Elyse Kopecky’s Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

This is a go-to meal prep protein.

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I make this dependable and easy pulled chicken recipe regularly. Having a simple slow cooker chicken recipe in your back pocket can save so much meal planning stress. This recipe is super versatile so my family never tires of the leftovers. We serve it taco-style the first night, and then the second night, we enjoy it on rice bowls. We usually have enough leftover for lunch too—it’s great served warm on top of salads or in a simple quesadilla.

This recipe is mild to appeal to young kids. If you want to spice it up, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cayenne or 1 or 2 chipotle peppers (canned). I prefer using a slow cooker chicken recipe instead of a pressure cooker one because slow cooking works best for the tenderest meat. I recommend using a mix of chicken breasts and chicken thighs for the best flavor and texture. Don’t fear the fat in dark meat chicken. Dark meat is actually more nutrient dense.

Get creative with the leftovers. This recipe even freezes well.

Slow Cooker (Instant Pot) Pulled Chicken

  • Serves: 8


  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken (half dark meat)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (shoyu)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice


  1. Step 1

    In the inner pot of your slow cooker or Instant Pot, combine the onion, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, chili powder, and salt. Add the water and stir to combine. Add chicken and stir until well coated.

  2. Step 2

    Set your slow cooker to HIGH for 1½ to 2 hours. If using an Instant Pot seal the lid and set to Vent. If your slow cooker does not have a High setting, increase the cook time to 3 hours.

  3. Step 3

    Remove the chicken to a low-sided bowl (do not toss out the juices) and use two forks to shred it (it should fall apart and shred really easily). Return the chicken to the slow cooker and cover with the lid. Slow cook for 30 more minutes, to allow the chicken to absorb the flavors and the sauce to thicken.

  4. Step 4

    Turn off the heat and stir in the lime juice. Taste and add salt, if needed. Serve hot.

Leftovers should be transferred to a glass container, cooled briefly, covered, and stored in the fridge. Will stay fresh for up to 4 days, if handled properly. Freeze any portions that you won’t use within 4 days.