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Rich, deeply flavored, sweet, and spicy – these crockpot BBQ chicken thighs are an easy recipe to fix and forget! Make ahead and come home to a fabulous dinner to share with the family.
Step by step photos and instructions below!
The smell of this recipe cooking is fantastic. Juicy, tender chicken thighs cooked low and slow in a sweet, spicy delicious sauce is a favorite way of mine to have dinner on the table with minimal effort.
There’s nothing quite like coming home after a day of work, errands and other busy stuff to this crock pot BBQ chicken.
Prep a a few of your favorite side dishes to go with this, and dinner is done!
A little make-ahead prepping, and you too can avoid the drive-through on busy weeknights. I often prep this the night before, and set it on a timer the following day. It’s only a short cook (3-4 hours on high, or 4-5 hours on low heat).
That said, I make this most often on a weekend, so I can spend my off-hours with my family instead of in the kitchen, but still eat good food.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- This is a set and forget kind of meal. With just a short prep time, this delicious dinner the whole family will love will be ready at the end of your day!
- Simple ingredients. Nothing you probably don’t already have on hand
- It is budget friendly, kid-friendly, and yummy!
Frequently Asked Questions
I love the tenderness from slow cooking, and the flavors that intensify with a low, slow cook.
You absolutely can. I do sear mine for extra flavor, but they can be added raw.
What to serve with Barbecue Chicken thighs
I have included step by step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
What to do with leftovers
Crockpot BBQ Chicken is even better the next day! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat until piping hot.
Leftover chicken can be shredded and used in sandwiches, salads and quesadillas.
Spice it up! Add some garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper when seasoning the chicken, or some red pepper flakes in the barbecue sauce!
A little hot sauce after cooking will also blast it with flavor.
Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F (internal temperature) when tested with a digital thermometer in the thickest part.
This recipe can be frozen before cooking.
Sear the chicken, make the sauce, and combine everything in a freezer bag. Freeze flat, thaw and cook as directed.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Chicken Thighs. I use bone in, skin on. You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs if you wish, then you can make BBQ pulled chicken super easily! Boneless, skinless chicken breasts also work for pulled chicken). You can also use chicken legs or chicken drumsticks.
- Paprika. I use smoked paprika.
- Salt/Pepper/Olive Oil. Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, olive oil of any kind.
- Onion. We use this twice, with the chicken, and in the BBQ Sauce. Dice this finely.
- Garlic. I recommend using fresh garlic in this recipe. You can of course use the jarred stuff or garlic powder, but fresh is best.
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes. These lend a smoky flavor to the sauce. Regular tomatoes can be used.
- Cornstarch. This will help thicken the sauce.
- Red Wine Vinegar. You can use any kind of vinegar, including white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Brown Sugar. Sweetens up the sauce. Use dark or light.
Worcestershire Sauce. This adds a savory flavor to the sauce.
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- Slow Cooker
- Wooden Spoon
- Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons
How to make this recipe
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The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Season and Sear the Chicken
Add the coarsely diced onion to the bottom of the slow cooker.
Mix the paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl, then sprinkle onto the chicken, and in a large pan sear on both sides (2 mins per side).
Place chicken into the crockpot in a single layer, on top of the onions.
Make the Sauce
In the same pan you used to sear the chicken, add 1 tsp olive oil and heat over medium.
Sauté the onion for a few minutes until softened, then add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds.
Add cornstarch to the canned tomatoes, and add the mixture, plus the vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and pepper to the pan.
Simmer for a few minutes. You may wish to blend the sauce at this point for a smoother consistency.
Add sauce to crockpot, covering chicken and mix until combined.
Set, and forget!
Cook on low for 4-5 hours, or 3-4 hours on high.
Remove chicken from crockpot, and put on a plate, spooning the extra sauce over the top.
More delicious crockpot recipes:
Looking for more crockpot recipes? I have you covered!
- Crockpot Cowboy Casserole. Quick to prep, this is a real family pleaser!
- 15 Bean Soup. Packed with flavor and goodness – this meal is a great one to set and forget!
- Slow Cooker Whole Chicken. A delicious, slow cooker whole chicken, that is fall-apart tender and juicy. Just season the chicken, set it in the crockpot, and serve later!
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. Sweet, spicy, juicy and cooked low and slow until the meat falls off the bone in tender juicy deliciousness.
- Chunky Crockpot Chili Recipe. A rich, tasty crockpot chili that is easy to prepare and slow cooked all day. No long list of ingredients, you probably have them all in your pantry already!
- Crock Pot Pork Loin. Comfort food that cooks all day, ready to eat when you get home!
- Hamburger Stew. A deliciously easy to prep crockpot recipe, using basic ingredients, this hamburger stew is a family favorite and budget-friendly!
- Smothered Pork Chops. tender & juicy, covered in a flavorful onion gravy. Slow-cooked while you do other things.
- All Slow Cooker Recipes
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs
For the Chicken
- Add the coarsely diced onion to the crockpot.
- Sprinkle paprika, salt and pepper onto the chicken, and in a large pan sear on both sides (2 mins per side)
- Place chicken into the crockpot, on top of the onions.
Make the Sauce
- In the same pan you used to sear the chicken, add 1 tsp olive oil and heat over medium.
- Saute the onion for a few minutes until softened, then add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds
- Add cornstarch to the canned tomatoes, and add the mixture, plus the vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce and pepper to the pan.
- Simmer for a few minutes. You may wish to blend the sauce at this point for a smoother consistency.
- Add sauce to crockpot, covering chicken and mix until combined.
Set, and forget!
- Cook on low for 4-5 hours
- Remove chicken from crockpot, and put on a plate, spooning the extra sauce over the top.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Update: This recipe was originally published in January of 2016. It was updated in 2019, and republished in September of 2022.