Chicken/ Recipes/ Slow Cooker

Crock Pot Root Beer Pulled Chicken

root beer pulled chicken-5732

Helloooooo weekend!

It feels like ages since I’ve posted a slow cooker recipe for you guys! I hope this root beer pulled chicken makes up for it. I have always been curious about the idea of adding soda {typically coke} to pulled pork, so I finally decided to try it myself! Wow, is it ever good. I don’t know why it took me this long. Spicy and slightly sweet…just the way I like it. Reason number 2309230 why I love my crock pot so much is that you really can’t go wrong. I mean…if all the things you are throwing in there are delicious, the end result is bound to be delicious as well.

I think we’ve discussed this, but when someone says barbecue, I immediately think of pulled pork…or pulled chicken. It’s the Carolina bit in me coming out I guess, whereas Adam, my Texan, automatically thinks brisket. Now I know some of you really love your Texas barbecue and while I’d never turn down Rudy’s or Stubb’s, forgive me when I say I would rather eat pulled pork barbecue any day over brisket. Oh man. If you’re a pulled pork lover like I am, you’re going to go crazy over this root beer pulled chicken!

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I decided to make this the other day when I was cruising the aisles of World Market, shopping for necessary things like, you know, grey sea salt and nutella. I love to buy the tiny glass bottles of Pellegrino at World Market, which is the only place I can find them {I’m a sparking water fiend}, and this Bulldog root beer was conveniently located right next to my Pellgrino. Meant to be.

Now, I am constantly thinking of new recipes wherever I go. I’ve come up with recipes at church, at yoga, in the shower or in the shoe store. Food takes over my brain on a daily basis. So when I saw this root beer, this barbecue recipe just developed in my head. I couldn’t wait to get home and try it out.

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Be sure to use chicken thighs for this recipe, not chicken breasts, which will dry out and become stringy. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts have their place and it’s not in your crock pot today. Embrace the thigh.

Just look how yummy it looks all shredded up after a seven hour jacuzzi in barbecue sauce and root beer!

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Serve pulled chicken in sandwich form or {my favorite} as a stuffing for sweet potatoes. Just slice the baked sweet potato open, stuff in your pulled chicken and top with extra hot sauce.

root beer pulled chicken-5735

Crock Pot Root Beer Pulled Chicken

serves 4-6

Print this Recipe!


1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup barbecue sauce

1 cup root beer

1/2 tsp salt

about 5 big splashes of Tabasco


Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the chicken thighs and brown quickly on both sides — this should take about 4 minutes per side.

Place the browned chicken thighs in your slow cooker. Top with the diced onions, barbecue sauce and root beer. Turn heat to HIGH and cook for 1 hour. After an hour, turn down heat to LOW and cook for 6 more hours.

After 6 hours, remove chicken thighs from slow cooker. Place in a bowl and pull chicken apart with two forks. It should be incredibly tender at this point! Once shredded, place chicken back in slow cooker and mix well with sauce. Season with salt and Tabasco to taste.


active time ~ 10 minutes

total time ~ 7 hours


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  • Ksenija @ Health Ninja
    August 2, 2013 at 3:35 am

    That looks better than anything I’ve seen in a while. Healthy comfort food at its best. Now I only do have to get a slow cooker – a shame that I promised myself not to buy new kitchen appliances before going abroad, so that I have to store less stuff πŸ™ . Guess this has to wait for a while.

  • Anne @
    August 2, 2013 at 4:24 am

    Yes, Yes, Yes!

    I saw a recipe for root beer barbeque sauce ages ago and thought it was a brilliant idea. This seems much more doable though, I cannot wait to try it!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    August 2, 2013 at 4:33 am

    This sounds amazing Jenna! I’ve never tried root beer and bbq sauce but I love pulled chicken and it sounds like an amazing flavour combo! Sadly I don’t have a slow cooker (yet???) but I think I could still try using the sauce on chicken breasts before putting them on the grill. Thanks for the idea!

