BBQ Pulled Chicken with tender chunks of chicken breast cooked in the oven, so easy and convenient you’ll skip the slow cooker in favor of this quick meal.
Easy BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe
BBQ Pulled Chicken is a summer favorite of ours, much easier and less messy to eat than classic BBQ chicken, we make this dish so often the kids call it summer chicken. This dish can absolutely be made on your grill. In fact about half the time we do use the grill, but making this in the oven is one of the easiest recipes I keep in my year round arsenal.
This recipe is a two for one deal for us. When I was in college one of my “specialties” was bottled bbq sauce over chicken that gets cooked in the oven. These days I try to cook a bit less processed, so I mix up my own bbq sauce for the chicken. It may take a few more minutes to mix together but the flavors are out of this world.
How to Make Pulled Chicken:
Pulled chicken is generally made one of three ways, cooked on a grill, cooked in an oven or cooked in a slow cooker. They all have their merits but the making a pulled chicken recipe in an oven is the easiest option that keeps the chunks firm and flavorful (the slow cooker is the easiest option but the meat will fall apart with served).
We like to use this recipe to make pulled bbq chicken burgers, easy enough to just pile on the chicken and the sauce. We do sometimes also brown the buns on a griddle in some butter when we feel fancy or indulgent, but the sauce is delicious on an un-toasted bun as well.
Grilled BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe:
Score the chicken as instructed, then season with salt and pepper and coat in a bit of canola oil. Add to the grill on medium heat and cook for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through and browned on both sides. While the chicken is cooking add the rest of the ingredients to a grill safe sauce pan and cook the bbq sauce next to the chicken on the grill. When the chicken is done cooking, shred with with forks and coat in the bbq sauce.
Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe:
In the slow cooker I recommend using chicken thighs in place of chicken breast. While you can use chicken breasts for this recipe I’d still defer to the thighs as they’ll maintain more moisture and flavor than slow cooking chicken breasts will. Add the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours before shredding with a fork.
If you find that the sauce is too watery (remember there is nowhere for the steam to escape in the slow cooker, I would cut the sauce ingredients (everything but the chicken) in half. Remember no matter what you do, the sauce will be more watery in a slow cooker.
Ways to use leftover Pulled Chicken:
- Add it to a salad (leave it cold) with corn, black beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce and top with honey mustard and bbq sauce.
- Add it to a baked potato with some sharp cheddar cheese.
- Make it into a bbq chicken quesadilla with some thinly sliced red onion and cheddar cheese.
- Add it onto pizza dough with red onions, cilantro and cheddar like this famous CPK recipe.
- Make it into tacos with finely shredded cabbage, pico de gallo and ranch dressing.
More fun Easy Summer BBQ Recipes:
- El Pollo Loco BBQ Black Beans (Copycat)
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs
- Honey Bacon Baked Beans
Easy BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut diagonally into the chicken breasts about 1/4 inch deep in an x shape to allow the bbq sauce to flavor more of the chicken. (like how a holiday ham has the top cut into an x shape).
- Add all the ingredients together in a large bowl and toss well together until mixed.
- Add the chicken to a sheet pan, then pour the sauce over the chicken breasts.
Cook for 25 -30 minutes or until caramelized, browned and cooked through.
- Shred the chicken with the forks and serve in your favorite bun, spooning the sauce over the chicken.
If the sauce didn't cook down enough (if you use a pan that's too small it may not), then add the sauce to a saucepan and cook on medium heat until thickened (likely 15-20 minutes).