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This easy slow cooker barbecue pulled chicken makes a tender, moist, flavorful barbecue chicken that can be pulled for sandwiches or an easy BBQ plate. The recipe uses an easy homemade barbecue sauce that cooks with the chicken breasts.

Barbecue is one thing that I can eat anytime and in any season. Layer it in a sandwich or just pile it high on a plate with white cheddar mac and cheese and healthy creamy coleslaw. Throw in this recipe for deviled eggs, and you have yourself a party! Sometimes I love baked beans or a collard greens salad, but the only side that isn’t optional is coleslaw. I need that tangy slaw to balance the meat and add the little bit of crunch.

Below I have a delightful recipe for a sweet coleslaw but I also love this chicken with my healthy creamy coleslaw. It adds a delicious tanginess from the Greek yogurt. You should also check out these sides for pulled pork sandwiches where you will find traditional dishes alongside unexpected ones like smoked mac and cheese!

Slow cooker barbecue pulled chicken sandwich hand held
Roast beef melt with swiss cheese melting down the sides.
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How to make moist barbecue chicken in the slow cooker

  • Time: You can cook this recipe for slow cooker barbecue pulled chicken either on low or on high heat, but it makes the most tender chicken on low. For the video I made it on high and it was still incredibly moist, so fear not if you don’t have the time!
  • Choose the right sauce: You certainly could use a store-bought BBQ sauce for this recipe, but you might want to thin it out with a little bit of water before cooking. That way it allows for some evaporation without burning and it will completely cover the chicken. This sauce is also delightful because the onions mix in with the pulled chicken and add even more flavor.
  • Smother the chicken: Leave no part of the chicken bare in the slow cooker. Pour in the sauce then make sure some gets under the chicken breasts also. The sauce will lock in the moisture while it cooks for hours.
  • Pull it hot: Shred the chicken while it is still hot using two forks. This will allow the steam to escape and cool faster without overcooking the chicken. Toss it in some extra sauce to add even more moisture.

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken

  • Barbecue Sauce: Use your favorite brand of store-bought BBQ sauce or make the old-fashioned barbecue sauce below. Try the delicious sauce from this easy bbq chicken recipe instead!
  • Boneless Chicken Breast: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are best for this recipe. The bone will just add to the cook-time unnecessarily, though you can absolutely use them. Just check for doneness. The skin prevents the sauce and seasoning from penetrating the breasts, and you will just need to remove the skin after cooking. You might also enjoy my bbq chicken breast recipe!
Slow cooker barbecue pulled chicken sandwich tablescape

Possible Variations

  • Pulled BBQ Pork: Use a pork butt for an easy pulled pork variation. For pork I would suggest cooking on LOW for 6 hours because that particular cut needs time to become tender.
  • Mix up the Sauce: The sauce in the recipe is delicious and tangy, but try the chipotle maple bbq sauce on these baked bbq chicken breasts or this homemade bbq sauce for a little more heat.
  • Chicken Thighs: Use a mix of breasts and chicken thighs or even a whole chicken cut into pieces. If you need any help, my video on deboning a whole chicken has you covered!
  • Choose a healthier slaw: While, in my opinion slaw isn’t optional with barbecue, I do love my healthy creamy slaw with this pulled chicken. It is what is pictured on the slow cooker barbecue pulled chicken sandwiches.
  • Bake your own buns: It might seem like a lot of effort now, but these Brioche Hamburger Buns are soooo worth it.
  • Make it a plate: This Barbecue Pulled Chicken would also be heaven paired with Sweet Cornbread or a savory southern cornbread and all the fixin’s.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are best for this recipe. If you don’t have chicken breast on hand, I’d still say go with a boneless and skinless cut of meat. The bone will just add to the cook-time unnecessarily, and the skin will keep the sauce and seasoning from penetrating the meat. Plus, you’ll just have to remove these things after cooking for that perfect pulled BBQ experience!

Slow cooker barbecue pulled chicken in white bowl
Slow cooker barbecue pulled chicken sandwich with cole slaw
5 from 1 ratings

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Sweet Coleslaw

This Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Sweet Coleslaw is made in the slow cooker! A sweet, delicious homemade barbecue sauce and an easy coleslaw make this one epic sandwich!
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people


For the Barbeque Chicken:

For the Sweet Coleslaw:


Make the sauce:

  • Peel and slice onion in half from the roots to the tip. Slice thinly vertically (from the root to the tip, rather than across the middle).
  • In saucepan mix vinegar, water, sugar, mustard, pepper, salt, cayenne, lemon, onion and butter.
  • Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Remove lemon slice.
  • Add catchup and Worcestershire sauce; bring to boil.
  • I would usually puree the sauce until the onions are fully incorporated but I think the slow cooked onions are the perfect complement to the pulled chicken.

Make the chicken:

  • Pour all the barbecue sauce above over 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts placed in a slow cooker. If you like a lot of sauce, I would double the recipe above for 4 breasts. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours. I have made it both ways and it is definitely better cooked on low. High will certainly do in a pinch!
  • Remove chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Hold the chicken breast with one fork and scrape at one end of the breast with the other fork until all the chicken has been shredded.
  • Place in a servicing dish and cover with some of the reserved sauce. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Make the Coleslaw:

  • Whisk together salad dressing, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, salt and poppy seeds in a medium bowl. Pour over coleslaw & broccoli slaw mixes and toss to coat. Chill at least 2 hours prior to serving. Unfortunately this step is necessary. I tried to serve it after only 30 minutes in the refrigerator and it was a bad plan.
  • With a little prep-work early in the day, your whole dinner can be ready in a matter of minutes! Love it!



Bert’s Superb Barbecue Sauce: Good Housekeeping Cookbook 1955 Ed. Sweet Restaurant
*I like to add 1 small bag of broccoli slaw mix


Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 1732mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 588IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 367
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Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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    1. Hi Vera! There is no added sugar in the sauce recipe, so your sugar amount would depend on your choices of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Enjoy!

  1. Thank you so much for this recipe. It was AMAZING and my family gobbled it up. Did make a second batch of sauce and reduced it down for a thick BBQ sauce to use on the bun.( and on everything else in the world) It said suger so I used a tablespoon then put another in the crockpot to cut the vinegar. I also made the slaw in my Cuisinart with the carrots and broccoli and used celery seeds instead of poppy. So good. They will never want store bought BBQ sauce again. Thanks Bert. 🙂 wherever you are

  2. Just found your blog, I have a huge selection of cookbooks, (3 or 4 hundred), some about 50 to 100 years old. Are you interested? Got to “de-clutter!” Was thinking of donating them to a charity or selling them at a garage sale. Sooooo……..
    Chris Glenn