May 4, 2010

Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken BBQ

 A fun spring or summertime meal...

Ever since I first made my Slow-Cooker Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes, I had been wanting to come up with a variation on the pulled pork barbecue sandwich--using chicken instead of pork. Why? The chicken in the sun-dried tomatoes dish turns out so tender, juicy, and quite sandwich-toppable. I envisioned a savory hot sandwich--like those served up at bbq restaurants everywhere, only healthier, homemade, and still easy.
My husband and a friend together polished off 4 sandwiches worth of this stuff. My, it sure tasted good.

This recipe requires so little effort to prepare: dice two Roma tomatoes (or any smallish tomatoes), measure out the rest of the ingredients, put it all in a slow-cooker, and leave it alone till about an hour before mealtime. At that point, take two forks and pull apart the chicken, essentially ripping it to, well, shreds. Then allow it to cook for about an hour longer to allow the shredded chicken pieces to soak up the flavor some more. (It's not critical that you shred it an hour before mealtime; you can wait until just before, and it'll still be tasty.)

I used frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you can use any type of boneless skinless chicken: white or dark meat that is frozen, thawed, or somewhat-thawed. Just be sure to remove as much excess fat as possible.

About rolls: Since the idea is to make a sandwich, you'll want to have large rolls of some sort--store-bought or homemade. I made these bread machine rolls I found on The recipe worked very well, and it was easy because the dough mixes up and rises the first time in the bread machine.
These are some alterations I made to the recipe, along with some tips:
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon onion powder after adding the salt.
  • Use 2-1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast (about equal to a .25 oz package of active dry yeast)
  • I had to add 2 tablespoons warm water to the machine as it was mixing because the dough was still too dry
  • The recipe is intended to make 12 smallish dinner rolls, so to make sandwich rolls, separate the dough into 8 pieces instead of 12 when the instructions say to do so.
  • Let the 8 pieces rise on the greased (buttered) baking sheet for over 1 hour instead of just 40 minutes.
  • Optional: After the 15 minutes of cooking time, I lightly brushed the tops of the rolls with melted butter and then baked them for 4 more minutes. This worked just fine, but I wasn't a fan of the extra saltiness added by the butter. I'd recommend either following the recipe's suggestion to brush the tops of the rolls with a water-egg-white mixture or serving the rolls plain.
  • Slice the rolls in 1/2 before serving them with the pulled chicken bbq.
  • Note: My bread machine's dough cycle is 1.5 hours long. Based on that, and with the second rising (proofing) time and prep time included,  I recommend allowing at least 2 hours and 45 minutes for making these rolls.
And back to the BBQ...
This slow-cooker pulled chicken recipe is a great recipe to play around with, adding spices and liquids that sound good to you. If you don't have spices like turmeric and paprika, don't use them--add something else, if you want to. Use the barbecue sauce that you like the best, and add more of it if you want. Have fun!

A final note: When you shred the chicken, especially if you do so before the end of the cooking time, try to work as quickly as you can. Moisture will escape from the bowl for as long as you have the lid off of it.

Side ideas: Steamed corn, fresh corn on the cob, salad, baked beans.

Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken BBQ
Estimated Time: 20 minutes prep + 5 hours slow-cooking
Serves 4-6

  • 4-6 Sandwich rolls or hamburger buns
  • 4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 ripe roma tomatoes, diced small
  • Generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce (I used KC Masterpiece)
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1. Place boneless skinless chicken breasts in slow-cooker bowl.
2. Sprinkle diced tomatoes on top of chicken.
3. Grind a generous amount of black peppercorns into the bowl.
4. Measure and add the minced garlic.
5. Add the molasses, turmeric, onion powder, and paprika on top of the ingredients in the bowl.
6. In a medium bowl or large (2 or 3 cup) measuring cup, combine the Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, Tabasco sauce, light brown sugar, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and spicy brown mustard. Stir together well, then pour over the top of the ingredients already in the slow-cooker bowl.
(Image depicts mixture after an hour or so of cooking.)
7. Place the lid on the slow-cooker and cook on HIGH for 4 hours.
8. After 4 hours on HIGH, remove the lid and use two forks to pull apart the meat, shredding it well. Work quickly to avoid losing much moisture into the air.
9. Place the lid back on the slow-cooker and cook on HIGH for 1 more hour (or longer for a more tender meat).
{Total cook time should be at least 5 hours on HIGH.}
10. Serve while warm on sandwich rolls.



Brianna said...

definitely trying this...Ben loves pulled pork, but I don't so this will be fun to try.

abigail said...

Cool! Let me know how it goes. You can really make this recipe to suit your taste by adding more or less of things you like (so long as there's enough juices/liquid in there, of course). Have fun with it!