Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken

Making pulled chicken in the crock pot and topping it with barbecue sauce may not be the most revolutionary thing in the world, but it’s not in my regular rotation. When I needed to come up with something for the BBQ sauce in my March Hatchery tasting box I started poking around online for ideas, and this seemed appealing.

More details and a recipe are below, but the pulled chicken I made turned out great, and the Causey’s BBQ sauce I topped it with is delicious. Us Yanks are not exactly known for our barbecue, so I can’t offer you a detailed analysis of the sauce beyond saying it was well-balanced, tangy and sweet (but not overly so).


Most of the crock pot pulled or barbecue chicken recipes you’ll find call for you to add an entire bottle of barbecue sauce to your crock pot and call it done – much like what I did with the buffalo chicken a few weeks ago. But the sample size of barbecue sauce certainly wasn’t going to be enough, and I didn’t want to mix it with some other brand. So that left me needing something else to cook the chicken in, leaving the BBQ sauce for use as a topping.

Since I couldn’t seem to scare up an ingredients list for the BBQ sauce to draw inspiration from, I dug around and found a different starting point: this recipe for shredded chicken (which includes crock pot & oven variations) links to this recipe for homemade barbecue sauce. While I didn’t make the sauce itself, I did take some of the elements from it to make a liquid to braise the chicken. In the end it worked out great, and I think that what I came up with would work as a good base seasoning if you wanted to make some plain pulled chicken to have on hand to throw on top of salads or toss into other meals. 

Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken

1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I had 1 1/4 lbs)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup of pilsner or lager (I used Brooklyn Pilsner)
bottle of barbecue sauce

Trim any excess fat from the chicken and drop it into a small slow cooker (mine is 1 1/2 quarts).

In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, tomato paste, worcestershire, dijon, molasses, salt and pepper. Pour about a half cup of beer into the bottle and stir to combine with the the rest of the ingredients.

Pour the liquid into the crock pot, and stir the chicken around so that it all gets coated. Add more beer to the crock pot until the chicken is just covered – a couple of bits will probably poke out, but they’ll be fine. Stir everything again to combine.

Set your crock pot to high and let it go for about 3 hours. Mine were done in about 2.5 hours.

Remove the chicken from the crock pot and shred. Serve topped with barbecue sauce.

Notes: If you want to set the crock pot up before you leave for work, or to go overnight, you can set it to low and let it cook for several hours. I don’t think you can really overcook the chicken in this situation since it’s braising, and the whole point is that you want it to fall apart in the end.

If you have a larger slow cooker, I recommend either doubling or even tripling the recipe (you can freeze the extra – be sure to include some of the cooking liquid in the freezer container). You can also do this in the oven, using a small dutch oven or even a pie pan with some foil covering – the main thing is to make sure that the moisture doesn’t escape. (I also recommend reading the oven variation for this shredded chicken recipe if you go that route.)