Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Recipe

Slow cooker pulled chicken is the best dinner recipe ever. Chicken breast Slow cooked with a smoky and sweet barbecue sauce until it’s tender and juicy, then piled high onto a bun for an easy, healthy and delicious weeknight dinner!

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Recipe by It's Yummi

You and I both know that preparing fresh meals from scratch every day can be hard work, not to mention stressful. Especially when there are lots of family commitments keeping you busy and away from the house.

Heck, some families even find it tough to schedule a time to eat meals together around the dinner table. That’s where slow cookers come into the picture. Take the stress and mess out of preparing dinner. That’s what it did for me in the case of this slow cooker pulled chicken recipe.

I’m pretty confident that using a slow cooker to help with the meal prep is a great way to do it. I can’t even explain how much I love my slow cooker!

Real magic to this bbq pulled chicken recipe is the sauce.

It really really is. We’ve got this homemade barbecue sauce recipe down to a science. You are more than welcome to use your favorite barbecue sauce from a jar but really this sauce is going to make you weak in the knees.

You are already saving time for dinner by using the slow cooker so try this from scratch barbecue sauce!

What you’ll need for this smokey barbecue sauce: ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, molasses, lemon juice, yellow mustard, liquid smoke, black pepper, smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked chipotle powder, and chili powder.

I know it seems alot… but just trust me you’ve probably got most of these ingredients already and it is SO WORTH IT.

BBQ Pulled Chicken Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker is the real Hero in this Pulled Chicken recipe

The Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker is such a genius idea and it’s been used to make some awesome meals.

My favorite slow cooker recipes to date have been the Slow Cooker Italian Chicken, and Slow Cooker BBQ Sticky Rice. That is, until I made this slow cooker pulled chicken. I used the pulled chicken to put into sandwich buns.

I don’t know if it’s because the I used the probe thermometer to make sure that I wasn’t overcooking my chicken, or if it was the sweet smoky combo of the sauce, but this slow cooker pulled chicken really did knock my socks off.

How to not overcook chicken in the slow cooker

  1. All I had to do was insert the temperature probe through the hole in the lid and down into the thickest part of the chicken breast.
  2. I closed and clamped the lid and programmed the slow cooker to tell me when the chicken reached 163 degrees.
  3. After the timer went off, I opened the gasket sealed lid of the cooker and inserted my manual food thermometer into the same place the probe had been.  Wah-lah… 163 degrees popped up.  Color me impressed!
  4. I put the lid back on and cooked the chicken for another 30 minutes on high to make the chicken easier to pull apart.
  5. If I had wanted to serve BBQ chicken breasts for dinner, the buzzer would have meant that dinner was ready to serve. FYI, cooking 2 pounds of chicken breasts on high took 90 minutes.

When the food reaches the proper internal temperature, the cooker switches to a “keep warm” setting. Perfect for when I have to run out of the house unexpectedly.

FOOD FACT: 165 is the safe cooking temperature for poultry, but due to carryover cooking, I under cook foods by 2-3 degrees.

Pulled Chicken Recipe Slow Cooker Recipe by It's Yummi
BBQ Pulled Chicken in the Slow Cooker Recipe by It's Yummi

How would I go about Meal prepping this slow cooker recipe??

Chop your onion and make the barbecue sauce. Add to a freezer friendly or airtight container. When you are ready the day of add your onion, chicken and barbecue sauce! The set n’ forget slow cooker takes care of the rest!

We personally prefer to just make it immediately on a Sunday and then portion out the dinners in glass containers to quickly pop in the microwave when it’s dinnertime.

Can you freeze this pulled chicken recipe

Chicken in itself freezes fantastic! The homemade barbecue sauce, chicken and onion freeze fantastic together after it has been cooked. Whether you have extra leftovers or have maternity leave and need something quick you just want to dethaw and enjoy this recipe has you covered.

Our personal favorite way is to make this immediately and quickly warm up the leftovers, add to some buns and dinner is served. And if it becomes too much leftovers we’ll freeze the remaining to enjoy at another time.

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Recipe

How can this Pulled Chicken Dinner fit your diet

  • Low Carb – Overall this dish can be pretty easily be made low carb by swapping out the bun for a low carb bun and then you are on the low carb track! Next you’ll want to use a low carb ketchup and a brown sugar sweetener alternative. Everything else and you are on low carb track!
  • Dairy-Free – You’ll be happy to know that this recipe is automatically dairy-free! So perfect if you have a dairy-free family member or guest.
  • Gluten- Free – You can simply swap the bun with a gluten-free bun and you are all set! Prettttyyyyy easy peasy and also perfect for a gluten-free family member or guest. Just be sure to give them their own bowl of shredded chicken otherwise when plating onto normal buns you would be cross contaminating the chicken and potentially make them sick!
Slow Cooker Recipe with Chicken

Please let me know what you think of this slow cooker pulled chicken recipe!

