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Slow cooker shredded barbecue chicken

Use your shredded barbecue chicken in amazing tacos, burritos or quesadillas.

I know what you're thinking: how can this be barbecue chicken without the drippy brown barbecue sauce? Trust me. This chicken "drips" with all of the sweet, salty, smoky flavors of barbecue, without drowning in sauce, and that makes it perfect for tacos and burritos and quesadillas. Add your own favorite salsa on top, to make this spicy or not.

Adapted from my slow cooker barbecue beef brisket recipe, this version, which my grandkids stuffed in burritos, passed the kid-friendly test with flying colors (i.e., they asked for seconds!). I cut down on both sugar and spice, but left all of the things nice: a little hint of adobo sauce from the chipotle, and some chili powder for rich flavor. If you're making this for adults, you can add more adobo sauce, or even a chopped chipotle pepper. Keep some shredded barbecue chicken in the freezer, for quick weeknight meals.

Slow cooker shredded barbecue chicken, with no drippy sauce in sight.

Top your shredded barbecue chicken with salsa or guacamole in quick and easy tacos.

Slow cooker shredded barbecue chicken 

From the pantry, you'll need: chicken breasts, ketchup, light brown sugar, chipotle peppers in adobo, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, chili powder, cumin, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

Serves 8 or more.


6 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 small cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper


Place the chicken in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker (I use my Ninja Cooking System).

In a measuring cup, stir together all of the remaining ingredients until they combine into a sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Cook on LOW for 6 hours, until the chicken will shred easily.

Remove the chicken from the cooker into a large mixing bowl. Use two forks to shred the chicken, then return it to the slow cooker. Stir the chicken into the sauce, and let it cook for 10 minutes.

Serve warm or cold in burritos, tacos or quesadillas, topped with salsa or guacamole. Or let the chicken cool completely, and freeze it in airtight containers.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More slow cooker shredded chicken:
Slow cooker tandoori pulled chicken, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker Middle Eastern garlic chicken, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker crispy Chinese shredded chicken, from RecipeTin Eats
Slow cooker spicy shredded chicken lettuce wrap tacos with avocado salsa, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Slow cooker honey garlic chicken, from Just a Taste

Stash some of this slow cooker barbecue chicken in the freezer, and you can have tacos, burritos or quesadillas in minutes!

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Looks great and easy, a keeper and perfect for a crowd.

Mary, this is a great make-ahead-and-freeze dish.

I'm not a huge fan of barbecue sauce, so I love this version with flavor but not dripping with sauce.

Kalyn, I'm the same way. It's the flavor that's important, and the chicken is so much more versatile when the flavor is inside, and not just in a sauce.

This looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing! I could spend all day on your site looking at recipes.

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