A slow cooker bbq chicken thighs sandwich served on a wooden cutting board, next to tortilla chips, a small bowl of BBQ sauce, and pickles
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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

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These slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs are juicy, so easy to make and use a semi-homemade barbeque sauce that's tangy and sweet. Serve the thighs whole or shredded on a sandwich!

Get ready to fall head over heels for these Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs! They come out so tender and flavorful, you’d think they’ve been slow-cooking for an eternity. But nope, just a few hours in your trusty slow cooker, and boom! You’ve got juicy, boneless chicken thighs drenched in a tangy, spicy BBQ sauce, A.K.A a BBQ masterpiece!

Close up of a slow cooker bbq chicken thighs sandwich drizzled with ranch dressing served on a wooden cutting board, next to tortilla chips, a small bowl of BBQ sauce, and pickles

I’m telling you, it’s hard to resist the allure of these simple, slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs, all shredded and topped on a buttery bun. I love their texture and rich flavor (and the fact that they only need 5 ingredients), but their true beauty lies in their versatility. You can serve these crock pot barbeque chicken thighs whole and bask in their glory, but if you’re like me and have a soft spot for sandwiches or wraps, shredding them is the way to go. Perfect for tucking into a warm bun or wrapping up in a soft tortilla with some crunchy slaw. You’ve gotta try ’em!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs Overview

Cuisine Inspiration: American
Number of Ingredients: 5 (excluding salt and pepper)
Feeds: A family of 6+
Total Cook Time: 8 hours, 20 minutes
Primary Cooking Method: Slow Cooking
Dietary Info: Low-Fat
Key Flavor: Spicy, smoky BBQ
Skill Level: Beginner

Notable mentions

  • Unbelievably Tender Chicken: These crockpot BBQ chicken thighs come out so juicy and tender, that they practically melt in your mouth. That’s the magic of slow cooking right there!
  • Speedy Set-Up: In just 20 minutes, you’ve got everything ready to roll. Combine the sauces, season the chicken, pour the sauce mix over it, and let the slow cooker do all the heavy lifting. Perfect for when you’d rather chill than chop.
  • Cleanup’s a Breeze: One slow cooker, one bowl, and you’re done. Spend less time scrubbing and more time savoring each tender, juicy bite of chicken.
  • Super Versatile: You can enjoy these chicken thighs whole, or shred ’em up for some killer sandwiches (personal fave right here!), top it on your nachos, or jazz up your wraps. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients to make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

  • Chicken Thighs: Like I always say, boneless and skinless chicken thighs are just perfect for slow cooking – they stay super juicy and tender. They were made for this!
  • Spicy BBQ Sauce: To bring in that smoky, spicy goodness. It’s the backbone of the dish, giving it that signature BBQ flavor we all crave.
  • Ketchup: It’s not just for fries, people! In this recipe, it adds a subtle sweetness and a tangy depth.
  • Hot Sauce: 1 tablespoon for that extra kick. I use Frank’s RedHot Original sauce, but you can choose your favorite brand to dial up the heat to just where you like it.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: It adds a rich, savory undertone that ties everything together.
  • Salt: A little pinch brings out all the flavors.
  • Ground Black Pepper: For a bit of spice and warmth.
Overhead shot of ingredients for making slow cooker bbq chicken thighs on the table before mixing

How to make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

Step 1: Mix The BBQ Sauce

  1. Add BBQ sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce to a small bowl.
  2. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
A step by step image collage on how to make slow cooker bbq chicken thighs with bbq sauce before mixing with spices and bbq sauce after mixing

Step 2: Season, Cook and Shred The Chicken

  1. Place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker and season them with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour the BBQ mixture over the seasoned chicken thighs.
  3. Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook.
  4. Once cooked, you can serve the thighs whole, or shred them using two forks for sandwiches (my go-to!) or toppings.
A step by step image collage on how to make slow cooker bbq chicken thighs with raw chicken seasoned, chicken covered in bbq sauce, chicken cooked inside the slow cooker, and chicken shredded

Making Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs as a Dump Freezer Meal:

Transforming your Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs into a dump freezer meal is a smart move for any busy cook. This approach not only saves you time but also infuses the chicken with bold flavors, ideal for those days when you want a hearty meal without the hassle.

