Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken

BBQ Pulled Chicken-2251 on Whisk Together

Book:    Still nothing yet.  Though I think I have concluded society’s whole problem.  It boils down to a lesson that my kid actually did back in first grade.  They had to put things into two categories:  wants and needs.  The problem is a lot of our “needs” are actually wants.  Some people would argue up and down and even fight for that “need” which…. is a want to begin with.  One of the items on the assignment was “milk”.  We had an interesting little discussion on whether milk was a want or a need.  And I mean need.  Do we NEED milk?  I am all for milk.  I bake and drink and love milk.  But will I survive without it?  Yes.  Could I thrive without it?  Probably.  So we put it under the “want” category.  I’m not arguing about dairy – just an example of something to get the wheels turning.


If you want pulled chicken, pork or beef – the slow cooker is the way to go.  Unless you own a smoker of course.  Low and slow, the trusty slow cooker will turn your chicken to shreds which is what you want here.

Why 2-3 hours on low?  Because that is when you’re chicken is done and why chicken that sits in the slow cooker for 8-10 hours tastes gross, dry and overcooked.  So how do you have this ready to go when you are home from work?  I would make a batch on the weekend and freeze or fridge the leftovers.  Cooked chicken is good for 5-7 days in the fridge.  Raw chicken is only good for 2-3 days, so might as well use it up.

(Okay, technically this might not be considered BBQ because it is just meat with BBQ sauce… I get it. )

Why I like this recipe:

1.  Easy and delicious.
2.  You get that smokey flavor without the wait time.
3.  Great for small or large families.
4.  Freezer friendly.
5.  Kid approved!

BBQ Pulled Chicken-2253 on Whisk Together

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (or about 1 small can) of tomato paste
  • 5 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 Tb. mustard
  • 4 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp. hot sauce (or less for less heat)
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 4 – boneless skinless chicken breast
  • salt and pepper
  • sandwich buns
  1. Put all of the ingredients from onion through cayenne pepper in a medium microwave bowl. Pop it in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Stir once or twice before the three minutes is up and the onion should be a little soft.
  2. Add this hot mixture to the slow cooker. Add the ketchup, molasses, mustard, and cider vinegar. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add chicken to the top and nestle them in the sauce. Cook on low about 2-3 hours or until it shreds easily with a fork.
  4. Whisk in the hot sauce and liquid smoke. Serve on buns.
BBQ sauce recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


Oven Baked BBQ Chicken

Oven Baked BBQ Chicken on Pinterest Whisk Together


Book Update:  I finished Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture” and really enjoyed it.  A fast, quick read that has a lot of nuggets of wisdom and funny biographical stories.  The chapters are very short and can be read in order or out of order.  Many professors give a “last lecture” of sorts to summarize all they have learned.  However, this was REALLY Randy’s last lecture since he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died leaving 3 small children (youngest was 18 months old) and a wife.

Some of my favorites points were:

1.  Never Give Up
2.  Know Where You Are
3.  No Job is Beneath You
4.  The Lost Art of Thank You Notes
5.  Pouring Soda into the Back Seat (of his brand new convertible)
6.  Don’t Obsess over What People Think

Some interesting quotes:

-“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”
-“People are more important than things.”
-“One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose.”
-“Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
-“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted .”
-“There are more ways than one to measure profits and losses.”
-“If you want something bad enough, never give up (and take a boost when offered).”

Oven BBQ Chicken-1949 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  On that note, let’s make some BBQ!!!!  We love BBQ and sometimes in the spring the Midwest is known for its storms.  Those storms that make the tornado sirens wail or the windows rattle with the wind and rain.  I know the weather is warm, but I just don’t like grilling in that kind of weather.  So, instead we BBQ our meat inside.  The key I think to getting that smokey flavor quickly and inside the house is a golden grail called “Liquid Smoke”.  You can find it in the BBQ sauce section of the grocery store.  It is natural, it is tasty and it is inexpensive.  A $2 bottle lasts me about a year.

