Spicy Pulled Chicken

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Christina Ross
Christina Rosshttps://www.healthyfoodforliving.com/
I'm a human being on planet earth. I've lived hundreds of lifetimes. In this incarnation I'm here to advance medicine.

Do you like spicy food? I’m talking lip-tingling, sinus-clearing runny nose-inducing spicy fare.

Like this pulled chicken.

Name:Spicy Pulled Chicken
Prep Time15 minutes
Cooking Time8 hours
Total Time8 hours
Spicy Pulled Chicken

Thanks to the trifecta of a whole jalapeno pepper, chipotle chile powder, and cayenne pepper, this Spicy Pulled Chicken definitely lives up to its name. Juicy chicken thighs are slow-simmered in a thick tomato-based sauce (that can be equated to a hot sauce-barbeque sauce hybrid) until they become tender enough to shred.

Spicy Pulled Chicken

I made this spicy pulled chicken on a cold, rainy afternoon, (where’s the snow, Boston?!), and it was the perfect antidote to the gloomy weather. Although I was tempted to attack this bowlful with a fork, I piled the shredded chicken onto lightly toasted whole wheat burger buns and served the pulled chicken sandwiches with a mouth-cooling broccoli slaw.

Plans for leftovers include pulled chicken quesadillas with an avocado & Greek yogurt sauce for dipping. Trust me, you’ll want an accompaniment to lessen the burn of this Spicy Pulled Chicken!

Spicy Pulled Chicken

Spicy Pulled Chicken

serves 4-6


  • olive or canola oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 minced jalapeno pepper, seeded or not depending on heat preference
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ground dry mustard
  • 2 tsp ground chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper, depending on heat preference
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless & skinless chicken thighs


  1. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large dutch oven (or other heavy-bottomed pot) over medium heat. Add in the onion and jalapeno and cook until softened about 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Add in the garlic and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  2. Stir in the tomato sauce through salt and pepper. Add chicken and stir to coat.
  3. Reduce stove heat to low and cook until chicken is fork-tender and easily pulls apart, about 1 hour.
  4. Using two forks, shred the chicken right in the sauce.
  5. *Allow the shredded chicken to sit in the sauce over low heat for 20 minutes, or until it has warmed through and has absorbed more of the sauce.

*I like to make the pulled chicken early in the afternoon, let it sit at room temperature (off of the heat) for a few hours, and then warm it through right before serving. The extra few hours of sitting allows the chicken to absorb even more of the sauce flavors.

What is the best spicy meal you’ve ever had?


Prep the Chicken

Start by seasoning the chicken breasts with salt black pepper and garlic powder. This will give your pulled chicken a flavorful base.

Slow Cooker Magic

Place the seasoned chicken breasts in your slow cooker.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, and paprika.

Pour this delicious sauce mixture over the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.

Set and Forget

Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. The longer it cooks the more tender and flavorful the chicken will become.

Shred and Spice

Once the chicken is fully cooked and fork-tender remove it from the slow cooker.

Use two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and let it soak in the spicy sauce for an additional 15-30 minutes.

Serve with Style

Toast your hamburger buns or slider rolls to add a delicious crunch to your sandwiches.

Spoon the spicy pulled chicken onto the buns.

If you like a bit of crunch and creaminess, top your sandwiches with coleslaw.

Spicy pulled chicken is a flavorful twist on a classic comfort food favorite. With just the right amount of heat and a burst of barbecue sweetness, it’s a crowd-pleaser for gatherings or a satisfying meal for your family. Serve it up with some coleslaw for a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Give this recipe a try, and you’ll have a new go-to dish for any occasion. Enjoy your spicy pulled chicken sandwiches!

Nutrition Per Serving

Calories:350 calories per serving

Protein:35 grams per serving

Carbohydrates:35 grams per serving

Dietary Fiber:2 grams per serving

Sugars:25 grams per serving

Fat:10 grams per serving

Saturated Fat:3 grams per serving

Cholesterol:80 milligrams per serving

Sodium:900 milligrams per serving

These nutrition values are based on a standard serving size of the spicy pulled chicken mixture on a bun without coleslaw or additional toppings. The actual values may vary depending on the specific ingredients used and the size of the servings. If you have specific dietary requirements or need more precise nutrition information, it’s a good idea to use a nutrition calculator or consult a registered dietitian for personalized guidance.

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