Juicy slow cooker chicken thighs coated in a tangy homemade BBQ sauce are an irresistible dinner the whole family will love! They’re slow-cooked in a Crockpot so you can get dinner on the table without all the hard work.
Plus, the BBQ sauce ingredients all go in the slow cooker too, so you’re essentially making homemade barbecue sauce without much effort. (You can use store-bought BBQ sauce instead, if you prefer, though!)
It’s so easy, yet packed with tons of delicious flavor!
Crockpot Chicken Thighs with BBQ Sauce
These barbecue chicken thighs are so simple and tasty; they’re truly the perfect make-ahead protein.
I love making chicken thighs in the slow cooker because they keep their shape (so you don’t have to serve them as shredded BBQ chicken, unless you want to), and they stay so juicy and tender after cooking.
As for sides, you can serve these Crockpot chicken thighs with anything you want: quinoa, rice, pasta, roasted vegetables, potatoes, salad… they’d even be delicious in a sandwich! (Like these BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches or these appetizer-sized BBQ chicken sliders).
Here’s what you’ll need to make these slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs:
- tomato paste (canned)
- apple cider vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
- balsamic vinegar
- smoked paprika
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- cayenne pepper (optional – for a tiny bit of heat!)
- bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (You’ll need 2.5 pounds of chicken – about 6-7 pieces. You can also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but they won’t keep their shape as well, so those are better for if you’re shredding the chicken once it’s cooked.)
How to Make BBQ Chicken Thighs in a Slow Cooker
To make these barbecue chicken thighs, start by adding all the sauce ingredients (everything except the chicken) in a slow cooker. Whisk until smooth.
(If you’re using pre-made BBQ sauce, use that here instead.)
Next, place the chicken thighs in the sauce and stir so they’re coated in the sauce.
Set the slow cooker to cook on high for 3.5 hours, or low for 6 hours. Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. Once it is, turn off the slow cooker.
Optionally, you can broil the chicken thighs for a nice browning on top. (Plus, it makes the sauce that coats the thighs a little thicker and more sticky).
If you’d like to broil the chicken before serving, just place the chicken thighs on a greased baking sheet and spoon sauce on top. Then, broil in the oven on high for 3-5 minutes.
Lastly, serve with additional sauce from the bottom of the slow cooker (and your favorite sides)!
Hot tip: If you use skin-on chicken in this recipe and the sauce is too greasy after cooking, just blot the top with a paper towel. All the grease will float to the top in the slow cooker, so it’s pretty easy to remove the grease this way if needed.
Skinless chicken thighs shouldn’t leave any grease on the top, so you can also take the skin off before cooking if it bothers you!
Can I use boneless chicken thighs?
Yes, you can easily make this with boneless, skinless chicken thighs!
Personally, I prefer bone-in, skin-on thighs here because when I’m broiling the cooked thighs and serving them as a main protein with sides, the skin crisps up a little under the broiler and the bone helps hold the chicken thighs together. (Even though they’re super tender and fall off the bone with a fork!).
But you can definitely use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead! If you do, the chicken will fall apart more when you pull it out, so it would work especially well for pulled chicken sandwiches.
Once the chicken is cooled to room temperature, place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Tips for Buying Chicken Thighs at the Grocery Store
When buying chicken thighs at the store, it’s best to buy evenly-sized thighs if possible. That way, they’ll all be done cooking around the same time.
Fresh raw chicken should be plump and a pinkish color.
What to Serve With BBQ Chicken
You can serve these slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs with any sides you like, but here are some ideas for inspiration:
- Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries (Baked)
- Crunchy Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
- Oven Roasted Zucchini and Squash
- Lemony Quinoa Salad with Spinach
- Herb & Garlic Roasted Vegetables
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
However you choose to enjoy this easy slow cooker dinner, I hope you love it! You’ll find the full Crockpot BBQ chicken thighs recipe at the end of this post.
More slow cooker chicken recipes to try:
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Crockpot Mexican Chicken
- Slow Cooker Chicken Drumsticks (Honey Mustard)
- Crockpot Balsamic Chicken
- Honey Lemon Chicken (Slow Cooker)
- 1 6-oz can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2.5 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 6-7 pieces)
- Place all sauce ingredients (tomato paste through cayenne pepper) in the bottom of a slow cooker insert. Whisk to combine.
- Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat in the sauce.
- Cook on high for 3.5 hours or low for 6 hours.
- Optional: after slow cooking, heat the broiler to high. Remove the chicken thighs to a greased or silicone baking mat-lined sheet pan and top each piece with a spoonful of sauce from the slow cooker. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce is sticky and starting to brown on top.
- Serve with additional sauce from the bottom of the slow cooker.