How to make all-purpose slow cooker pulled chicken with beer. Use it in tacos, sliders, sandwiches, nachos and more. Easily turn it into BBQ beer pulled chicken.
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Read on for relevant tips and workflow pictures (1-2 mins)
About This Crockpot Shredded Chicken Recipe
Our easy pulled chicken crock pot recipe is the starting point for fabulous friends an family friendly dishes like tacos and nachos. It can also be transformed into barbecue pulled chicken by simply adding your favorite sauce to the cooked meat.
The role of the beer is to infuse richness of flavor by providing a base liquid for chicken breast which can be quite dry and lack taste if not prepared well. In combination with the rest of the ingredients listed below a well-chosen brew (we provide tips for styles that work) acts to create a flavorful, juicy dimension.
Ingredients for Shredded Chicken Crock Pot
Chicken meat. Use boneless skinless chicken breasts or skinless chicken thighs.
Chicken rub/seasonings. We make an easy blend of kosher salt, black pepper, oregano and garlic powder to season the chicken. Use your favorite chicken dry rub instead.
Onion. Very thinly sliced so it can nearly dissolve into the liquids in the crock pot, lending savory flavor. Yellow, white or red onions all work well. You can also add onion powder to the seasonings mix for an additional savory dimension.
Brown sugar. For its deep, earthy sweetness.
Beer. We like to use a stout for the deep roasty notes it imparts to the chicken. Any excessive bitterness (in stout owed mostly to roasted barley is more than offset by the brown sugar. See the notes below on the most suitable beer styles to use.
Chicken broth. Because chicken breast has no fat the slow-cooking process benefits from the flavor boost chicken stock offers.
Barbecue sauce. You will need it only if you want to turn your beer shredded chicken into a BBQ pulled chicken. See the workflow notes and pictures below.
TIP: If you’d like to make pulled chicken with a smokey, spicy flare add a couple of tablespoons of chipotles in adobo from the very beginning.
Beer Style Suggestions
We tend to favor dark beers with a solid malty backbone for this recipe, especially styles brewed with roasted barley in the grain bill which translates to a subtle roasty flavor for the broth in which the chicken breast simmers. That being said, several pale malt based styles work great too.
- stout or porter ales
- Belgian dark ales
- German dark lagers such as bock, doppelbock, dunkel, schwarzbier
- amber ales and lagers like classic classic Marzen or Vienna lager (to that end all dark Mexican beers, which are essentially Vienna lagers)
- Belgian saisons (farmhouse ales)
- Munich helles, Czech pilsner – both have herbal hoppiness, malty sweetness with pronounced bread/biscuity notes
How to Make Shredded Chicken in Crock Pot
To make this easy dish all you need to do is combine the ingredients in your crock pot and walk away as it slowly cooks the chicken.
- Season. Mix the seasonings or use your favorite dry chicken rub and generously season the chicken breast.
- Combine. Place the sliced onions on the bottom of the crock pot, arrange the chicken on top, sprinkle the brown sugar and add the beer, then the chicken stock. The chicken should be mostly covered in liquid.
- Cook. Cook on high for about 3 hours or until the chicken breaks apart when you stick a fork into it or try to handle it with kitchen tongues. Alternatively, cook on low for 5 – 6 hours.
- Shred. When you are satisfied with its tenderness shred the chicken using two forks. You can do so in the crock pot (take care not to get burned) or move the chicken to a large plate or baking sheet and shred it there.
Once you have shredded the chicken you have three options:
- multi-purpose beer pulled chicken – use as is, along with the tasty liquids from the slow cooker
- barbecue – discard most of the liquids from the crock pot and add barbecue sauce, then leave the chicken on warm for a few minutes before you serve
- combination – transfer half of it along with some of the liquids to use as multi-purpose beer pulled chicken and add BBQ sauce to the rest of it.
We tend to favor the third option and use part of the beer pulled chicken for nachos, tacos, etc. and turn the other part into barbecue shredded chicken.
Ways to Enjoy Crock Pot Pulled Chicken
- The multi-purpose version of the beer pulled chicken is, as implied by the description, very versatile in its uses. You can easily influence the already flavorful base with cheeses, various spicy sauces/salsas etc. Consider making: tacos, nachos, flautas, quesadillas, sandwiches, adding it to vegetable soups or creamy chowders, serving it over rice, etc.
- The slow cooker bbq chicken is absolutely enjoyable on its own, accompanied by corn bread, pickles, coleslaw and other salads. You can also serve it on buns as a chicken sandwich/slider or get creative by using it as a topping for pizza, flatbread, fries (great with beer, we love it that way), a filling for corn muffins and more.
How Long Can Pulled Chicken Save For
Leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheating is best in a bowl with a bit of water in the microwave or a suitable pan on the stove over medium heat.
If you freeze it it will be at your beck and call for up to three months. Be sure to let it cool down completely before you transfer it to a freezer bag and expel all air. Label bag with use by date. When you need to use it, thaw refrigerated.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- 3 lbs chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
- 1 medium onion (yellow, white or red)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup beer
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup barbecue sauce (optional)
1. Set up your slow cooker. Mix the seasonings (or use 2-3 tbsp of your favorite dry chicken rub) and generously season the chicken breast. Thinly slice the onion.
2. Scatter the sliced onion at the bottom of the crock pot and place the seasoned chicken breast on top. Add the brown sugar, then the beer and finally the chicken stock. The chicken should be mostly covered in liquid.
3. Cook until tender enough to shred - about 3 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.
4. When you are satisfied with the tenderness shred the chicken using two forks - simply pull it apart. Either do so in the crock pot (take care not to get burned) or first transfer the chicken to a large plate or baking sheet and shred it there.
5. Once the chicken is shredded let is soak up the juices from the crock pot on the warm setting. (If you shredded it outside the slow cooker, place it back in).
6. To make beer BBQ shredded chicken, place the pulled chicken back into the slow cooker and if there is too much liquid, discard some of it. Add about 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, mix and let the beer pulled chicken soak up the flavors on warm for a few minutes. Serve.*
*You can also reserve some of the chicken + crock pot liquids for use in tacos, nachos etc. and add BBQ sauce to the remaining portion of it. Consult the post for more detail and images.