Mouthwatering Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

crock pot pulled chicken

 The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 4 hrs 30 mins
Total: 4 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
398 Calories
19g Fat
25g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 398
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 95mg 32%
Sodium 546mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 32g
Calcium 75mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A homemade barbecue sauce makes this easy slow-cooked shredded chicken flavorful and juicy. This pulled chicken is a fantastic alternative to more traditional barbecue dishes, and it is just as delicious, if not more.

If you choose to make the dish with all chicken breasts, it will be lighter, but it won't be as tender and juicy. The addition of chicken thighs with the chicken breasts keeps the barbecue moist; it's still relatively light when compared to pulled pork or shredded beef. Plus, the chicken thighs offer more flavor than chicken breasts do.

For a spicier barbecue sauce, add more cayenne pepper. If you don't have a lot of extra time, make the pulled chicken with 2 cups of your favorite purchased barbecue sauce and jazz it up with some cayenne pepper and brown sugar or apricot preserves.


  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or use extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves (or use pineapple or peach preserves)
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • Dash allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs
  • 8 split sandwich buns
  • Optional topping: 1 cup coleslaw

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Slow Cooker Chicken Ingredients
    The Spruce 
  2. Peel the onion and chop finely. Mince the garlic.

    Garlic and onion.
    The Spruce
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions to the pan and cook until they are softened and lightly browned, about 6 to 10 minutes. Stir the onions frequently to keep them from scorching. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer, stirring constantly.

    Browned garlic and onions in butter.
    The Spruce
  4. Add the ketchup, apricot preserves, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, molasses, allspice, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to the onion and garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes longer.

    Barbecue Sauce ingredients.
    The Spruce
  5. Measure 1 1/2 cups of the sauce mixture and pour it into the crockery insert of the slow cooker.

    Barbecue sauce in slow cooker.
    The Spruce
  6. Reserve the remaining sauce; put it in a container and refrigerate until serving time.

    Reserved barbecue sauce.
    The Spruce
  7. Add the chicken pieces to the slow cooker.

    Chicken and sauce in the slow cooker.
    The Spruce
  8. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, or until the chicken is very tender and shreds easily. Using a fork, shred the chicken pieces.

    Slow cooker pulled chicken.
    The Spruce
  9. Serve the pulled chicken on split toasted buns with coleslaw and the extra barbecue sauce. Enjoy!


  • A menu might also include potato salad or baked potatoes, along with baked beans. Coleslaw and pickles are classic toppings for barbecue, but other toppings might include jalapeño pepper rings, thinly sliced red onion, plain shredded cabbage, and sliced tomatoes or cucumbers