BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe for Stovetop

Stovetop BBQ Pulled Chicken

Stovetop pulled chicken with homemade barbecue sauce is speedier than oven or slow cooker versions without compromising taste or softness.

Summer BBQ dishes are not weeknight-friendly. They may need an overnight marinating, grilling, or slow cooking. This dish is perfect for impromptu parties or weeknight moods.

This stovetop pulled chicken dish uses a tangy homemade barbecue sauce to cook the chicken in half the time of other methods. How to produce delicate, weeknight-friendly BBQ pulled chicken.

Chicken Shredding Tips

BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe for Stovetop
BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipe for Stovetop

Chicken shredding is the hardest part of this recipe. Shredding chicken is tiresome. This recipe shreds the chicken with two forks in the saucepan.

Avoiding messes was our major motivation for doing this. No need to tear the chicken apart on a chopping board while the fluids and barbecue sauce stream across your surface.

If you like kitchen tricks and want to save arm effort, use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer with beaters). Before putting them to the mixer, separate the chicken thighs from the sauce. Before adding to the sauce, shred the chicken at the lowest speed for 30–60 seconds.

Serving Pulled Chicken Barbeque
Like a pulled pork sandwich, pulled barbecue chicken is often served on a soft bread with pickles. It may also be served with potato chips, roasted potatoes, your favorite coleslaw, baked or green beans, collard or beet greens, or grilled corn. Everything that would fit at a summer BBQ or picnic would work here.

Prep and Freeze

This dish is great for meal prep since it’s simple to keep and reheat. Transfer the room temperature chicken and sauce to resealable freezer bags, seal and flatten as much as possible, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Additional BBQ Pulled Chicken Recipes
We made barbecue pulled chicken on the stovetop, but there are many alternative methods. If you have more time and want a more hands-off solution, use one of the following methods.

Baked: Combine chicken and sauce in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking tray. Toss chicken halfway through baking in a 300°F oven. Bake for another 45 minutes at 375°F. Shred chicken in the pan.
Slow cooker: Combine chicken and sauce. Cover and slow-cook for 3 to 6 hours on high or low. Shred chicken in the slow cooker with two forks before serving.

Instant Pot-friendly?

This recipe is not recommended for an Instant Pot. Several Instant Pot models may warn of burn due to sugar and ketchup.

If any of the preceding methods provide a thin sauce, boil it over medium-high heat until it thickens.

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Stovetop BBQ Pulled Chicken

Use 3/4 cup of your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce instead of the homemade one to make this a 2-ingredient dish! Add water or apple cider vinegar to thin the sauce if it sticks to the saucepan.

  • 2 pounds boneless
  • skinless chicken thighs
  • cut in half widthwise
  • 1/2-cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2-tablespoon brown sugar
  • Smoked paprika—2 teaspoons
  • teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-teaspoon salt
  • black pepper

BBQ sauce:

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a cover, stir ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Cook: Toss chicken in barbecue sauce and cover with tongs. Simmer the sauce uncovered over medium heat. Toss and mix the chicken with tongs, then lower the heat to medium-low and partly cover the pot with the lid, allowing at least an inch for steam to escape. Cook 20 minutes.

Shred chicken: Re-toss the bird. The tongs should almost break a piece. If not, cook another 5 minutes uncovered before testing. When tender, shred the chicken in the saucepan with two forks. If your pot is too deep or you’re having trouble, take the chicken out and shred it on a chopping board or in a dish with a hand mixer with beaters.

Finally, serve: After shredding the chicken, increase the heat to high and simmer until the barbecue sauce thickens and reduces, 5-10 minutes. It should cover the chicken without dripping. Salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat, and serve.

Let leftover pulled chicken cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Avoid aluminum foil with acidic sauces like this homemade barbecue sauce. Heat it in a saucepan with a little water on medium-low until bubbling and hot.

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