This is one of the easiest recipes ever—tasty BBQ chicken in under 4 hours. Great for family gatherings and parties or just when you want to be lazy for an easy family dinner.
Some people might call this pulled chicken or shredded chicken. Most will use this for sandwiches, but it will also work well in a wrap, on nachos, and so much more.
I have done this in the past and never thought much of it. Usually, it was with some salsa and chicken for Mexican but BBQ more in the summer. Both recipes have grown into full recipes. But with the BBQ, I just never formalized it.
I have seen a number of these recipes popping up around the net. Most are identical to each other, and there are some issues with the suggested cooking time. Most had the Worcestershire sauce, and some added sugar which I felt was a good idea. Of course, they were too big for my purpose and needed to be cut it down.
A nice 4.
I suggest using skinless boneless chicken breast for this. Chicken with skin can be used but you will discard the skin.
If you want to use skinless thighs, it will work, but you need to get to the 185° internal temperature range to shred well. Probably about 3 to 3 ½ hours before shredding.
This is the biggest issue with most online recipes. Those recipes typically cook the chicken for 8 hours before shredding on low and 4 hours on high. Well, I see no reason to kill the chicken a second time—that is just too long.
Generally, chicken breast in chunks will take 2 ½ to 3 hours on low depending on size, thickness, and the crock pot. While a whole breast may take a bit longer, it won’t be that different.
Mine are generally done in 2 ½ hours, but some pots may run a bit cooler and need 3 hours.
🌡️Crock Pot Temperature
I suggest cooking on low. The final results are more controllable. High may zoom right through your end point.
Can I cook on high and shorten the time?
Yes, but it may take a little more than half the time on low.
Remember you are cooking to an endpoint of an internal temperature of 165° or it just won't shred well.
I use Original Sweet Baby Ray's but use the sauce of your choice. I do recommend the Worcestershire sauce which will make the taste pop some but it is optional.
The sugar is more to taste and if you're using a honey-based sauce, proceed with care.
The amount of sauce is important since the chicken will release some fluid and you don't want it soupy.
📖Crock Pot BBQ Recipes
Only four ingredients
Trim two skinless boneless chicken breast of visible fat and cut into 2-3 chunks each
In a smaller crock pot, mix ¾ cup BBQ sauce of your choice with 1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional but suggested). Add up to 1 tablespoon brown sugar to taste depending on the sweetness of the BBQ sauce.
Add chicken and mix well to cover the chicken with sauce.
Cover and cook on low for 3 hours total, but at 2 ½ hours, check the internal temperature of the chicken. If 165° or above, remove, shred and return to pot. If not 165° yet, extend the cooking time by checking the internal temperature every 15-20 minutes. Once you reach 165°, then remove, shred and return.
Cook 15-20 minutes more after the chicken is returned from shredding.
Crock Pot BBQ Chicken
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts - plus or minus a little
- ¾ cup BBQ sauce of choice
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar - vary by the sweetness of the sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce - optional but suggested
- Trim two skinless boneless chicken breast of visible fat and cut into 2-3 chunks each.
- In a smaller crock pot, mix ¾ cup BBQ sauce of your choice with 1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional but suggested). Add up to 1 tablespoon brown sugar to taste depending on the sweetness of the BBQ sauce.
- Add chicken and mix well to cover the chicken with sauce.
- Cover and cook on low for 3 hours total, but at 2 ½ hours check the internal temperature of the chicken. If 165° or above, remove, shred and return to pot. If not 165° yet, extend the cooking time by checking the internal temperature every 15-20 minutes. Once you reach 165°, then remove, shred and return.
- Cook 15-20 minutes more after the chicken is returned from shredding.
- Scale to the size you need. Consider about ¼ pound of meat per sandwich.
- You may use boneless skinless chicken thighs but take them to about 180°-185° internal temperature which should take an extra 30 or so minutes. They will be more tender and shred easier if cooked to a higher temperature.
- The chicken releases fluid so be careful not to add too much sauce or it will be soupy.
- If you overcook chicken breast, it will be dry.
- The suggested amounts of Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar will be just right for most BBQ sauce.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days and will freeze well for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally Published: May 5, 2018. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.