These mouth-watering Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches are the ultimate comfort food and are perfect for any occasion! Tender, juicy chicken is simmered with barbecue sauce and served up on a soft bun with a refreshing, crunchy slaw. This dish is a definite crowd-pleaser and will have everyone coming back for seconds!
Whether you're hosting a block party, game night, or simply enjoying an easy weeknight dinner, these slow cooker BBQ chicken sandwiches are the perfect choice! From the effortless preparation to the mouthwatering flavor, these sandwiches are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
I love how simple and easy this dish is. With just a handful of ingredients and a crock pot, you can create a mouthwatering dish that will impress your family or guests.
Simply combine boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts with your favorite BBQ sauce, along with some spices to add an extra kick. Then, let the slow cooker work its magic as the flavors meld together. After a few hours, you'll have tender, juicy, flavorful barbecue chicken that easily shreds apart. It's perfect piled onto soft buns to make delicious sandwiches.
I like to top the shredded chicken with extra sauce and a refreshing, crunchy homemade veggie slaw. It's a delicious recipe everyone will love that requires minimal effort on your part. Just be sure to serve these tasty pulled chicken sandwiches with plenty of napkins on the side!
Why You'll Love This Dish
- Effortless- simply throw all the ingredients into a crockpot, set it, and forget it until you're ready to serve.
- Versatile- besides sandwiches, you can also serve this healthy bbq pulled chicken in quesadillas, tacos or lettuce wraps. It's also delicious on salads or rice bowls.
- Packed with flavor- the slow cooker intensifies the flavors of the chicken. It's succulent and bursting with smoky, tangy, and slightly sweet BBQ goodness.
- Can feed a crowd- this pulled chicken burger is perfect when you're serving a crowd. You can even put everything out on a buffet table and having everyone serve themselves.
Low Sugar Barbecue Sauce
For the sake of convenience, I use store-bought BBQ sauce in this recipe. When I have time, I like to make homemade BBQ sauce (I've provided my recipe in the recipe card at the bottom of the post). It has so much flavor and I can control the ingredients and amount of sugar I put in it. But I also recognize the fact that sometimes we need to use store-bought products for the sake of time and convenience.
Many store-bought barbecue sauces are loaded with sugar and some use high fructose corn syrup. Many also have a hefty dose of sodium and added preservatives.
Be sure to read the nutrition labels when you're choosing a BBQ sauce. Look for a brand that doesn't list sugar or high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient. You also want one that has less than 10 grams of sugar per serving (which is usually 2 tablespoons). Some of my favorite options are Stubb's original barbecue sauce, Annie's original barbecue sauce and Primal Kitchen classic barbecue sauce.
However, I've also provided my homemade BBQ sauce recipe at the end of this blog post. If you have the ingredients, I recommend trying it!
Recipe notes and substitutions:
- Chicken- you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs, breasts or a combination of both. I like using chicken thighs because they’re juicier, more flavorful, and cheaper than chicken breast.
- Barbecue sauce- choose a BBQ sauce that's lower in sugar (see "Low Sugar Barbecue Sauce" section above) or make homemade BBQ sauce (see recipe card at the bottom of the post).
- Dried spices- I use garlic powder, ground cumin, and onion powder; however, you can use other spices like chili powder, dry mustard or cayenne pepper. You can add a little brown sugar if you want your BBQ chicken sweeter but most brands of BBQ sauce are sweet enough.
- Vinegar- I use apple cider vinegar but you can use any type of vinegar you like. You can also add a little Worcestershire sauce or mustard (yellow or dijon mustard) for an extra kick.
- Vegetable slaw- I like to top these easy bbq chicken sandwiches with a crunchy homemade coleslaw. However, you can top them with your favorite toppings like pickles, jalapeños or sliced onion.
How To Make Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Sandwiches Step-By-Step
See recipe card below for full recipe instructions.
- Step 1- Place chicken in the bowl of a slow cooker. Sprinkle the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and a pinch of salt and black pepper on top.
- Step 2- Pour the barbecue sauce and vinegar over the chicken so that it covers it completely. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high heat for 3-4 hours or low heat for 6-7 hours.
- Step 3- Remove the chicken and place it on a cutting board. Shred chicken using two forks.
- Step 4- If the remaining sauce is very watery, put the slow cooker in sauté mode and simmer it for several minutes to thicken it. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and toss it with the sauce.
To make sandwiches, serve the pulled chicken on hamburger buns, buttery brioche buns or soft Hawaiian buns. Top with desired toppings like vegetable slaw (see recipe card below) or pickles.
- You can use chicken thighs or breast to make this pulled chicken burger. I prefer using thighs because they're more juicy, flavorful and cheaper.
- Many store-bought brands of BBQ sauce have a lot of sugar. Choose a BBQ sauce that's lower in sugar (see "Low Sugar Barbecue Sauce" section above). You can also make my delicious homemade bbq sauce (see recipe card at the end of the post).
- If the sauce in the slow cooker is too thin when you take the chicken out, you can put the slow cooker in sauté mode and simmer it for several minutes to thicken it.
- Besides sandwiches, you can also serve this healthy bbq pulled chicken in quesadillas, tacos, and lettuce wraps, or on salads and rice bowls.
- Leftover shredded chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrgierator for 3-4 days. It can also be frozen in a freezer safe bag or container for up to 3 months.
Have you ever wondered how long chicken can sit out before you need to toss it? Read my post all about how to properly handle and store chicken to help ensure that it's always safe to eat!
What To Serve With Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
These tasty slow cooker pulled chicken sandwiches make a delicious meal served with a salad or vegetable on the side. The whole family will love it!
There is no difference between shredded chicken and pulled chicken. They both refer to chicken that is cooked until tender, and then "pulled" or "shredded" into pieces. The two terms can be used interchangeably.
The USDA recommends using cooked chicken within 3-4 days, kept refrigerated (40°F or less). For more info, read my post on how long can chicken sit out?
More Tasty Dishes
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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup barbecue sauce*** (for my homemade BBQ sauce recipe, see recipe card below)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 8 hamburger buns
- 1 bag (10 ounces) coleslaw or vegetable slaw mix
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper
- Place the chicken in the bowl of a slow cooker. Sprinkle the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper on top. Pour the barbecue sauce and vinegar over the chicken so that it covers it completely.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on high heat for 3-4 hours or low heat for 6-7 hours.
- Remove the chicken and place it on a cutting board. Shred the chicken using two forks. If the sauce is very watery, put the slow cooker in sauté mode and simmer it for several minutes to thicken it. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and toss it with the sauce.
- To make sandwiches, serve the pulled chicken on rolls and top with desired toppings like vegetable slaw or pickles.
- To make the vegetable slaw, mix the slaw, oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon molasses
- 2 tablespoon paprika
- 2 tablespoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker along with chicken or other meat. Cover and cook on high heat for 3-4 hours or low heat for 6-7 hours.