Easy Crockpot bbq chicken thighs recipe that uses just 3 ingredients. Great for a party, for soft tacos and cooks by itself all day in your slow cooker. Cook your meat right in the sauce low and slow all day gets you fork tender shredded meat, even if using frozen chicken to begin with.
This is such an easy crockpot bbq chicken recipe! I make this one when I find chicken breasts on sale and know I won’t have time to cook that night. That’s pretty frequently. For this 3 ingredient crockpot BBQ chicken recipe you literally throw it in and enjoy it later! One of the best crockpot recipes for our family. (originally published 8/15, affiliate links present)
Crockpot Shredded BBQ Chicken
I got this idea when I needed a really quick and easy meal one night. I used a bottle of sauce out of the pantry with meat to make Instant Pot bbq beef. I couldn’t believe just how simple it was to prep and came out ultra tender. You only really need to throw in 3 main ingredients for the tenderest meat ever here. Serve it over rice or in tacos for the best meal ever.
FIRST – You should sign up for my free newsletter so you get new posts emailed to you twice a week and never miss out on anything! Let’s talk a little bit about slow cooking shall we?? First off I have a few different varieties and I love them all. Each one has an occasion to be used like….
- This is my favorite 6 quart programmable one with a locking lid so it’s great for bringing to a potluck too.
- If you just want to serve a few appetizers you should get this one that sit side by side one another.
- I prefer not to use liners, but rather just spray olive oil inside before adding my food for easier cleanups.
Let me give you a peek of my pretty thang I bought recently. It goes with my kitchen so I can just leave it out on the countertop all the time. 😉
Crockpot BBQ Chicken Frozen
If you are starting off with pieces right out of the freezer the cook time will not change. I know, totally surprised me too but doesn’t matter. They steam to tender just as well as if you took the time to defrost them or used fresh from the butcher. This is all that you need to make this:
- A small can of chunk pineapple (with the juice)
- One jar of BBQ sauce – I buy what is on sale but this one is our favorite to use in this and our air fryer bbq chicken wings too.
- Boneless chicken breasts.
- You can use bone in but it just makes my life easier if I buy the chicken boneless.
- Thighs work too
I have stuck frozen breasts in there too in the morning if I’m cooking it all day on low and it works like a charm. If you love sweet and tangy sauce smothered over tender chicken you’ll love this. It’s time to make homemade soft chicken tacos this week! For a dry rub instead you should try our Crockpot jerk chicken instead.
Crockpot BBQ Chicken Thighs
If you love dark meat better than white, or if they are on sale, go for it. Since these are smaller you should use the timing for boneless chicken thighs in slow cooker instead. Still use boneless without the skin ideally and it will get to be shredded in less time.
How long does it take to cook chicken in the Crockpot?
Well it depends on what else you might be adding into your pot first off but generally it takes 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high temp. We are adding a thick barbecue sauce to this one and it doesn’t really alter the timing.
What will drastically change how long it takes to get fall apart tender slow cooker chicken is how thick your meat is. I would NOT buy thick chicken breasts or thighs. In order to get the middle tender but not overcook the outsides is almost impossible.
Instead: Use medium size breasts; If all you have is thick you should slice them in half so they’re thinner, or maybe into thirds if they are really quite large. Thaw your meat before adding. You can use frozen but for the best results I would defrost them before adding them into your pot.
My personal opinion is that organic boneless skinless chicken breasts are your BEST bet. There IS a difference in the texture of cheap chicken vs. spending a bit more if you want super tender meal.
Can you put raw chicken in a slow cooker?
Yes!! We will show you how to do that here. Raw chicken, just cooked on a low setting, will usually cook in 4-6 hours if you haven’t overfilled your slow cooker with other ingredients.
Do you need to put water in slow cooker with chicken?
You do not really need to add some sort of liquid because the meat when heated will emit chicken broth, keep that in mind.
Bbq Chicken Recipe Crockpot
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- I suppose you could use chicken thighs too but I haven’t done that yet
- Using medium size frozen chicken is fine using the same slow cooking time on low
- do not cook on high if they aren’t thawed
- Barbecue sauce – sweet and spicy is our favorite, Sweet Baby Ray brand is a close second
- Chunk pineapple + 1/2 cup of juice from that can
- Small tortillas
Occasionally I will add a few tablespoons of either soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce too if I have it on hand. It gives it a bit more of a salty sauce mixture kick.
