chicken to dry out if I am reheating it (and of course the main issue here is that I will be at the baptism all morning, not busy cooking in my kitchen like normally before a luncheon:)

    You are the best! Thanks for all your (continual) hard work!!!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Meg! Good luck with your luncheon! If it were me, I’d make both the pork and the chicken the day before (or up to a few days before), refrigerate and then throw it back in the crockpot in the morning before the baptism and reheat on low. I’d keep extra BBQ sauce (and the sauce for the chicken) on hand to add in that morning or when you get home to help in case it seems to need a little extra sauciness.

  10. Gail says:

    This was an easy dish and the chicken stayed nice and moist. We had sandwiches the first night and then used it on your BBQ chicken salad with cilantro lime dressing the next. Next time I will shred half for these sandwiches and chop up the second half for salads. Thanks for a terrific slow cooker recipe!

  11. Laura says:

    Can you freeze the leftovers?

  12. Bri says:

    I tried this recipe a few years ago and really did not like it. But I know I would love it with your home made BBQ sauce. If I were to do it with your bbq sauce, how much would I use? Would I still do the onions?

    • Mel says:

      Bri – I’d probably omit the onions, especially if you didn’t like it last time, and I’d start with 1-2 cups of sauce and add more if needed. Good luck! Let me know if it turns out better for you this time.

  13. Dave says:

    Loved this recipe. I’d only done pulled pork before and was intrigued to try chicken breast thinking that its low fat content would be healthier, but perhaps less tasty. It turned out great, the chicken was moist and full of flavour and the family scarfed it down.

    As I was mixing the sauce though I realised that it was essentially the ingredients for BBQ sauce. Those who want to simply this even further could probably just use that instead.

  14. Nichole says:

    Has anyone cooked this on high instead of low? If so, for how long?

  15. Kaylene says:

    I didn’t have molasses on hand and have never used it, so I just used about 5 loosely packed teaspoons of brown sugar instead- seemed to work great as a substitute, although I don’t know how it would have tasted with the molasses.

  16. Karen says:

    I made this recipe for my family and for a friend and both LOVED it. I lost the recipe and have been looking everywhere for it. I’m so happy to find it again:) I like that the ingredients are things I already have.

  17. Mel says:

    Hi Kristin – this sauce isn’t overly sweet. It’s more of a tangy BBQ sauce.

  18. kristin says:

    Is this more of a tomato-y sweet bbq chicken? I have tried so many crock pot bbq chx recipes and none have been great. I had some really sweet yummy shredded bbq chicken sandwiches years ago that had a tomato based red sweet sauce on it and I can’t find any recipes like it at all!

  19. julia says:

    numm.mumm…oh – forgive me…I’m having a hard time putting my food down to give you the hearty congrats that are necessary. The combination of the BBQ chicken pulled sandwiches and your summer corn salad are almost too much to take. I’m in heaven! Paired with a little cole slaw to accessorize the pulled chicken…did I say – I’M IN HEAVEN!

    Thank you!!!!!

  20. Christine says:

    Made it today for a potluck and it was a big hit. I would say this is more of sweet BBQ, but good nonetheless! I did not have time for the 5-6 hour cooking time, so I did a quick parboil, and then let the last of it cook up in the hour or so I had till the potluck. The chicken came out super moist! Thanks for the great recipe!

  21. Cat says:

    Has anyone tried using drumsticks? It’s all we had in the freezer…any thoughts?

  22. […] BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches {Slow Cooker} – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  23. Mel says:

    Erin – you can use the frozen chicken in the slow cooker without defrosting and it should be just fine. Otherwise, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.

  24. Erin says:

    Okay i have frozen chicken. how should i defrost it?!?!? i want it to be the best chicken EVER!!

  25. Lis S says:

    Thank you, Mel. Love this! Made this last night, to give me an assist for a busy week. Will serve with cornbread.

  26. Bri says:

    I was not a fan of the flavor of this. Next time I do this, I will definitely use your homemade bbq sauce (I loved your pulled pork sandwiches).

  27. Meal Plan for the Week of November 21st | The Rookie Baker says:

    […] Saturday:  BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches […]

  28. Ashlee says:

    This was delicious! My 1 year old couldn’t get enough of it! She kept eating as much as I’d give her. Everyone else loved it too. Thanks!

  29. grace says:

    i love me some pulled pork, but chicken bbq runs a close second. nice one, mel!

