Pulled BBQ-Chicken Sandwiches

Prep Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins

Chicken thighs are seared until golden, then simmered with beer and an easy homemade BBQ until irresistibly tender. To assemble these hearty sandwiches, layer the meats and our Shredded-Carrot-and-Cabbage Coleslaw on squishy buns for a satisfying crunch.


  • 1 ½ cups ketchup

  • 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil

  • 6 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 12)

  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced

  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 bottle (11 ounces) lager beer, such as Stella Artois (1 ⅓ cups)

  • 8 potato sandwich buns, preferably Martin's


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Working in three batches, and adding remaining 1 tablespoon oil as necessary, sear chicken until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  3. Drain all but 1 tablespoon oil from Dutch oven; reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add beer and barbecue sauce; stir until combined. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour. Turn off heat.

  4. Transfer chicken to plate; let cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skins (and reserve, if crisping; see Cook's Note, below) and bones; discard bones. Shred chicken into large pieces with two forks.

  5. Bring sauce to a simmer and reduce until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. (You should have about 3 cups.) Mash garlic with a potato masher until broken down. Return shredded chicken to Dutch oven and heat through, or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days (gently reheat before serving). Serve on potato buns.

    pulled chicken bbq sandwich

Cook's Notes

Crisped chicken skin makes these sandwiches even more crowd-pleasing. To make cracklings, arrange reserved chicken skins from step 4 in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet; top with another piece of parchment. Weigh down with another rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven 15 minutes, then flip, re-cover, and bake until crisp and caramelized, another 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer cracklings to a paper towel-lined plate to crisp. Layer on sandwiches when serving.

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