Is it better to cook chicken on high or low in Crockpot?
- You will hear me say it again and again, and yet again that chicken in a Crockpot should always be cooked on the low setting.
Do not cook chicken on the HIGH setting unless you like overcooked, dried out, tough meat. Always cook on LOW!!
Crockpot BBQ Chicken
You can spray the inside of your pot for a quicker clean up later if you want now.
- Pour half your bottle of bbq sauce on the bottom.
- Lay chicken on top of that. If breasts are quite thick I would slice them in half or thirds if they’re quite large.
- I personally like medium sized organic because they come out the most tender, just my opinion.
- Pour remaining jarred or homemade barbecue sauce over the top of that.
Then dump in your can of pineapple chunks + 1/2 c of juice from that can.
- If you want to add soy sauce you can add a bit now.
- Cover and cook on low for approximately 4-6 hours or until it is tender enough to shred with 2 forks.
- Timing will vary greatly depending on how thick your meat was.
- I do not recommend 3 hours on high like some do because shredded meat really needs low and slow cooking.
I like to shred the meat 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve it, leave it in the sauce, cover and allow it to soak it up more. Then serve it up in a bowl so it’s nice and coated like you see here.
Do you preheat slow cookers?
This is important if you’re making an easy air fryer recipe but with this type of low and slow machine it isn’t really necessary. If you really feel like you need to just add a bit of water, turn it on and come back in 15 minutes. Empty out liquid and add ingredients as directed in your recipe.
- Add tender chicken into tortillas with cheese and avocado immediately for the best results.
We either serve Crock pot bbq chicken it inside tortillas with shredded cheese and lettuce, or it’s good served over rice too. Jump to recipe below and get started. It is great when people come over or during a party too. If you move your slow cooker setting to “keep warm” it can sit there for hours and just get better because it soaks up all the juices.
Does slow cooking make meat more tender?
- YES! This and putting it inside my Instant Pot are game changers and the only way to go for us. Slow cookers work well for soups and stews too where less tender cuts of meat are cut into chunks or small pieces.
The moist heat and steam they provide softens the connective tissue helping chicken or beef to fall apart more easily. You can even cook frozen chicken and then shred from there!!
Looking for more easy crockpot chicken recipes?
- Crockpot shredded chicken taco meat is the bomb on Tuesdays. So cheap and versatile.
- Cheap crockpot chicken fajitas are popular as well
- Try our tasty crockpot salsa chicken as well some night
Try our Crockpot bbq beef recipe too! Super simple and tons of flavor in this slow cooker recipe.
Why is my slow cooker meat dry?
When you’re cooking meat in the slow cooker the leaner the cut, the drier it tends to get. If the meat comes with skin or a fat cap, leave that intact to keep the meat from drying out. I didn’t do that here because there is plenty of sauce to keep it moist.
It’s also possible that the meat simply cooked too long or you didn’t follow my suggestion and keep it on LOW vs. the high setting. Booooo!
How do you keep meat from drying out in a slow cooker?
Keep it moist y’all! Add liquid such as chicken or beef stock, water, or vegetable juice. This is especially true with really large thick pieces such as a roast. Have it to come 1/2 to 2/3 up the height of the meat in your pot.
If you cover the meat in liquid the meat will “boil” in the sauce and will be tough. Thermometers really are not necessary with slow cooked meats, but if it is thick I would suggest using one for safety purposes. Can you double this recipe? Yes I have done that but use a larger pot so chicken doesn’t overlap as much and each piece gets nice and tender.
I am telling you that using a thick really flavorful bbq sauce on beef or chicken in a slow cooker does wonders vs. just broth or water. It keeps it nice and moist as we’re speaking about plus gives it tons of flavor for a very low price.
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
Crockpot BBQ Chicken Recipe
- Put 1/2 bottle of barbecue sauce on bottom of crockpot, put chicken on top of that.
- Pour remaining jar of bbq sauce on top, and pineapple chunks/tidbits (with 1/2 c. of juice) on top of that. (if you like a bit more salty taste add 3 tbsp soy sauce on top too)
- Turn crockpot on low and cook for approx. 4-6 hours or until breasts are cooked and soft enough to shred easily.
- If breasts are frozen cook for 6-8 hours on low.
- Open and shred chicken 30 min. before serving, put lid back on. serve over rice or in small tortillas with spicy jack cheese, lettuce, etc.