So here is a way to make BBQ chicken from scratch in the house.  Add 1 tsp. of liquid smoke (I like the hickory one) for that smoky flavor.  You could also make this in a plastic freezer bag – maybe even triple the recipe? – and always have a quick chicken meal ready to go for your family or another family in need.

If you like the idea of making your own BBQ sauce, check out my homemade no-cook BBQ sauce.  Everyone that has tried this homemade sauce LOVES it.  I stash a jar full in the fridge and have it on hand at all times.

*Note:  The original recipe, which is from America’s Test Kitchen, calls for broiling the chicken for 5- 10 minutes after baking it at 325 degrees for 10-14 minutes.  Most of my skillets are not broiler safe, so I developed a different way of cooking.

Oven Baked BBQ Chicken
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tb. finely grated onion (on a grater, or use small food processor)
  • 2 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tb. Dijon mustard (I use 1 Tb. because I don’t like mustard)
  • 3 Tb. molasses
  • 2 Tb. maple syrup
  • 3 Tb. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne (omit for kids or really sensitive adults)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tb. olive, vegetable or grapeseed oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together everything from ketchup to cayenne.
  3. In a large, oven safe nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add chicken and brown on both sides – about 4 minutes total.
  4. Remove chicken from skillet. Add sauce and cook about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken back to the pan, cover with foil (or parchment tucked around the inside) and place it all into the oven for about 20-30 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through and register 165 degrees.
  6. Serve while warm.
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


Homemade No Cook BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce_1 on Whisk Together

Our book club book for the month is

Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall.

I haven’t started it yet, but I did pick up Marina Keegan’s book The Opposite of Loneliness during our Fall Festival at the library.  I saw her on the news a couple of years ago due to her tragic death at the height of all she had accomplished by age 22.  Here are some quotes:

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. ”
“Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it: already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.”
“Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.  But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes . . .). We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.”

I like the last one the best 🙂


Yes, Fall is upon us.  But who doesn’t grill up a nice juicy burger in the garage or outside every now and then?  I know most guys are outside unless it’s -30 degrees.  And any burger needs a good BBQ sauce.  We were craving some BBQ sauce and were out… but had all the ingredients in the pantry.  #1, I try to stay away from high fructose corn syrup.  #2 I try to stay away of processed junk.  Okay, so the first ingredient is processed… sorda.  I think Trader Joe’s organic ketchup is pretty close to the homemade thing.  #3 – I don’t like Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce.  It’s way too spicy hot for me and I can tolerate a good medium heat salsa.  So, I stopped buying it and made this one.  It’s even BETTER.  I promise.

The secret to great BBQ, sauces and smoky flavor without all the time and wood chips?  Liquid Smoke, my friend.  Sigh.  It deserves its own book even.  One of the best ingredients ever.  Amazingly cheap.  And all natural.  If you can count smoke as natural.  Ugh I would hope so.  I’m sure some paleo policeman will come after me.  

Homemade No Cook BBQ Sauce


  • 1 and 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 Tb. cider vinegar
  • 3 Tb. honey
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I left this out.)
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (I like Figaro's hickory smoke. But try the smoke you like the most.)
  • 2 Tb dijon mustard (or the mustard you have on hand)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix it up and eat! Always taste test as you go. Add more honey for a sweeter sauce. Add more hot sauce if you like it with a kick.
  2. Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Homemade No Cook BBQ Sauce

1 and 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
2 Tb. cider vinegar
3 Tb. honey
1 and 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I left this out for the kids’ sake.  I’ll stick to that story.)
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (I like Figaro’s hickory smoke.  But try the smoke you like the most.)
2 Tb dijon mustard (or the mustard you have on hand)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it up and eat!  Always taste test as you go.  Add more honey for a sweeter sauce.  Add more hot sauce if you like it with a kick.

Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken and BBQ Sauce

Book Update:  I finished “The Secrets of Happy Families” by Bruce Feiler while on vacation since it was a suggested book by Amazon.  I think a lot of it could be applied to classrooms as well – especially elementary classrooms.  The book is thoroughly researched with hundreds of books and authors referenced that are the top of their fields.  Some of the things I found unconventional … and therefore interesting were:

1.  Creating a family manifesto
2.  Family meetings (I’ve seen these mentioned in magazines before)
3.  Family dinner is important.  Like really important.  Family dinners resulted children with higher self-esteem, better vocabularies, higher academics, fewer behavioral problems, and more resilience.  It doesn’t have to be dinner.  It could be breakfast or a late dessert.
4.  Kids should not be allowed to “duke it out” before age 8.  They really should have parental assistance in their squabbles before this age.
5.  You can have kids pick their own punishments, check off their own chores, etc.
6.  Adapt.  Adapt  Adapt.  My notes: I wonder if this is the most pressing flaw in Education – mainly public.  It is so large (and government funded) that it is simply is difficult to adapt to the changing times and changing children.  Similarly, families have to adapt to their growing children as well.  A smart board does not make a smart child.

Recipe Update:  This was quick and easy.  I liked it with added toppings below and trying to use different cooking methods for similar recipes in order to create one recipe that you can make several ways depending on time constraints.  The BBQ sauce was thin after cooking, but could be boiled a while to thicken it if you wish for a sauce.

**My camera battery died, so this is a phone photo.**

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken on Whisk Together

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
16-18 oz. BBQ sauce (purchased or one of my favorite recipes for BBQ sauce is below)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
Optional toppings:  smoked gouda cheese, red onion slices and cilantro

1.  Mix the sauce, sugar, vinegar and sauce in the slow cooker.  Add chicken.
2.  Cover and cook HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 4-6 hours.
3.  OR  you can bake in the oven in a sprayed 7×11 or 9×13 pan at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
4.  Serve and eat!  Toppings are delicious, but optional.  To melt the cheese I placed them on top of the cooked chicken and placed a piece of foil over the whole pan.  The cheese melted in 5 minutes and the chicken stayed hot.

BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 Tb. light brown sugar
5 Tb. sugar
1/2 Tb. black pepper
1/2 Tb. onion powder
1/2 Tb. ground mustard (I think I omitted this once because I didn’t have it.  Still tasted good!)
1 Tb. lemon juice.
1 Tb. Worchestershire sauce

1.  Dump all this stuff in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Boil.  Reduce to simmer.
2.  Simmer for 75 minutes.  Since it is a sauce you can store it in the fridge, or freeze in bags for later!

BBQ sauce recipe from The Neely’s on the Food Network

Smoked Gouda and Bacon Burgers with Sweet BBQ Sauce

Smoked Gouda Burger on Whisk Together

And the burger says: ahhhhhh!

Book Update:  I watched Food Network Star instead of reading… Oh well!   What is with Chad’s pants on that show?  I didn’t know people made pants for men that were literally bright red.  Except for maybe a costume?  I’m sorry to see him go… Maybe he never had much of a chance since Bobby Flay is the Food Network’s BBQ man and Bobby Flat is judging the show, too!   I’m assuming they choose their own clothes to be on the show with maybe some suggestions… I’m not sure.  Stacey is who I am rooting for in the end.  I also really like Nikki, too.  Now, I want to go and try to make Stacey’s maple bacon cheesecake to go with the maple bacon ice cream I made last year.

