Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Mustard Coleslaw are the best kind of meal for sharing. The barbecue chicken cooks throughout the day until it falls apart, then you throw together a mustard coleslaw and layer the ingredients into sandwiches. Whether you need a hands-off weeknight dinner or a low stress entree to serve to guests, this recipe is a crowd pleaser.
2023 Update: This recipe was originally shared in January 2015. I have simplified this recipe, added new photos and added a TON more tips and tricks. I hope you love these sandwiches!
Please note that I was born and raised in a place where pork barbecue reigns supreme and live in a place now that celebrates all things beef BBQ… but I can still enjoy some BBQ chicken.
Truth be told, this recipe came about when I was pregnant with our first daughter and wanted a saucy BBQ chicken sandwich to eat for the Big Game… but this recipe is excellent for any time or occasion if you’re into the combination of flavors.
And as a lifelong barbecue lover, please rest assured that I am into the combination of flavors… and very much encourage you to give them a try, too.
Why I love this recipe:
This is a take on a classic Memphis-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich.
And it goes without saying that this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe is the perfect dish to feed the whole family… or a crowd on a game day… or at a party, assuming your guests don’t mind sticky fingers.
What’s not to love about this easy recipe? It calls for simple ingredients. It works for meal prep, as well as entertaining, too. And the shredded chicken stores easily, too, so you can enjoy delicious sandwiches throughout the week.
Our family is obsessed with these easy BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. The combination of the saucy shredded chicken with the creamy, mustardy slaw is just so good.
The tangy bbq sauce, which comes together as the chicken cooks in it, is just a bit sweet with a touch of spice.
Combined with the fall-apart chicken and the equally tasty semi-homemade coleslaw, these Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Mustard Coleslaw are a next level meal.
What you need to make this recipe:
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- Slow cooker
- Large mixing bowl
Let’s talk ingredients!
In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.
Here is what you need:
- Large chicken breasts — this is the protein we’ll use for our shredded chicken sandwiches. They need to be boneless and skinless. You could swap chicken thighs for these if you prefer.
- Hamburger Buns — buttered, for extra deliciousness
- Ketchup — this is the major tomato element of our BBQ sauce, and it cannot be skipped. My family has tried this with traditional ketchup, as well as lower sugar ketchup. Both work just fine.
- Chicken broth or stock — unsalted is my go-to because then we can season to taste. If yours has been salted, go light on the salt in the sauce.
- Butter — this is a part of the base of the sauce, and it adds a nice creaminess to the slow cooker BBQ sauce. Yes, I’m aware that most BBQ sauces don’t call for butter, but we’re adding this in for flavor and texture. Go with me here.
- Apple cider vinegar — this is necessary for an vinegary punch in the BBQ sauce, as well as the slaw sauce. Don’t skip it! It’s not the same thing as apple cider.
- Brown sugar — light or dark brown sugar works! It’ll add a little bit of molasses-y sweetness.
- Umami — we’re adding a combination of Worcestershire sauce, as well as low-sodium soy sauce. You can substitute the soy for tamari if you have that on hand.
- Hot sauce — for a bit of a kick, but not to overwhelm our tastebuds with heat. We keep more vinegar-y hot sauces in our house, like Tabasco. Use your favorite.
- Dijon mustard — this is needed for the barbecue sauce and for the mustard sauce for the slaw. We’ve made this with grainy Dijon, as well as smooth. Use your favorite.
- Spices — we use a combination of onion powder, garlic powder and kosher salt to add extra flavor to the BBQ sauce.
- Shredded green cabbage and carrot coleslaw — yes, the kind that comes in a bag from the store. We’re making this slaw as easy as possible, and that means not slicing it up ourselves.
- Plain Greek yogurt — this is the base of the slaw. Please note that you need PLAIN yogurt. A flavored one would make this slaw sauce taste strange.
- Honey — support a local farmer and use local honey! You can also use whatever type of honey you’ve got on hand, too. You could use the same amount of maple syrup in place of the honey, if desired.
- BBQ sauce — for some tanginess. We grab this from the slow cooker, but you could also use your favorite bbq sauce, if desired.
- Celery seed — this is one of my favorite things to add to slaw, this adds a little crunch and celery taste without overwhelming the other flavors.
How to make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Measure in the chicken stock, melted butter, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, soy sauce, hot sauce, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder and salt.
Whisk together until smooth in the base of the slow cooker to form the homemade BBQ sauce.
Place boneless skinless chicken breasts into the sauce, and put the lid onto the slow cooker.
The cooking time will be at least 6 hours if your slow cooker is on the LOW setting. I have not tried this turning up the heat and do not recommend that.
