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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Recipe: Your Go-To Comfort Meal

When I’m in the mood for a heartwarming and delicious meal that doesn’t require too much hands-on time, my go-to is a slow cooker BBQ chicken recipe.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Recipe

I take boneless, skinless chicken breasts and combine them with rich BBQ sauce and a mix of complementary seasonings, then let the slow cooker do all the heavy lifting. This method not only infuses the chicken with bold flavors but also ensures that the meat stays wonderfully tender.

My favorite part about preparing BBQ chicken in a slow cooker is the set-it-and-forget-it convenience. I simply layer the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning, and by dinnertime, I’m greeted with the enticing aroma of perfectly cooked BBQ chicken.

Whether it’s for a casual family dinner or a larger gathering, this dish always seems to hit the right spot, and the leftovers—if any—are just as tasty.

Ingredients You’ll Need

When I make slow cooker BBQ chicken, I like to gather all my ingredients beforehand to ensure the process goes smoothly. Here’s what you’ll need to create a delicious dish that’s full of flavor:

  • Chicken: I typically use about 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but thighs can also be a great option if you prefer darker meat.

  • Sauces & Seasonings: The key to that rich, tangy flavor lies in the sauce and seasoning. You can either use a store-bought BBQ sauce or make your own blend.

    • BBQ Sauce: Aim for 1 1/2 cups. I sometimes make homemade sauce but, Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ is a top choice when I’m short on time.
    • Brown Sugar: Usually, 2 tablespoons will suffice to add that hint of sweetness.
    • Apple Cider Vinegar: A splash, roughly 1/4 cup, balances the sweet with its tang.
    • Worcestershire Sauce: It adds depth with a tablespoon or so.
    • Spices: Paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of chili powder can be adjusted to taste, but a teaspoon is a good starting point for each.
  • Extra Flavoring:

    • Liquid Smoke: A teaspoon truly elevates the smokiness.
    • Onion: Half of a medium onion, grated, infuses the chicken beautifully.
  • Fats:

    • Olive Oil: About 1 tablespoon, to help keep the chicken moist.

Here’s how you can organize the ingredients:

3 lbsChicken
1 1/2 cupsBBQ Sauce
1/2Medium Onion, grated
1 tbspOlive Oil
1 tbspWorcestershire Sauce
2 tbspBrown Sugar
1/4 cupApple Cider Vinegar
To tasteSpices
1 tspLiquid Smoke

Gather these ingredients, and you’ll be all set to create a mouthwatering slow cooker BBQ chicken that is sure to be a hit at your next meal.

How To Make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

First, I gather all necessary ingredients, ensuring I have high-quality BBQ sauce, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, and my choice of additional seasonings, like garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I personally prefer chicken thighs as they tend to be juicier and more flavorful after slow cooking.


  • 2 lbs chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I begin by seasoning the chicken generously with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. It’s essential to coat each piece evenly to infuse the flavors into the meat.


  1. Season the chicken with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Place the seasoned chicken in the slow cooker.
  3. Pour the BBQ sauce over the chicken, ensuring it’s well-coated.
  4. Set the slow cooker to low heat for 6-7 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.

Halfway through the cooking process, I like to check on the chicken and give it a quick stir to ensure that the BBQ sauce is sufficiently covering all the pieces.

Once the cooking time is up, the internal temperature of the chicken should read at least 165°F to ensure it’s fully cooked. I remove the chicken from the slow cooker and use two forks to shred it. The chicken should be tender enough to fall apart easily.

Finally, I put the shredded chicken back into the slow cooker, mix it with the thickened BBQ sauce, and let it sit for an additional 10-15 minutes to soak up all the flavors.

This simple and straightforward method always yields tender and scrumptious BBQ chicken, perfect for sandwiches, salads, or as a standalone dish served with a side of coleslaw!

Tips For The Best Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

When I cook Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken, I’ve found a few tips that ensure it turns out flavorful and tender every time:

  1. Pick the Right Chicken: I prefer using dark meat like thighs and drumsticks as they tend to stay juicier and more flavorful, but I make sure to remove the skin to prevent the sauce from getting too greasy.

  2. Layer Flavors: I start by seasoning my chicken with a simple spice rub before adding it to the slow cooker. This creates a base layer of flavor that complements the BBQ sauce.

  3. Homemade BBQ Sauce: Although store-bought sauce is convenient, I sometimes make my homemade BBQ sauce for an authentic and customizable taste. Plus, I can control the sweetness, tanginess, and spice level to my liking.

  4. Avoid Overcrowding: I make sure not to overcrowd my slow cooker. There should be enough space for the heat to circulate evenly, ensuring each piece of chicken cooks through perfectly.

  5. Baste Occasionally: If I’m at home, I like to baste the chicken with the sauce a few times during cooking. It adds more flavor and creates a better glaze on the chicken.

  6. Sauce Thickness: If the sauce is too thin after cooking, I transfer it to a saucepan and simmer it until it’s reduced to my desired consistency. Alternatively, I mix a cornstarch slurry into the slow cooker to thicken the sauce more quickly.

  7. Rest The Meat: Before I serve, I let the chicken rest in the sauce for a bit after cooking. This allows the chicken to soak up all the delicious flavors.

What To Serve With Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

When I prepare my Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken, I think about balance and how to complement the sweet and tangy flavors of the BBQ sauce. Here are my go-to sides that make the perfect meal:


  • Cornbread: It’s a classic pairing for any BBQ dish.
  • Rice: I prefer a fluffy bed of white or brown rice to soak up that delicious sauce.


  • Coleslaw: The crispiness adds a refreshing contrast to the tender chicken.
  • Baked Beans: Their earthy flavor pairs well with the richness of the BBQ chicken.


  • Potato Salad: Creamy and delicious, it’s always a hit at my table.
  • Green Salad: I toss together some mixed greens with a light vinaigrette for a healthier side.

Potato Dishes:

Remember, every good dish deserves great companions, and these sides will surely round out your meal wonderfully. Whether you opt for something creamy like a classic potato salad or something light like a green salad, these sides will not only fill you up but also complement the smoky taste of the BBQ chicken. Enjoy crafting your perfect BBQ meal with these sides!

How To Store, Freeze & Reheat Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Storing Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken properly ensures that you can enjoy your meal for days after cooking. After the chicken has cooled, I place it in an airtight container. It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to four days.

In the Fridge:

  • Let the chicken cool completely.
  • Transfer to an airtight container.
  • Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

For longer storage, freezing is an excellent option. To freeze the BBQ chicken:

Freezing Steps:

  1. Cool the chicken completely.
  2. Portion the chicken into meal-sized servings.
  3. Place in freezer bags or airtight freezer-safe containers.
  4. Label with the date and freeze.
  5. Use within 3 months for best quality.

When it’s time to reheat, I usually thaw the chicken in the fridge overnight if it’s been frozen. For reheating, you can use either the microwave or the stovetop.

Reheating Instructions:


  • Place the chicken in a microwave-safe dish.
  • Cover with a lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap.
  • Reheat on medium power, stirring occasionally, until heated through.


  • Transfer the chicken to a skillet.
  • Reheat on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Add a splash of water or chicken broth if needed to keep the chicken moist.

Your Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken should taste as delicious as the day you made it!

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