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


Scrumptious Crockpot Freezer Meal Plan



Scrumptious Crockpot Meals on Whisk Together


I am planning a Scrumptious Crockpot Freezer Meal Workshop in February.  In case anyone wanted to make their own or needed the shopping list, I am posting it here.  Just print, shop and freeze!

For local readers, Schnucks has boneless/skinless chicken breast and thighs on sale until Tuesday!  You can freeze them and bring them to the workshop frozen.  🙂

**My Tips on Crockpot Meals**  If you are going to leave the chicken in the crockpot a while and do like dry shreds, I suggest leaning more towards chicken thighs over chicken breast.  Chicken breast tends to dry out faster and shred like crazy which is fine if that is what you want.  If not, I suggest thighs.  Remember to ask your butcher and sometimes they will cut the chicken up for you!

For MORE freezer meal workshops, check out my Freezer Meal Page.
For TIPS on freezing everything and anything, check out my Freezer Meal Presentation and Blog Post

Meals included:

Black Bean Chorizo Soup
Chicken and Vegetables in Wine Sauce
Savory Cajun Chicken and Sausage
Pork Roast with Apricot Glaze
Zesty Ginger-Tomato Chicken
Open Faced Steak Sandwiches with Ratatouille
Hearty Chicken Parmesan
Absolutely Onion Pot Roast
Scrumptious Ham & Lentil Soup
Mediterranean Chicken

This workshop uses Wildtree ingredients which can be purchased from myself  or find the equivalent in your pantry or grocery store.

Please contact me or your local Wildtree representative for more information on the bundle and all of the easy and yummy recipes that go along with it!


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

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Recent Reads:  I finished “The Boy with the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne as part of my Young Adult reading list.  It was really good and I advise everyone to read it.  Please make sure you have tissues towards the end.  The perspective on the holocaust is powerful and the questions that the author brings forth with the text are really soul-searching.

I have started week 2 of Positive Psychology and apparently forgot how intense graduate courses are.  It never seemed this intense when I had nothing else better to do than study, go to class, eat and sleep.  Fun things I’ve learned are how to have increased well-being:  write 3 things down each night that went well and why they went well.  It takes just 10 minutes, but studies proved people were less depressed, more hopeful and had increased well being because of doing this.  If you want to feel better?  Try a random act of kindness.  It is one of the single most powerful tools that is within your power.  Bake cookies for a neighbor, pay for the guy behind you in the drive through, etc.  It’s really fun!

The Recipe:  This was really good and I’m sure I’ll make it again.  I haven’t had great luck with chicken in the crock pot in the past.  Putting the chicken on top with a lot of liquid underneath worked very well.  I used the santa fe chicken on my corn tortillas and I ate it plain.  Both ways were yummy.  Trader Joe’s corn tortillas were only 60 calories each with no preservatives, so that is what I used.  The original recipe was altered because I have never seen anything bake so long with cilantro.  For maximum flavor, I always add my green onions or fresh cilantro last.

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken
yields 6 servings

15 oz. can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. frozen corn
14 oz. (about 1.5 cups) chicken broth
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or increase for more spice/heat)
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 lbs. chicken breast (I used 2 big ones)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 scallions (green onions), chopped

1.  Into to your crock pot dump:  tomatoes, black beans, corn, broth, powders, cumin, cayenne and salt and pepper.
2.  Lay the chicken on top.
3.  Cook for 10 hours on low or 6 hours on high.  Shred chicken, stir and DONE.
4.  Before serving, top with cilantro and scallions.  I added some shredded cheddar cheese to mine.  You could add sour cream or salsa even.

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken_1

Recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste

Slow Cooker Beef Stew and Ice Cream Bar Experiment

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!

So, I had over half of an ice cream bar leftover and threw it in the sink to see what would happen.  The next morning – it didn’t move!  Look!  The ice cream doesn’t melt, it just sits there.  The water is from me washing my hands in the sink when I got home.   Ugh, I guess I’ve been reading too many nutrition books.  Don’t bother, I’ll sum it up:  Nobody knows nothin’.  Every time the science says something, then someone else comes up with science to disprove it.  Eat real food and you’ll be good to go.

