recipe – sam’s slow cooker BBQ chicken

recipe – sam’s slow cooker BBQ chicken

When you go from single girl to family of 5 virtually overnight, you quickly amass an arsenal of easy, crowd-pleasing, versatile go-to recipes.  This is one of them.

It also happens to be Sam’s all-time-favorite, I’ll-eat-it-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner dish.  I can literally put it in her school lunch for 4 days straight and she’ll ask if she can have it on the weekend too.  Perfect.

The day I started making 3 kids’ breakfasts and school lunches every morning before work was the day I suddenly gained a new appreciation for the slow cooker (and a huge new appreciation for all the amazing moms I worked with back at Mattel… wow!  how’d you do it?!?!).

The slow cooker is salvation for busy cooks – you get all the satisfaction of great flavor with minimal effort.  This recipe takes 5 minutes to prep in the morning and it’s ready for dinner by the time you’re done with work.  And since it’s made with chicken breasts and olive oil, it’s pretty darn healthy too.

You probably even have all the ingredients in your pantry right now.  Go look.  I’ll wait.

Early mornings are tough.  The last thing you’re probably thinking about is what’s for dinner.  Usually I’m glassy eyed, opening the refrigerator & wondering which shelf we keep the spatulas on (hint: they’re NOT in the refrigerator!). Fortunately, this recipe only has two steps… whisk 4 ingredients & push a button.  You can totally do that.

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken


  • 3 cups (24 oz) BBQ sauce – I just use whatever’s in my pantry, sometimes Annie’s, sometimes Stubb’s, sometimes a mix of multiple leftover bottles in the fridge
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing – I use Newmann’s Own
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 chicken breasts, fresh or frozen

Whisk together the first four ingredients.  Place chicken in the slow cooker and pour sauce over chicken, being sure to cover all pieces (chicken will not be completely submerged, but should at least have some sauce on top of it).

If using frozen chicken, set slow cooker to Low for 7.5 hours.  If using fresh chicken, set slow cooker to Low for 6.5 hours.

1 hour before cooking time is done, shred chicken inside the slow cooker using two forks.  The chicken will absorb the sauce as you shred it.  Continue slow cooking for remaining 1 hour, then either serve, keep warm (up to 1-2 more hours, otherwise it starts to dry out), or place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Once you have the chicken, there’s endless possibilities to customize it.  Here are some of our faves:

Baby BBQ Chicken Sliders:  toast mini hamburger buns (I love the Trader Joe’s mini sesame seed buns), add a heaping spoonful of chicken and some sliced dill pickles.

BBQ Chicken Burritos:  spread a tortilla with a heaping spoonful of chicken and top with shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, etc.).  Microwave for 45 seconds or until cheese is mostly melted.  Fold one end and roll up like a burrito.  I roll these up in foil and put them in the kids lunches… they love ‘em!

BBQ Chicken Soft Tacos:  grill a small flour tortilla until warm & lightly toasty.  Top with chicken, shredded cheese, caramelized onions, & creme fraiche.

BBQ Chicken Panini:  lightly toast bread of your choice, then add chicken and cheese.  Melt a little butter on a griddle or panini press and grill sandwich until it’s melty & crispy on both sides.

With only 3 or 4 bites to them, Baby BBQ Chicken Sliders tend to disappear quickly…

The BBQ chicken burritos are great for packed lunches or a quick grab-and-go snack.

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