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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

This Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken is fall-apart tender, juicy, flavorful, and super easy to make. Pile it on buns for delicious sandwiches that are perfect for a simple weeknight family dinner or feeding a crowd!

When the days are hot and you don’t want to heat up the kitchen but you still want a delicious and satisfying meal, get out your slow cooker and make a batch of this yummy barbecue pulled chicken!

Ditto for those busy days when you don’t have a lot of time to cook (or you just don’t feel much like cooking).

Ditto when you’re having a party, potluck or picnic and want to serve some hearty homemade food that everyone will enjoy.

It really doesn’t get much easier than this!

All you need is 5 ingredients – chicken, onion, barbecue sauce, salt, and pepper – and about 5 minutes (or less) of prep time (which is basically just chopping the onions and tossing everything together in the slow cooker).

After that, it’s totally hands-off! Let the Crockpot do all the work for you while you move on to other things.

In a few hours, you’ll come back to a big batch of super tender chicken that will literally just fall apart when you shred it. Combine it with all of that yummy barbecue sauce that it cooked in, and it’s ready to go!

Sandwiches are probably the most popular way to serve slow cooker barbecue chicken, but you can also use it in lots of other ways…wraps, sliders, tacos, nachos, quesadillas, pizza, loaded baked potatoes, and even salad.

This is a recipe that you will come back to again and again!

bbq pulled chicken in a slow cooker with a serving spoon

Ingredients you need:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
  • Barbecue sauce (your favorite store-bought or homemade)
  • Onion
  • Salt and pepper

If serving as sandwiches, you will also need some of your favorite hamburger buns.

Want to make your own barbecue sauce? Try my easy Homemade No-Cook Barbecue Sauce. It takes 5 minutes to make with basic pantry ingredients, and is so good in these sandwiches!

I usually make a double batch of barbecue sauce; one to go in the slow cooker with the chicken, and the other for extra to use when serving.

Here’s a look at how to make Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken:

two images, one of barbecue sauce and onions in a slow cooker with text that says stir together bbq sauce and onions in slow cooker, the other of boneless chicken breasts added to the sauce in the slow cooker with text that says add the chicken
two images, one of the chicken in the slow cooker being turned with tongs with text that says toss the chicken to coat in the sauce, the other of the chicken in the slow cooker seasoned with salt and pepper with text that says season with salt and pepper
two images, one of a slow cooker with text that says cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, the other of the cooked chicken in a bowl with text that says remove chicken from slow cooker
two images, one of shredded chicken in a bowl with two forks with text that says shred/pull apart the chicken with 2 forks, the other of the chicken back in the slow cooker with text that says place back in slow cooker and combine with the sauce, enjoy

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Even though we are slow cooking, you need to be careful to not overcook the chicken breasts, as they can become dry because they are so lean. About 6 hours on low is really all you should need for tender, juicy chicken.
    • Although you can cook the chicken on high for 3 to 4 hours, I don’t really recommend it because the chicken can dry out this way.
  • That being said, all slow cookers are different, so cooking times are approximate. Just make sure the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165°F.
  • You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts if you prefer; they can be a little more forgiving. A combination of breasts and thighs is also an option.
  • Use your favorite barbecue sauce, homemade or store-bought. Change it up now and then for different flavors.
  • After you shred the chicken and add it back to the sauce in the slow cooker, if you feel like you want to add more barbecue sauce, go right ahead!
  • If serving as sandwiches, I recommend buttering and toasting the inside of the buns. This will help keep them from getting soggy.
  • This recipe makes about 6 cups of pulled chicken, enough for at least 12 sandwiches. If you’re feeding a big crowd, you can easily double the recipe.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
slow cooker bbq pulled chicken on a bun topped with barbecue sauce and coleslaw and potato chips and pickles on the side

I just can’t resist piling the pulled chicken on a toasted bun, drizzling on some extra barbecue sauce, and topping it all off with a spoonful of cool, creamy, and crunchy coleslaw. What a combination of flavors and textures!

Serve it up with some potato chips and pickles for an easy family-friendly dinner (or lunch) that’s always a hit.

Stay tuned, because I’ve got a recipe for Classic Creamy Coleslaw coming up next that is perfect with these sandwiches, either on top or as a side dish.

I hope you try this Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

This Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken is fall-apart tender, juicy, flavorful, and super easy to make. Pile it on buns for delicious sandwiches that are perfect for a simple weeknight family dinner or feeding a crowd!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 12 (about ½ cup each; recipe makes about 6 cups total)
Estimated Calories: 191

Ingredients

  • cups barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving, if desired
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper, to taste (I start with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper)

Special Equipment

  • Slow cooker (4 quart or larger)

Instructions

  • Combine the barbecue sauce and onions in the slow cooker.
  • Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker; toss to coat with the barbecue sauce.
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours until tender and cooked through (make sure the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F).
    Note: All slow cookers are different, so cooking times are approximate.
  • Remove the chicken from the slow cooker to a large bowl; use two forks to pull apart and shred the chicken.
  • Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker; stir to coat evenly with the sauce.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. If you want it more saucy, you can stir in additional barbecue sauce. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Alternately, you can cook the chicken on high for 3 to 4 hours (although I don’t really recommend it, as the chicken can more easily dry out or overcook).
  • You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts (or a combination of the two).
  • To make sandwiches: butter and toast the inside of your favorite hamburger buns (this will help keep them from getting soggy) and pile the shredded chicken on the buns. If desired, drizzle with extra barbecue sauce. A scoop of some creamy coleslaw on top is also delicious!
  • Other uses: wraps, sliders, tacos, nachos, quesadillas, pizza, loaded baked potatoes, and even salad! 
  • Estimated calories are for the chicken and sauce only and do not include buns, extra barbecue sauce, or other toppings/sides.
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