  30. We’re having pulled pork this week… I was thinking about making cherry BBQ for ours this week, but maybe I’ll give this recipe a try instead.

  31. Michelle S says:

    This recipe looks really yummy. I actually just made the BBQ Pulled Pork recipe last week, so I have a lot of the barbecue sauce on hand that I will probably use in place of the sauce. I’m glad to read that someone else used the BBQ sauce with success on the chicken. When I made the Pulled Pork, I also made the French Bread rolls with wheat flour and the dough was dry. I ended up adding water to make it the right consistency, but I still had a difficult time shaping the rolls because the dough ended up too dry. Did you have this problem? Should the recipe be adjusted slightly when you substitute wheat flour for white?

    • Mel says:

      Michelle – about the rolls, it sounds like your rolls may have been overfloured. I never use exact cup measurements for flour when making yeasted doughs, which is why I have a special note about just that above each yeast recipe…it really helps to judge the dough based on texture. When adding wheat flour, sometimes you need to add less flour overall, however, when I’m using freshly ground wheat flour, I usually have to use more flour than stated in the recipe, because it doesn’t settle into the measuring cup the same as flour that hasn’t just been freshly milled. So there really can be a variance on the cup measurement. It sounds like if you want to sub wheat flour for the rolls, you’ll probably want to back off the flour a bit and look for the dough to be supple and smooth without being overly sticky. Hope that helps!

  32. Lisa H says:

    Tried this last night! It was perfect for a night where everyone was going in different directions! Thanks!

  33. Kim in MD says:

    This looks delicious, Melanie! I love it when you post slow-cooker meals. Most people probably think to use their slow-cooker in the Winter for soups and stews, but I really love to use it in the Summer when it’s too hot use the stove or the oven! This recipe is perfect for any season…thanks for sharing!

  34. JJ says:

    I’ve never tried doing the chicken in the sauce. I’ll have to try it. I love when there’s yummy soft onions on the bottom =) I normally do cheap bone in skin on breasts, season with salt and pepper, throw in a bay leaf and a quartered onion and cover with water. I let it go overnight then strain and save the broth to use later and shred the chicken off the bone in the morning and mix it with the BBQ sauce (your homemade version or otherwise 😉 and toss it back in the crockpot on hold warm until afterwork.

  35. Melanie says:

    Lisa, I have also found that I can’t let the chicken hang out in the crockpot all day. There are a few recipes where the chicken does fine on low for 8 or more hours, but it is usually swimming in liquid. All the other slow cooker recipes for chicken I find I take the chicken out the minute it is cooked through and still moist and tender.

  36. Rachey says:

    Made this for dinner tonight, loved it. I added Srichacha instead of Tabasco and some red pepper flakes and loved the kick!

  37. I like that you don’t become completely devoted to a certain recipe and use it only, you are still willing to try other things even if you’ve found “the best,” like your barbecue sauce. And you used Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake on those mint cupcakes, despite having your perfect choc cake recipe. This sounds really good, Mel.

  38. Lisa says:

    @Laurie. Thanks for the input. I have been debating for awhile to just suck it up and spend more money on better chicken. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one.

  39. Lindsay says:

    Mel, I am going to make this tomorrow. I’ve been trying to think all day what I can throw in the slow cooker tomorrow…thanks for helping me out! 🙂

  40. Amy says:

    I just made BBQ chicken on Monday in the slow cooker but used your wonderful BBQ sauce recipe. This additional recipe will be great to use when I don’t have any of your on hand. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipies- I use them often!

  41. Laurie says:

    @Lisa, I used to have this problem too until I started buying the Sam’s Club store brand boneless chicken breasts. They aren’t frozen and come in a big styrofoam tray in the meat section. I have never had a problem with them being dry or mealy in the slow cooker and they are usually cheap!

  42. Absolutely LOVE BBQ chicken! Now I just need a slow cooker to try this myself.

  43. Lisa says:

    I have tried to love my slow cooker when it comes to chicken breasts, but any recipe that takes more than 3 hours, the chicken comes out either dry or mealy or both. I even bought a new slow cooker, thinking that my other has become old and maybe does not work well, but I have the same problem. I am starting to wonder if is the chicken, you know the chicken you can buy for less than $2 a pound? Any thoughts?

  44. Wowo i have never had them but my sis who lives in US tells me it is so yumm and this looks really super delicious.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *