How To Make Bbq Pulled Chicken In Crock Pot [COMPLETE GUIDE]

Crock pot cooking is an excellent way to create a flavorful and tender BBQ pulled chicken dish with minimal effort. The slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld together perfectly while ensuring the chicken becomes succulent and easy to shred. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the selection of ingredients, preparation, cooking times, troubleshooting, and step-by-step instructions to create a delicious BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot.

Quick Answer: How Long To Make Bbq Pulled Chicken In Crock Pot

The approximate time to make BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot is 4-6 hours on high heat or 6-8 hours on low heat, depending on the recipe and quantity of chicken.


Before diving into the cooking process, begin with selecting the appropriate ingredients. Here are the key components you’ll need for preparing BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot:


The star of the dish – boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs work best for this recipe. The amount of chicken can vary depending on the number of servings you intend to prepare.

BBQ Sauce

Choose a high-quality BBQ sauce that complements the flavor of the chicken. You can either opt for a store-bought sauce or try making your own for a more personalized touch.


Additional seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, or any other preferred spices will enhance the flavor profile of the pulled chicken.

Other Ingredients

Consider incorporating onions, garlic, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar to add depth and complexity to the BBQ pulled chicken.


Preparation is crucial in every cooking endeavor, and with BBQ pulled chicken, it sets the foundation for a delectable end result. Follow these steps to ensure your ingredients are ready for the slow cooking process:

Chicken Preparation

  • Rinse the chicken breasts or thighs under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
  • Trim off any excess fat from the chicken.

Seasoning The Chicken

  • Season the chicken generously with salt, pepper, and other preferred spices. This step will not only add flavor to the chicken but also act as a base for the BBQ sauce.

Sauce And Additional Ingredients

  • Combine the BBQ sauce, chopped onions, minced garlic, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Mix the ingredients thoroughly to create a flavorful sauce base for the pulled chicken.

Crock Pot Preparation

  • Lightly grease the crock pot to prevent sticking.
  • Alternatively, for easy cleaning, you can use a slow cooker liner.

Crock Pot Cooking Times For Bbq Pulled Chicken

Understanding the ideal cooking times for BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot is pivotal in achieving tender, juicy, and flavorful results.

Cooking On High Heat

When preparing BBQ pulled chicken on high heat, the cooking time typically ranges from 4 to 6 hours. This method is suitable for those who want to enjoy the dish within a relatively shorter timeframe.

Cooking On Low Heat

For a more leisurely cooking process that allows the flavors to meld and the chicken to become exceedingly tender, opt for the low heat setting. The recommended cooking time on low heat ranges from 6 to 8 hours.

Checking For Doneness

To ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The chicken should reach 165°F (74°C) before it is ready for shredding.

How To Make Bbq Pulled Chicken In Crock Pot

Now that your ingredients are selected, prepared, and your crock pot is ready, it’s time to begin the cooking process. Follow these step-by-step instructions to make flavorful and tender BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot.

Step 1: Layering The Ingredients

  • Place the seasoned chicken in an even layer at the bottom of the crock pot.

Step 2: Adding The Sauce

  • Pour the BBQ sauce mixture over the chicken, ensuring even coverage.

Step 3: Cooking Process

  • Set the crock pot to either the high or low heat setting based on your preference.
  • Close the lid and allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for the designated time.

Step 4: Shredding The Chicken

  • Once the cooking time is complete, use two forks to shred the chicken directly in the crock pot. The chicken should be tender and easily fall apart.

Step 5: Mixing And Absorbing The Sauce

  • Stir the shredded chicken into the BBQ sauce, allowing it to absorb the flavors.

Step 6: Additional Seasoning (Optional)

  • Taste the pulled chicken and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Step 7: Serving

  • The BBQ pulled chicken is now ready to be served. You can enjoy it on its own, as a sandwich filling, or alongside other accompaniments.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Despite following the steps diligently, sometimes unexpected issues may arise. Here are some common problems and their solutions:

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Dry Chicken

If the pulled chicken turns out dry, consider mixing in a small amount of additional BBQ sauce or broth to moisten it.

Overly Watery

In case the pulled chicken has too much liquid, you can use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a serving dish, allowing the excess liquid to drain away.

Lack Of Flavor

If the pulled chicken lacks flavor, adjust the seasoning by adding a bit more salt, pepper, or additional spices to enhance the taste.

Burnt Edges

To prevent burnt edges, stir the chicken occasionally during the cooking process to ensure even heat distribution.

