Made with only a few ingredients and minimal effort, these Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs are a simple family meal that is full of incredible flavor.
Serve these barbecue chicken thighs with homemade Baked Beans, Oven Fries, or Antipasto Pasta Salad for a delicious meal.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs are a staple dinner recipe at my house and with good reason.
- Economical. Chicken thighs are extremely affordable and easy to find. They are often much less expensive than chicken breasts, legs, or wings.
- Flavorful. Not only is dark meat known to be more flavorful than white meat, the seasoning and barbecue sauce that coat these chicken thighs make them irresistible.
- Easy. This is a set it and forget it kind of meal--which is the best kind of recipe to rely on busy days. You simply mix everything together in the slow cooker and let the chicken cook while you do whatever else it is you need to do.
- Allergy-Friendly.This recipe for chicken thighs is dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and gluten-free.
How To Make Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs
- Season the chicken thighs with homemade seasoned salt and rub the salt into the meat to coat the chicken.
- Place the seasoned chicken thighs into the slow cooker.
- Mix toghether apple juice, tomato sauce, and maple syrup together and pour over the chicken thighs.
- Cook chicken thighs for 6-7 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high, or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If desiring crispy skin, remove the thighs from the slow cooker and place on a broiler pan or baking sheet.
- Spoon the cooking sauce evenly over the chicken thighs.
- Broil for 2-3 inches under high heat for 2-4 minutes. Watch the chicken thighs closely so they do not burn.
How to Freeze for Meal Prep
There is nothing better than getting a jump start on meals for a busy week. These BBQ Chicken Thighs are the perfect recipe to meal prep for future use. Bonus is that by purchasing chicken thighs in bulk, you can save additional money as well.
To Freeze BBQ Chicken Thighs for Slow Cooking
- Prepare homemade barbecue sauce as directed, adding ½ tablespoon seasoned salt.
- Place 3-4 pounds chicken thighs in gallon size freezer bag and then pour over the BBQ sauce.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Defrost chicken thighs with barbecue sauce overnight in the fridge, then proceed with directions as written.
More Slow Cooker Favorites
- Crock Pot Ziti
- Crockpot Steak Fajitas
- Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Drumsticks
- Slow Cooker Chili
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Need more inspiration for planning meals that your family will love? Sign up for my FREE Meal Plans and each week you will get a meal plan with a shopping list.
If you enjoyed these Crockpot Chicken Thighs, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs
For Chicken Thighs
- 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
For Homemade BBQ sauce
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- Rub the chicken thighs with the seasoned salt, and place on an even layer on the bottom of a 6-8 quart slow cooker. Be sure to place your chicken thighs in a single layer on the bottom of your slow cooker. It is best to cover the majority of the bottom of the slow cooker for maximum heat distribution, but is not completely necessary.
- Mix the ingredients of the homemade barbecue sauce together in a small bowl and pour over the chicken thighs.
- Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the chicken thighs have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Remove cooked thighs from slow cooker and place on broiler pan or baking sheet and spoon over sauce from slow cooker over chicken thighs. Broil 2-3 inches under high heat for 2-4 minutes. Watch the chicken thighs closely, so they do not burn.
- For Slow Cooker Skinless Chicken Thighs: the timing remains the same for cooking in the slow cooker. You can even still brown the chicken thighs in the broiler if desired.
- For Slow Cooker Boneless Chicken Thighs: decrease the time on slow cooking by 1 hour and check the internal temperature of the chicken thighs. It needs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be safely cooked. If not cooked through, check every 10 minutes until 165 degrees is reached. (This is true for both skin-on and skinless boneless chicken thighs)
- To Freeze BBQ Chicken Thighs for Slow Cooking: Prepare homemade barbecue sauce as directed, adding ½ tablespoon seasoned salt. Place 3-4 pounds chicken thighs in gallon size freezer bag and then pour over the BBQ sauce. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost chicken thighs with barbecue sauce overnight in the fridge, then proceed with directions as written.
- I love my homemade BBQ sauce recipe for these Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs, but feel free to use your favorite store-bought sauce. Just be sure to add ½ cup additional liquid to the barbecue sauce (either water, apple juice, chicken stock, or beer.)
- How long should you cook chicken thighs in the crock-pot? All crockpots cook at different times and temperatures. My slow cooker only took 3 hours on high to cook the chicken thighs, however, it may take closer to 4 hours to cook chicken thighs in your slow cooker. Once your chicken thighs reach, 165 degrees Fahrenheit, they are cooked to a safe temperature.
- If you plan to broil your chicken thighs after slow-cooking (and I highly recommend this for crispy chicken skin), you still need to cook your chicken thighs in the crock-pot until they reach 165 degrees, as they will not be broiled long enough to raise the internal temperature of the chicken.
- You can also use this recipe for chicken drumsticks, chicken breasts, or even pork chops.
Would these reheat well? I'm looking to cook closer to 9 lbs but only have 1 crockpot. Do you have suggestions for oven or instant pot cooking for this recipe? Looking forward to trying this for an Easter potluck!
Hi Christina! I would suggest cooking in 2 batches and then broiling before serving to reheat and crisp up the skin. I do have Instant Pot Chicken Thigh directions as well. I would rub them with a spice rub and then pressure cook and broil with your favorite BBQ sauce.
Your suggestion worked great. Thank you! I was able to cook 5 lbs in the instant pot and then crisped them in the broiler, topping it with the bbq sauce you suggested in this slow cooker recipe. Your recipes and instructions really help lower stress levels. I appreciate you!
This sounds so easy!
So if we use store bought barbecue sauce, how much of it should we include?
Hi La'Tina! You will want to use 1 cup store bought barbecue sauce and add 1/2 cup additional liquid to the barbecue sauce (either water, apple juice, chicken stock, or beer.) I hope you enjoy!
Such a delicious way to make chicken thighs for a weeknight dinner!
I am so glad you enjoyed Amanda!
I love how quick and easy this recipe was to make! Perfect for Sunday supper!
Maple syrup is not Whole30 compliant. The recipe looks delicious for those not eating Whole30, but the post is misleading.
I am so sorry you were led to believe this is whole30--I read and reread my post and never saw mention of it being whole30 complaint. I apologize if a social post let you to believe it was.