It’s BBQ season aka almost summer and we all know what that means: parties in garages and backyards, all the fresh salsa and guac your heart desires, lots of corn on the cob, pasta salads that hopefully aren’t drenched in mayo and of course, adding a few too many tahini cookies or zucchini brownies to your plate just because they’re there.
Okay, maybe a fresh watermelon margarita too? YUM.
However, hosting a party also means making food for guests, which often can be exhausting and involve A LOT of prep work.
Today, I’m bringing you one of my favorite easy meals for BBQ season: slow cooker pulled chicken sandwiches. Throw it all into a crockpot and then forget about them until you’re ready to serve! They’re healthy, made with a homemade sauce and even perfect for weeknight dinners. The best part about these pulled chicken sandwiches isn’t just that they’re easy though, it’s also that you can keep them warm in the slow cooker until they’re ready to be served!
Ingredients in slow cooker pulled chicken sandwiches
These easy pulled chicken sandwiches are made with super simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry and refrigerator. The best part? You just add the following to your slow cooker with your chicken and let your slow cooker work some magic:
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs: I like using chicken thighs because they’re more tender, cheaper and flavorful than regular chicken breast.
- Ketchup: feel free to use any kind. I prefer a lower sugar ketchup.
- BBQ sauce: again, you can use any kind of BBQ sauce you like. I prefer Stubb’s Spicy BBQ sauce because it’s lower in sugar.
- Worcestershire sauce: a bit of Worcestershire adds an amazing savory flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar: you’ll want to add a little acidity to the sauce. This is the kind I use!
- Yellow mustard: some tangy yellow mustard pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the BBQ sauce.
- Spices: we’re adding cumin and cayenne for additional delicious flavor.
- Hamburger buns: I love a whole grain, seedy hamburger bun but feel free to use any brand you’d like (even gluten free).
- Toppings: don’t forget my famous homemade healthy coleslaw to go on top! You could also add a slice of cheese, red onion, fresh tomato, crisp lettuce — the options are endless.
How do you pull chicken?
Pulling chicken is much easier than it sounds. All you have to do is:
- Once your chicken is done cooking in your slow cooker (after 6-7 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high) you’ll remove each chicken thigh with a slotted spoon and place it onto a cutting board.
- Take two forks and pull apart each chicken thigh until your chicken is fully shredded
- Add your newly pulled chicken back to your slow cooker and stir it into your sauce to soak up all of that flavor. Done!
How to store, freeze & reheat BBQ pulled chicken
To store: If you have leftover pulled chicken, simply store it in an airtight bag or container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To freeze: allow the pulled chicken to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer safe bag or container. It will stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the pulled chicken to thaw in the refrigerator before fully reheating or using it.
To reheat: for a hands-off option you can add the leftover pulled chicken to your crock pot and place it on “warm” to warm it back up. Otherwise you can simply reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
More ways to use crock pot pulled chicken
- Add it to these delicious zucchini boats
- Throw it on a big salad like this one
- Top a yummy, loaded quinoa bowl
- Use it as a topping for your favorite homemade pizza!
What goes well with pulled chicken sandwiches?
After topping your crock pot pulled chicken sandwiches with the delicious cilantro cabbage slaw, I love serving them with any of these healthy side dishes:
You can also serve the slow cooker pulled chicken in lettuce cups, on top of salad, or even in tacos. SO GOOD.
See how to make the pulled chicken sandwich recipe:
I know you’re going to love these pulled chicken sandwiches, please let me know if you make them by leaving a comment and rating the recipe below. I’d love to hear from you and it helps encourage others to make the recipe too! xo.
Incredible Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Easy pulled chicken sandwiches topped with a sweet and tangy cabbage slaw. This healthy slow cooker pulled chicken sandwich recipe is is perfect for BBQ's, potlucks, or a delicious weeknight dinner all year round! Try the healthy BBQ pulled chicken on a bun, in lettuce wraps, on salads and more.
- For the chicken:
- 1 ½ pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup low sugar bbq sauce (I love Stubb’s Spicy BBQ sauce)
- ¼ cup water or chicken broth
- ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- For the slaw:
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- For serving:
- 4 whole grain or gluten free seedy hamburger buns
Add ketchup, bbq sauce, water, worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, cumin and cayenne pepper to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
Place chicken thighs on top and flip over to coat the chicken thighs with the sauce. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 hours.
Once done, shred chicken and place back in the slow cooker and stir with the sauce. Serve immediately or turn slow cooker to the warm setting and serve later.
Make the slaw while the chicken is cooking: In a medium bowl combine carrots, cabbage, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil and salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate until you are ready to serve.
Once ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to add chicken to bun, top with slaw and remaining bun. You can also serve these with sliced cheese if you prefer. Serves 4. Double, triple, or quadruple recipe to serve a crowd!
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats