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Pull out the bibs, keep your napkin at the ready, and grab the barbecue sauce, because today we are making one of my favorite slow cooker recipes: Crockpot BBQ Chicken! This easy bbq slow cooker recipe is simple, made with just chicken and barbecue sauce.

slow cooker bbq chicken shredded in a crockpot with barbecue sauce

Why You’ll Love This Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Recipe

  • It’s Great for Meal Prep. Just like this Shredded Chicken Sandwich recipe, this slow cooker pulled chicken recipe is great for meal prep and freezing. Portion it, then use it all throughout the week.
  • Endless Ways to Enjoy. From sandwiches, salads, pizza, and more, there are countless ways to enjoy pulled BBQ chicken. See the “How to Use Crockpot BBQ Chicken” section below for yummy ideas.
  • Easy Never Tasted so Good. Moist, saucy, and brimming with that sweet ’n smoky BBQ flair, this easy slow cooker BBQ chicken is one of those prized and precious dinners in which a ridiculously simple recipe produces an extremely satisfying meal. It’s the kind of back pocket dinner (like these Crockpot Ribs) that you and your family will want to make on repeat.
  • The Chicken Is Fall-Apart Tender. Thanks to the slow cooker, the boneless, skinless chicken breasts become melt-in-your-mouth tender (no dry or bland chicken breasts here). While my BBQ Chicken Marinade makes this Baked BBQ Chicken succulent and flavorful, there’s something so satisfying about how juicy the slow cooker makes this crockpot BBQ chicken.
Chicken breasts in a slow cooker with BBQ sauce

5 Star Review

“I have just had this for the second night in a row and it’s fabulous. My husband loves it too – so he will be asking for it again!”

— Beth —

How to Make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

The Ingredients

  • Chicken. Every bite of the tender, juicy pulled BBQ chicken is coated in the sweet and sticky sauce, making it truly scrumptious and taste great! I used boneless, skinless chicken breast to keep things light, but you could use chicken thighs or legs instead (see “Recipe Variations” below for tips).


Know Your Chicken Size/Weight

  • This recipe is based on two pounds of chicken, which for me was 3 medium/large breasts, but you can scale it up or down as needed.
  • The average weight of 2 medium chicken breasts is 1 pound, but this can vary based on the size of your breasts.
  • Smaller boneless, skinless chicken breasts weigh about 6 ounces each, medium chicken breasts weigh 8-10 ounces, and larger breasts can be 12 ounces or more. If your chicken is smaller, make sure to check it early.
  • BBQ Sauce. The BBQ sauce keeps the chicken moist during cooking, and its flavor will appeal to everyone at your table.
  • Cornstarch. A cornstarch slurry thickens the sauce. Whisked in a bowl together cornstarch and water.

The Directions

Chicken breasts in a slow cooker topped with BBQ sauce
  1. Cook the Chicken. Cook the chicken breasts in the sauce on high for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or low for 4 to 5 hours.
Sauce being whisked in a slow cooker
  1. Add the Slurry. Remove the chicken and allow the sauce to thicken.
A slow cooker with shredded chicken and sauce
  1. Shred the Chicken. Add it back to the slow cooker. ENJOY!

Recipe Variations

  • Crockpot BBQ Chicken Thighs. Follow the recipe as written but adjust the cook time. Two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs should cook in 3 to 4 hours on HIGH or 5 to 6 hours on LOW. (Chicken thigh fans, try Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken or this Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken recipe next.)
  • Crockpot BBQ Chicken Legs. I suggest removing the skin first (it won’t get crispy in the slow cooker). Cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or on LOW for 5 to 6 hours. Thicken the sauce as directed, but leave the chicken legs whole.
  • Crockpot BBQ Chicken Wings. I haven’t tried crockpot BBQ chicken wings, but if you decide to experiment with them, I’d love to hear how it goes! (Alternatively, you may want to try these Air Fryer Chicken Wings).
Easy crockpot BBQ chicken with green onions

How to Use Crockpot BBQ Chicken

  • Sandwiches. Pile it on a bun to make BBQ chicken sandwiches (use my Pulled Chicken Sandwich for inspiration).
  • Salad. Toss it over a salad (it’s perfect for this BBQ Chicken Salad).
  • Stuff it in a Tortilla. Use a tortilla to make BBQ-style slow cooker pulled chicken tacos or a quesadilla (like I did in this Pulled Pork Quesadilla).
  • Nachos. Layer it on chips for slow cooker BBQ chicken nachos (you can use Chicken Nachos for inspo).
  • Pizza or Flatbread. Everyone loves a BBQ Chicken Pizza or flatbread.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Store leftover BBQ shredded chicken in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. BBQ chicken can be stored in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

I like to prepare this chicken on Sunday for dinner and then divvy up the leftovers into smaller, individual portions to use for lunches all week long.

The best BBQ chicken recipe on a bun

Leftover Ideas

Take note from these Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes and serve leftovers over an Air Fryer Sweet Potato or Baked Potato.

