Here I’ll show you how to make juicy, tender and delicious slow cooker chicken sandwiches in the easiest way possible!
Traditionally you’d make pulled pork sandwiches, but today I’m going to show you that pulled chicken sandwiches are JUST as delicious! Follow me…
Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
For these sandwiches we’re using boneless skinless chicken thighs. Thighs work great in the slow cooker because they come out gorgeously tender. They’re also more difficult to dry out.
Do I have to fry the chicken before adding to the slow cooker?
Some slow cooker chicken recipes fry the chicken before adding it to the slow cooker, usually to add a touch of flavour, but it’s really not necessary. This is a really simple recipe so you can just chuck the raw chicken straight in.
Can I use Chicken Breast?
Like I mentioned above, I do recommend thighs, but if breast is all you have on hand it’ll work absolutely fine.
Process shots: in a small pot add smoked paprika, garlic powder, chilli powder, salt and black pepper (photo 1), whisk to combine (photo 2), add chicken thighs to a slow cooker (photo 3), coat in spice mix (photo 4).
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Once you’ve seasoned the chicken in the slow cooker, it’s pretty much plain sailing from there. The only other things you’ll need to add are BBQ Sauce (homemade or your favourite store-bought) and a grated onion. The onion not only adds a little liquid to thin out the sauce, but it also deepens the flavour of the sauce.
How long to slow cook BBQ chicken?
You’ll find the sweet spot is high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-7 hours. You’ll know the chicken is ready to go when it’s piping hot in the centre and very easily shreds apart. As I mentioned, it’s more tricky to overcook chicken thighs, but it can be done, so just be vigilant if you go overtime!
Process shots: add BBQ sauce and onion (photo 1), stir to combine (photo 2), slow cook (photos 3 &4).
Pulled BBQ Chicken
Once the chicken’s cooked, most recipes suggest shredding the chicken in the slow cooker with all the leftover juices. However, personally I prefer to remove the chicken and shred it to one side. Not only will there almost certainly be an excess of liquid, but it’ll also be fairly thin, meaning it doesn’t coat the chicken particularly well.
What I prefer to do is shred the chicken to one side, then whisk in cornstarch/cornflour + water to the leftover juices. This will thicken the sauce, condense the flavour and coat the chicken a lot more efficiently. Once it has thickened, you can then pour as much or little as you want over the shredded chicken.
Tips for Pulled BBQ Chicken
- Over-shredding: Don’t over shred the chicken, otherwise it comes out tough and chewy. Shred a little before adding the sauce, then gently shred to your desired texture after coating in the sauce.
- Sauce amount: Start off with a little amount and gradually work up. It’s much easier to add more sauce than it is to take it out!
- Heat: Make sure the sauce is piping hot before you coat the chicken, just so everything’s served nice and toastie.
Process shots: add cooked chicken to dish or tray (photo 1), roughly shred (photo 2), pour over sauce (photo 3), toss to combine (photo 4).
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
When it comes to making the sandwiches, you’ll want to use burger buns (here I’ve used Brioche). From there the classic filling is coleslaw, but pickles, cheese, bacon and jalapeños all work nicely!
What to serve with pulled chicken sandwiches?
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for these slow cooker BBQ chicken sandwiches shall we?!
How to make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (Full Recipe & Video)
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker
- Small Pot (for spice mix)
- Baking Dish or Tray (to shred chicken)
- Box Grater (for onion)
- 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp of EACH: Garlic Powder, Chilli Powder, Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 2.6lb / 1.2kg boneless skinless Chicken Thighs, fat trimmed (see notes)
- 1 cup / 240g BBQ Sauce
- 1 small White Onion, grated on a box grater
- 1 tbsp Cornstarch/Cornflour
- 6-8 Burger Buns, here I use Brioche
- Coleslaw, as needed
- In a small pot combine 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp chilli powder, garlic powder & salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
- Add chicken thighs to a slow cooker and use your tongs to coat in the spices. Pour over BBQ sauce and add grated onion, then toss again to combine.
- Slow cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. The chicken is cooked when it's piping hot through the centre and very easily falls apart.
- Use tongs to remove the chicken and place in a baking dish or tray. Gently shred with two forks (don't over-shred).
- In a small pot combine 1 tbsp cornstarch/cornflour with 1 tbsp cold water, then pour into the leftover juices in the slow cooker. Flick slow cooker to high and whisk until it thickens. If the juices cooled too much pour the juices into a pan and rapidly simmer/whisk until it thickens.
- Pour preferred amount of sauce over chicken and toss to combine.
- Serve in burger buns with coleslaw. Enjoy!
Your Private Notes:
For more similar sandwiches check out these beauties:
- BBQ Chicken Grilled Cheese
- Chicken Nacho Sandwich
- Chipotle Chicken Grilled Cheese
- Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese
If you loved this Slow Cooker Chicken Sandwich Recipe be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below!