Recipe Update:  One of my favorite pizzas is the BBQ Chicken Pizza from California Pizza kitchen.  BBQ sauce, mozzarella, smoked Gouda, chicken, red onion and cilantro top the pie with flavorful goodness.  The BBQ sauce and smoked gouda really make the pizza taste great.  So, here I put the smoked gouda on a burger with the BBQ sauce and voila!  You have a dish that:  1.  Looks great.  2.  Tastes great.  3.  Can be prepped mostly ahead of time for when guests arrive.  4.  Is easy to put together

Smoked Gouda Burger_6 on Whisk Together

Smoked Gouda and Bacon Burger with Sweet BBQ Sauce
serves 4

1 lb. yellow or white onions
1 Tb. olive, vegetable or grapeseed oil
1 lb. ground beef (80/20 or 85/15)
1 Tb. butter
4 burger buns
4 slices of smoked Gouda (I found some at Trader Joe’s and the local grocery store deli counter)
6 oz. bacon (I used applewood smoked and cut the bacon in half; thick cut preferred)
1/2 cup sweet BBQ sauce (I used Wildtree’s Cactus Pete’s Agave Nectar BBQ Sauce) or follow the recipe below

1. First, we need to caramelize the onions.  You can do this the morning of or night before serving by stashing them in the fridge and warming them up later.  I like to do this while cleaning bathrooms or something that requires me to be up and moving every 5 minutes.  But, I clean my hands first.

2.  Slice the onion thinly into rings.  Heat a 12″ skillet on medium high with the oil.  Once it starts to shimmer and get hot, add your onions.  Let them get brown for a few minutes and stir.  Turn the heat down to low/ or medium-low and stir the onions every 5 minutes or so for the next 30-45 minutes.  Sometimes I add a 1/2 tsp. of sugar to help caramelize them.  Add a tiny bit water if you think they are getting too dry.  Some of the small pieces will get black and that’s okay.  They are much smaller pieces and the remaining 95% get cooked perfectly this way.  Store until later, or keep them out for serving with the burgers if serving immediately.

3.  Fry your bacon in a skillet per the directions on the package or bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes on a foil-lined pan or wire rack on top of a foil lined pan.  Lay on paper towels and keep out for serving.

3.  Grill burgers on medium-high heat until desired doneness.  We cooked ours to medium/medium-well.

4.  One minute before removing the burgers off, put on the cheese.  It doesn’t melt as much as American cheese, but get it nice and warm.  Remove burgers.

5.  Butter the burger buns and toast them on the grill on LOW until toasty brown.

6.  Add BBQ sauce to both burger buns.  Lay burger on the toasted bun.  Top the burger with the caramelized onions and bacon.  Put on your top bun, and you’re done!

You’ll feel all gourmet, but…. it’s not.  Just everyday ingredients.

Sweet BBQ Sauce
2 cups

2 Tb. vegetable oil
1 onion, thin slices
salt, to taste
2 Tb. butter
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
3 Tb. lemon juice
2 Tb. chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 Tb. unsulfured molasses

1.  First, we will caramelize some onion again.  Heat a large 12″ skillet to medium heat with the oil in it.  When it is hot, add the onions.  Reduce heat to LOW.  Stir them once in a while until they are brown – about 20-30 minutes.
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Again, keep it on low and simmer for 25 minutes – or until thickened up a bit.
3.  Blend in a blender or food processor.  Store up to 2 weeks in the fridge since you didn’t include any preservatives!  Doh!

Smoked Gouda Burger_1 on Whisk Together

Sweet BBQ Sauce recipe from Food and Wine Magazine June 2012

BBQ Meatballs – a Potluck Favorite

BBQ Meatballs_1CR

** I’m sorry if this is a repeat.  It was supposed to be scheduled to go up a different day than the apple dumplings.  Between watching the kids 24/7, my new graduate class, etc., I must have accidentally entered in the wrong date.  But this recipe is really really good, so it should be okay.  **  🙂

I know I’m on a Pioneer Woman kick, but I made this recipe as well after catching a glimpse of her show on the Food Network.  They moved Paula Deen for Pioneer Woman… but hey, they both cook southern food with a lot of butter, so FN probably figured nobody would notice.  LOL

I think I’ve had these at a church function as well.  I tried to make them a little healthier using ground turkey and it was really good.  Usually mix-ins and toppings cover the beef to turkey switch pretty well.  I’ve tried making a burger out of turkey and it just isn’t the same.

