I am in love with these Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs! I mean, what is not to love about sticky BBQ Chicken Thighs coated in tangy sweet BBQ sauce. Especially when the chicken is tender, flavorful, and takes minimal effort to put together (thank you, crockpot!).
I don’t know if it’s my years living in the South and Texas or what, but I love my BBQ sauces.
Something about that tangy, sweet, savory combo makes everything taste so darn good. Before this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs stole my heart, there were these BBQ Chicken Tacos and BBQ Baked Chicken Wings as well.
I love BBQ sauces; I love my slow cooker; I love my fall apart chicken meat.
I know that is a lot of love going around, but the fact that this Crockpot BBQ Chicken Thighs recipe covers all three of these loves makes this dish so very appealing for me.
You basically throw everything into the crockpot – BBQ sauce, chicken thighs and all, and it will slowly cook the meat until it is fall-apart tender, and let that incredible sauce soak into the chicken.
It is a beautiful thing.
And on the practical side: this is such a convenient, flavorful dish that we make often, especially during busy weeknights.
I like to use chicken thighs because it is a more flavorful and juicy piece of meat compared to chicken breast, but feel free to use chicken breast in place of thighs if you prefer.
Why Slow Cooker
Technically you can cook this any other way – on the stove top, in the oven, or even in the Instant Pot.
I’ve done my BBQ chicken thighs using all these methods but always come back to the slow cooker, and here is why:
- So easy and minimal active time – just throw everything into the crockpot and let it do its thing!
- Meat is fall-apart tender – it’s just not the same as pan-frying it or cooking it in the oven. Slow cooking makes the meat super juicy and tender!
- Bbq sauce will soak into the meat during the long cook time, making the meat super flavorful.
- Better than the Instant Pot for this recipe – Instant Pot will be able to make the meat super tender as well, but I find that the BBQ sauce burns in the Instant Pot unless you add a lot of liquid to the BBQ sauce, which dilutes the BBQ sauce. In short, I still think slow cooker is the best method for this.
It’s so easy!
This recipe uses pantry-friendly ingredients. Simply bring these ingredients into the crockpot:
- Chicken thighs – boneless, skinless
- BBQ sauce – I use Sweet Baby Ray, but feel free to use your favorite BBQ sauce
- Brown sugar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Liquid smoke – to give it a slightly smoky flavor since we are not cooking it over fire
- Garlic powder
The sauce in this recipe is very similar to my BBQ Chicken Baked Potato recipe, but with a less intense amount of sweetness and tanginess. That is because when BBQ chicken is topped on baked potato, it needs a more intense flavor to offset the blander, milder taste of potatoes.
Another difference is that the baked potato recipe calls for shredding the chicken when it is cooked, but we are keeping these chicken in large pieces in this recipe.
Throw everything into the crockpot, make sure that each piece of chicken is well-coated in the sauce, and let it cook on high for 3.5 hours.
When complete, place chicken on a baking sheet line with foil, brush generously with bbq sauce from the slow cooker.
Broil chicken for 3-4 minutes.
This really is a simple chicken dinner that you can make with just a few minutes of active time.
This recipe is most commonly served as a chicken main dish with all kinds of sides.
The sky’s really the limit here, but here are some of my favorite sides to serve it with:
In addition, these BBQ Chicken Thighs can be served in sandwiches, as tacos, added to salads etc.
One bite into this sticky, juicy, tender, tangy chicken thighs and that’s it. Bam. Game over. No other dish can compare to that perfect combination of deliciousness and ease. 🙌🏼
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Other Slow Cooker Recipes
- Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowl
- Slow Cooker Asian Shredded Pork
- Slow Cooker Asian Ribs
- Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
- Slow Cooker Chili Chicken (by Confessions of a Fit Foodie)
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs
- 3 lbs chicken thighs skinless, boneless
- 2 1/2 cups bbq sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- parsley chopped, optional
- Bring bbq sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder and liquid smoke to crockpot. Stir to combine.
- Add chicken thighs to slow cooker. Coat each piece with sauce.
- Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours.
- Remove chicken thighs from slow cooker and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Brush bbq sauce mixture from slow cooker generously onto chicken.
- Broil in oven for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove and serve. Optional: garnish with parsley.