Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

This BBQ pulled chicken is a breeze when you make it in the slow cooker. And it’s so delicious with its own homemade BBQ sauce and a secret ingredient.

Your slow cooker lets you enjoy bbq pulled chicken any time - even busy weeknights.   

When the weekdays get busy – and let’s be real, when don’t they – there’s nothing easier than throwing ingredients into the slow cooker and having a delicious, filling meal ready in a few hours. That’s exactly why this Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken is on constant rotation in our household. It really doesn’t get any better (or tastier) than this recipe. Although, have you seen these chicken carnitas? Or chicken stuffed peppers? My meal plan is filling up with all these delicious slow cooker chicken dinners.

What makes it so good? The homemade BBQ sauce is pretty special, at least partly because it includes a special ingredient (hint: it’s a common hot morning beverage!).

Did you guess the special ingredient? It’s espresso! The coffee notes of the espresso tie in perfectly with the sweet acidity of the tomato paste and apple cider vinegar. It’s truly a match made in barbecue sauce heaven.

This Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken is so crave-worthy that everyone will come back for more.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes


  • 3  (6 oz.) cans no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. brown mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. instant espresso
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 and 2/3 Tbsp. hickory flavored liquid smoke
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse salt, such as pink Himalayan
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast


  1. Add tomato paste, water, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, instant espresso, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke and salt to slow cooker insert and stir until well combined.
  2. Add chicken in a single layer.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, until internal temperature of chicken is at least 165°F.
  4. Once cooked, use tongs to move chicken breasts from slow cooker to a plate. Shred chicken using two forks. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker. Cover and cook for 20 minutes to allow chicken to soak up barbecue sauce.

Sara Blackburn

Sara blogs at Real Balanced where she shares low-carb, ketogenic, paleo, and low-FODMAP recipes. She believes in a diet lifestyle full of real food, fitness, and the occasional helping (or two…or three) helpings of chocolate and ketogenic fat bombs. Outside of the kitchen, Sara is either working at her fulltime job, binge watching a TV series, or obsessing over her Boston terrier pup, Rowsdower.