Preparation For Freezing:

  1. Combine Ingredients: Grab a large zip-lock freezer bag and place the raw chicken thighs inside. Sprinkle in the salt and black pepper for seasoning.
  2. Prepare the Sauce: In a separate bowl, mix together the spicy BBQ sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Once it’s well combined, pour this flavorful mixture over the chicken thighs in the bag.
  3. Seal and Mix: Push out as much air as you can from the bag before sealing it. Gently massage the bag to make sure the chicken thighs are thoroughly coated with the sauce. This marinating step is key to deep, rich flavors.
  4. Label and Freeze: Don’t forget to mark the bag with the date and recipe name. Flatten the bag for space-efficient storage and even thawing later on.

Cooking From Frozen:

  1. Thawing: For optimal cooking, transfer the freezer meal to the refrigerator about 24 hours before you’re ready to cook. This ensures a safe and uniform thaw.
  2. Cooking Adjustments: If you’re starting with frozen chicken, you might need to adjust the cooking time. Place everything in your slow cooker, set it on low, and let it cook for about 7-8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours. The goal is to make sure the chicken thighs are fully cooked and tender.
  • Throw In Some Herbs: Freshen up the dish with a handful of chopped herbs like cilantro or parsley, added just before serving. They brighten up the BBQ flavors, ideal for those who want to cut down on the richness.
  • Make It a Round Meal: Before pouring the sauce, add a few baby potatoes to the slow cooker. They’ll come out tender, having soaked up all that BBQ flavor, making your meal even more hearty and satisfying.
  • Try Different Seasonings: Swap out the regular seasonings for a smoky paprika or a hint of cumin. Or, for a sweet twist, a dash of brown sugar can mellow the heat and add a lovely caramel-like richness.
  • Add Bell Peppers: Red, yellow, or green – they’ll bring a sweet crunch and make the dish pop both in flavor and presentation.
  • Use Both Light & Dark Meat Chicken: You can also make BBQ chicken breasts in the slow cooker along with your thighs for a mix of dark and white meat. And if you want to try out making BBQ chicken legs(drumsticks) or slow cooker BBQ wings, I highly recommend it!

Tips for making the best slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs

  1. Hand Mixer Shredding: Want perfectly shredded slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs without the workout? Once cooked, use a hand mixer right in the slow cooker to shred the chicken. It’s quick, efficient, and gives you that ideal texture!
  2. Use a Liner: It makes cleanup even easier! Just lift it out of the slow cooker and dispose of it after cooking. It’s been a lifesaver on those nights when I’m too worn out to scrub.
  3. Avoid Overcrowding: Make sure each chicken thigh has its own space. You can place them on top of each other, but just don’t add more than your slow cooker can handle. This ensures they all bathe in the same amount of sauce and cook evenly.
  4. Let It Rest: Once cooked, let the chicken rest in the sauce for about 10 minutes before serving or shredding. This break allows the thighs to soak up even more flavor, making them extra tasty and juicy.
Overhead shot of a slow cooker bbq chicken thighs sandwich drizzled with ranch dressing served on a wooden cutting board, next to tortilla chips, a small bowl of BBQ sauce, and pickles

How to store & reheat Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

After your chicken cools down to room temperature, pop it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge. Make sure to scoop in all that delicious sauce too, so the chicken stays moist and flavorful!

When you’re ready for round two, reheat the chicken in the microwave or on the stove. If you’re using the microwave, cover the dish to keep the moisture in. On the stove, reheat it over medium heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally.

How long will Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs last in the fridge?

Your BBQ chicken thighs will keep well in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days. Enough for many more late-night dinners!

Can I freeze pulled BBQ chicken thighs?

