A simple BBQ chicken sandwich recipe that’s full of tangy and smoky flavors. Perfect for those hot summer evenings when you’d rather not turn on the oven.
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This post was originally published on August 3, 2016 and revised July 27, 2017.
There’s no way around it – BBQ chicken sandwiches are delicious. They’re tangy, kind of smoky, super messy bundles of joy. If you make them in the slow cooker, you can add ‘easy’ to that list of adjectives. The slow cooker (or crockpot as we call it in Minnesota) is a wonderful cooking tool that will help you get through the hot and humid summer months by allowing you not to turn on the oven. Whoever invented this thing is a genius. You can crank out fantastic meals that make your house smell amazing (and drive your cats crazy) with seriously minimal effort. BBQ + chicken + bun + your favorite toppings = bliss.
I like to turn the slow cooker on for about 10 minutes before I stick anything in there. This creates a warm base and the spices will heat up and become a little more aromatic when added to it. Turn on the slow cooker and add 2 Tbsp. of chicken stock. Let it warm for 10 minutes. In the meantime, gather up your spices. For this recipe, I use 1 tsp. of garlic powder, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, and 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper, dried rosemary, and dried oregano. Once the stock has warmed a little bit, add half of each spice along with a pinch of salt and pepper. I like to add half the spices to the bottom and then the remaining half on top of the meat. This sort of ‘wraps’ the chicken with flavor (that’s what I tell myself, anyway). You will start to smell the garlic and spices as they heat up.
Now for the chicken. I used 2 lbs of chicken breasts. You can use boneless or bone-in chicken breasts. Boneless is easier so that is the route I went here. However, cooking meat with the bone always adds another layer of flavor. If you choose bone-in chicken simply remove the skin before adding to the slow cooker. There is great flavor in chicken skin and you can definitely leave it on if you prefer, but I find that skin-on chicken in the slow cooker can become a little greasy. Once that’s removed, add the chicken to the broth and spices. Add the other half of the spices to the top of the chicken along with another pinch of salt and pepper. Now you can set your timer. This recipe cooked for 4 hours on ‘high’.
After four hours (and my cats are pacing back and forth in the kitchen), the chicken is done. Remove it from the slow cooker and let it rest in a bowl for at least 5 minutes before you pull it apart. This will allow the chicken to retain some of its juices. After it’s rested, pull it apart with two forks and remove the bones if using bone-in chicken. Search carefully through the chicken to make sure there aren’t any little bones hiding in there. Return the meat and any of the liquid back to the slow cooker. Now you can add 1 1/4 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce. Stir to combine and stick the lid back on there for another 5 minutes. This will allow the BBQ sauce to heat and marry with all the other flavors.
I like to toast the buns for a bit before adding the chicken. As the BBQ sauce is heating, cut your buns in half and stick them in a warm skillet on the stove top. The edges get nice and crusty. I love brioche buns because they hold up to the messy ingredients that get heaped on top of them. But, honestly, any bun will do. Add a generous portion of BBQ chicken to your bun along with a heaping spoonful of this Light and Crunchy Coleslaw. This coleslaw complements the flavor of the BBQ sauce – Trust me on this one. Finish them off with a couple of pickled jalapenos and you’re gold. Cheese, raw or sauteed greens, other veggies, or anything pickled would also be delicious. Or, just eat them straight up. There’s really no wrong way to eat a BBQ chicken sandwich.
Here’s to recipes that give you maximum flavor with minimal effort!
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A simple BBQ chicken sandwich recipe that's full of tangy and smoky flavors. Perfect for those hot summer evenings when you'd rather not turn on the oven.
- Turn slow cooker on, add 2 Tbsp. chicken stock, and heat for 10 minutes.
Add half of the garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, rosemary, oregano, and pinch of salt and pepper to the slow cooker.
- Place chicken on top of broth and spices.
Add remaining half of each spice and another pinch of salt and pepper on top of chicken.
- Cook on high for 4 hours.
Remove chicken from slow cooker and place in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. Pull the chicken apart with two forks.
Return shredded chicken and any liquid to the slow cooker.
Add 1 1/4 cups BBQ sauce to the chicken and heat for additional 5 minutes.
- Cut and toast buns in a warmed skillet on stove top until edges are browned (optional)
Place generous helping of chicken, a heaping spoonful of coleslaw, and a few pickled jalapenos on each bun. Serve immediately.
You can use boneless/skinless or bone-in chicken breasts for this recipes. If using bone-in chicken breasts remove skin before placing in slow cooker. Be sure to remove all bones when the chicken is finished cooking.