This pulled chicken sandwich recipe is made by simmering chicken breasts in a simple sauce with BBQ flavors until the chicken is fall apart tender. The sauce is then thickened and poured over the pulled chicken and served on soft, toasted buns with crunchy slaw. It's delicious!

Complete the meal with some parmesan corn on the cob, baked beans, and some garlic fries!

A pulled chicken sandwich on a plate with potato chips.

This recipe was originally published way back in 2012. We've freshened it up with some new photos and some more information. We love this recipe as much now as we did back then!

Pulled chicken sandwich

Sink your teeth into a warm, soft brioche bun piled high with tender chicken all smothered in a sweet and tangy, bbq-like sauce and topped with just the right amount of crunchy coleslaw.

Pulled chicken sandwiches make an incredible meal-prep lunch or tasty dinner. And they can easily be packed up (pulled chicken in one container, coleslaw in another) and brought to the park, beach, or friend's backyard.

This is one recipe you don't want to miss!

Is this a healthy pulled chicken sandwich?

This is about as healthy as a pulled chicken sandwich can be!

It's sugar-free – we usually leave out the little bit of optional sugar as the orange juice provides all the sweetness we need. And it's made with healthy chicken breasts and the coleslaw is made without mayonnaise or oil.

If you'd like, you can serve this on gluten-free or low carb buns or wrap up the pulled chicken in crunchy lettuce for an even healthier meal.

Two pulled chicken sandwiches on a plate.

How to make this pulled chicken sandwich recipe

While this isn't a quick recipe, it is a very easy one. And don't worry, most of the time it takes to make these sandwiches is hands off time while the chicken slowly simmers and becomes super tender.

  1. Make the pulled chicken. This is as easy as simmering chicken breasts in orange juice with chipotle peppers and a few other flavors. After an hour you can use two forks to easily pull the chicken into pieces.
  2. Make the sauce. Simply boil the sauce that you used to cook the chicken until it reduces and becomes sticky, like BBQ sauce.
  3. Make the slaw. Toss some cabbage, carrot, red onion, and cilantro with a squeeze of lime juice and a little bit of honey.
  4. Put it all together. Top toasted (preferably brioche) buns with the pulled chicken and coleslaw then eat!

Full recipe in the recipe card below!

A pulled chicken sandwich on a lunch plate.

What to eat with pulled chicken sandwiches

We'll often double up the coleslaw in this recipe and serve some of it on the side. Our classic broccoli coleslaw also goes really well with this sandwich.

Any traditional BBQ side will also go well with pulled chicken sandwiches. Here are a few of our favorites:

2 pulled chicken sandwiches on a plate with potato chips.
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A pulled chicken sandwich on a plate with potato chips.

Pulled Chicken Sandwich Crunchy Slaw

  • Author: Kristen Stevens
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 sandwiches 1x
  • Category: Sandwiches
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: North American

Description

This pulled chicken sandwich recipe is made by simmering chicken breasts in a simple sauce with BBQ flavors until the chicken is fall-apart tender. The sauce is then thickened and poured over the pulled chicken and served on soft, toasted buns with crunchy slaw. It's delicious! 


Scale

Ingredients

The pulled chicken

  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 26 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely minced (see notes)
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • ¼ cup Worchestershire sauce (gluten-free, if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons brown or coconut sugar (see notes)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

The coleslaw

  • 2 cups finely shredded cabbage (we like a mix of purple and green cabbage)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

The buns

  • 4 brioche buns, preferably toasted with a little butter (sub gluten-free buns, if needed)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chipotle peppers and cook for 1 more minute. 
  2. Add the orange juice, Worchestershire sauce, dijon mustard, and if using, the sugar to the pot and stir. (See notes) Put the chicken breasts into the pot and turn the heat to high. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 1 hour, or until the chicken is very tender. 
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot (save the liquid in the pot!) and shred it using 2 forks. Return the pot to high heat and boil, uncovered, until the liquid is as thick as BBQ sauce – it will thicken when it cools. 
  4. Pour half of the sauce over the chicken and gently mix. If you'd like it saucier, add a little more sauce. 
  5. Mix the coleslaw ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. 
  6. Top the buns with the pulled chicken and coleslaw and eat right away!

Notes

6 chipotle peppers pack quite a punch. If you don't love spicy food, opt for fewer peppers. 

We usually skip the optional sugar as the orange juice gives it plenty of sweetness. But if you like a sweeter BBQ sauce then you may want to add it. 

Depending on how finely you mince the chipotle peppers, the sauce might be a bit chunky. It won't affect the taste, but you can use a blender or an immersion blender if you want the sauce completely smooth.

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A pulled chicken sandwich on a lunch plate and the recipe title on top of the picture.