Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

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Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches made in the slow cooker with a simple homemade sauce. This recipe feeds a crowd so is perfect for picnics and potlucks. 

Do you ever have to feed a crowd? Whether it is for summer picnic, church small group or a crowd of teenagers, we often find ourselves wondering what to fix for a large-ish group of around 20 people. It’s sometimes to hard to find a main dish that is low-maintenance, filling, well-liked and not too expensive.

These Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches have come to our rescue many times and are now one of our favorite meals!

3 shredded chicken sandwiches on a cutting board

Why you’ll love this easy pulled bbq chicken:

  • pantry staple ingredients
  • only 10 minutes prep
  • fix and forget slow cooker dinner
  • feeds a crowd
  • customizable sauce
  • freezes well

What chicken is best for shredding?

We use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this bbq chicken sandwich. We keep them in the freezer and they shred nicely after simmering in the slow cooker all day long.

You can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs. They are slightly higher in fat but shred nicely and have great flavor.

ingredients for shredded barbecue chicken sandwiches

How to Make Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

  • Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the onions sliced onions. Place the chicken breasts over the onions.
  • In a bowl, mix all of the sauce ingredients together and pour it over the chicken.
chicken breasts with bbq sauce in slow cooker
  • Cook for 8 hours on low. When the chicken is tender, shred the chicken using two forks.
shredded bbq chicken in slow cooker

As this chicken cooks, the sauce thickens and the color turns into a rich brown.  And the onions?  They dissolve right into the sauce.  You’re kids won’t even notice they are there. 🙂

Can I just use a store bought bbq sauce?

You might be tempted to just pour a bottle of store-bought barbecue sauce over chicken.  Don’t be scared off at the fact that this is a homemade sauce recipe.  It really is easy to throw together.  

The homemade barbecue sauce is going to simmer and cook into the chicken to give it such a great savory barbecue flavor.  Your kitchen will smell great while it is cooking and you’ll be glad you took the extra 5-10 minutes to make your own sauce!

Of course when time is running short, Sweet Baby Ray’s can come to the rescue. There’s no harm in that!

shredded bbq chicken sandwiches on a bun

Can I cut the recipe in half?

The recipe as shown will make about 20 sandwiches.  If you have need a smaller amount, you can easily cut the recipe in half. Cook for the same amount of time.

Can you freeze this bbq chicken?

If you have leftovers, you can do as we do and freeze the leftover meat for a later time. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. It’s just as good warmed up, which makes this a great freezer meal for those busy evenings!

3 sandwiches on a cutting board without top buns

How to Serve BBQ Shredded Chicken

A fun way to serve this tender, juicy chicken is with coleslaw over the top. Check out our Creamy Coleslaw recipe that we love.  Again, it is a homemade slaw sauce, but so much better than store-bought.

Here are a few other unique ways to serve shredded chicken:

shredded barbecue chicken sandwich on a bun
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken on a bun with coleslaw
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken on a bun with coleslaw

Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

5 from 2 votes
Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches made in the slow cooker with a simple homemade sauce. This recipe feeds a crowd so is perfect for picnics and potlucks.
Servings 20
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts (trimmed)

Sauce

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 pinches salt

Instructions
 

  • Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the onions sliced onions. Place the chicken breasts over the onions.
  • In a bowl, mix all of the sauce ingredients together and pour it over the chicken. Cook for 8 hours on low. When the chicken is tender, shred the chicken using two forks.
  • Serve on buns.

Notes

Adjust the spiciness by adjust the amount of Tabasco sauce you put in.
 
The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 20, with 1 serving being 1/20 of the chicken. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 412mg | Potassium: 572mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Vitamin C: 3.1mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.8mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 173
Keyword party, picnic

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Here are some other large-batch recipes that can be frozen!

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Kristen
4 years ago

How would you suggest adjusting this recipe for 40 or so people (maybe with boneless skinless tenderloin?) If I double the recipe can I still put that much chicken in my crock pot and have it cook in 6-8 hours?

Melissa
3 years ago

The recipe looks great. Can you tell me about how many pounds 8 boneless chicken breasts are equivalent to? Thanks!

Melissa
3 years ago

Thank you! I used 6.25 pounds which was 8 breasts. I think there wasn’t enough sauce but everyone enjoyed it.

Becky
3 years ago

If I cooked this on high would it dry the chicken out? And would it be cooking for about 4 hours then? Thanks so much, looking forward to trying this.

Daniela Keating
2 years ago

Hi!
It look like on the photo you where only able to fit four chicken breasts instead of eight? Do I need to use two crockpots?

Lauren
1 year ago

About how much Sweet Baby Ray’s should I sub? I plan to make the homemade sauce another time, but for this specific occasion, premade is what I need.