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Zesty BBQ Chicken is a dump & go slow cooker dinner! Chicken cooks in a simple 4 ingredient zesty bbq sauce until it’s fall apart tender. Serve inside hamburger buns for a bbq shredded chicken sandwich. Perfect family favorite dinner idea for a busy weeknight or when you don’t want to turn the oven on.

Try these other BBQ recipes like my Slow Cooker Root Beer BBQ Chicken, BBQ Baked Beans, BBQ Beef Pasta Skillet, and my family’s favorite dinner BBQ Turkey Sloppy Joes

Close up spoon shot of some shredded bbq chicken with sauce on it.

Slow Cooker Zesty BBQ Chicken Recipe

You can never have to many dump & go, easy slow cooker dinner recipes. This slow cooker Zesty BBQ Chicken is one of our favorites. It only requires 4 ingredients + chicken, and you simply ‘dump’ it all into the insert of the crockpot. So simple with only about a 2 minute prep time. 

Simmers all day in a seriously delicious sauce of bbq sauce, Italian salad dressing, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar for some sweetness. 

A speckled plate with a sandwich on hamburger bun filled with shredded bbq chicken inside.

Ingredients Needed

Here are the easy ingredients that you need to make this dinner recipe. I also share some tips that will hopefully make this recipe a success at your dinner table. 

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast – You will need 3 of these. I like to trim off some of the fat/white pieces, just to clean it up a bit, but that is optional. If the chicken you are using is really small then you may want to use 4 of them. There is plenty of sauce to go around.
  • BBQ Sauce – Use a barbecue sauce that you love the tase of. I always use Sweet Baby Ray’s regular bbq sauce. 
  • Italian Salad Dressing – Again, use one that you love the taste of. I highly recommend using the Olive Garden Italian salad dressing in this recipe. It by far has the best taste to it, and it has a creamier base which makes everything yummy that you put it on. 
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Brown Sugar – Don’t skip this. It really helps to round out all the flavors.

Ingredients needed to make these shredded bbq sandwiches with each one labeled in black text.

How to Make Zesty BBQ Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Learn how make this recipe for zesty bbq chicken with these easy steps. Be sure and read to the bottom of this post where there is a printable recipe card along with all the detailed instructions, ingredients, and helpful tips. 

  • Chicken : Spray the insert with cooking spray. Place the chicken breasts onto the bottom. 
  • Zesty BBQ Sauce : Add the bbq sauce, Italian salad dressing, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar into a small mixing bowl. Stir until combined well. I use a wire whisk to do this. Pour it over the chicken. Cover with the lid.
  • Cook : Set the timer to LOW heat and cook for 6-8 hours. The chicken should be fall apart tender. 
  • Serve : Take the chicken out and shred it with two forks. Put it back into the zesty bbq sauce and stir. Sere with a slotted spoon, onto hamburger buns, or you can chop the chicken into larger pieces and serve as is. 

How to make zesty bbq chicken in the crockpot with step by step picture instructions.

How to make zesty bbq chicken in the crockpot with step by step picture instructions.

Tips For Success

Here are a few of my helpful tips that will hopefully make this an easy recipe for you to recreate in your own kitchen. 

  • BBQ Sauce : I recommend using a barbecue sauce that you love. I also highly recommend using Sweet Baby Ray’s original bbq sauce. It has the best flavor, that is not overly sweet. 
  • Italian Salad Dressing : Again, it’s important to use a dressing that you love the flavor of. I highly recommend using Olive Garden Italian Salad Dressing in this recipe. That is what I tested the recipe with, and that is what I use every time I make it. 
  • Use The Brown Sugar : Don’t leave this out! It really helps to round out all the vinegary flavors.

A sandwich with shredded bbq chicken inside of it sitting on a white speckled plate.

