12BBQ Pulled Chicken with baked tender chunks of chicken breast, so easy and convenient you’ll skip the slow cooker in for this quick meal.
Serve up this summer favorite with KFC Coleslaw (Copycat), Three Bean Salad and Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese for the easiest and most delicious summer cookout meal made indoors!
BBQ Pulled Chicken is a summer favorite, and it’s much easier and less messy to eat than classic BBQ chicken. This dish can absolutely be made on your grill, but making this in the oven is one of the easiest recipes to keep in your year round arsenal.
This recipe is a two for one deal. You get oven healthy oven baked chicken breasts, smothered in a homemade BBQ sauce without any processed ingredients. It may take a few more minutes to mix together but the flavors are out of this world.
Pulled chicken is generally made one of three ways, cooked on a grill, cooked in an oven or cooked in a slow cooker. They all have their merits but making a pulled chicken recipe in an oven is the easiest option that keeps the chunks firm and flavorful (the slow cooker is the easiest option but the meat will fall apart when served).
You’ll love to use this recipe to make pulled bbq chicken burgers, easy enough to just pile on the chicken and the sauce. You can also brown the buns on a griddle in some butter when you feel fancy or indulgent, but the sauce is delicious on an un-toasted bun as well.
Grilled BBQ Pulled Chicken
Score the chicken as instructed, then season with salt and pepper and coat in a bit of canola oil. Add to the grill on medium heat and cook for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through and browned on both sides. While the chicken is cooking, add the rest of the ingredients to a grill safe sauce pan and cook the bbq sauce next to the chicken on the grill. When the chicken is done cooking, shred with with forks and coat in the bbq sauce.
Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken
In the slow cooker I recommend using chicken thighs in place of chicken breast. While you can use chicken breasts for this recipe, the thighs as will maintain more moisture and flavor than slow cooking chicken breasts will. Add the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours before shredding with a fork.
If you find that the sauce is too watery (remember there is nowhere for the steam to escape in the slow cooker, you could cut the sauce ingredients (everything but the chicken) in half. Remember no matter what you do, the sauce will be more watery in a slow cooker.
Ways to use Leftover Pulled Chicken
- Add it to a salad (leave it cold) with corn, black beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce and top with honey mustard and bbq sauce.
- Add it to a baked potato with some sharp cheddar cheese.
- Make it into a bbq chicken quesadilla with some thinly sliced red onion and cheddar cheese.
- Add it onto pizza dough with red onions, cilantro and cheddar like the famous CPK recipe.
- Make it into tacos with finely shredded cabbage, pico de gallo and ranch dressing.
More Fun, Easy Summer BBQ Recipes
- El Pollo Loco BBQ Black Beans (Copycat)
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs
- Honey Bacon Baked Beans
How to Store BBQ Pulled Chicken
- Serve: Don’t leave cooked chicken at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
- Store: Sealed in an airtight container, BBQ Pulled Chicken will be good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freeze: This recipe is great for freezing! After cooling to room temperature, seal portions in freezer bags for 1-2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating on the stove, adding more sauce if needed.
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut diagonally into the chicken breasts about ¼ inch deep in an x shape to allow the bbq sauce to flavor more of the chicken (like how a holiday ham has the top cut into an x shape).
- Add all the ingredients together in a large bowl and toss well together until mixed.
- Add the chicken to a sheet pan, then pour the sauce over the chicken breasts.
- Cook for 25 -30 minutes or until caramelized, browned and cooked through.
- Shred the chicken with the forks and serve in your favorite bun, spooning the sauce over the chicken.
- If the sauce didn't cook down enough (if you use a pan that's too small it may not), then add the sauce to a saucepan and cook on medium heat until thickened (likely 15-20 minutes).
Photo used in a previous version of this post.
Can you do this in the crockpot?
This sounds great, I will try it and let you know
This is the best bbq sauce I’ve ever tasted and it was so quick and easy to make. I baked the chicken breasts in the oven and the sauce got nice and rich and thick. It’s addictive. Thanks so much for the recipe.
You’re welcome, Lorrie.
Very good how much liquid smoke can I add to give it a smoky flavor ?
You could try 1 – 1.5 tablespoons of liquid smoke. Enjoy!
I assume 1/4 coarse ground pepper means 1/4 tsp…
Yes, thank you for catching that.
I’d already cooked the chicken and was going to add some barbecue sauce from the fridge but the bottle was very old so I was looking for a recipe and found yours. Not only was it super easy but more importantly was totally loved by everyone and my daughter said tasted better than the one she’d had at a taco place not that long ago. For anyone looking for a really quick way to cook the chicken – I put the chicken breasts in a pot, covered with water and simmered for 10 mins or so depending on how big they are. Take out the chicken and then pull apart with two forks. I added the sauce to the chicken and then put in the oven for 10 mins to finish. Eldest daughter loved it so much she took the leftovers for lunch today.
Glad to know it was such a hit, Charlie.
I never comment, but this was so amazing!
No changes to the recipe.
I’m glad you loved it enough to want to come back and let me know, Danielle! Thanks!
We were given a store bought rotisserie Chicken. Could I reheat this in the oven and make the sauce, shred the chicken off the bones and serve like sloppy sandwiches on buns?
Yes! Such an easy dinner idea!
Can you not use Apple cider vinegar or what is something that could replace that?
It just adds to the flavor. You can leave it out or use just apple juice if you want a sweeter twist.
Wow! what an amazing recipe! i cooked this for my family and they loved it and gave it 5 stars! so thank you and i look forward to having some more great tasty meals from your website!
what a blessing!
