a BBQ pulled chicken sandwich on a plate with coleslaw, BBQ sauce, and grilled pineapple

BBQ Pulled Chicken

BBQ Pulled Chicken is tender, flavorful, healthy, and ridiculously easy to throw together. It takes two simple steps and five minutes to prepare, and you'll have dinner or party food ready to go in your slow cooker or instant pot.
Course gluten free main dish, Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 201kcal
Author Melissa Erdelac


BBQ Pulled Chicken:

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (ONLY FOR INSTANT POT DIRECTIONS)
  • 3/4 - 1 cup BBQ sauce

For Sandwiches:

  • fresh pineapple, cored and sliced
  • 14 ounce bagged slaw mix
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh jalapeño*, minced
  • 13 ounce Litehouse Coleslaw dressing
  • 6 Brioche buns



  • In a small bowl mix together paprika, brown sugar, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt. Rub seasoning mix all over chicken breasts, on each side. 
  • In crock pot pour apple cider vinegar and water. Place chicken on top and cook on high for 3 hours or low 5 hours. When chicken is tender, use two forks to shred in slow cooker. Pour in BBQ sauce and stir to combine.


  • Place chicken breasts in Instant Pot. In a small bowl mix together paprika, brown sugar, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt. Sprinkle tops with half of seasoning. Flip breasts over and sprinkle with remaining seasoning. 
  • Add water, vinegar, and 3/4 cup chicken broth. Cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 7 minutes (10 minutes if chicken is frozen). Natural release for 5 minutes, then quick release remaining pressure. 
  • Remove lid and ladle out 1/2 cup of liquid to discard. Use two forks to shred chicken on a cutting board or, a faster option, use a hand mixer right in the Instant Pot. Stir in BBQ sauce.

For Sandwiches:

  • For pineapple slices, grill about 4 minutes per side, or until pineapple starts to char. You can also place pineapple on a cookie sheet and broil 4 minutes per side.
  • Meanwhile, place slaw mix, cilantro, and jalapeño in large bowl. Pour in Litehouse Coleslaw dressing and stir to combine. 
  • Serve sandwiches on buns with pineapple, Cilantro Jalapeno Coleslaw, and additional BBQ sauce.



    Nutrition facts are for 1/2 cup serving of BBQ pulled chicken without coleslaw, pineapple, or bun.
    *1 tablespoon of minced jalapeño brings a very subtle, mild heat that doesn't overpower. If you like more spice, double the amount of jalapeño
    TIP: The flavors meld and get better the longer the BBQ chicken sits. For best flavor, make a day ahead and rewarm before serving. 
    TIP: This recipe can easily be double or tripled if feeding a crowd. Just make sure your crock pot is large enough to hold the chicken breasts or divide recipe between two crockpots. 


    Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 645mg | Potassium: 522mg | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 595IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 0.9mg