Zesty BBQ Chicken FAQ’s

  • How To Store Leftovers
  • Can I Freeze Zesty BBQ Chicken?
    • Yes you can freeze this chicken. There are two ways to do it. 
    • Place leftovers inside a freezer-safe gallon Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, place the bag in the fridge to thaw overnight. Heat it up on the stove top. 
    • You can also make this a freezer meal by simply adding all the ingredients into a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag and freezing for up to 2 months. When ready to eat, you can either add it directly into the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8 hours, OR you can let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then add it into the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for about 6-7 hours. 
  • Serving Suggestions
    • We love this chicken as a sandwich. I use hamburger buns or sesame seed buns and then serve a scoop onto it. Kind of like a sloppy Joe but with shredded chicken! Make sure you use a slotted spoon so you don’t end up with tons of extra liquid on the bun. 
    • Instead of shredding the chicken, you can instead leave the chicken in larger pieces and serve them that way. 
    • Use the shredded chicken as a topping for a baked potato bar. 
    • Serve as barbecue chicken tacos. Use corn or flour tortillas with toppings like cotija cheese, slaw, chopped cilantro, etc. 
  • Can I Make It Spicy?
    • Yes! Lots of ways to spice this up if wanted. Use zesty Italian salad dressing. Add some chili powder and/or cayenne red pepper in with the bbq sauce mixture. Serve the sandwiches with sliced jalapeños as a topping. You could even add a can of jalapeños in with the chicken. Pour contents in the can over the chicken before adding the bbq sauce. 

Slow cooker full of shredded bbq chicken.

Shredded bbq chicken sandwich with pickles in the background.

More Easy Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes You’ll Love

A speckled plate with a sandwich on hamburger bun filled with shredded bbq chicken inside.
Together As Family Logo

Slow Cooker Zesty BBQ Chicken


Author Jessica - Together as Family
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 5 minutes
Servings 12
Zesty BBQ Chicken is a dump & go slow cooker dinner! Chicken cooks in a simple 4 ingredients zesty bbq sauce until it's fall apart tender. Serve inside hamburger buns for a bbq shredded chicken sandwich. Perfect family favorite dinner idea for a busy weeknight or when you don't want to turn the oven on.

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (see notes)
  • 1 bottle (18 oz) bbq sauce
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Hamburger Buns for serving

Instructions

  • Spray the insert of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Lay the chicken breasts on the bottom.
  •  In a small bowl, mix together the bbq sauce, italian dressing, brown sugar, and worcestershire sauce until combined. Pour over the chicken, making sure that all the chicken is coated in the sauce.
  • Cover with the lid and cook on LOW heat for 6-7 hours.
  • Take the chicken out and use two forks to shred the chicken. Add the shredded chicken back into the sauce and stir.
    * I like to let the chicken sit and marinate in the sauce for about 30 minutes before serving, but you can also serve it right away.
  • Use a slotted spoon (let it drain of excess liquid) to serve the shredded chicken on top of a hamburger bun.
    * We love to add some coleslaw in our sandwiches.

Notes

Chicken : If the chicken breast are larger, using 3 is fine. If they are smaller pieces of chicken breast use 4 of them. 
Serving Size/Nutrition Information : Info listed is for 12 servings. The servings are rather large, so you can get plenty more depending on how much each person puts on their sandwich. It does not include the hamburger bun. Just the shredded bbq chicken. 
Italian Salad Dressing & BBQ Sauce : I highly recommend using Olive Garden Italian salad dressing and Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce in this recipe. That is what I have tested this recipe with, and it's what I use every time I make it. They taste the best!
Make It Spicy! : Use zesty Italian salad dressing. Add some chili powder and/or cayenne red pepper into the bbq sauce mixture. Serve with some sliced jalapeños for topping. 

Nutrition

Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 740mg | Potassium: 412mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 126IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. Leigh Jones says:

    5 stars
    Delicious, simple, and just a few ingredients that are usually on hand!

    1. Together as Family says:

      That’s the perfect description for this recipe. I love when a recipe is something I can make quickly with no special ingredients that require a store trip.