These Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches are full of tangy and smoky flavor. This easy recipe is made in the crock pot and topped with a flavorful coleslaw!
This post was originally published on August 3, 2016 and updated with new photos July 27, 2017.
There’s no way around it – BBQ chicken sandwiches are delicious. They’re tangy, kind of smoky, super messy bundles of joy. If you make them in the slow cooker, you can add ‘easy’ to that list of adjectives.
The slow cooker (or crockpot as we call it in Minnesota) is a wonderful cooking tool that will help you get through the hot and humid summer months by allowing you not to turn on the oven.
Whoever invented this thing is a genius. You can crank out fantastic meals that make your house smell amazing (and drive your cats crazy) with seriously minimal effort. BBQ + chicken + bun + your favorite toppings = bliss.
These Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches are some of the best around!
How To Make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
I like to turn the slow cooker on for about 10 minutes before I stick anything in there. This creates a warm base and the spices will heat up and become a little more aromatic when added to it.
- Turn on the slow cooker and add 2 Tbsp. of chicken stock. Let it warm for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, gather up your spices. For this recipe, I use 1 tsp. of garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, and 1/2 tsp. chili flakes or cayenne pepper.
- Once the stock has warmed a little bit, add half of each spice along with a pinch of salt and pepper. I like to add half the spices to the bottom and then the remaining half on top of the meat. This sort of ‘wraps’ the chicken with flavor (that’s what I tell myself, anyway). You will start to smell the garlic and spices as they heat up.
What Kind Of Chicken Is Best In The Crockpot?
Now for the chicken. I used 2 lbs of chicken breasts. You can use boneless or bone-in chicken breasts. Boneless is easier so that is the route I went here. However, cooking meat with the bone always adds another layer of flavor.
If you choose bone-in chicken simply remove the skin before adding to the slow cooker. There is great flavor in chicken skin and you can definitely leave it on if you prefer, but I find that skin-on chicken in the slow cooker can become a little greasy.
- Once that’s removed, add the chicken to the broth and spices.
- Add the other half of the spices to the top of the chicken along with another pinch of salt and pepper. Now you can set your timer. This recipe cooked for 4 hours on ‘high’.
If you’re looking for more slow cooker recipes don’t miss this Crockpot Tortilla Soup, Crockpot Buffalo Chicken, Slow Cooker Barbacoa Tacos, or Crockpot Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs!
Add The BBQ Sauce
- After four hours (and my cats are pacing back and forth in the kitchen), the chicken is done.
- Remove it from the slow cooker and let it rest in a bowl for at least 5 minutes before you pull it apart. This will allow the chicken to retain some of its juices.
- After it’s rested, pull it apart with two forks and remove the bones if using bone-in chicken. Search carefully through the chicken to make sure there aren’t any little bones hiding in there.
- Return the meat and any of the liquid back to the slow cooker. Now you can add 1 1/4 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce. Stir to combine and stick the lid back on there for another 5 minutes. This will allow the BBQ sauce to heat and marry with all the other flavors.
What Goes Well With BBQ Chicken Sandwiches?
I like to toast the buns for a bit before adding the chicken. As the BBQ sauce is heating, cut your buns in half and stick them in a warm skillet on the stove top. The edges get nice and crusty.
I love brioche buns because they hold up to the messy ingredients that get heaped on top of them. But, honestly, any bun will do. Use a gluten free bun or bread if you’d like to keep this recipe gluten free.
Add a generous portion of BBQ chicken to your bun along with a heaping spoonful of this Light and Crunchy Coleslaw. This coleslaw complements the flavor of the BBQ sauce – Trust me on this one.
If you love Asian flavors this Asian Cabbage Slaw is great or if you’re looking for something tangier check out this Blue Cheese Coleslaw.
Finish them off with a couple of pickled jalapenos and you’re gold. Cheese, raw or sauteed greens, other veggies, or anything pickled would also be delicious. Or, just eat them straight up.
There’s really no wrong way to eat a BBQ chicken sandwich!
Here’s to recipes like these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches that give you maximum flavor with minimal effort!
Can I Freeze The Cooked Chicken?
Yes! Crockpot chicken actually makes a great freezer meal.
Cook the BBQ chicken as directed in the recipe. Allow it to cool completely before freezing. Once cooled, place the shredded BBQ chicken in heavy-duty freezer bags. Place in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Place the freezer bag in the fridge for 24 hours to thaw. Heat the chicken on the stove top with a little bit of chicken broth until warm. You can also heat it up in the oven on a baking sheet or warm it in the slow cooker with a little extra chicken broth.
Prepare the coleslaw and other toppings just before serving.
Pottery by Bill Gossman.