Shredded Crockpot Barbecue Chicken

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This delicious Classic Shredded Barbecue Chicken is the ultimate comfort food. It’s great for any season, especially heartwarming in the fall. This recipe uses affordable boneless chicken breasts. It also includes store-bought barbecue sauce and a touch of Italian dressing.

It’s one of our favorite slow cooker dinners: low prep, low clean up, and great leftovers. Amen.

close up view shredded barbecue chicken breast.

Classic Shredded Barbecue Chicken

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Serving Size 8 people

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in halves
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce plus extra for serving
  • ¼ cup Italian dressing
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Chicken: Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place them in the crockpot. Add the barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.
    crockpot with chicken breast and ingredients before and after mixing.
  • Cook. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the crockpot, making sure the chicken is well-coated. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. A practical test for doneness is shred a piece of chicken with two forks. If it shreds easily it's done! Don't overcook!
  • Shred the Chicken. Once the chicken is cooked through and tender, take each breast out and shred it using two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot and stir into the sauce.
    shredded chicken in slow cooker.
  • Serve. Serve the shredded barbecue chicken on buns, over rice, or with a side of coleslaw. Use extra barbecue sauce as desired.
    sandwich with pulled bbq chicken and bbq sauce on top.

Notes

For a smokier flavor, consider adding a teaspoon of liquid smoke to the sauce.
The chicken can be kept warm in the crockpot after shredding for serving at parties or gatherings.
Leftovers store well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and can be reheated in a pot over medium heat or in the microwave.
finished shredded chicken with wooden spoon.

🥣 It’s okay to use store-bought ingredients

I know you love to cook from scratch, but every now and then, dinner should be easy. Go for the bottled salad dressing and barbecue sauce. It’ll be okay.

slow cooker insert with raw chicken and bottled sauce.
  • Boneless chicken breasts are the star, providing a lean, shreddable base.
  • The use of store-bought barbecue sauce adds depth and smokiness.
  • Italian dressing introduces a zesty twist. It also saves you the work of measuring out oils and seasonings.

Easy to find and affordable. When you combine them, they make a delicious and satisfying meal.

  • Slow Cooker: For tender, evenly cooked chicken.
  • Meat Thermometer: To ensure the chicken is cooked to a safe temperature.
  • Two Forks or Meat Claws: For efficient and easy shredding.

Tips for perfectly cooked slow cooker chicken breasts

  • Quality Matters: Opt for high-quality, fresh chicken breasts. Freshness is crucial for flavor and texture. We like Perdue.
  • Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper, even with the barbecue sauce. This enhances the natural flavors of the chicken.
  • Method Choice: Slow cooking is essential. You can use a slow cooker, an oven set at a low temperature, or a low simmer on the stovetop. Each method gently cooks the chicken, retaining moisture and tenderness.
  • Temperature Monitoring: If using an oven or stovetop, maintain a consistent low temperature. In a slow cooker, use the low setting.
  • Don’t Rush: Rushing the cooking process by increasing the temperature can result in dry, tough chicken.
  • Shredding Technique: Use two forks or meat claws to shred the chicken. Pull the forks in opposite directions to create fine shreds. Avoid over-shredding to maintain some texture.

Storage and make ahead instructions

This freezes very well, and is ready to go straight from frozen.

  • Cooling: Allow the cooked chicken to cool to room temperature before storing. Do not leave it out for more than two hours.
  • Shelf Life: In the refrigerator in an airtight container, leftover will last 3-4 days.
  • Freezing: If you plan to freeze the chicken, consider portioning it into the amounts you’ll use later. This makes it easier to thaw only what you need.
  • Freezer-Safe Bags/Containers: Use freezer-safe bags or containers to store the chicken. Remove as much air as possible from bags to prevent freezer burn.
  • Labeling: Label the bags or containers with the date of freezing.
  • Thawing: Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheating: When ready to serve, reheat the chicken on the stove or microwave. If it seems dry, add more barbecue sauce to restore moisture and flavor.

Serving ideas:

  • Classic Coleslaw: A crunchy, tangy coleslaw balances the richness of the barbecue chicken.
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy and flavorful, they make a hearty side.
  • Grilled Corn on the Cob: Adds a smoky, sweet element.
  • Baked Beans: A traditional pairing that never disappoints.

More slow cooker dinners:

Cheap and easy 😉. Pick a crockpot dinner on nights when you just need a break.

sandwich with pulled bbq chicken and bbq sauce on top.
Shredded Crockpot Barbecue Chicken
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