Creating delicious BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot is an uncomplicated yet rewarding process that yields a delectable dish that can be enjoyed in numerous ways. By carefully selecting the ingredients, preparing them thoughtfully, and allowing the slow cooking process to work its magic, you can savor tender, flavorful BBQ pulled chicken right in the comfort of your home. With attention to detail and the satisfaction of a perfectly executed recipe, you can impress your family and friends with this mouthwatering culinary creation.

Achieving Perfect Texture

BBQ pulled chicken is a classic comfort food that is both delicious and easy to make. Using a crock pot to cook the chicken not only simplifies the process but also helps in achieving a tender and juicy texture.

The key to perfect BBQ pulled chicken is achieving a tender and juicy texture. The low and slow cooking method of a crock pot is ideal for breaking down the tough fibers in the chicken and making it easy to shred.

To start, choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs for the best results. These cuts of meat tend to be more tender compared to others. Season the chicken with a dry rub or your favorite spices to enhance the flavor before placing it in the crock pot.

Next, add a flavorful liquid to the crock pot to keep the chicken moist during the slow cooking process. You can use a combination of chicken broth, barbecue sauce, or even a can of cola. The liquid will infuse into the chicken, adding flavor and preventing it from drying out.

Set the crock pot to low heat and cook the chicken for 6-8 hours. Slow cooking at a low temperature will help break down the connective tissues in the meat, resulting in tender and juicy chicken that easily shreds apart.

Once the chicken has cooked, remove it from the crock pot and shred it using two forks. The meat should be so tender that it falls apart effortlessly. Return the shredded chicken to the crock pot and mix it with the remaining cooking liquid. Keep the crock pot on the warm setting until you are ready to serve.

Flavor Infusion

While the slow cooking process in a crock pot helps to develop a tender texture, it is also an opportunity to infuse the chicken with incredible flavors. Here are some ways to enhance the taste of your BBQ pulled chicken:

  1. Dry Rub: Before adding the chicken to the crock pot, season it with a dry rub. A combination of spices like paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and brown sugar can create a delicious flavor profile.

  2. BBQ Sauce: Use a generous amount of your favorite BBQ sauce in the cooking liquid to infuse the chicken with a rich and smoky flavor. You can also reserve some sauce to toss the shredded chicken in before serving for an extra kick of flavor.

  3. Herbs and Spices: Add fresh or dried herbs and spices to the cooking liquid for added aroma and depth of flavor. Consider using ingredients like thyme, rosemary, oregano, or even a dash of cayenne pepper for a spicy kick.

  4. Liquid Smoke: If you want to achieve that authentic smoky flavor usually obtained from grilling or smoking, add a few drops of liquid smoke to the cooking liquid. This will give your BBQ pulled chicken a distinct and delicious smoky taste.

Experiment with different combinations of spices, sauces, and seasonings to develop your own unique flavor profile. The slow cooking process in a crock pot allows the flavors to meld together over time, resulting in a truly flavorful dish.


One of the great benefits of making BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot is the amazing aroma that fills your kitchen as it cooks. The combination of spices, sauces, and meat creates an enticing scent that makes mouths water.

To enhance the aroma even further, consider adding ingredients like chopped onions, minced garlic, or even a bay leaf to the cooking liquid. These aromatic additions will release their flavors and fragrance during the long cooking process, intensifying the overall experience.

Another option is to add wood chips specifically designed for indoor smokers or stovetop smoker boxes to your crock pot. These chips will release a tantalizing smoky aroma that will make your BBQ pulled chicken smell as if it was cooked outdoors on a grill or smoker.

Cooking Techniques

While slow cooking in a crock pot is the most common method for making BBQ pulled chicken, there are a few variations you can try to achieve different textures and flavors. Here are some cooking techniques to consider:

  1. Low and Slow: This is the classic method of slow cooking in a crock pot. Set the temperature to low heat and cook the chicken for 6-8 hours. This technique will result in tender and juicy pulled chicken that melts in your mouth.

  2. High and Fast: If you’re short on time and still want to enjoy BBQ pulled chicken, you can cook it on high heat for 3-4 hours. While the chicken won’t be as tender as the low and slow method, it will still be flavorful and easy to shred.

  3. Sous Vide: For an even more precise and tender texture, you can try cooking the chicken sous vide before transferring it to the crock pot. Sous vide is a cooking technique that involves vacuum-sealing the chicken in a bag and cooking it in a temperature-controlled water bath. After sous vide, transfer the chicken to the crock pot for a short period to infuse it with the BBQ flavors.

