Pulled Chicken Sliders
These tasty pulled chicken sliders are an ideal choice for casual get-togethers like game day and tailgating parties.
To make the pulled chicken, we use boneless chicken thighs, which end up making a great alternative to pulled pork. The thighs are juicy and flavorful like the cuts used for pulled pork, but they take less time to cook and can easily be prepared in smaller quantities (the cuts used for pulled pork usually weigh 4 lbs or more).
Hands-on prep time for the chicken only takes about 10 minutes, and if you follow our directions for the electric pressure cooker (we used an Instant Pot), it’s fork-tender and ready to eat in just over 30 minutes.
And don’t worry if you don’t have a pressure cooker, we’ve included easy instructions for making pulled chicken in the oven, too.
To finish the sliders, we combine the chicken with a sweet and spicy sauce, pile it on soft slider buns, and top it with a light, garlicky slaw. Voila! Instant party food.
Don’t waste the tasty liquid you cooked the chicken in. Refrigerate it and discard the fat once it solidifies, then you can then freeze it to add to homemade soup at a later date or use it as a cooking liquid for pasta or rice.
Just keep in mind that it does have a slight sweetness, so you’ll want to be sure the flavors are a match.
- 1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 pieces)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 cup ketchup, divided
- 2-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
- 3 tablespoons fruit juice (apple, orange, or pineapple)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Hot sauce to taste (we recommend Frank's Red Hot)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 8 to 10 slider buns, lightly toasted
- 2 cups homemade coleslaw
- Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Turn the pressure cooker on to the sauté function, add the oil to the pot and heat for 1 minute.
- Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 2 to 4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, 1 minute longer.
- Add the chicken broth, 1/4 cup of the ketchup, 1 tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Heat until bubbly, stir to dissolve the sugar, then shut off the sauté function on the pressure cooker.
- Add the chicken thighs to the pot, nestling them into the liquid. It isn't necessary that they be totally submerged.
- Secure the lid on the cooker and set the pressure valve to the sealed position.
- Program the cooker for 9 minutes on high pressure. Once the cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally.
- While the chicken is cooking, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of ketchup, 1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, fruit juice and Worcestershire sauce in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup.
- Cover and heat for 1 minute on high. Stir until the brown sugar has dissolved, then add hot sauce to taste (we used about 2 teaspoons).
- Add the butter, cover, and microwave for 20 to 30 seconds more, then stir the butter into the sauce. Set aside.
- Once the chicken is done, transfer it to a cutting board and let cool for at least 5 minutes. Discard the cooking liquid or reserve for another use (see notes).
- Using two forks, pull the thighs into shreds and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the sauce and combine well.
- To assemble the sliders, spoon a portion of the chicken onto each bun, then top with coleslaw. Serve immediately.
Note: The cook time listed above is for the electric pressure cooker. If you're using the oven method below, add 1 to 1-1/4 hours.
How To Make Pulled Chicken In The Oven:
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in an oven-proof pan large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, 1/4 cup of the ketchup, 1 tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Heat until bubbly, then add the chicken and turn the pieces to coat them in the sauce.
- Cover the pan tightly and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the chicken is tender and shreds easily.
- Follow the directions above for preparing the sauce, shredding the chicken and assembling the sliders.