I don’t know about you, but having the oven running in the heat of the day during the summer is not my favorite. Make ahead meals are totally the way to go! A little prior planning lets you cook in the morning and stay cool in the afternoon.
And if your family is anything like mine, the evenings can be a flurry of activity. This kid needs to go to this practice while that one is running in the door from that one. So, while of course dinner together with everyone around the table is ideal, it’s not always a reality. Having an arsenal of meals that can be served hot or cold over a span of a couple hours is really necessary for today’s mom.
Enter this delicious BBQ Pulled Chicken!
What I love about this recipe…
- The combination of thighs and breasts keeps it nice and moist.
- It’s super adaptable. If you like it spicy, make it spicy. If you don’t, leave out the hot stuff!
- It can be doubled or halved just as easily according to the amount you need to make.
- Not too soupy, not too thick.
- And let’s not forget the make-ahead-ability!!
What’s in it?
1 Tbsp. oil (vegetable or olive oil is fine)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. juice from a jar of sliced jalapenos (Totally optional. You can include some of the sliced jalapenos, too, if you want!)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1-2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (16 oz.) bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce (I love Sweet Baby Ray’s original, but use whatever you like.)
How do you make it?
Sorry, friends. No “in the process” photos for this one. I was spacing and didn’t even think to grab my camera until I was halfway done. It’s just that quick to throw together!
Anyway, here’s what you do…
First, heat a large, oven-safe dutch oven over medium heat on the stove. (I use an enamel-covered cast iron pot. That seems to work the best.) Add the oil, then add the onion and let cook until they start to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, being sure not to burn it.
Once the onions and garlic are cooked, add the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper and stir around for a couple minutes.
Place the chicken into the pot along with the jalapeno juice (and slices, if using) and barbecue sauce. Stir to coat all of the chicken in sauce.
Pop the lid on the pot and place in a 300-degree oven for 2 hours.
Side Note: While the chicken is cooking and your kitchen is already a bit of a mess, do yourself a favor. Make some coleslaw. Whether you use store-bought dressing or make your own, just do it. I make mine using the recipe in that red and white gingham Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (except I like a little more vinegar than they call for and add some black pepper, too). Either way, there’s just something about BBQ and cole slaw.
After 2 hours, remove the dish from the oven. Shred the chicken and return it to the pot. Stir to combine the thickened sauce with the shredded chicken.
At this point, either serve it immediately or let it cool and put it in the fridge.
And that’s that!
As you can see, I went the refrigerator route this week. We had a crazy busy evening last Monday and it was great to be able to just leave the buns and chips on the counter with instructions that the rest was in the fridge.
Now, maybe I’m weird, but I like to pile my cole slaw right on top of the chicken when I make my sandwich. Add some chips and some fresh cherries or other summer fruit and you are good to go, mama!
Here’s the printable for you: BBQ Pulled Chicken
To note: This is one of those recipes that I know I originally got from somewhere online, but I can’t remember where. I’ve tweaked it here and there over the years, so what I’m sharing with you today is how I make it now.