Thanks so much! I’m glad you all enjoyed it.
I was a bit doubtful about this, I have to admit– it seemed too easy. And I did have to make one substitution (a teaspoon of pretty potent red pepper flakes for the two teaspoons of chili powder) so I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out. But it was absolutely delicious! I made it with chicken breast tenders that I had left from a large frozen bag, and they worked beautifully; the sauce is tangy and delicious, not too heavily tomato-ish nor vinegary, but just right. Really good! I’ll definitely repeat this one in the future. Thank you!
I’m so glad you decided to give it a try, Ysabet! I appreciate the 5 star rating too.
Made this last evening and it turned out perfect! I will definitely make this again!
So glad you enjoyed it!
i need this recipe to feed 85 peoples PLEASE HELP!!!
This was a great base recipe. However, the sauce just tasted like ketchup after adding the ingredients. Doubled most of the added ingredients and added some liquid smoke. Ended up being the best bbq chicken I’ve ever had. My chef hubby also loved it. Wouldn’t be my go-to recipe as it is currently written, but it was good to have a general idea of what flavors I needed to add to get the desired result. Thanks!
This looks delicious ! Can you use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast ?
Do you think this can be made ahead and frozen?
Covered or uncovered?
Ok this turned out PERFECT!!!!!! I didn’t even make the sauce, but instead used bottle for lack of ingredients, but I loved how the chicken breasts turned out juicy and so easy to shred. I will try the sauce next time for sure!!!! This chicken is better than crock pot to me. Nice chunks of juicy chicken drenched in bbq sauce… yes please!
So I had 3 nice size chicken breasts so I cut horizontal to have 6 thinner even sized breasts. I seasoned my chicken with garlic, salt, and pepper. Still did the slits like you said and poured my sauce all over. I chopped up onion and place on top. Cooked following your directions for 30 min. Served on toasted buns = Perfection! Thank you!
Thanks for coming back to let me know, Teneeshia! I appreciate the 5 stars.
Will it be ok to use regular mustard if I don’t have the dry mustard???
Yes, double it.
How much black pepper am I supposed to use? I’m assuming teaspoon
It’s a 1/4 of a teaspoon. Sorry about that – looks like the recipe card didn’t save correctly… or I didn’t have enough coffee that day 🙂
I basically never comment on blog recipes but this one is just way too good to pass! I tried this recipe about 2 months ago and it just blew my mind. This is the best bbq sauce I’ve ever had and I use it for pulled pork, chicken, as a basting sauce, in hot dogs, etc. My friends rave about it and I can’t count the times I’ve shared this post with them.
It’s now my go to summer recipe for when I have people over.
Oh my gosh!! Thank you so much for coming back and making my day. I’m so glad you love it so much.
My family loves this recipe! It’s quick and super easy. I use only a cup of ketchup and that still leaves me plenty of sauce for 3 large chicken breasts. I sometimes pound the fuller part of the breast down to create a more uniform sized piece of chicken to ensure quick, even cooking. Thanks Sabrina!
Thanks for dropping by to let me know! I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it!
I made these for dinner (I used chicken legs…adjusting the cooking time accordingly) I took the chicken out to shred and debone and put back in the pot to cook for the last 20 minutes. I made it in my castiron pot and it turned out wonderfully.
My husband and my 22 month old both cleaned their plates!
I’d call that a winner! Thanks so much for coming back to let me know how much everyone enjoyed it, Sarah.
Please don’t take it as an offence…
“a bit less processed”, and the main ingredient is ketchup!
Tomato purée or sauce would be a nice change!
You can use those if you prefer. 🙂
Should I reheat in the oven and on what temp? Or the stovetop? Thanks!
You can reheat it either way. If you use the oven (no higher than 350 degrees), make sure to lightly cover with foil. Enjoy!
30 minutes at 350, the chicken is only halfway cooked. Good thing I gave myself extra time. I’ll comment again once the chicken is actually cooked. And yes, I prepared according to directions. We’ll see!
WOOOOWW speechless freaking amazing hands 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you.
Thank you so much!!
How many people would this recipe feed?
It depends on how full you make your sandwiches but this recipe yields 6 servings.
Made this in oven for Memorial Day – scaled back measurements on sauce as I did not have 2 lbs of chicken – cut into chicken fingers and put in sauce and set in fridge till I baked at around 400 for 22 minutes – I did not shred served as is – great chicken and wonderful sauce – will make again and with more chicken – thanks for the recipe
So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Sounds like it was a good addition to your family meal! Thank you for coming back to let me know how they turned out!
Mmmmm this is BBQ Chicken perfection!!!
This looks so perfect! I will definitely add this to our dinner rotation!
Thank you Sandra!
Not sure where else I could leave this comment; I am new to your site and love your recipes. I know you do a lot of copy cat recipes; I would love one for the chicken noodle soup at Chick-fil-a. The broth has creaminess I can’t figure out how to replicate at home. Keep up the great work!!
Sorry it took me so long to respond. Your question was stuck in my spam filter. That soup is on my “to do” to replicate. Stay tuned.
I am so excited about this dish! The leftover ideas sound as great as the first go round!
Looks so simple and delicious! My family would love this!
It’s definitely a family favorite!
Just in time for summer, this is such a quick an amazing meal for the whole family!
What is the oven temperature for pulled chicken?
Oops, that would be helpful right?!? So sorry. You’ll want your oven at 350 degrees. Thanks for catching that!
Hello! Could you please tell me, when you talk about 350 degrees it is in fahrenheit or in celsius?