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Have dinner ready and waiting when you get home!
Slow cooker pulled chicken is a stress-free recipe you’ll want to make again and again. Enjoy tender bites of meat piled high on toasted buns!
A mixture of tangy barbecue sauce and sweet strawberry jam provides the incredible flavor for this pulled chicken recipe. With just a touch of hot sauce, you’ll get an extra kick to really put it over the top!
The longer the poultry simmers in this easy fruit-based barbecue sauce, the better. Slow cooking allows the flavors time to blend perfectly, infusing the meat with a sweet heat that’s completely delicious.
Serve sandwiches right away for dinner, then use leftover slow cooker pulled chicken to make pizza! Or, simply cook up a batch to share at your next potluck or get-together.
If you’re craving more of a Mexican flair, try my Slow Cooker Carnitas with Chimichurri instead! The pork is so tender it literally falls off the bone, and the fresh and tangy spread really complements the rich flavor.
Key ingredients & substitutions for Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
- Chicken— Use boneless, skinless breasts for this recipe and thaw them in the refrigerator first if frozen.
- Onion — This adds an extra savory, caramelized flavor to the dish. A regular yellow onion works great, or use a Vidalia for something sweet and mild.
- Barbecue sauce — Any tomato-based variety is what you need! If you don’t mind measuring, you could also use my homemade recipe — I tend to keep a jar on hand anyway.
- Strawberry jam — Either store bought or homemade will work for this pulled chicken recipe. I recommend using a seedless variety so there’s no surprising crunch!
- Hot sauce – Feel free to use your favorite. Not only does it add heat, but the vinegar gives the dish a little extra tang
How to make this pulled chicken recipe?
STEP 1 | Prep the ingredients
Cut the onion into thin slices and pat the meat dry with paper towels. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until smooth.
STEP 2 | Layer everything in the crockpot
Coat the bottom with nonstick spray, then add the onion slices. Place the boneless breasts on top, keep them in a single layer as best as you can.
Sprinkle the poultry with salt and pepper. Pour half of the sauce evenly over everything.
STEP 3 | Cook on Low
This pulled chicken recipe takes about 8 hours (or you can cook it for 5 hours on High). Once cooked, remove the meat and discard the remaining liquid.
STEP 4 | Shred the meat
Shred the boneless breasts, then return them to the slow cooker with ½ cup of the remaining sauce. Give everything a good stir and let it warm back up before serving.
- If mornings are usually hectic, you can whisk together the sauce and slice the onion the night before. Keep them in sealed containers in the refrigerator so all you need to do is toss everything in on your way out the door.
- Want to shred meat in a snap? Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, toss in the cooked chicken, and start it on low. You’ll have perfect shreds in minutes with little effort on your part!
Frequently asked questions
No — it’s simply not safe. The meat will take too long to come to a safe temperature, creating a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. You can, however, cook raw meat in a crock pot as long as you transfer it straight from the refrigerator or brown it first.
If allergies are a concern (or you just don’t like them), try different fruit preserves such as blackberry, raspberry, or even fig! The flavor won’t be quite the same, but I’m sure it will be just as delicious.
Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days when stored in an airtight container. You can toss them back in the crockpot on low or reheat them in the microwave.
Pile the shredded meat onto toasted hamburger buns, adding extra sauce if you’d like! Topping each sandwich with a vinegar-based coleslaw or a few pickled red onions also adds a nice contrast.
Serve with a variety of sides depending on the season or make a batch of sweet potato chips in the air fryer!
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Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
- 1 large onion halved and thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (18-oz.) bottle tomato-based barbecue sauce
- 1/2 cup strawberry jam
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Coat the bottom of a large (5 to 6 quart) slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray, then add the onion.
- Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and place on top of the onions in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce, jam, and hot sauce. Pour half of the sauce over the chicken. Refrigerate the remaining sauce to use later.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours (or on HIGH for 5 hours).
- Lift the chicken to a plate, discard the cooking liquid, and shred the chicken using two forks. Mix 1/2 cup of the reserved barbecue sauce mixture with the shredded chicken and return it to the slow cooker to warm.
- Serve the pulled chicken on hamburger buns with additional sauce, if desired.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.