Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken with Veggie BBQ Sauce

It's been so chilly and rainy lately that I've been using my slow cooker A LOT. The warmth and fantastic smells waft through the house and just make it seem cozy. Plus, there's nothing like coming home after a busy day and having dinner just waiting for you! It's perfect for new moms, moms who work outside the home, and those who spend all day shuttling their kids to school and activities and playdates. So, basically, if you don't have a crockpot, you should get one. I have an inexpensive one (plus I used a 20% off Bed Bath & Beyond!) and it works great. 

My husband loves pulled chicken. Loves it. And it's perfect for cooking low and slow in the crockpot. Most recipes call for cooking the chicken in BBQ sauce or chicken stock (or a combination of the two). But you know I always have to add veggies to everything I make, right? I wanted to add them in a way that didn't alter that amazing texture of pulled meat. So, I decided to add grated veggies right into the sauce: they add moisture, flavor, fiber, and antioxidants; they just melt into the sauce—you'd never even know they're there! Perfect for the veggie-phobes in your life.

You can use any barbecue sauce you like. If you want to make a homemade version, check out this one from my friend Ann over at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen. I actually used a clean (no HFCS, MSG, artificial colors or any other yucky ingredients) sauce that I won in a contest: Outta the Park Original BBQ Sauce. It is tangy and peppery, with a good amount of heat. If you use a sweet and thick sauce, you may want to adjust the seasonings a bit (maybe cut the honey); just sample the sauce before adding to the slow cooker and adjust to your tastes.

serves 8-10
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced thin
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 celery stalks, grated
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 large apple (with skin), grated
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (homemade or bottled)
  • 2T honey
  • 2T spicy brown mustard
  • 1T apple cider vinegar
  • 1T worcestershire sauce
  • salt, to taste

Grease the bottom and sides of your slow cooker with some extra virgin olive oil. Line the bottom of the crockpot with the sliced onions. Top with the grated vegetables, apple and garlic.

Place the chicken thighs on top of the bed of veggies. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and pour over the chicken, covering completely. 

Cook on low for five to seven hours. When the chicken is falling-apart tender (I do mine at about the six-hour mark), remove the chicken to a plate and shred, using two forks. Return the chicken to the crockpot for about another half hour. I also vented the lid on my slow cooker so that the sauce could cook down a bit.

I served it on whole wheat buns (helps absorb the juicy sauce!). I quite like putting sliced red onions and avocado on mine—I love the creamy, cool crunch!

UPDATE: Outta the Park BBQ Sauce featured our recipe on its blog, with a very nice write-up!

This post contains affiliate links, so I make a small commission if you purchase through my links—which helps to keep this blog running.


  1. Is that two packages of 2.5 lbs of chicken thighs, or do you mean about 2 to 2.5 lbs?  I assume it is the latter, but just checking.

  2. Yup, it's 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. I'll edit to make it more clear.

  3. Thank you for suggesting my barbecue sauce!  I think I will need to use it with your recipe--and soon.  It looks utterly delicious!  

  4. Wonderful, I do hope you like it!

  5. Your picture inspired my husband to make this recipe yesterday, and it was AWESOME! We had everything but zucchini and worchestershire sauce on hand. Even without those ingreds it was delish. Love how the grated veggies become part of the sauce! We are huge advocates of nutrient dense foods and the combination of hearty slow cooked meat with loads of veggies reeled us in to actually make this in addition to salivating over the photo! The avocado was a nice addition as well with the smooth texture being a great complement to the rest of the dish. Great recipe - thanks for sharing!

  6. Never tried that! My older girl promissed to help me this Sunday and we'll try it!

  7. Great, hope you enjoy it!

  8. Thanks so much for posting your awesome review! Really glad you enjoyed it :-)

  9. Would I need to adjust the cooking time or any details in order to cook with Chicken Breasts instead of Thighs? It's what I have on hand, and I just braved the storm to buy the other ingredients I needed! 

  10. You shouldn't have to adjust the time too much for the breasts. If they are very thick, you could always cut them into large chunks before cooking. When the time comes to take them out and shred them with the forks, you can just double check that there's no pink left inside (but, really, there shouldn't be after all that time). Chicken breasts can sometimes get a bit dry, but there should be enough liquid in this dish (between the sauce and the water from the veggies) to keep it all moist. Let me know how it turns out - and stay inside until the storm passes! Be safe :-)

  11. What kind of apple do you recommend?

  12. Any apple should work, but a breed with some sweetness probably would be best.

  13. Thank you for sharing this delicious chicken at Manila Spoon for our Global Food Friday! So glad you came by. I have been to your lovely blog a few times now but cannot believe I haven't followed you yet. Correcting this mistake and am now your latest fan here. Abby from Manila Spoon.

  14. I would have never thought of adding avocado and red onion, what a great idea! Thanks for joining into Slow Cooker Sunday


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