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Feel free to experiment with these cooking techniques to find the one that suits your taste preferences and time constraints.

Crock Pot Tips For Bbq Pulled Chicken

Here are some additional tips and tricks to help you make the best BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot:

  1. Don’t overcrowd the crock pot: Make sure not to overcrowd the crock pot when adding the chicken. Each piece of chicken should have enough space so that it cooks evenly. Consider using a larger crock pot or cooking the chicken in batches if needed.

  2. Use the right size crock pot: If you’re cooking a small amount of chicken, opt for a smaller crock pot. A large crock pot may take longer to heat up and cook the meat properly.

  3. Adjust the cooking time: Cooking times can vary depending on the size and type of chicken pieces used. Adjust the cooking time accordingly and check for doneness using a meat thermometer.

  4. Skim off excess fat: If you notice a layer of fat on top of the cooking liquid after the chicken has cooked, skim it off before shredding the chicken. This will help reduce the greasiness of the final dish.

  5. Use the cooking liquid wisely: The cooking liquid left in the crock pot after the chicken is done can be reduced and used as a flavorful sauce. Simply transfer the liquid to a saucepan and simmer until it thickens. Adjust the seasoning if needed and drizzle it over the shredded chicken before serving.

  6. Serve with the right accompaniments: BBQ pulled chicken is often served on buns with coleslaw or pickles. The tanginess and crunch of these accompaniments complement the flavor and texture of the chicken. Consider adding these extras to your BBQ pulled chicken for a complete and satisfying meal.

Creative Crock Pot Bbq Pulled Chicken Recipes

Beyond the classic BBQ pulled chicken, there are numerous creative variations you can try using your crock pot. Here are a few flavorful recipe ideas to inspire you:

  1. Asian-Inspired BBQ Pulled Chicken: Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, and garlic to the cooking liquid for an Asian twist. Serve the pulled chicken on steamed buns with pickled vegetables for a delicious fusion dish.

  2. Sriracha Maple BBQ Pulled Chicken: Combine Sriracha sauce, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and a touch of liquid smoke for a sweet and spicy flavor profile. Serve the pulled chicken on a bed of fluffy rice or inside a crispy taco shell.

  3. Pineapple Teriyaki BBQ Pulled Chicken: Mix pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, and a splash of lime juice in the cooking liquid. The tangy sweetness of pineapple will add a tropical taste to your pulled chicken. Serve it on Hawaiian rolls for an additional burst of flavor.

  4. Bourbon BBQ Pulled Chicken: Add a generous amount of bourbon to the cooking liquid for a boozy and smoky twist on traditional BBQ pulled chicken. Serve it on cornbread waffles with a drizzle of bourbon-infused barbecue sauce for a unique and indulgent dish.

These are just a few examples of the many creative possibilities when it comes to crock pot BBQ pulled chicken. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite flavors and ingredients to create your own unique recipe.


Making BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot is a fantastic way to save time while still enjoying a flavorful and tender dish. The slow and low cooking process of the crock pot helps break down the tough fibers in the chicken, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture. By infusing flavors, enhancing aromas, and employing different cooking techniques, you can create a variety of BBQ pulled chicken dishes that cater to your personal preferences. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or venture into inventive variations, your crock pot will become your go-to tool for making delicious BBQ pulled chicken.


What Ingredients Do I Need To Make BBQ Pulled Chicken In A Crock Pot?

You will need around 3-4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 cup of BBQ sauce of your choice, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.

What Is The Cooking Time For BBQ Pulled Chicken In A Crock Pot?

The cooking time for BBQ pulled chicken in a crock pot is around 4-5 hours on high heat or 6-7 hours on low heat. The chicken should be tender and cooked thoroughly.

Do I Need To Shred The Chicken After Cooking In The Crock Pot?

Yes, you will need to shred the chicken with two forks after it has finished cooking in the crock pot. The chicken should be easy to shred and will soak up all the tasty BBQ sauce.

Can I Add Different Spices To My BBQ Pulled Chicken In The Crock Pot?

Yes, you can add spices such as cumin, chili powder, or red pepper flakes for some extra flavor. Just be careful not to add too much as it may affect the overall taste.

Can I Freeze Leftover BBQ Pulled Chicken?

Yes, you can freeze leftover BBQ pulled chicken in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, simply thaw and reheat in the microwave or on the stove.