What I really love is that they could be an appetizer or an entree.  You could serve them in a baking pan or kept warm in the crock pot.  You can set this in your fridge the night before and pop it in the oven the next day to bake for church, someone’s house, etc.  Next time, I might double the sauce though.  It was rather skimpy and looks nothing like the amount on the photo for the original recipe.  When mincing the onion, I like to use my food chopper.  It obtains a really good consistency.

BBQ Meatballs
yield 8-16 servings (depends on if used as appetizer or entree)

1 and 1/2 lbs. ground turkey (or beef)
3/4 cup of quick oats or old fashioned oats*
1 cup milk
3 Tb. minced onion
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 cup flour

1 cup ketchup
5 Tb. minced onion
3 Tb. white vinegar (you can substitute apple cider vinegar for part of the white vinegar)
2 Tb. sugar
2 Tb. Worcestershire
dash of Hot sauce

*I’ve made this recipe using both, and I did not notice any difference in taste.  The quick oats held together a little better at first, but some of them broke in the skillet whereas the old-fashioned oats did fine.  Just use what you have.

1.  In a great big bowl:  Mix the meat, oats, milk, onion, salt and pepper.  Roll into meatballs – I used a medium cookie scoop which is between 1-2 Tablespoons.  The meat is rather gooey at this point from all the milk, but they did hold together.
2.  Lay the balls on a cookie sheet and stick in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4.  In a great big skillet, heat up a little oil over medium heat.  Roll the balls in the flour and cook the meatballs until lightly browned on all sides.  Place the cooked meatballs in a baking pan.  I had to use a 9×13 and a 7×11 to hold all the meatballs.
5.  Mix up your sauce:  In a medium bowl, mix up the ketchup, onions, vinegar, Worchestsershire sauce and hot sauce.  Pour over the meatballs.  Stick in the fridge until morning, or bake immediately, or freeze!
6.  Bake the meatballs for 45 minutes.

California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ Chicken Pizza

This is my favorite pizza and I’ve made it different ways over the years.  The smoked gouda really helps.  I think I may actually be expanding my cheese palatte beyond cheddar, mozzerella and brie!  Oh, and American cheese.  But who doesn’t like American cheese?  It is difficult to find it without annatto color added.

After making lots of pizzas in my oven, I do find that putting the pizza on a hot pizza stone makes for the best and crispiest crust on the bottom.  Not too crispy – but like the pizza places do it.  Their ovens are much hotter than mine and mine starts smoking funny at 500 degrees.

Technique for Pizza:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees with the pizza stone inside for 30 minutes.  Make your pizza on parchment that is sitting on a baking sheet with no lip (or pizza peel but I don’t own one of those).  Slide parchment onto the stone.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

yield 1 – 10″ pizza

1/2 lb. prepared pizza dough, room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 Tb. dark BBQ sauce (KC Masterpiece original tastes awfully close to CPK)
8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded or diced
salt and pepper
2/3 cup grated smoked gouda cheese (3 oz.  so I order the deli to sell me 1/4 pound of it)
2/3 cup grated part skim mozzarella cheese (3 oz.)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro

1.  Place pizza stone or inverted baking sheet on top rack of oven and preheat to 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
2.  Toss the cooked chicken in 2 T. of BBQ sauce.
3.  Lay out a sheet of parchment and dust with cornmeal.  That is the stuff you always see on the bottom of pizzas.  If you don’t have any, try brushing on some olive oil.
4.  Roll out the pizza dough into a 10-12″ round.  Spread 1/3 cup BBQ sauce on top leaving a 1/2″ border on the edge.  Top with the chicken, gouda, mozzarella and red onion.  Slide onto the hot stone.  Bake 10-15 minutes or depending on your pizza dough recipe.
5.  Sprinkle cilantro on top and cut.

Copyright © 2011 - 2019 Mary Ellen Riley All Rights Reserved. WP Plugins