What to Serve With Crockpot BBQ Chicken

shredded BBQ chicken served as a sandwich
  • Whisk. Perfect for stirring the sauce without making a mess.
  • Saucepan. An ideal way to quickly thicken the sauce if you’d like to speed things along.
  • Storage Containers. Perfect for make-ahead lunches, divvy up leftover crockpot bbq chicken into pre-portioned lunch containers.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t Overcook the Chicken. Yes, it is possible to overcook chicken in a slow cooker, especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts, so keep a close eye on them and use an instant read thermometer to check their internal temperature.
  • Pick a BBQ Sauce You Enjoy. I highly recommend this easy homemade Barbecue Sauce, but store-bought sauce works well too. The BBQ sauce is a major flavor component in this recipe, so make sure you enjoy the taste of whichever one you choose!
  • Cook Your Chicken on LOW. As a rule of thumb, I almost always cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts on LOW for the best results. I find boneless, chicken breasts cooked on HIGH tend to become dry, even if you check it early. If you need to cook the chicken on HIGH, however, they will still turn out delicious (just watch them closely).

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

4.78 from 27 votes
The BEST EVER crockpot BBQ chicken recipe. Easiest slow cooker recipe for tender pulled chicken made with just chicken and barbecue sauce.

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 4 hours 30 minutes
Total: 4 hours 35 minutes

Servings: 6 servings (4 1/2 cups shredded chicken)


  • 1 1/2 cups  Homemade BBQ Sauce or your favorite store-bought sauce (the homemade sauce only takes about 15 minutes to make and is totally worth it!)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (see post for directions on using thighs or legs)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water to make a slurry
  • Serving suggestions: whole wheat or pretzel buns or whole wheat tortillas, cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, baked sweet potatoes


  • If you are making your own, prepare a Homemade BBQ Sauce.
  • Lightly coat a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with sauce, spooning the sauce all over the top. If you made a batch of the Homemade BBQ Sauce, reserve the rest for serving.
  • Cover the slow cooker, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours on high or 4 to 5 hours on low, until the chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks, either on a cutting board or directly in the slow cooker.
  • Thicken the sauce in the slow cooker. Add the slurry to the slow cooker with the remaining sauce. Whisk to combine, cover the slow cooker, and set to high. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes (see the note section below for a quicker stovetop method to thicken the sauce).
  • Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and toss to coat. Serve chicken warm on buns for sandwiches, inside quesadillas, or (our favorite) on top of a baked sweet potato with a sprinkle of green onion. Add additional BBQ sauce as desired.



  • TO STORE: Store leftover BBQ shredded chicken in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: BBQ chicken can be stored in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • You can thicken the sauce more quickly by transferring it from the slow cooker to a medium saucepan. Whisk in the slurry, and then cook on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring often until the sauce thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. (If your slow cooker insert is stovetop safe, you can remove it from the slow cooker and place it directly on the burner, but do not do this unless you are POSITIVE your insert is stovetop safe or it may crack).
  • For directions on using chicken thighs or chicken legs, please reference the blog post above.
  • Feel free to double this recipe to feed a larger group. You may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • All slow cookers differ in temperature, so adjust the cooking time according to your experience. Cooking time may vary based on the make and model of your slow cooker.


Serving: 1(of 6), about 3/4 cups, without bunCalories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 33gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgPotassium: 697mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 178IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 27mgIron: 1mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Put Frozen Chicken in the Crockpot?

While some sources may tell you to go ahead, putting frozen chicken in a slow cooker isn’t something I recommend. Because crockpots heat food slowly, frozen chicken will spend too long in the “danger zone” for bacteria growth before it reaches a food-safe temperature.

Do You Have to Cook Chicken Before Putting It in a Slow Cooker?

No. Raw chicken can safely be added to a crockpot so there is no need to precook it. Just make sure your chicken is fully thawed before adding it to the slow cooker.

Can You Make Pulled BBQ Chicken in an Instant Pot?

Yes! Note that the sauce will not be as thick as with the slow cooker method, due to needing to add chicken broth to prevent the burn warning.
1. Add 1 cup of chicken stock to the bottom of the Instant Pot (this prevents a “burn” warning).
2. Add the chicken. Pour the sauce on top (do not stir). Cook the chicken for 8 minutes of high pressure, then vent immediately.
3. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate. Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE mode and stir in the cornstarch slurry.
4. Cook the sauce, stirring often, until thickened. Shred the chicken and return it to the Instant Pot. Toss to coat and serve.

(This Instant Pot Chicken guide has even more details about making chicken in a pressure cooker).

Related Recipes

Crockpot chicken isn’t limited only to BBQ. Here are other ways to enjoy slow cooker chicken:

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Can I get the correct timing for doing this same recipe in an Istant Pot? You did say to reference this in your instructions, but Icould not find a place to do this.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Suzanne! It’s in the blog post if you scroll up, just above the recipe. The directions are a bit long to retype here, so take a look and let me know if you have any questions once you review!

