BBQ Chicken Sandwich

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This show-stopping, flavor-packed BBQ Chicken Sandwich is made with slow-cooked saucy chicken. Add the sweet BBQ chicken to a toasted bun with a quick guac and easy coleslaw.

Pair this barbecue favorite with a corn salad or potato salad.

Image of BBQ Chicken Sandwich, on a plate, ready to be eaten.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

These easy sandwiches have been on major repeat at our house this summer; they’re crazy-simple to make, loaded with flavor, and everyone in my family is obsessed with them!

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that we use a slow cooker to cook the meat. No worries if you don’t have a grill or smoker, you can enjoy delicious BBQ chicken with this recipe.

Process shots-- images of the sauce ingredients being added and combined; chicken and onions being added; everything being mixed and covered; cooked until tender; then shredded.

Let’s talk sandwich buns

Our favorite way to serve these BBQ chicken sandwiches on is toasted brioche buns. (Here’s how to toast buns — on a grill, in a pan, or in the oven). Before toasting the buns, I recommend buttering both of the insides with softened butter or butter in a tub.

QUICK TIP

Toasting the buns also ensures that the sandwich toppings don’t make the bread too soggy.

The chicken on these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

In a lot of my recipes, chicken thighs and breasts can be interchanged fairly easily. This recipe, however, does not work well with chicken breasts. The breasts dry out quickly and don’t absorb the sauce as well.

I recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs for these sandwiches. The thighs stay juicy and succulent, shred easily, and absorb the sauce nicely.

Trim off the major fatty parts on the thighs, without worrying too much about removing all the fat; the fat will contribute lots of flavor.

Process shots-- images of the coleslaw dressing being poured over the salad; everything being mixed together to combine.

Quick “guac”

Nothing compares to a layer of guacamole underneath the saucy chicken — it adds an amazing creaminess to the BBQ Chicken Sandwich!

That said, you don’t need to spend too much time making guacamole. I usually just mash up a ripe avocado and add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice. Easy!

You could also buy prepared guacamole for a quicker prep time.

Overhead image of the coleslaw being scooped up by the tongs for BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.

Coleslaw

Guac — BBQ chicken — and finally some coleslaw! The coleslaw adds the perfect contrasting crunchy texture to the tender chicken and creamy guacamole.

I recently shared this coleslaw recipe, so you can absolutely use that recipe to top these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. That said, if you’re wanting a quicker prep time, grab a bag of coleslaw mix and some fresh (refrigerated) coleslaw dressing (I like Marie’s® best; not sponsored) and toss the two together until the coleslaw mix is sufficiently mixed.

Add a generous scoop of coleslaw right on top of the BBQ chicken, top with a bun, and dig in!

Image of the BBQ Chicken Sandwich on a plate with potato chips on the side.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich tips

  • I can’t recommend Heinz® ketchup enough — it’s so good in this homemade BBQ sauce (not sponsored).
  • Watch the cook time closely; not all slow cookers cook at the same rate. We’re looking for chicken that shreds easily (if it falls apart or disintegrates, it’s likely overcooked and will taste dry) or internal chicken temperatures that register 165 degrees F. 
  • Use a 6-quart slow cooker that has been generously greased with cooking spray.
  • Allow time for the sauce to thicken. When the chicken is done cooking, the sauce can be a bit thin, so allow time to thicken up a bit and coat the chicken.
  • This is a great meal to make ahead of time. The chicken gets more flavorful and the sauce continues to thicken as they stand. This dish reheats nicely — we’ll make sandwiches throughout the week with this recipe!

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BBQ Chicken Sandwich

5 from 1 vote
A show-stopping, flavor-packed BBQ Chicken Sandwich made with slow-cooked saucy chicken. Add the sweet BBQ chicken to a toasted bun with a quick guac and easy coleslaw.
Print Recipe

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

5 from 1 vote
A show-stopping, flavor-packed BBQ Chicken Sandwich made with slow-cooked saucy chicken. Add the sweet BBQ chicken to a toasted bun with a quick guac and easy coleslaw.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 -8 sandwiches
Calories 450kcal
Cost $7.12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (153g) Heinz ketchup
  • 1/3 cup (75g) apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons (40g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (59g) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons paprika (sweet not smoked)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: fine sea salt, freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (or 2 small onions)
  • 3 pounds (~11-13 total) boneless skinless chicken thighs, excess fat cut off (don't use chicken breasts)
  • 6-8 hamburger buns + butter (we love Brioche buns)
  • Serve with: coleslaw (see Note 1) and 2 large avocados with lime juice

Instructions

  • SLOW COOKER: Spray slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  • CHICKEN AND ONION: Remove the fatty parts of the chicken thighs (some fat is fine; just cut out the majority of the fat). Add the chicken thighs right to the sauce. Thinly slice the onion. Add to slow cooker and stir to combine everything. Spread the mixture evenly in the slow cooker, making sure everything is generously coated with sauce.
  • COOK: Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken shreds easily (this is about 4.5 to 5 hours for me). I don't recommend cooking on high; it tends to dry out the chicken.
  • FINISH CHICKEN: As soon as the chicken shreds easily with 2 forks, it's done! Shred the chicken right in the slow cooker and stir it in the sauce. The sauce is a little thin at first, but will absorb and thicken a lot, once the chicken has shredded and it cools. Leave the crockpot uncovered, turn to warm, and let stand for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to continue thickening the sauce as you prepare everything else.
  • COLESLAW: Use store-bought or make your own (See Note 1).
  • BUNS AND QUICK GUACAMOLE: Spread butter on the insides of the buns. Add to a skillet or griddle and lightly brown the buns over medium heat. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the ripe avocados and mash with a fork. Add a pinch of salt and pepper (garlic powder if you'd like) and a squeeze of lemon. Mash to make a quick guac. Spread the guacamole along the bottom of the buns.
  • ASSEMBLE: Using tongs, scoop out chicken and onions to go on top of the guac. Add a generous spoonful of coleslaw. Top with the other bun half. Enjoy immediately!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Use a bag of coleslaw mix and Marie's® coleslaw dressing and toss to combine (add dressing gradually until mix is sufficiently dressed; you won't use all of it) or make this homemade coleslaw recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.3g | Protein: 40.9g | Fat: 10.7g | Cholesterol: 193.1mg | Sodium: 562.9mg | Fiber: 2.3g | Sugar: 14g

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