This recipe has been in the works for a few months now. It started off as a pulled pork barbecue baked in a Dutch oven and slowly morphed into this beauty. This barbecue has a ton of flavor and comes together in no time! Don’t let the longish list of ingredients scare you off! It’s mostly due to the spice rub, which is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It will take you less than 10 minutes to throw all of the ingredients into the crock pot – pinky promise!
I decided to add some smoky bourbon flavor to this recipe in a few different ways. The first was with bourbon, of course! I used Bulleit. It added a nice sweetness to the barbecue that I loved. Next, I chose some of my favorite spices from Bourbon Barrel Foods, a local company that makes and sells all sorts of amazing bourbon-flavored food items. A few of my favorites include their bourbon smoked paprika, bourbon smoked pepper, bourbon smoked sea salt, Worcesteshire sauce, and soy sauce. The Worcesteshire sauce and soy sauce are both aged in bourbon barrels! All of their products have such unique flavors – I just love them! All of my favorites are used here except for the soy sauce. If you can’t get your hands on these bourbon-spiced products, you can totally sub in the regular versions.
One step that makes a big difference in the finished product is the thickening of the barbecue sauce in the end. I simmered the cooking liquid and used a little bit of cornstarch and water to help thicken the sauce up, which worked perfectly. Just make sure that if you return the pulled chicken and sauce to the slow cooker at the end to keep warm until serving, that you leave it uncovered. Otherwise, you’ll thin out your sauce again thanks to all of the steam (#beentheredonethat).
See ya Friday!
- 2.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon bourbon smoked paprika* (I used this one)
- ½ teaspoon bourbon smoked sea salt* (I used this one)
- ¼ teaspoon bourbon smoked pepper* (I used this one)
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 shot bourbon (I used Bulleit)
- 1 tablespoon Worcesteshire sauce* (I used this one)
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons cold water
- 5 hamburger buns (I used onion buns)
- Coleslaw and pickles for serving, if desired
- In a small bowl, combine ingredients from the brown sugar to the onion powder (all of the dry spices). Mix well with a fork.
- Pat chicken thighs dry and begin placing in the bottom of a slow cooker. After the first layer of chicken thighs has been placed in the slow cooker, sprinkle some of the seasoning mixture onto the tops of the chicken thighs in the slow cooker and rub spices in. Continue onto second layer of chicken thighs, sprinkling and rubbing the rest of the seasoning mixture into them. (If you have time, you can let the rub sit on the chicken thighs in the refrigerator for a few hours to intensify the flavor, but there’s no need to worry if you don’t have the time. The recipe will turn out great either way!)
- To the bowl of the slow cooker, add the chicken broth, tomato paste, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, bourbon, Worcesteshire sauce, and liquid smoke. Gently stir to combine.
- Cook chicken thighs on low for 4-6 hours.
- Once chicken is cooked, remove chicken thighs to a cutting board. Allow to rest for a few minutes before shredding. Transfer cooking liquid to a glass measuring cup. Allow the cooking liquid to settle and then, using a spoon, skim off the layer of fat that has risen to the top of the liquid (you don’t have to get it all, but do try to get most of it).
- Transfer the cooking liquid to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water. Slowly stream the cornstarch mixture into the simmering cooking liquid while whisking constantly. Continue whisking until mixture thickens. Set aside once desired consistency is reached.
- Shred chicken thighs using two forks and then transfer shredded chicken back to the slow cooker. Pour in thickened sauce and toss to combine. Keep on warm uncovered (must be uncovered or else the steam will cause the sauce to thin again) until ready to serve.
- Serve on buns with slaw, if desired.