Recipe Flash: Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

How easy is it to sell me on Pulled Pork? I’ll answer that: very. Slow-cooked pork tossed with BBQ sauce and piled onto a bun is hard to mess up, since pork butt basically cooks itself if you give it enough time.

But pulled chicken is harder. Even chicken thighs, fattier than white meat, don’t naturally pull, and especially when you’re making pounds of this for a party, you wind up spending a decent chunk of time shredding the chicken. Sarah, whose 25th Birthday Party we catered (and have been posting about for a while), doesn’t like pork, which is the reason we stuck with chicken for the sandwiches. This gave me a chance to play around. I created a super flavorful–and rather sweet–sauce, and I baked the chicken in liquid to keep it tender. It may not be pulled pork but it’s pretty delicious.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,


Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Pickled Onions
Makes 30 mini sandwiches or 10 full-sized sandwiches

We made our sandwiches on mini brioche, but full-sized works if you’re not having a cocktail party!

3 cups ketchup

1 cup beer
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4-5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
Pickled Onions (recipe follows)
30 mini brioche rolls or 10 brioche rolls
To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients from ketchup to red wine vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours, until thickened and reduced to about 3 1/2 cups. You can make this in advance.
To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the broth, olive oil, and barbecue sauce, and whisk together. Add the chicken. Set the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Cover and cook in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken juices run clear.
Remove the chicken from the liquid and put it in a bowl or a baking pan to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with two forks, adding some of the liquid from the pot to keep it moist.
When all the chicken is shredded, mix in the barbecue sauce. Start with about 1 cup of sauce, mix it in, and taste the chicken. Add as much sauce as you like, and also feel free to add more of the cooking liquid, if you like your chicken a little wetter.
Pile the pulled chicken onto the bottom half of a brioche roll. Top with pickled onions and the top of the roll.
Pickled Onions


1/2 cup sugar
3 cups red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 red onions, thinly sliced

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar in the vinegar until it is dissolved. Add all the remaining ingredients. Pour everyting into a jar or tupperwarde container and let sit in the refrigerator at least overnight.

Posted in: Recipe Flash
  • sarah

    these were amazingggggg!! we ate them for weeks afterwards.

  • Frankie

    Was wondering why you used chicken thighs only? I know the meat is moister but isn’t the breast easier to shred?

    • TheInternetCookingPrincess

      I was wondering the same thing, Frankie! Looks great though – the addition of pickled onions is bad-a.

      • BGSK

        I like the chicken thighs precisely because they are fattier. Since I was riffing off a pork dish to begin with, I wanted to keep as close as possible to the fatty/flavor element of a pork butt. I’m not sure the white meat would be THAT much easier to shred.

      • BGSK

        Chicken thighs cause they’re a bit more flavorful and fattier. Since I was riffing off of pulled pork, which is made with fatty pork butt, I chose the chicken thighs. And yes, ose pickled onions are the best.

  • pam’

    It looks delicious!!! I’m new here and so glad I found your great blog! I will be trying this for sure with its unique combo of ingredients! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Maddie

    Just curious…where do you find your brioche rolls? I adore them, but haven’t been able to find them at the supermarket (or Whole Foods) for all of my summer-sandwiching needs.

    • BGSK

      We’ve been getting them at Amy’s Bread–we order in advance when we need a lot. They’re delicious!

    • BGSK

      Amys bread! But wholesfood does have this brand iggies that we like. Check near the bins of rolls.

  • Anonymous

    where do you buy your mini brioche buns in nyc? they look fabulous!

    • BGSK

      Amys bread! Whole foods also sells a great brand: iggys. Both are great!

      • Anonymous

        ah, perfect. thanks! I might try to do these for an upcoming mid-summer’s night dream cocktail party.

        • BGSK

          sounds like a lovely theme! enjoy!

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