Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken
When life gets hectic my Crockpot is my best friend; I rely on this trusty appliance to produce healthy and delicious homemade meals with minimal preparation. Just load it up with a few ingredients and a few hours later supper's ready.
This tender shredded chicken slow-cooked in a rich BBQ sauce is one of our all-time favourites. I like to serve it tucked into crisp leaves of lettuce garnished with smokey Hickory Sticks and crunchy slivers of apple. To balance out the junk food Hickory Sticks component, add a side of healthy Quinoa Pilaf.
Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken
- 8 chicken thighs*
- 1 cup BBQ sauce**
- 1 large yellow onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 heads butter lettuce
- 1 apple- cut into matchsticks
- 1/4 cup Hickory Sticks
- 2 green onions- finely sliced
*Chicken breasts don't have enough fat in the meat to endure a long slow braise without drying out, so choose thighs or a combination of thighs and legs for Crockpot chicken.
**We like this recipe for homemade BBQ sauce, but feel free to use your favourite recipe or prepared BBQ sauce.
Boneless skinless chicken thighs can go straight into the Crockpot without any preparation, but I encourage you to buy bone-in thighs. It's a little more work but cooking the chicken with the bone-in will result in a thicker more flavourful sauce. If you buy thighs with the bone in and the skin on, you are in for an extra treat. Remove the skin before putting the thighs in the Crockpot and fry it up in a little oil until it's golden and crispy. If you are a generous soul, you will serve the crispy chicken skin as a topping to the tender pulled chicken lettuce wraps. Or, you could do as I do, and eat all of the crispy chicken skin hot out of the pan when no one is looking.
Slice the onion into thick rounds and layer them in the bottom of your Crockpot with the cloves of garlic. Rest the chicken on top of the onions and garlic and sprinkle the meat with the chili powder. Pour the BBQ sauce over the chicken and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the Crockpot and set aside for a moment until it is cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, use a stick blender to puree the onions and garlic into the cooking the liquid to create a rich flavourful sauce. If you took my advice and used bone-in chicken thighs, remove the bones from the meat and use two forks to shred the chicken. Finally, return the shredded chicken to the Crockpot and stir to combine the meat with the BBQ sauce.
To assemble the lettuce wraps, layer 2 or 3 leaves of butter lettuce to form a little cup and fill each cup with a generous scoop of chicken, a few slivers of apple, some sliced green onion, and a few Hickory Sticks for a little crunch.
This simple pilaf not only tastes great, it's also really good for you.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, finely minced (approx 1/2 cup)
- 1 carrot, finely minced (approx 1/4 cup)
- 1 rib celery, finely minced (approx 1/4 cup)
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
- 1 cup quinoa - I used a mix of black and white quinoa
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (use any combination of parsley, thyme, chives, oregano, or mint)
Heat the oil in the bottom of a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly, until the onion is lightly browned and vegetables have softened.
Stir in the quinoa and add the vegetable stock, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover.
Cook the quinoa for 20-25 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Just before serving, add the chopped herbs to the pot and stir to combine.
This BBQ chicken also makes an excellent filling for tacos or try it served on big crusty rolls topped with Apple and Fennel Slaw.