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Slow-Cooker Sweet and Tangy Pulled Chicken

Why This Recipe Works

A simple spice mixture and an easy-to-assemble homemade barbecue sauce make it easy to turn slow-cooked bone-in chicken into tangy, silky shredded chicken—perfect for piling onto buns for an easy dinner. Quickly microwaving the aromatics together with the chili powder, paprika, and cayenne softened the onions and infused them with layers of barbecue flavor while blooming the spices. We found that simply seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper before nestling the breasts into our quick sauce mixture of ketchup, molasses, and the aromatics was enough to infuse the chicken with the rich essence of the sauce. Stirring in vinegar at the beginning of cooking made the sauce too thin and dulled its acidity, but adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar at the end of cooking along with a small amount of mustard ensured that the sauce was the perfect consistency and retained its bright flavors. Check the chicken's temperature after 2 hours of cooking and continue to monitor until it registers 160 degrees.

Ingredients

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1 onion, chopped fine
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon paprika
teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
2 (12-ounce) bone-in split chicken breasts, skin and ribs removed, trimmed of all visible fat
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Nutritional Information

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Per Serving (Serves 4)

  • Calories 337
  • Cholesterol 87 mg
  • Fat 15 g
  • Sodium 601 mg
  • Saturated 3 g
  • Carbs 19 g
  • Trans 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber 2 g
  • Monounsaturated 6 g
  • Sugar 14 g
  • Polyunsaturated 3 g
  • Protein 30 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Instructions

Serves 4

Serve on hamburger buns with pickle chips and Carolina-Style Coleslaw.

1. Microwave onion, tomato paste, chili powder, oil, paprika, and cayenne in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in ketchup and molasses. Season chicken with salt and pepper, place in slow cooker, and turn to coat with sauce. Cover and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 2 to 3 hours on low.

2. Transfer chicken to carving board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks; discard bones.

3. Stir vinegar and mustard into sauce. (Adjust sauce consistency with hot water as needed.) Stir in shredded chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.