I was recently asked by KC Masterpiece® to create an easy one-pot recipe featuring their Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce since my hometown is Kansas City and their barbecue sauces are also available here in Dallas. In return for my time and creative effort, I'm being compensated financially for this post. Thank you for allowing me to keep creating great content by supporting partnerships with brands I collaborate with on The Rising Spoon. As always, the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.
Our Kansas City Barbecue Tradition
Growing up in the Kansas City area I ate a lot of barbecue. This is only natural as our city is known worldwide for our barbecue. It was tradition for my aunt and uncle to grill out a few times a month and invite the immediate family to gather together on any afternoon when it wasn't raining. We'd play games outdoors, lounge inside watching John Wayne movies, and head back outside to hang around the picnic table and chat with my uncle as he got the charcoal grill fired up.
Eventually I'd go inside (for some reason it was always me) to help my aunt shape and pepper the hamburger patties while she un-packaged hot dogs and sliced the kielbasa sausage. It was my job to bring the tray outside and help my uncle arrange everything on the grill.
We'd sit on the patio for awhile, my uncle often telling stories or making jokes with a swisher sweet hanging from his mouth, until it was time to flip the meat. Then, like clockwork, he opened up a bottle of thick and sweet Kansas City-style barbecue sauce and poured a bit over each hamburger.
Writing about this makes me teary eyed because my uncle passed away very suddenly six years ago. I treasure all of those afternoons we had together just the two of us and as a family together. Because of this, barbecues (outdoor gatherings where you cook out), barbecue sauce, and barbecued foods hold a special place in my heart.
Even if you don't have a charcoal grill or smoker, you can use a slow cooker or French oven to fix a delicious and comforting meal to bring your family together and capture that same nostalgia.
Slow Cooker Recipes with Barbecue Sauce
I always have a bottle or two of Kansas City-style BBQ sauce in my fridge or pantry for dipping sauce, but have recently started incorporating it into slow cooker recipes. My favorite has been slathering a whole chicken in BBQ sauce, along with a few other seasonings. It is SO frigging good!
Chicken Thighs versus Chicken Breasts
However, I decided to use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts in order to give the dish more flavor and cut the cost in half. Why? I wanted to create a recipe that wouldn't break the bank if y'all decided to double or triple it for a larger gathering.
After all, barbecue is about bringing people together with delicious food and let's face it--chicken breasts aren't cheap! Chicken thighs are a much more frugal option. You can buy them with the skin and bone already removed for convenience or save $1-2 dollars per pound and prep them at home yourself.
Love chicken breasts and have some on hand right now? Go ahead and use them in this recipe! No need to run out for something different when you have an ingredient that'll work just as well. :)
Only Three Simple Ingredients & Almost No Prep Work
There are so few recipes I've tried that require this little prep work and yield such a large amount of delicious food. I love it! If you buy the chicken already prepped, all you have to do is trim off the excess fat with a pair of kitchen shears, peel & slice an onion, the combine it all in the slower cooker. Easy peasy!
The star of this dish is the barbecue sauce, which mixes with the chicken juices and sliced onion as it simmers away in the slow cooker, creating a rich, smoky, slightly sweet sauce with elements of tomato, spices, and molasses. Because of this, it's important to choose a high quality barbecue sauce that you love!
I chose the KC Masterpiece® Kansas City Classic barbecue sauce because (as the slogan goes) it's made with love and real sugar. Many of my all-time favorite barbecue restaurants still use corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup in their sauces, as well as MSG, so it's important for me to support brands that are moving toward natural sweeteners!
The History Behind This Barbecue Sauce
If you're a BBQ lover, the history behind this company and specific barbecue sauce is interesting. This sauce was originally created by Dr. Rich Davis - a psychiatrist and barbecue aficionado - in Kansas City in the late 1970s. He began selling the sauce to local retailers and it quickly grew in popularity.
In 1979 he entered the Kansas City Classic barbecue sauce into a BBQ competition at the very first American Royal (now the world's largest barbecue competition) and won the Blue Ribbon. This encouraged him to follow his passion for barbecue instead of medicine, which led him to sell the company 7 years later, yet still retain rights to open up restaurants under the same name.
There's no question that Dr. Davis, who passed away last month at the age of 89, is a Kansas City legend. He helped spread the love for Kansas City-style barbecue sauce across the nation via the KC Masterpiece® name.
Ideas For Leftover Shredded BBQ Chicken
Depending on how many folks you're feeding, you should have quiet a bit of leftovers that you can use to fix an assortment of quick meals throughout the week.
The first night I made this I piled the chicken on a pretzel bun and topped it with pickle slices and extra sauce to make an easy BBQ sandwich.
Last night I added some of the shredded slow cooker BBQ chicken to a brothy ramen noodle bowl, which was amazing! If you hop over to Instagram you can get all the details on how I made it. The BBQ chicken gave the broth a hint of sweetness, which balanced well with the spiciness of the sriracha sauce.
3-Ingredient Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
An easy slow cooker BBQ chicken recipe using boneless skinless chicken thighs and a sweet and smoky Kansas City-style barbecue sauce, which yields moist, flavorful, saucy chicken perfect for sandwiches, soups, pastas, tacos, and pizzas.
3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs (I used 12 thighs)
2 1/2 cups of barbecue sauce, store-bought or homemade (I used a 21 oz. bottle of KC Masterpiece® Kansas City Classic barbecue sauce)
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar (optional - see note below)
Note: Because I've cut down on my sugar intake I'm a little more sensitive than most to sweet things, so after I added the shredded chicken back into the sauce, I stirred in 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to balance out the sweetness. This is a personal preference and will totally depend on the type of barbecue sauce you end up using.
slow cooker (I have THIS ONE and LOVE it)
two forks or an electric stand mixer with paddle attachment (for shredding)
Place 3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs along the bottom of a slow cooker and pour the barbecue sauce on top. Using a wooden spoon, spread the sauce so that it coats both the bottom and tops of the chicken thighs. You'll want to make sure there's enough sauce to barely cover the thighs. If they're peeking through the sauce that's okay!
Peel and slice then onion, then layer it on top, seal the lid, and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours, or until you can easily shred the chicken with a fork. 30-60 minutes before the chicken is done, open the slow cooker and stir the onions into the sauce.
When the chicken is ready, remove from the sauce and shred with two forks OR use your electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment (this methods shreds the meat in like 20 seconds!!). Dump the shredded chicken back into the sauce, stir to coat all the chicken, and serve!
Psst...This recipe also pairs well with...
Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Tangy Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing
and Hot German Potato Salad!
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I'd like to hear from YOU!
What's your favorite recipe featuring barbecue sauce?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of KC Masterpiece. The opinions and text are all mine.
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- Chicken Nachos with Mango Avocado Salsa