Other slow cooker recipes you might like:

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Recipe

Boneless skinless chicken breast is slow cooked with a smoky and sweet barbeque sauce until it’s tender and juicy, then piled high onto whole wheat buns for an easy, healthy and delicious weeknight dinner!
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course chicken, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine slow cooker
Servings 8
Calories 458 kcal



  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (approx. 2 large breasts)
  • 2 medium yellow or white onions peeled and diced

For the BBQ Sauce

  • 3 cups organic ketchup
  • ¾ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 ounces (1/3 liquid cup) cider vinegar
  • cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons molasses
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sea or Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked chipotle powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder


Prepare BBQ Sauce

  • Place all ingredients into a medium sized saucepan over medium heat; stir to combine.
  • Bring contents to a simmer and cook until sauce thickens and becomes darker in color, about 10-15 minutes.
  • When refrigerated in a well covered container, the sauce will store well for up to 2 months.

Prepare Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

  • Place chicken breasts and diced onion into the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover with sauce and stir to coat.
  • Using manufacturer’s instructions to operate the slow cooker, cook on high for 3–4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. Chicken is done when meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast reaches at least 163 degrees F. and chicken is starting to break apart on its own.
  • After chicken has cooked, carefully remove breasts from cooker and transfer to a cutting board. Use two forks to pull the chicken apart and into shredded pieces. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and stir into the BBQ sauce. Allow chicken to cook on low for another 15 minutes.
  • Serving Suggestion Serve on buns, wrapped in flour tortillas, over rice, or on top of a garden salad.



Calories: 458kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 40gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 1688mgPotassium: 1235mgFiber: 1gSugar: 48gVitamin A: 890IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 81mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Mention @itsyummi or tag #itsyummirecipe!


  1. 5 stars
    How ever did you discover I’ve been looking at these programmable beauties? My current slow cooker has been a loyal and faithful subject with its low/high temperature switch, but I require convenience! I would have to make my Chunky Southwestern Turkey Chili! Woohoo 🙂

    1. Woohoo, Deb! I was hoping that there would be someone in the market for an extra special slow cooker like this one. Good luck… and I definitely need your chili recipe in my life!

  2. Wow Becca, this sounds delicious. Going to try it, on a stove top though. I don’t have a slow cooker. Mi know, hey, I’m from NY remember! Hahaha.

    1. Hahaha, Carolann! I know…you Italian girls need to stove top cook everything. 😉 This recipe will work just fine over there, too <3

  3. “Woo to the Hoo” indeed!!! What a giveaway!!! I have a mini slow cooker – but other than making fondue in it, we haven’t experimented that much with it – this chicken recipe is inspiration for to to start – but what would be more inspiration is that slow cooker – can I bribe you with chocolate manicotti to pick me?? 😉

    1. You just stopped me dead in my tracks with 2 simple little words, Shashi… CHOCOLATE. MANICOTTI. Oh em gee. I think you’re on to something… however, I cannot fudge the system, so we’ll just pray extra hard for you to win that amazing slow cooker, m’kay? 🙂

      1. I’m having a major chocolate craving – and you had to mention fudge…
        BTW, i did make dairy free chocolate manicotti and topped them with chocolate coconut sauce – plates were licked that night in my house!

        1. Oops…Sorry about the chocolate reference. I tend to eat, sleep, and breathe the stuff. 😉
          Unfortunately, I can’t share your joy in the other indulgence, because I have a severe allergy to coconut products. There’ll be no plate licking for me in that regard, which is fine, because I really don’t think I want anything but fudge now, too. I’m off to find a can of condensed milk from the back of my pantry! 🙂 #BePreparedAtAllTimes

  4. 5 stars
    Hi Becca- Would you believe that off all the ingredients, I did not have ketchup? Ran out got some and it is now in my old slow cooker. Smells divine already. I just found your site this week and this is my 2nd recipe. I tried your vegetarian minestrone soup. Even my picky one, loved it. Thank you for all the work that you put into this. It is greatly appreciated.

    1. Your sweet comment has made my heart VERY happy today, Olga. Thank you so much! I hope you love the pulled chicken as much as I did. Oh, and I wish I had known that you needed ketchup, because I have 3 giant bottles of it in my pantry. Every time I go to Sam’s Club I somehow forget that I already have a bottle and I end up buying another one! LOL

  5. what’s not to love about slow cookers and programmable makes it even better! I would probably make pulled pork as we make that a lot

  6. Chef Bec! This sandwich looks delicious…like it needs to jump off my computer screen and into my lap right this very instant. In fact, could you just make 2 of them jump into my lap? I’ll need a 2nd one since the 1st will be gone in a matter of seconds. What you believe that I actually don’t own a slow cooker? Yup, ours broke last year…and I haven’t replaced it. But if you keep posting deliciousness like this, you may make me have to go get a new one!

