Look no further than these Crock Pot Chicken Thighs with homemade barbecue sauce for an easy, wholesome chicken thigh recipe your entire family is sure to enjoy. Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs are made with simple pantry staples and are full of incredible flavor with minimal effort!
If there is one thing that my husband and son can not get enough of in the summer months, it is barbecue. From Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Legs to Slow Cooker BBQ Pork, to BBQ Chicken Burgers, they adore a good piece of meat flavored with barbecue.
And I have to admit, I do love some BBQ myself. I love slow cooker meals at any time of the year, but especially in the summer months. I hate turning on the oven when the temperature outside rises about 90 degrees–which is nearly every day here in the southeast.
That is why these BBQ Chicken Thighs made in the slow cooker are on constant repeat here at my house in the summer--okay, all year long!
Chicken thighs are extremely economical, incredibly rich in flavor, and most people prefer chicken thighs over chicken breasts. Which makes this recipe perfect for entertaining. Plus BBQ Chicken thighs are allergy-friendly. My recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken thighs is gluten-free, and dairy-free, even down to the homemade BBQ sauce.
Regardless of which piece of chicken meat you prefer, I bet you will agree after biting into crispy chicken skin to reach the juicy flesh of chicken perfectly seasoned with a maple barbecue sauce, that these Barbecue Chicken Thighs made in the slow cooker are perfection.
How To Make Perfect Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs
Step One: Season your Chicken Thighs
I use my homemade seasoned salt for an easy rub that is perfect for chicken and compliments the barbecue sauce nicely. Sprinkle the seasonings liberally over the chicken thighs and rub into the meat to cover. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty–just wash up well after rubbing down the chicken thighs.
Step Two: Mix up your homemade barbecue sauce
I use a mixture of apple juice, tomato sauce, and maple syrup for an easy homemade barbecue sauce. For this recipe, I do not add any additional salt, because my chicken already has enough salt (as does the tomato sauce).
If you don’t want to use a homemade barbecue sauce, feel free to use your own favorite store-bought brand. You will need to add 1/2 cup liquid to 2 cups of barbecue sauce. I would recommend using chicken stock, apple juice, or even beer as the liquid. When using store-bought sauce, this Chicken Thigh recipe will no be Paleo and if you use beer as your liquid, it will also no longer be gluten-free.
Step Three: Cook your Chicken
Place your seasoned chicken thighs in a single layer on the bottom of your slow cooker. Pour over the homemade or store-bought BBQ sauce. Cook chicken thighs for 6-7 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high, or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step Four: Broil Chicken Thighs
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.
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 1/2 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 Crock Pot Chicken Recipes
- Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Thighs with Rice
- Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken
- Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Drumsticks
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
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
- 1/4 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 1/2 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 1/2 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.