  • Jen
    August 2, 2013 at 4:44 am

    I made something very similar recently except with beer instead of root beer and it was delicious. The slow cooker has to be my favorite appliance, especially in the summer when I don’t want to heat up the kitchen.

  • Lori @ RecipeGirl
    August 2, 2013 at 4:46 am

    When I was pregnant with my son, I was crazy about root beer. I searched high and low for the best artisan types. I think it was my way of compensating for the fact that I couldn’t drink wine! Love this recipe!

  • Lauren @ The Highlands Life
    August 2, 2013 at 4:52 am

    I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee where barbecue is its own food group and pulled pork is where it’s at. I was actually thinking about doing a barbecue crockpot type of dish this next week for our monthly game night with friends. Each month a couple takes a turn hosting and provides drinks and dinner so this would be perfect to double or triple to feed everyone!

  • Kelsey @aslolife
    August 2, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Ah, this makes me want to run out and buy a crock pot–it looks divine!

  • Melanie @
    August 2, 2013 at 5:18 am

    I totally want this for my next picnic! My mouth is watering…

  • Malkire
    August 2, 2013 at 6:00 am

    pulled pork is seriously my guilty pleasure. Any time I see it on the menu, I have to have it. I have never tried to make it myself and the idea of using my crockpot more consistently through this recipe is very tempting. Thank you so much it looks fantastic!

  • Dana
    August 2, 2013 at 6:05 am

    This looks so juicy and amazing!! I love root beer, so why not add it to food?!

  • Rebecca
    August 2, 2013 at 6:16 am

    I’m a fourth generation Texan who married an Oklahoman, but I’d choose pulled pork over brisket any day …. Rudy’s is the best!

  • Tieghan
    August 2, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Oh wow, this looks like an amazing sandwich! I have eat to put any kind of drink other than beer in with my food, but I am now itching to try this. It looks like a killer recipe!

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks
    August 2, 2013 at 7:49 am

    This sounds so interesting! Root beer – I’d love to try this ‘marinade’ with say beans or vegetarian chili. I bet it would be great!

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action
    August 2, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Wow- I never would’ve thought of root beer and chicken. But I think I may need to try it out just to see what it tastes like.

    Thanks for the change-up of flavours πŸ™‚

  • Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    August 2, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Sounds delicious! I’m with ya – pulled pork is way better than brisket!

  • Stephanie
    August 2, 2013 at 8:51 am

    I’m a Kentucky girl who married a Texan…he thinks brisket is the only bar-b-que worth having and I, like you, prefer Carolina pulled pork. He is a root beer lover, though, so that might win him over! On your trips to Texas, have you tried Saint Arnold’s root beer? Oh. my. Seriously, sooo good!

  • Kelli
    August 2, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I’m not a fan of root beer, so I’m wondering how much the flavor comes through. Would this still be good for a non-root beer drinker or can it be just as delicious if made with Coke?

    • jenna
      August 2, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Yes! You can’t really taste the root beer at all. It just gives a sweetness. You’re more than welcome to try it with Coke though – I bet it would be just as good! πŸ™‚

      • Nicole
        August 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        I made it with Coke tonight. It was amazing!!!

  • Betsy
    August 2, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Oh I am SO with you on the pulled pork/chicken over brisket. While Texas BBQ has it’s place, the Alabama girl in my will always always always choose pulled pork (ideally with a mix of white sauce and red sauce). I will definitely be trying this soon!

  • Betsy
    August 2, 2013 at 9:30 am

    *its. dang. That’s embarassing

  • Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog
    August 2, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I could seriously eat pulled pork every day – so, so good! I’ve been searching for a good crockpot chicken recipe, so this is perfect. Can’t wait to try it.

  • Jaime
    August 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Sounds divine! Do you think I could get away without browning the meat first?? With the time it takes to get myself ready, then nurse and dress my 4 month old, pack up all the stuff we each need for the day and shlep it all out to the car and be on the road each morning by 6:30, I would prefer to just dump everything in, set it and go! πŸ˜‰

  • Kiran @
    August 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I truly need a crock pot. Like, now!! This looks so so relish, Jenna πŸ™‚


  • Kristin
    August 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Making this TONIGHT!! I just LOVE all your recipes!!!!!

