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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken (Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly)

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken – This tender crockpot barbecue chicken makes for delicious sandwiches, salads, pizzas and more! (Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly)

Front view of a slow cooker BBQ chicken sandwich on a white background

Busy? Tired of cooking? Need something for a crowd? Just love easy meals?

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken is your answer.

With just a handful of ingredients and only about 5 minutes of hands-on work, our Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken is calling your name. It’s delightfully simple but packed with delicious flavor. And there are so many good ways to serve it! (Sandwiches, yes, but SO MANY others! Keep reading for a big list)

And this is all you need to get started…

Overhead view of a bowl of Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken

Here’s What Goes Into Our Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Recipe:

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast or Chicken Thighs. Our Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken recipe starts with chicken breast or chicken thighs. My family prefers chicken breast, but chicken thighs work really well in a slow cooker. You can even use a mix!
  • A Little Diced Onion. To add layers of flavor, you’ll add some diced onion, along with a little
  • Garlic. Lately, I’ve been really into the frozen garlic cubes. They’re pre-minced, stay fresh for ages, and aren’t made with any preservatives or additives. It makes things so easy!
  • Your Favorite BBQ Sauce. Next up for your slow cooker BBQ Chicken is your favorite barbecue sauce. I keep things simple with bottled sauce, but you can certainly make your own if that’s your jam! Choose a sauce that best fits your dietary needs to keep this gluten-free, paleo, or whole30 compliant. (See the FAQ for some of our favorite brands below!)
  • Cider Vinegar. A little cider vinegar acts as a sort of secret ingredient! Its acidity help make the chicken tender, and it really keeps the flavor of the barbecue sauce nice and vibrant even after the slow cooking. Depending on how vinegary your barbecue sauce is straight from the bottle, you can choose to add more or less, to taste.
Overhead view of a Slow Cooker Crock of Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken

How To Make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken, Step-By-Step:

  1. Place The Chicken In Your Slow Cooker. First, place your chicken in the crock of your slow cooker. I usually try to spread it evenly so it’s not stacked on top of each other too much.
  2. Pour In Your Sauce Ingredients. Next, you’ll add in your sauce ingredients. Add onion, garlic, barbecue sauce, and cider vinegar over the chicken. Smooth with a spatula to coat the chicken evenly.
  3. Set The Chicken To Cook. Slow cook on HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 6-8 hours, or until tender.
  4. Shred Your Chicken. Shred chicken with two forks and toss with the barbecue sauce to coat. (It should come apart very easily. If it doesn’t, cover it and cook another 30-60 minutes.)
  5. Add Final Seasonings. Once the chicken is shredded, taste a bit and see if you need to adjust the seasonings. The sauce will be slightly diluted from cooking with the chicken, so you may find you want to add a bit more vinegar, some salt or pepper, or a touch of brown sugar or pure maple syrup to sweeten.
  6. Serve! Now, you’re ready to eat your slow cooker bbq chicken! Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy this yummy meal…
Close up Front view of a BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato on a white plate

Yummy Ways To Eat Our Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken

  • STUFFED SWEET POTATOES. We LOVE stuffed sweet potatoes here, and BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are one of our favorite variations. Don’t miss the yummy slaw I like to serve with them in this post.
  • TUCKED INTO BUNS FOR SANDWICHES. BBQ Chicken sandwiches are a great meal for a crowd or when you have a busy day. I love putting the chicken in to cook before we head out for an afternoon at the pool, or when I have company in town. (We like Udi’s gluten-free buns, Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free buns, and Trader Joe’s gluten-free hamburger buns!)
  • SERVED ON SALADS. Especially in the summer, I LOVE BBQ Ranch Chicken Salads loaded with goodies like BBQ chicken, black bean, corn, tomatoes, and our signature BBQ Ranch dressing. Try it. You’ll love it.
  • AS A TOPPING FOR PIZZA. Have you tried BBQ chicken pizza? It’s amazing. Spread bbq sauce on your crust, then layer BBQ chicken, sliced green onion or purple onion, cilantro, and maybe a little pineapple (if you’re into it), then top with mozzarella or dairy-free cheese, as desired.
Front view of a slow cooker BBQ chicken sandwich on a white background

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

NEED A SLOW COOKER? HERE’S OUR FAVORITE. I’m a food blogger, so I actually own two slow cookers. This slow cooker is the one I love for cooking on a budget. It’s simple to use, looks cute on the counter, and can fit large batches or smaller batches of food. If you’d like something a bit more upscale, this one has more in-depth programming, along with a thermometer you can use to switch your settings to WARM as soon as your chicken reaches the right temperature (which means no over-cooking!). I also love the lid clips that keep the lid secure when transporting the slow cooker.

TRUST YOUR TASTEBUDS! As I mentioned above, cooking your chicken in barbecue sauce dilutes the flavor slightly. The addition of onion, garlic, and cider vinegar really help with this, but you’ll definitely want to taste it after shredding it to be sure you don’t need to adjust the seasonings. If your sauce is tasting a bit flat, add a little more vinegar, some black pepper, a bit of salt, or a little brown sugar or pure maple syrup to help wake it back up.

OUR FAVORITE BRANDS OF BARBECUE SAUCE. I prefer using barbecue sauce without corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, and this one from Stubb’s is one of our favorites. We also like Bone Suckin’ sauce, which is naturally sweetened with honey and molasses. If you’re looking for something Paleo-approved, Primal Kitchen and Noble Made are two Paleo & Whole30 options!

PALEO? WHOLE30? READ THIS! Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken is SUPER paleo + Whole30-friendly! To make it paleo/Whole30, simply use compliant barbecue sauce (see our faves above), or make your own paleo/whole30 BBQ sauce!

CAN I FREEZE LEFTOVER SLOW COOKER BBQ CHICKEN? Absolutely! We usually do this. I’ll reserve half the recipe for dinner one day, and freeze half for another day. Works like a charm! I recommend putting the cooked chicken in a freezer-safe bag, and laying it flat to freeze. It’ll thaw more quickly in the refrigerator that way!

Overhead view of a sweet potato stuffed with Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

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Close up front view of a slow cooker BBQ chicken sandwich on a white background

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken (Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly)


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: About 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken – This tender crockpot barbecue chicken makes for delicious sandwiches, salads, pizzas & more! (Paleo-Friendly) 


Ingredients

Scale

FOR THE BARBECUE CHICKEN:

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced or grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

OPTIONAL EXTRAS FOR SERVING:

  • Snipped chives, sliced green onion, minced cilantro or parsley, finely minced red onion, pickles, pickled banana peppers, etc.

Instructions

FOR THE BBQ CHICKEN:

  1. Place chicken in the crock of a slow cooker. Add onion, garlic, barbecue sauce, and cider vinegar.
  2. Smooth with a spatula to cover the chicken evenly.
  3. Slow cook on HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 6-8 hours, or until tender.
  4. Shred chicken with two forks and toss with the barbecue sauce to coat.
  5. Taste the chicken and adjust seasonings, if needed (see notes below)

Notes

TASTE & ADJUST. Slow cooking your chicken in barbecue sauce can dilute the flavor of the sauce slightly (depending on what sauce you use). The addition of onion, garlic, and cider vinegar really help with this, but you’ll definitely want to taste it after shredding it to be sure you don’t need to adjust the seasonings. If your sauce is tasting a bit flat, add a little more vinegar, some black pepper, a bit of salt, or a little brown sugar or pure maple syrup to help wake it back up.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3-4 hours
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Amercan

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