  2. Do you know if this could be made in the Instant Pot and if so, how long to cook for? I was thinking of making 1 1/2× the recipe for a group this weekend. Wasn’t sure if I need to adjust times in a slow cooker. Trying to decide which method would be best for me as we will be out a good part of the day. Thank you.

    1. Hi Nora! If you scroll up to the blog post above the recipe, I actually have a section detailing this out. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but have some suggestions. Let me know if you have any questions once you take a look.

  3. I tried this recipe this past Sunday, and absolutely loved it! I did the method of thickening the sauce in a pan on the stove, and it worked perfectly! I added my BBQ chicken to a fresh garden salad, and drizzled just a tiny bit of ranch on top and it was so filling and flavorful! Definitely the best recipe I’ve made in a while. This is a new go-to for me!5 stars

    1. HOORAY Taylor, I’m so happy to hear this is a new favorite! Thanks so much for giving it a try and taking the time to share this awesome review!

    1. So happy to hear how much you enjoyed this Shannon! Thanks so much for trying the recipe and sharing this wonderful review!

  4. So happy you reposted this recipe in your crockpot roundup! I made it awhile ago and loved it, and it was even better this time around. 10/10!5 stars

  5. So quick and easy yet delicious at the same time. Healthy alternative to pulled pork. Definitely a “keeper”.5 stars

    1. Hi Donna! Slurry is what is made when you stir together cornstarch and water as noted in the ingredient list. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  6. This recipe R.O.C.K.S. and so does your homemade BBQ sauce!

    I made the BBQ chicken to put in the freezer for my husband to have an easy meal when I’m out of town; but after tasting it……….he wanted to eat it for lunch THIS week. So now I have more in the slow cooker. That says it all! Thanks so much Erin for sharing your recipes. They’re always good! :-)5 stars

    1. You just MADE my day, Donna! Thank you so much for leaving this incredibly kind review! I’m so happy these were a hit for you and your husband!

    2. Hi Erin, can you refresh my memory about using frozen chicken fur instant pot fur this recipe? Thanks, it sounds wonderful.

      1. Hi Janet! I do not recommend using frozen chicken for this recipe, as it can spend too long at room temperature and become unsafe to eat. I suggest letting your chicken thaw completely before starting the recipe. I hope this helps!

  7. Erin,
    I want to make this tonight but I only have 4 “thin sliced” chicken breasts.  Should I adjust the cook time?  Or will it work the same?

    1. Hortensia, I’m not sure how thin your chicken is, but you’ll definitely want to cook it less. Once it reaches 160, pull it out, cover it, and then let it rest. That should carry it over to the safe temp of 165 F (or just cook it all the way to 165!).

  8. I have just had this for the second night in a row and it’s fabulous. My husband loves it too – so he will be asking for it again! I served it on rolls with a side of coleslaw. I made the BBQ sauce as well and it’s totally worth it. I made it with chicken thighs as that’s what I prefer. Wonderful!5 stars

  9. An easy delish bbq chicken we made sandwiches!!
    Followed directions exactly and made the homemade bbq sauce as well!
    A great fun dinner with many possibilities of how to serve! Works to take to someone for a dinner as well!
    A huge hit!!!!
    Thank you Erin5 stars

  10. This was my first try at using a slow cooker and it worked out perfectly! I made homemade air buns to serve it on (because I forgot to buy buns) and my family loved it!5 stars

  11. Hi Erin, I am going to serve shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches for Christmas Eve. I don’t cook meat often and I would like to have for ready before guests arrive. I can’t decide. Julie Would it be best to use this recipe or cook the chicken using your IP recipe and then warm it in a crock pot with the homemade BBQ sauce? Thank you for your recommendation.

  12. To be honest, I will not make this recipe again. It’s much easier & cheaper to buy a $4.99 whole roasted chicken at Costco, shred it, put it in a pot & add BBQ sauce. Warm it up. Done.

    1. Hi Karen! This works great for those who don’t have the option to do that. Not everyone has a Costco near them.

  13. I usually love your recipes, but this one didn’t turn out for me. I made the homemade BBQ sauce as directed, but it was quite tomato-y and not very flavorful. I think my mistake was not cooking the sauce beforehand—I was in a hurry and figured it would cook in the crockpot. Could that be it? Also, I used no salt added tomato sauce, so maybe more salt was needed.3 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear this wasn’t to your taste, Heather. I know it can be disappointing to try a new recipe and not have it come out. I would definitely recommend making the bbq sauce as written, such as cooking it prior to using it. It allows the flavors to marry well to each other. It’s a tomato based sauce so you’ll definitely get that flavor too.

  14. Hi Erin!

    I’m trying to find the variation for using boneless chicken thighs. In the recipe, it says to “see post” for those directions. Where is the post?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Savannah, it’s actually in this post under the section “Recipe Variations”. Hope this helps!