You can open the slow cooker up to see how it’s coming along. This isn’t necessary, though.
Once fork tender, shred chicken and let it hang out in the BBQ sauce.
DID YOU KNOW?
The easiest way to shred chicken is in a stand mixer! Remove the cooked chicken from the sauce, and toss into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Put it on slow, and let the chicken shred.
How to make Mustard Coleslaw
When the chicken is done, prepare the coleslaw.
Combine the Greek yogurt, honey, mustard, BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar and celery seed in a mixing bowl. Whisk the sauce ingredients together until smooth.
Pour the cabbage and carrot coleslaw into the mustard mixture.
DID YOU KNOW?
The cabbage will become wilty in the mustard sauce, so don’t toss the coleslaw in the sauce until it’s time to serve! You can make the slaw sauce early, and keep it in the fridge, then toss it with the cabbage before serving.
How to make BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
When ready to serve, brush the buns with salted butter and toast on a griddle or in the toaster oven.
Layer the chicken and slaw on the toasted buns. If you’re feeling wild, add some dill pickle slices.
Serve warm, and enjoy with your favorite barbecue side dishes.
How to store:
Store leftover chicken in the barbecue sauce in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 4-5 days.
If possible, store the coleslaw sauce separately from the cabbage slaw mixture. If not, the cabbage will wilt as it sits in the fridge and will last 2-3 days max.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
This delicious meal is fabulous for a weeknight, but it’s also wonderful to share with friends because you can batch it.
After all, who wouldn’t love an awesome BBQ chicken sandwich while homegating with you?
Here’s what I like to do when we make and share this one:
- Purchase your ingredients in advance, and be sure to put the shredded BBQ chicken on in the morning.
- Double or triple the recipe for a crowd.
- Make a BBQ sandwich bar. Place all elements of the sandwiches (pulled chicken, BBQ sauce, slaw, toasted buns) in separate containers, and let guests build their own.
Frequently Asked Questions
We love to serve dishes that you’d find at a barbecue restaurant, like Spicy Baked Beans with Bacon, Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese, Classic Potato Salad and Oven Fried Okra. The world is your oyster!
I do not recommend adding cheese to this BBQ chicken sandwich. With the sauce and the chicken and the slaw, this sandwich is excellent without the addition of cheese.
It depends on the person, but for our family, we’ve found that about ¼ lb. per sandwich works well.
Since our chicken cooks in the barbecue sauce, it’s incredibly moist!
Quick tips and tricks to the best BBQ Chicken Sandwiches:
- Double the recipe for a crowd.
- Make this as an easy meal for the whole family. Get the Crockpot BBQ chicken cooking in the morning, and make the slaw sauce. Pop it in the fridge for later. Assemble it all before you’re ready to eat.
- How to store: Store the chicken in its sauce in a food storage container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Ideally, store the slaw sauce separately from the cabbage because it will cause wilting. Once tossed together, it will last 2-3 days max.
More favorite recipes for a BBQ:
- Baked BBQ Turkey Burgers
- BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza
- BBQ Nachos
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
- Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Nachos
Here’s how you can make your own BBQ pulled chicken in the slow cooker:
Prepare for the big game by whipping up this easy and delicious entree. These Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Mustard Coleslaw are sure to wow your guests without causing additional stress as you prepare for the party.
- 4 large chicken breasts
- 8 Hamburger Buns, buttered
Slow Cooker BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup unsalted chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 oz. bag of shredded green cabbage and carrot coleslaw
- 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 4 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 ½ tablespoons BBQ sauce (from the slow cooker!)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon celery seed
- In the slow cooker, measure in the chicken stock, melted butter, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, soy sauce, hot sauce, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Whisk together until smooth.
- Nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce.
- Cook the chicken on LOW for at least six hours. (You can open the slow cooker up occasionally to shred the chicken and see how it's cooking, though you certainly don't have to do this.)
- When the chicken has cooked through in the sauce, prepare the coleslaw.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, honey, mustard, BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar and celery seed. Whisk together until smooth.
- When ready to serve, brush the buns with additional salted butter and toast on a griddle or in a toaster oven.
- Toss the cabbage and carrot coleslaw into the mustard mixture. (The cabbage will become wilty in the mustard sauce, so don't toss the coleslaw until it's time to serve! We keep ours separate in the fridge and will just throw in the amount needed.)
- Layer the chicken and slaw on the toasted buns. Serve warm, and enjoy with your favorite barbecue side dishes.
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled for a crowd.
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Serving Size:1 sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 372Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 1121mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 3gSugar: 28gProtein: 26g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.