There are many kinds of BBQ found across the American South, and Carolina BBQ is unique and different from them all. Some love their BBQ to be extra saucy, some crave it deep and smoky, and others want it cooked ‘low and slow’ for days at a time, but Eastern North Carolina BBQ is all about vinegar and cayenne.
Every bit as unctuous and tasty as its Texas, Alabama and Kansas City rivals, Eastern North Carolina BBQ (not to be confused with its mustard-based North Carolina counterpart) is seriously easy to recreate in your slow cooker at home. Sure, truly traditional BBQ should be made with pork or beef, but it is possible to recreate these flavours and cut some of the calories by using chicken breast instead.
While a journey to the Deep South may not be in the cards, you can treat yourself to a seriously delicious Carolina BBQ Chicken sandwich any time of year. Check out our easy peasy slow cooker chicken recipe that will have the whole family clamouring for more. Want to learn even more BBQ recipes? Then browse through our cookery courses which will have you barbecuing like a pro in no time at all.
This recipe is ideal for those who are short on time, as you can add everything into your slow cooker and come home to the fragrance and flavour of traditional BBQ with a healthy twist.
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 4 to 8 hours
Yields – 4 cups of shredded chicken
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of American hot sauce (Frank’s is best, but Tabasco can work)
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 700 grams of boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Mix together the vinegar, brown sugar, black pepper salt, and hot sauce in your 3 – 4.5L slow cooker, and then add the chicken.
- In a 3 – 4.5L slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 4-5 hours). If you only have a large 5 to 7L slow cooker or crockpot, ensure that you cook on low for approx. 6 hours. (See note below).
- Right before serving, shred the chicken with two forks and incorporate with sauce until all is covered.
- Serve on fresh white rolls with a healthy amount of coleslaw (see below), and add a shake or two of hot sauce on top. Bon Appetit!
Get ready to serve with these accompaniments:
- Ideally, you want to use a nice soft cob for your sandwiches (a Portuguese roll works well).
- Layer the pulled chicken with some coleslaw. You don’t have to go for a mayo-heavy recipe – consider using a Greek yoghurt coleslaw recipe
- While Carolina BBQ should be all about vinegar, we’ll forgive you if you choose to dollop some homemade BBQ sauce on top of your chicken.
- Additional hot sauce and/or vinegar for the table.
- Cooking time in a large pot – If you are using a 5 to 7 L crock pot or slow cooker, do not cook on high heat as the chicken becomes dry and stringy. You want your shredded chicken to be moist and delicious.
- Slow cooker heats always vary:The heat and speed of your own slow cooker might vary from one model to the next. Some cook hotter and faster, and so you if you have noticed this in the past, cook your chicken for less time. Do not try to add more liquid to make up for this – that will lead to a bitter, thin sauce.