Anyway – back to the recipe made with REAL food.  Even if you have your great grandma’s beef stew recipe from the 1800’s and it’s the best thing on the Earth, you should look at the technique in this recipe.  The vegetables cooked very, very well in the foil packet as opposed to boiling themselves to death like I normally see.  It was probably one  of the best beef stews I’ve ever had.  Plus, it is made in the slow cooker.  So, yes it is hot, but my kids just aren’t going eat a nice salad with some hummus on top for dinner.  Therefore, instead of cooking in the oven, I turned to the slow cooker that really didn’t heat the house up much at all.  If you still don’t want beef stew in summer, pin this for the Fall months!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
yield 6-8 servings

2 Tb. oil (canola, olive or vegetable
4 onions, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 cloves of garlic, mince or press
1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth  (I always get low sodium to control the added salt)
1 and 1/2 cups beef broth (I always get low sodium to control the added salt)
5 lb. beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1.5″ chunks (this is the best beef stew/pot roast cut though sometimes expensive.  I have tried bottom roast, top roast, etc. and this one is the best. But in a pinch and especially due to cost the other cuts of meat will work, but not melt in your mouth like this)
1/3 cup soy sauce (again, I used low sodium)
2 Tb. Minute tapioca or cornstarch
2 bay leaves
1 and 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, 1″ chunks
1 lb. carrots, 1″ chunks
2 tsp. fresh thyme (they say to not use dried.  I have some in my pot, so I used fresh)
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
salt and pepper

1.  In a 12″ skillet, heat 1 Tb. oil on medium.  Then throw in the onion, garlic, tomato paste, and some salt.  Cook 10- 15 minutes.  Add chicken broth.
2.  Dump the stuff in your skillet into the slow cooker.  Add the beef broth, meat, soy sauce, tapioca or cornstarch and bay leaves.
3.  In a great big bowl, toss together the carrots, potatoes, 1 Tb. oil and 1 tsp thyme.  Take out 2 pieces of foil just slightly larger than your slow cooker.   Put the veggies in the middle and crimp/fold the edges over twice to seal the veggies in like a packet.  Put this packet on top of your meat.
4.  Slap on the lid and cook 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.
5.  Once it’s done, take off the veggie packet.  Add the peas and 1 tsp. of thyme.  Let that cook/sit for 5 minutes.
6.  To remove some of the fat from the stew, after 5 minutes of sitting, tip the cooker a little and skim the fat off the top.  Serve with some rolls or on top of a slice of bread.

If you want to make this more of a “throw it in the crock pot in the morning” meal:

-Cook your onion mix ahead of time and put it in the fridge.  Make your foil packet ahead of time.  Trim and cut the meat ahead of time.  I wouldn’t let the cornstarch sit overnight… I’m not sure that would be a good thing.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen “The Best Make-Ahead Recipe”

Red Sauce – From the Crockpot to the Freezer

We have been making  a lot of pizza at home because it seems healthier (controlling the cheese, salt, etc.) and it is more convenient.  It takes me less time to put it together than order and pickup Papa Johns for $9.99.  My kids are typical and love spaghetti and meatballs.  Also the ingredients on some bottles list “flavors” or something generic like that so you don’t know what is actually in the bottle.  Here you will!  Plus the sauce using the Costco can of crushed tomatoes costs $2.99 with a couple of staple ingredients on top of that.

Red Sauce
yield 12-14 cups

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped small
6 lb. 10 oz. can crushed tomatoes (found at Costco)
1-2 cups water (optional)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon parsley flakes
2 Tablespoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1.  Throw your olive oil and onions into a medium low skillet and cook until they are soft.
2.  Take the onions and everything in the skillet and throw into the crockpot.
3.  Add everything else to the crockpot and stir.  Start with about 1 cup of water and add as needed throughout the cooking.  Cook on low about 6-8 hours.