Sure! Pack the chicken in a freezer-safe container or bag, and it’ll stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. Then, thaw it in the fridge overnight, and reheat using one of the methods above.

What to serve with Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

  • Staple BBQ Sides: Think favorites like macaroni salad, potato salad, or even corn salsa. These sides are the soulmates of BBQ dishes!
  • Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches: Transform those tender chicken thighs into a mouthwatering sandwich filling! Shred the chicken, pile it high on a soft bun, and maybe add a slice of melty cheese or a drizzle of ranch dressing. I bet you’ll love it as much as I do.
  • Cheese Crisps: A great alternative to potato chips and super easy to make in under 10 minutes!
  • Sweet Potato Fries: Oven-baked sweet potato fries are a fantastic mix of sweet and savory. They’re super easy to make and add a colorful, nutritious side to your BBQ thighs.
  • Vegetable Rice: Fluffy rice peppered with veggies like bell peppers, peas, and carrots – it’s a simple yet flavorful pairing. Plus, it soaks that BBQ sauce like a charm.
  • Classic Dinner Rolls: Soft, warm dinner rolls are just the thing for mopping up every last bit of sauce. They pair with anything saucy, and for good reason!

Frequently asked questions

Can I Use Bone-In Chicken Thighs?

Yes! They will add even more flavor. Just remember that bone-in thighs may require a bit more cooking time to ensure they’re fully cooked through.

Can I Prep This Recipe Ahead of Time?

Definitely! You can mix the sauce ingredients and season the chicken the night before. Store them separately in the fridge, and when you’re ready to cook, just toss everything in the slow cooker.

How Do I Know When the Chicken is Done?

Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F when poked with a cooking thermometer. It also should be tender enough to easily shred with a fork.

A slow cooker bbq chicken thighs sandwich drizzled with ranch dressing served on a wooden cutting board, next to tortilla chips, a small bowl of BBQ sauce, pickles, and a fork

These Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs are the kind of meal that makes you feel like a pro cook, even on your busiest days. Seriously, what’s not to love about a recipe that’s a breeze to whip up, leaves your kitchen mess-free, and delivers big on taste? It’s just perfect!

More Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken recipes:

I want to hear from you! If you try this easy Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs recipe or any other of my 5 ingredient or less recipes on Dinner in 5, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I read all the comments and respond!

Overhead shot of shredded slow cooker bbq chicken thighs on a bowl with two forks in it
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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

These slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs are juicy, so easy to make and use a semi-homemade barbeque sauce that's tangy and sweet. Serve the thighs whole or shredded on a sandwich!
No ratings yet
Author Jackie
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 241
Prep Time 5 minutes
0 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 5 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3 to 4 pounds of chicken
  • 2 cups spicy BBQ sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce of choice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker and season them with salt and pepper.
  • In a bowl, mix the BBQ sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce until well combined.
  • Pour the mixture over the seasoned chicken thighs.
  • Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours.
  • Once cooked, you can serve the thighs whole, or shred them using two forks for sandwiches (my go-to!) or toppings.

Notes

  1. Hand Mixer Shredding: Want perfectly shredded slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs without the workout? Once cooked, use a hand mixer right in the slow cooker to shred the chicken. It’s quick, efficient, and gives you that ideal texture!
  2. Use a Liner: It makes cleanup even easier! Just lift it out of the slow cooker and dispose of it after cooking. It’s been a lifesaver on those nights when I’m too worn out to scrub.
  3. Avoid Overcrowding: Make sure each chicken thigh has its own space. You can place them on top of each other, but just don’t add more than your slow cooker can handle. This ensures they all bathe in the same amount of sauce and cook evenly.
  4. Let It Rest: Once cooked, let the chicken rest in the sauce for about 10 minutes before serving or shredding. This break allows the thighs to soak up even more flavor, making them extra tasty and juicy.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5lb, Calories: 241kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 1309mg, Potassium: 437mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 27g, Vitamin A: 262IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American

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