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Pulled Chicken Burgers

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Chicken breasts are cooked low and slow in barbecue sauce until they’re tender and juicy, resulting in mouthwatering shredded chicken that’s perfect for sandwiches. These kid-friendly pulled chicken burgers can be made ahead of time and are convenient for busy weeknights.

These Pulled Chicken Burgers are one of my family’s favorite recipes! Especially on Monday nights (or any night, really). And yes, I call them burgers because that’s what my son calls them!

We have a big family, and let me tell you, this recipe is a lifesaver when you need a weeknight meal that’s both quick and satisfying and feeds a lot of people. And the best part? Even the pickiest of eaters (like our 10-year-old) devour it.

There’s something about shredded chicken slathered in barbecue sauce that just hits the spot for me. It’s a taste of nostalgia, reminding me of when I was young and would go to barbecue restaurants; it was the only thing I’d ever order off the menu. Let me tell you, it never disappoints.

Simply toss everything into the slow cooker and let it work. If you’re really on top of your game, whip up a batch on Sunday night, stash it in the fridge, and boom – Monday night dinner is done!

Now, let’s talk sides. Personally, I’m a fan of keeping things simple with a side of crispy potato chips or homemade french fries. But my husband? Well, he’s all about loading up his Pulled Chicken Burger with a generous helping of coleslaw or crunchy pickles.

Try playing around with different barbecue sauces or seasonings to suit your preferences, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your toppings. Pulled Chicken Burgers are all about versatility, making them the perfect go-to when you’re craving that smoky BBQ flavor but don’t feel like firing up the grill or smoker.

Until next time, happy cooking and happy eating, family!

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • FLAVORFUL – The shredded chicken is infused with the savory and tangy flavors of barbecue sauce, along with the sweetness of brown sugar, creating a deliciously flavorful filling for the burger.
  • KID FRIENDLY – Pulled chicken burgers are a crowd-pleasing option for family dinners, gatherings, and barbecues. Honestly, they’re sure to be a hit with people of all ages.
  • QUICK & EASY – Using a slow cooker makes the cooking process virtually effortless. Simply combine the ingredients, set it, and forget it until the chicken is fall-apart tender and ready to be shredded.

Ingredients

  • Boneless, skinless skinless chicken breast
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Yellow onion
  • Brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Barbecue seasoning (optional)
  • Hamburger buns
  • Toppings: Pickles, coleslaw (if desired)

Notes: The BBQ sauce you choose can make a big difference in the flavor. Whether you prefer a smoky, sweet, or spicy sauce, pick one that suits your taste buds best.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

  • Chicken: Instead of using chicken breast, mix it up with boneless, skinless chicken thighs for added flavor and juiciness. You can also use a combination of both cuts for a more dynamic texture.
  • Sauce Substitutions: Experiment with different types of barbecue sauces. Try sweet and tangy, smoky, spicy, or even mustard-based barbecue sauces for a unique twist.
  • Homemade BBQ Sauce: If you prefer homemade barbecue sauce, go ahead and make your own! There are plenty of recipes available online that allow you to customize the flavors to your liking.
  • Onion: While the recipe calls for diced or grated yellow onion, you can use other types of onions such as red or white onions. You can also use granulated onion or onion powder instead.
  • Spice it Up: Add some heat to your Pulled Chicken Burgers by incorporating spices such as chili powder, cayenne pepper, or chipotle powder into the sauce mixture. Adjust the amount to your desired level of spiciness.
  • Bun Choices: Instead of traditional hamburger buns, try using tortilla wraps for a lighter option.
  • Topping Ideas: Get creative with your toppings! Add sliced avocado, caramelized onions, sliced jalapeños, or even pineapple rings for a tropical twist.

How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

  1. Prep the Chicken: Start by placing the boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the bowl of your slow cooker.
  2. Add Flavor: Next, pour in the barbecue sauce, finely diced or grated yellow onion, brown sugar, kosher salt, and any other seasonings you want. Give everything a good stir with a silicone spatula until the chicken is evenly coated in the sauce mixture.
  3. Let it Simmer: Pop the lid on your slow cooker and set it to cook on High for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or if you’ve got all day, cook on Low for 6 hours.
  4. Shred, Baby, Shred: Once the chicken is cooked through and fork-tender, it’s time to shred. Carefully transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board, then grab two forks and get to shredding.
  5. Bring It All Together: Throw the pulled chicken back into the slow cooker and give it a good stir to ensure every last piece is coated in that finger-licking-good sauce.
  6. Build Your Burger: Grab a hamburger bun – or two if you’re feeling extra hungry – and toast ’em by placing each half face down on a heated skillet for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Pile on a generous helping of the pulled BBQ chicken. Top it off with your favorite fixings – crunchy pickles, creamy coleslaw, etc.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Grate the Onion: Grating the onion ensures it’s evenly distributed throughout the sauce, providing flavor without large chunks that may be off-putting to some (my favorite way to hide onion from picky eaters!).
  • Customize Your Sauce: Experiment with different barbecue sauce flavors to find your favorite. Whether you prefer sweet, smoky, spicy, or tangy, there’s a barbecue sauce out there for you.
  • Toast the Buns: For added flavor and texture, lightly toast the hamburger buns before assembling your burgers. This helps prevent them from becoming soggy from the sauce.
  • Double Up and Freeze: If you’re making a large batch, consider doubling the recipe and freezing the extra pulled chicken for future meals. It’s a convenient option for quick and easy dinners.

