This deliciously succulent pulled chicken is smothered in a tasty homemade barbecue sauce and baked in the oven until wonderfully tender.
It's excellent on its own, in a bun or a sandwich, or as a tasty filling for a lettuce wrap.
Add some barbecue sauce, and you're in for a real treat. The homemade barbecue sauce I use here is delicious and easy to make, but you can use any sauce you like.
Here's an overview of the ingredients needed to make this recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below.
Fresh chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe. I don't recommend using chicken breast. It's too dry to use in a slow-cooked recipe.
For the homemade BBQ sauce: Tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and a sweetener. I use stevia, but you can use any sweetener to equal 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- One way to vary this recipe is to tinker with the homemade barbecue sauce seasonings. Sometimes, I add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper to make it spicy. Other good additions I've tried and liked include a teaspoon of onion powder and ¼ teaspoon of ground cumin.
- Another variation is using a store-bought BBQ sauce. When pressed for time, I often do, and it works great. Since so many exist, this is another good way to vary the recipe and make it slightly different each time.
Pulled Chicken Instructions
The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
You start by mixing the homemade BBQ sauce.
Place the chicken pieces in a baking dish. Add the sauce, ensuring it covers the chicken.
Cover the pan in a double layer of foil and bake the chicken in a 300°F oven for 3-4 hours, until very tender.
This is what the chicken looks like when done. Isn't it gorgeous?
Shred the chicken with two forks or a spatula, mix it well with the BBQ sauce, and serve.
How long to cook the chicken:
I usually bake the chicken for three hours. Baking for four hours works well to make the chicken exceptionally tender. But if you bake it for so long, the barbecue sauce sometimes reduces too much despite the foil.
In fact, pressed for time one afternoon, with only two hours until dinner, I baked the chicken at 400°F, covered, for 2 hours. The result was delicious and moist - so this is an option if you're in a rush.
Easy cleanup tips:
One important tip is to line the bottom and sides of the baking dish with foil.
The barbecue sauce gets beautifully caramelized as the dish slowly bakes, making for a delicious dinner -- and a tough cleanup job later on, as shown in this photo:
However, if you prefer not to use foil when cooking, let the baking dish cool a little (so it doesn't explode), then fill it with hot, soapy water.
Let it soak overnight on a dishtowel on the counter (never put a hot Pyrex dish directly on a cold counter!). The following day, cleanup is a breeze.
I think it is! Pulled pork is amazing, no doubt. But when slowly cooked in a rich BBQ sauce and shredded, chicken is just as good, as long as you use chicken thighs, which are nice and fatty.
I don't recommend using chicken breasts. They are too lean and will dry out during the long cooking time. You can use them to make baked chicken breast, but it's best not to use them in this recipe.
Chicken thighs are fattier and juicier. They're far more suitable for slow cooking. And they are way more delicious! I also use them in this boneless chicken thighs recipe.
Yes. It's best to portion it out, place it in freezer-safe containers, and freeze it. You can thaw it in the fridge and then reheat it in the microwave in a covered microwave-safe dish.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. It's best to reheat them gently to avoid drying them out. Reheat them in the microwave, covered, at 50% power.
As mentioned above, you can freeze pulled chicken for up to three months.
More Chicken Recipes
👩🏻🍳 I publish a new or updated recipe every month. Want these recipes in your inbox? Subscribe today! You can unsubscribe at any time.
- 1.5 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Preheat your oven to 300°F. Place the chicken thighs in a square 8-inch baking dish. Make a few slits in the chicken with a sharp knife.
- To make the barbecue sauce, mix the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and sweetener in a medium bowl.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken, coating it evenly. Use your hands to ensure the sauce not just covers the chicken but also gets inside the slits.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with a double layer of foil and place it in the oven. It will start to smell amazing after about 2 hours, but you should cook it for 3 hours - until very tender.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully remove the foil - hot steam will escape - and allow the dish to cool for about 5 minutes until easier to handle.
- Using a knife and fork or a rubber spatula, shred the chicken while still in the baking dish and toss it with the sauce.
- Serve immediately.