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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

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!).

A plate of chicken thighs coated in sticky bbq sauce

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.

Top down view of an oval plate of BBQ chicken

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.
Closeup of BBQ Chicken Thighs cooked in the slow cooker

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.

Chicken in bbq sauce in slow cooker

When complete, place chicken on a baking sheet line with foil, brush generously with bbq sauce from the slow cooker.

Chicken thighs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil brushed with sauce

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.

Serving Suggestions

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.

An oval plate of chicken thighs covered in sticky bbq sauce

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. 🙌🏼

DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍

Other Slow Cooker Recipes

Close up of a piece of bbq chicken thigh coated with thick bbq sauce

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs

Tender and juicy bbq chicken thighs recipe made simple using the slow cooker. Easy and yummy crockpot chicken recipe with only 10 minutes of active prep time!
4.78 from 22 votes
Print Pin
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 681kcal
Author: MinShien

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 681kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 222mg | Sodium: 2040mg | Potassium: 541mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 178IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating




19 Comments

  1. Julie Menghini says:

    5 stars
    Cooking this chicken was easy and delicious! We made up a batch for a football game and they were devoured quickly!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay! That’s great to hear!

  2. 5 stars
    I made these for football day in my house and my family couldn’t get enough of them. I’m going to make them again next week!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yesss!! Thanks for your kind review!

  3. Sheila Thigpen says:

    5 stars
    So simple and so delicious! One of our favorite go-to easy meals!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you! Happy to hear that!

  4. Kathleen Pope says:

    5 stars
    Oh my word, made this Saturday for a lazy day meal — soo delicious and you are right, way better in the crockpot!! Plus, dump, toss, toss and go! Love these kinds of meals.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      YES – Crockpots are the best! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  5. Joyous Apron says:

    Woohoo! We make this ALL the time too! So easy and yum. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Lauren Raymond says:

    Can I cook these on low for 7 hours instead of on high for 3.5? I like to slow cook my meals!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yes that should be fine!

  7. Michaela Kenkel says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is PHENOMENAL!! Best chicken thighs I have ever made!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      LOVE hearing that!

  8. Can I use bone-in chicken thighs? How do I adjust the time?

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yes absolutely! It should be about the same time. Let me know how it goes!

  9. Can I substitute a different kind of vinegar if I don’t have apple cidar vinegar on hand?

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yes! White vinegar works just fine too!

  10. Should the chicken be thawed before going in the slow cooker?

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yes!