    1. Thanks, Dave! As I was putting this pulled chicken recipe together into sandwiches, I had to ration myself little pieces, just to be sure that there would be enough left over for a late night snack. In other news, NO slow cooker in your house?? I want to cry for you! I wish you the very best of luck in the giveaway, because if anyone could put a slow cooker like this to great use, it would be you! 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    The Pulled Chicken recipe was a great success. My son asked to put it into the rotation. I followed the recipe exactly and it was perfect.

  8. It’s absolutely the perfect season for chili, Bernadette. In a slow cooker is the ultra easy way to do it, too!

  9. I would make my pot roast with potatoes and carrots and celery. We love pot roast here. then I’d make this pulled chicken recipe.

  10. I’m a chili lover too, Ashley! Be sure to check out my recipe index for lots of chili variations. I think I have 5 different chili recipes up there now.

  11. 5 stars
    I am a huge fan of slow cookers in general and barbecue sauced chicken in particular. How delicious this looks, Becca!

  12. Thank you for stopping by, Janie! I hope you find lots of great recipes to keep you and your slow cooker happy 🙂

  13. Serena, I honestly didn’t think the meat probe would be something I’d use, but I absolutely love it! I hope you have a chance to try the pulled chicken recipe some time. It really was a great dinner!

  14. I’ve been flirting with the idea of getting a slow cooker, in fact even posted in Facebook about it… anyway, fingers crossed!

    I guess I would start by making carnitas…. 😉

  15. This looks SOOO GOOD! We are huge crock pot fans – roasts, BBQ, ribs, stews, chilis… I use it for everything. Making the roast for Cuban sandwiches is something I haven’t made in awhile and would love to make in this awesome crock pot!

  16. I think you’re absolutely right, Stacie! Can you imagine preparing a meal and not having to worry about your sweet 2 year old standing under your feet while it cooks? Heaven, I think! 😉

  17. First thing would be the recipe that you shared for the SLOW COOKER PULLED CHICKEN RECIPE because WOW does that look good.

  18. 5 stars
    The first thing I would cook is a Colombian rice (Arroz con Pollo) that includes chicken and vegetables. Thanks for the chance to win such a DELICIOUS giveaway 🙂

  19. I am unsure if my comment went through after I hit enter it went to another page- I would make chili as the first thing.

  20. If I won, the first meal I’ll cook in my slow cooker is pot roast. Then I could have lots of leftovers during the week to make yummy sandwiches.

  21. Chicken is really healthy item. I REALLY liked this kind of recipe. I made my own spaghetti sauce and used parmesan reggiano.

  22. Your BBQ sauce sounds delicious — at least once a week I use my slow cooker to make shredded chicken, usually for chicken tacos. Although, I think I might need a new crockpot – mine is over 10 years old and has 3 settings, low/high/off. I think I need to get one with more bells and whistles!

    1. Thanks, April! I had my last slow cooker for a very long time, and truthfully, until I tried this one from Hamilton Beach, I thought all slow cookers were alike. That is not the case! This one cooks so much more efficiently!

  23. This sounds good. I’m not big on chicken dishes but my husband and son love chicken. I’ll have to try making this for them. I’m glad it’s a slow cooker recipe.

  24. Hi Becca!
    I like this recipe for pulled chicken. I am always making pulled pork instead. One quick question… if I can’t find chipotle powder, what can I use? I would like to make this next week and freeze a batch for an easy weekday meal.

    1. Hi Analida! If you can’t find chipotle powder, just use chili powder. They’re virtually the same, except that chili powder is a little less spicy and doesn’t have the smoky undertones. Use a little cumin with it and I think you’ll be happy with the result. 🙂

  25. Thank you – I’m just getting back into using the crockpot – and teaching my children to use it too. We’ve enjoyed pulled-pork but a variation would be greatly appreciated I’m sure. I’m putting this on our next menu!

  26. This looks mouthwatering! Thanks so much for sharing this at the Frugal Family Linky! Crockpot / slowcooker recipes are usually keys ways to save on money and energy! Evelyne

  27. Oh yummy! We use our slow cooker all the time – ideal when the weather is cold & all you want is a hot meal when you get home! Thanks for sharing on the #frugalfamilylinky

    1. Thanks, Helen! I agree. Slow cooker recipes are fabulous any time of year, but especially when the weather is cold!

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