What to Serve with Pulled Chicken Burgers

  • Coleslaw: Our creamy and crunchy BBQ Coleslaw is a Southern-inspired side dish that brings the perfect blend of textures and flavor.
  • Potato Salad: Our potato salad has the best creamy texture and tangy flavor, with ingredients like dill pickle relish, mustard, hard-boiled eggs, and seasonings.
  • Baked Beans: Flavorful baked beans with ground beef is a classic barbecue side dish that’s as convenient as it is delicious. Made with canned beans, seasoned beef, bell pepper, onion, and seasonings, these beans are perfect with pulled pork.
  • Cornbread: Our soul food cornbread recipe is easy to follow and yields a moist, tender crumb. It combines the rich tang of buttermilk with classic ingredients like butter and sugar for a delightful side dish that complements any meal.
  • Mac and Cheese: Our recipe features cheddar, Monterey jack, and mozzarella, and is made without a roux. It’s decadent and comforting, and an absolute must-try for anyone looking to savor a taste of the South.

Freezing and Reheating Instructions

Preparing Pulled Chicken Burgers in advance can save you time and effort on busy days while ensuring you always have a delicious meal ready to enjoy. Here are some of our best tips for freezing and reheating.

How to Freeze

  1. Once the chicken has finished cooking, allow it to cool completely before freezing.
  2. Transfer the cooled chicken to airtight containers or freezer-safe bags. Press out any excess air and seal tightly to prevent freezer burn. Don’t forget to label the containers or bags with the contents and the date of freezing.
  3. Place the labeled containers or bags in the freezer, making sure they are stored flat to maximize space. BBQ Pulled Chicken can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Reheating

When you’re ready to enjoy, transfer the frozen pulled chicken from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw overnight.

  • Stovetop Method: For a quick stovetop reheating option, place the thawed chicken in a skillet over medium heat. Add a splash of water or chicken broth to prevent drying out, and stir occasionally until heated through.
  • Microwave Method: To reheat individual portions of Pulled Chicken, place them in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave on high in 30-second intervals until warmed through.
  • Oven Method: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the thawed chicken in an oven-safe dish, cover with foil, and bake for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.
  • Slow Cooker Method: Another convenient option is to reheat the thawed chicken in a slow cooker. Place it in the slow cooker and heat on low for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

FAQ

What if I don’t have a slow cooker?

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can still make Pulled Chicken Burgers on the stovetop or in the oven. Simply cook the chicken in a covered pot or baking dish (a Dutch oven, etc.) at a low temperature (around 300°F/150°C) until it’s tender and easily shreddable.

Summary

Pulled Chicken Burgers are perfect for busy weeknights or any casual get-together. With a simple slow cooker preparation and customizable toppings, these sandwiches are sure to become a crowd-pleaser for both kids and adults alike.

Print
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Pulled Chicken Burgers

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: main course, dinner
  • Method: slow cook, crockpot
  • Cuisine: american, barbecue, southern

Description

Chicken breasts are cooked low and slow in barbecue sauce until they’re tender and juicy, resulting in mouthwatering shredded chicken that’s perfect for sandwiches. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce, about 1 (18-ounce) bottle of store-bought sauce
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of your favorite barbecue seasoning
  • 8 hamburger buns, for serving
  • Toppings: Pickles, coleslaw (if desired)


Instructions

  1. Combine chicken breasts with BBQ sauce, onion, brown sugar, salt, and barbecue seasoning in a 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Ensure the chicken is evenly coated with the sauce mixture.
  3. Cover and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is fully cooked and tender enough to shred. Alternatively, cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours.
  4. Transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to shred each breast.
  5. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir well to evenly coat it with the sauce.
  6. Toast hamburger buns by placing each half face down on a heated skillet for 1-2 minutes until golden brown (optional).
  7. To assemble sandwiches, place a generous amount of the pulled BBQ chicken mixture onto the bottom half of each hamburger bun. Top with the other half of the bun.
  8. Serve the BBQ chicken sandwiches hot and enjoy! Optional: You can add coleslaw or pickles for extra flavor and texture.

Notes

To freeze BBQ Pulled Chicken, cool it completely, then transfer to labeled airtight containers or bags, removing excess air before sealing. Store flat in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then warm on the stovetop with a splash of water, in the microwave with a damp paper towel covering, in the oven covered with foil, or in a slow cooker on low for 1-2 hours.

Keywords: pulled chicken sandwiches, bbq chicken, bbq chicken sandwiches, pulled chicken burgers, crockpot pulled chicken, slow cooker pulled chicken

7 Comments

  1. This is one of my husbands all time favorite meals, so he was thrilled when I made it. Simple and delicious.

  2. We are hooked on this – I used my homemade BBQ sauce as the bottle one I find it too sweet and it was just perfect. I am saving this recipe as I will have to make it again super quick. We do love pork and this is insanely delicious.

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