Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken is made in the crockpot with a sweet and savory bbq sauce! Make it with chicken breasts, thighs, bone in or boneless.
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Every time I make this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken, I’m reminded just how good it is!
We love having a variety of crockpot chicken recipes in our back pocket, and this sweet and tangy chicken is one of our favorites! (Along with this juicy Slow Cooker Chicken Breast, this Tomato Basil Chicken, and this Crockpot Pineapple Chicken)
I used my Pineapple Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce as inspiration, and added in a good amount of our favorite barbecue sauce.
The result? Incredibly juicy, incredibly flavorful chicken that is perfect on its own or on a sandwich, over rice, or on a salad!
Below you’ll find tips and tricks for different variations or substitutions, and lots of ways to use up your leftovers! (Is that a thing? 😉 )
Variations on this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken:
- Like I mentioned above, you can stick with your favorite store bought bbq sauce if you’re short on time. We all do it sometimes. No one here will judge!
- Add spice! Stir a bit of cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or sriracha sauce to your sauce for extra kick.
- This sauce would be awesome over smoked sausages and peppers, a turkey breast, meatballs, meatloaf… you name it. Feel free to experiment a little with your protein once you’ve tried the recipe as it is!
- If you like your sauce a little less sweet or more tangy, feel free to tweak the sauce to your tastes. Nothing in the sauce needs to be cooked before tasting, so feel free to adjust before you dump it on your chicken.
What if I don’t have pineapple juice?
Pineapple juice is my all-time, hands down favorite way to make this recipe. The flavor is just seriously good.
You can swap in another juice, but if you can wait until you get pineapple juice, I would recommend it.
My next favorite juice to use would be mango, but orange works as well (with a distinct change in flavor).
What kind of chicken is best in this recipe?
This recipe is incredibly versatile! You can use boneless or bone in chicken, just watch for the varying cook times.
Regardless of what kind of chicken you’re using, I recommend removing the skin as it will only be soggy and unappetizing in the crockpot.
I have tested this recipe over and over (which is why this post is so long) and one important thing to note is that the fuller the slow cooker is, the slower it will cook, so allow a little leeway for that as you’re going.
Bone in chicken, skin removed:
- I tested this recipe with bone in chicken thighs and found that 6-7 hours on low is ideal for tender chicken thighs.
- Chicken drumsticks and wings can be slow cooked on low for 3-4 hours. Either remove the skin or you may want to crisp them under the broiler afterwards.
Boneless chicken breasts and thighs:
- Boneless chicken breasts and thighs cook relatively quickly in the slow cooker, and are great if you are making BBQ pulled chicken because you don’t have to worry about removing the bones.
- Boneless chicken breasts can cook in 2-3 hours on low, depending on how hot your slow cooker is, but a full slow cooker will take a little longer to cook so allow up to 4 hours in this case.
- I’ve found that boneless chicken thighs cook in about the same amount of time as breasts, so feel free to mix and match so everyone gets what they want.
What to do with leftover crockpot bbq chicken:
- Make BBQ Chicken Pizza with pizza crust or mini naan breads for a quick lunch.
- Sandwiches or quesadillas
- Stir it into pasta or top mac and cheese with it
- Stir in a little taco seasoning for BBQ chicken tacos
- Freeze it!
How to freeze this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken:
Place in a large freezer bag (or several smaller bags for smaller portions), seal and squish as flat as possible.
Freeze flat and keep frozen for 3-6 months.
To thaw, simple leave at room temperature for 3-4 hours, in the refrigerator overnight, or place in a sink of cool water for 30 minutes.
What to serve with this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken:
- Easy Potato Salad Recipe (or this Instant Pot Potato Salad!)
- German Potato Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Creamy Ranch Bowtie Pasta Salad
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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
- 2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- salt and pepper
- ¾ cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (up to ¼ teaspoon for more spice)
- ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- Place chicken breasts in a 3-4 quart slow cooker and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Pour barbecue sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion powder and red pepper flakes over chicken breasts.
- Whisk together pineapple juice and corn starch. Pour over chicken and give everything a good stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours, or on high for 2 hours.
- Remove chicken breasts from the slow cooker and shred with two forks or serve whole. You can shred them right in the sauce in the slow cooker, but I find it harder to see what I'm doing. Add the shredded chicken back into the sauce in the slow cooker and stir to coat.
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