Crockpot Spicy Pulled Chicken

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Looking for a great weeknight chicken recipe? My Crockpot Spicy Pulled Chicken is the perfect 5-ingredient meal! Cooked in a slow cooker, it’s sweet and spicy and perfect by itself or made into pulled chicken sandwiches!

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spicy pulled chicken in bowl

My daughter always tells me I make 5 things for dinner and they’re all the same: some version of chicken and vegetables. And, I mean, she’s not wrong: we eat chicken a few times a week and usually I do serve it with some sort of vegetable, like green beans or carrots. I will admit that sometimes I get on the lazy train and just make simple grilled chicken with a boring vegetable and I’ll admit, it is boring.

Lately I’ve been really trying to make more actual recipes with different flavors. It might still be chicken but at least it’s Asian, Mexican or Italian inspired.

Jordan’s a bit picky with her flavors (as am I) but one flavor she’s always liked is barbecue. When she was little we’d make (boring) grilled chicken and she’d dip it in barbecue sauce and I often make a baked barbecue chicken that’s to die for. Lately I’ve been relying on my crockpot more because I love do-ahead meals I can set and forget, and that’s how this spicy pulled chicken was born.

Crockpot Spicy Pulled Chicken has just 5 ingredients and is made in the slow cooker. It’s great alone or over rice, or served on Hawaiian rolls!

spicy pulled chicken sandwich

I mean really, I had Jordan at Hawaiian roll. Or any kind of roll (you could even make your own homemade potato rolls or pretzel rolls to serve these on). There’s not much better than a pulled chicken sandwich for dinner or as an appetizer, is there?

Typically you see pulled pork as a crockpot dish, but we’re not huge pork eaters. I like it okay, but I prefer chicken. Pulled chicken like this can totally be made into pulled pork by just substituting pork shoulder or some other similar cut of meat.

There are only 5 ingredients in the spicy chicken recipe, making it so easy to throw together for a quick dinner.

  1. Chili Sauce
  2. BBQ sauce
  3. Onion
  4. Chicken
  5. Root Beer

That’s it – just 5 ingredients!

Ingredients to make Spicy Pulled Chicken in the crockpot

When it comes to barbecue sauce, use your favorite. I love Sweet Baby Ray’s but I also use Kraft or whatever is on sale. Just make a note – since we’re adding spicy chili sauce you don’t want to start with a spicy BBQ sauce or it might be too spicy for your family.

Simply mix the wet ingredients: chili sauce, BBQ sauce and root beer, and pour it over the chicken and onions in the crockpot.

crockpot with spicy chicken inside

I always like to start with onions or some other vegetable on the bottom of my slow cooker. Adding thinly sliced onions to this add nice flavor and go perfect if you’re making pulled chicken sandwiches.

Whenever I’m cooking with a crockpot I also like to use a liner for easy clean-up (you can see it in that photo). I just love how easy it makes the crockpot to clean – like lining your cookie sheets before baking. Reynold’s makes Slow Cooker Liners you can buy with all the other plastic wrap and foil, but you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to.

What kind of chicken makes the best pulled chicken?

I always use boneless skinless chicken breasts when I cook chicken. I don’t like dark meat or bones in my chicken (I told you I’m picky). However, you can also use boneless, skinless thighs if you want.

Since I’m cooking for three people, I make one pound of chicken breasts but you can make up to two pounds in a seven quart slow cooker without changing too much. Just make sure your chicken is in a single layer or it won’t cook in the time specified.

How to avoid dry chicken in a crockpot:

The key to making sure your chicken is done but not overdone and dry is to check the internal temperature after 2 hours on high. I know it’s called a slow cooker but if you’re using boneless breasts you really can’t let them go that much longer or they’ll be like rubber. 

I always check my chicken breasts with an instant read thermometer after 2 hours on high in the crockpot.

Once your chicken reaches 165°F (internal temperature) it’s done cooking. Remove it and shred it, then you can return it to the slow cooker to keep it on warm.

spicy pulled chicken in bowl

Converting high to low cook times in a slow cooker:

If you want to cook these on low to buy yourself some more time, figure you’ll need to check them after about 4 hours. Definitely start checking between 3-4, depending on the thickness of your chicken.

Once you make chicken in your crockpot a few times you’ll know how fast it cooks and you can then use that information whenever you make pulled chicken or another crockpot chicken recipe.

Spicy Pulled Chicken makes a perfect dinner served with rice, but it’s also great as a pulled chicken sandwich!

We love making spicy pulled chicken like this for parties: it makes a great appetizer served on dinner rolls or King’s Hawaiian Rolls. You could also add some shredded cheddar cheese for even more flavor.

Since we’re boring, like Jordan says, we usually just serve this with a vegetable and it’s a great easy weeknight meal.

spicy pulled chicken sandwich on cutting board

What to eat with pulled chicken:

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Crockpot Spicy Pulled Chicken

Make an easy dinner in the slow cooker! Crockpot Spicy Pulled Chicken has just 5 ingredients and is great alone or made into pulled chicken sandwiches!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts see note
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced thin
  • 18 ounces barbecue sauce use your favorite
  • 12 ounces chili sauce such as Heinz
  • 8 ounces root beer

Instructions

  • If desired, use a crockpot liner (i.e. Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners) for easy cleanup.
  • Slice the onions into thin wedges. Place the onions in the bottom of the crockpot liner.
  • Place the chicken on top of the onions.
  • Mix remaining ingredients in a measuring cup or bowl. Pour over chicken. Cover crockpot.
  • Set on HIGH for 3 hours. After 2 hours, check the chicken temperature. Once it's at 165°F it's done cooking. (May only take 2 hours; mine is usually done after 2 hours but it depends on your slow cooker.)
  • Alternately, cook on LOW for 5-6 hours, checking after 4 hours to check the temperature of the chicken.
  • Shred chicken by pulling it with two forks. Serve alone, on a bed of rice, or make sandwiches with Hawaiian or other rolls.

Recipe Notes

If you want to use more chicken, you can use up to 2 pounds. Make sure breasts are uniform in size and place in a single layer or the cooking time will be affected.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 78g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 2589mg | Potassium: 1085mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 59g | Vitamin A: 898IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, crockpot, slow cooker

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spicy pulled chicken collage

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