You could also omit adding the water and not do so until after you thaw/use your sauce.  I do this because I like to change the consistency depending on what I am using the sauce for.  But feel free to add the water to the crockpot if it is easier!
I cooled this and put it into plastic bags.  Some people freeze in glass jars and it works good for them.  Just make sure to leave room for expansion.

Recipe from Life as Mom

Apple Butter BBQ Pulled Pork – for the Freezer and Slow Cooker

What is easier than cooking in a crock pot?  Putting something already made from the freezer into the crock pot!  Great for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

When I had my second baby, I would often go to the “make your own meal” freezer place in St. Louis.  Time for Dinner even made my meals for free after I had my baby which was a great time saver.  This meal is an adaptation of the freezer method they used for the pulled pork.  Yes, it cost a little more than going to buy the ingredients at the grocery store, but it eliminated meal planning time and the countless hours it would have taken to total the calories of the meals.  That was when I was losing weight and calorie counting.  I went from 200 lbs.  to 168 lbs (after the ten pound baby was removed) and now down to 134 lbs.  So I think it worked!

Lately, I have been substituting apple butter for butter/oil like banana bread and Morning Glory Muffins.  The muffins were awesome.  The bread was okay… so I’m not posting it.  It was good, but not great.  Something fun to try!

Apple Butter BBQ Pork
yield 12 sandwiches

3 lb. pork butt/shoulder  (my package said both.  You want pork butt for pulled pork)
2 Tbs.  of your favorite BBQ seasoning for pork (I used Pampered Chef Smoky Barbecue Rub)
16 oz. of your favorite BBQ sauce (if watching calories, you can use half)
1/2 cup apple butter**
3 Tbs. apple juice or apple cider

1.  Take a large piece of foil and spray with cooking spray.  Trim your pork butt if you wish.  Place pork butt onto the foil and sprinkle your rub to taste.  Wrap the foil around the pork to seal.  Try to leave the seam on top – you want to be able to easily access the hot pork butt at the end.
To make from frozen:  Take your wrapped pork and place in a freezer bag.  Try to remove as much air as possible.  Place in the freezer.
2.  Take the wrapped frozen or fresh pork and place it in the crock pot.

From Frozen: Cook 8-10 hours on HIGH
From Fresh: Cook 8 hours on LOW

3.  About a half hour before the end of the cooking time or even at the end depending on time, mix the BBQ sauce, apple butter and apple juice in a medium bowl.

4.  Take the lid off of the crock pot and carefully open the foil packet up with a fork.  Use two forks to shred the meat.  Pour the BBQ mixture into the meat and stir until combined.

5.  Let finish cooking (if done early) or warm through (if done after cooking time over) and serve hot.

**I know apple butter is not extremely common.  I get my no sugar added apple butter from my produce co-op.  You can easily use this same method and add more of your BBQ sauce, add add half BBQ sauce/half beer, or whatever your favorite is.**

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

Off of desserts for just a little bit.  Here is a simple, easy recipe for Roast Beef.  I just love it on top of a slice of bread and drenched in the juices.

The cut of meat is up to you.  The traditional beef cut would be chuck roast.  I find chuck roast to be absolutely delicious – but also marbled with lots of fat.  I tried this recipe also with Top Round Roast and it was still delicious.  It didn’t taste quite like mom used to make with the leaner cut, but it tasted good for me and that is what matters.

Slow Cooker Roast Beef
yield 6-8 servings

3 lbs. chuck roast (see note above regarding cuts)
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp. fresh black pepper

1.   Dump your roast into the slow cooker.  Add soup mix and soy sauce.
2.  Sprinkle pepper on roast.  Pour enough water on top to cover the roast until 1/2″ is poking out.
3.  Set on low for 11 hours.
4.  Remove and serve.  Add salt and pepper to taste!

If you would like to add potatoes and carrots to the party, add those 5 hours before serving.  For example, put the roast beef on at 7am, add the veggies at 1pm, and then turn off the slow cooker at 6pm to serve dinner.

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