  • Kim
    August 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Ooh, interesting! I wonder how some crumbled crispy bacon would go over in this pulled pork as well? An extra layer of tasty goodness is what I’m thinking!

  • Danielle
    August 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    OMG, my mouth dropped open when you mentioned stuffing a baked sweet potato with this! How have I never thought to do such a thing?? We love BBW pulled pork and chicken in my home. I need to try this in a sweet potato ASAP!!

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    August 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I have never cooked with soda. This chicken looks amazing. Suddenly craving BBQ.

  • Caroline L.
    August 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I grew up in North Carolina, but spent my teenage years in Texas, so I gotta say that I love both equally πŸ™‚ Putting soda into recipes has been intriguing me lately – can’t wait to attempt this!

  • Angela
    August 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Making this tomorrow— just sadly realized though that I won’t have enough Stubbs original sauce for the recipe— I do have Sweet Baby Rays though, gonna give it a shot : )

  • shelly (cookies and cups)
    August 3, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Perfect for my family. Making this week for dinner!

  • Jamie
    August 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

    This looks incredibly amazing!

  • Amy @
    August 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    My husband saw me looking at this and said, “Can you make that, but leave off the avocado? Root beer? Wow, that looks pretty good!” Thanks for this!

  • Christina @ The Beautiful Balance
    August 3, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Telling my boyfriend about this on the phone as I type this comment. He is so excited! Haha

  • Heather
    August 4, 2013 at 10:18 am

    This looks SO good, but I LOVE your stuffed sweet potato idea!!

  • BeePieRuns
    August 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I am a Carolina girl up until about 5 years ago so I definitely have a soft spot for the pulled pork too! I was wondering, do you recommend a particular type/brand of BBQ sauce? I’m a bit overwhelmed when I get to that section in the grocery store!!

  • Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen
    August 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Oh my, you are making me sooo hungry! What a creative, DELICIOUS recipe! πŸ™‚

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  • Lauren
    August 7, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Hey jenna can I get away with not browning the chicken? Just one less dish to wash πŸ™‚

    • jenna
      August 7, 2013 at 8:11 am

      I would brown it! Much more flavor and only takes four minutes πŸ™‚

  • megan
    August 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    making this now… smells unfreakingbelievable.

  • Luv What You Do
    August 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    I am always collecting simple crockpot recipes. This is going to be saved (and probably blogged about) soon!

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  • Tim
    August 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I found your recipe and shared with my wife. Had a very pleasant surprise today when I got home she had put together your recipe this morning before she left for work and my oh my, what a wonderful treat we had for dinner. Like you, we like pork but right now we are re-thinking our chicken exclusion…thank you very much! Wonderful recipe, it is a keeper…

  • Maggie J
    August 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I made this for a big group this weekend, so I tripled the recipe and put it in my big slow cooker. Over all, I’d give it a B. The sauce was very watery and yet the meat wasn’t super juicy. Perhaps I should have changed the ratio of BBQ sauce to root beer when I uped the ingredients?

    Paired with whole wheat dollar rolls, pickles and coleslaw, my yankee friends were happy! Thanks for sharing, Jenna.

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  • Mysha G
    September 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I am preparing to make this recipe right now! I went to the store on Sunday and purchased the ingredients I need. I hope it’s a keeper and its bangin!

  • Justeen
    October 4, 2013 at 5:44 am

    I’m planning to make this over the weekend! Do you think it would work with regular beer instead of root beer??

    • Justeen
      October 17, 2013 at 11:57 am

      I made this with regular beer instead of root beer and it turned out great! I also used onion powder instead of a real onion because I’m lazy, and it was still good!

  • Shari
    January 31, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Love this recipe!!!! It was such a hit and I am making it again!!!

  • megan
    February 25, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?

    • jenna
      February 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Sure thing!

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