Spicy Pulled Chicken

Must Try

Lauren Zembron
Lauren Zembronhttps://www.healthyfoodforliving.com/
I am a 34 year old living outside of Boston with my wonderful husband, energetic daughter, sweet son, and playful dog. I have degrees in both psychology and guidance counseling, and have worked in a variety of school settings. I strive to find a balance between the two basic food philosophies of “eat to live” and “live to eat“. I believe that food should be (and is!) one of the great pleasures of leading a healthy lifestyle.

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

Like this pulled chicken.

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?

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