You’re going to love these BBQ chicken sandwiches with tangy shredded BBQ chicken and crunchy coleslaw on a toasted bun.
Yesterday I shared my favorite BBQ shredded chicken recipe, and today I’m sharing my very favorite thing to make with that BBQ chicken, BBQ chicken sandwiches.
These sandwiches are pretty much my ideal sandwich. They’re built on a lightly toasted brioche bun with tender smokey sweet shredded chicken and a tangy crunchy coleslaw that brings everything together. Best of all, these sandwiches are super easy and surprisingly fast to make.
No need to break out the BBQ or slow cooker. This BBQ chicken cooks on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes, and most of that cooking time is completely hands-off.
If you’ve made my shredded chicken or stovetop chicken breasts, you’ll recognize the cooking method here. You just lightly brown the chicken breasts and then let them cook in simmering liquid, in this case, a mixture of BBQ sauce, vinegar, and water.
Cooking the chicken this way means it will absorb a ton of flavor from the sauce as it cooks AND cooking the chicken breasts in liquid makes it basically impossible to burn them, so they need very little babysitting.
So while your chicken cooks on the stove, you’re free to prep the rest of your meal, get a head start on dinner clean-up, or take a little you time.
- About 4 small or 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts: This recipe calls for 1½ pounds of chicken. Since chicken breast size varies so wildly, that translates to between 2 and 4 chicken breasts. If using 2 large breasts, you’ll want to cut them down into cutlets before cooking so they cook more quickly in the sauce. I’ve provided instructions for this in the recipe card.
- Coleslaw: You can shred your own cabbage and carrots if you want (here’s how to shred cabbage if you’ve never done it before), but I typically just buy a bag of pre-chopped coleslaw veggies (they’ll be near the other pre-cut veggies and salad mixes in the produce department, not the deli) because it’s cheap and convenient.
- Buns: A nice brioche hamburger bun works well here, but in a pinch, you can use whatever bread you have on hand. Even a couple slices of plain white bread will still make a really good chicken sandwich.
How to Make BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
- Cook the bbq shredded chicken: Lightly brown both sides of your chicken breasts in butter and then simmer them in bbq sauce until they’re cooked through. Shred the chicken, return it to the pan and toss in the sauce to coat.
- Make the coleslaw: While the chicken simmers, stir together all the coleslaw ingredients. Taste and add more sugar/salt/vinegar if needed.
- Toast the buns: Open up the buns and place them on a baking sheet. Toast the buns under your broiler for 1 to 3 minutes until they are lightly toasted. Don’t walk away from your buns while they’re under the broiler as they can burn in a matter of seconds when left unattended.
- Assemble the sandwiches: Top the toasted buns with mayonnaise, shredded chicken, and coleslaw. Serve and enjoy!
More Sandwich Toppings
Switch up your sandwiches and try adding…
- Cheddar cheese
- A slice of pineapple
- Red onions
Recipe Notes, Tips, & Tricks
- The crunchy texture and slightly sweet, bright flavor of the slaw really complements the BBQ chicken, but if you’re not a fan of coleslaw, you can skip it.
Can these sandwiches be made ahead of time?
I don’t recommend assembling the sandwiches ahead of time since the bread will begin to get soggy, but you can make the barbecue chicken and coleslaw up to 48 hours in advance. When you’re ready to serve the sandwiches, simply reheat the chicken and assemble the sandwiches according to the recipe.
What can I do with leftover BBQ shredded chicken?
This recipe makes enough chicken for about 6 sandwiches. If you have leftover chicken and you don’t want to use it in more sandwiches, you can use it to make a salad, a small batch of BBQ chicken nachos, or depending on how much you have left, a BBQ chicken pizza (if you only have a little left, you can still use it to make a smaller naan pizza).
Can I freeze these sandwiches?
Don’t freeze assembled sandwiches but the BBQ chicken and buns can be frozen separately. Transfer the chicken to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Buns can be double wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.
Defrost the chicken in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Frozen buns can go directly into a 400°F oven. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes until heated through and lightly toasted and then assemble the sandwiches. I do not recommend trying to freeze the coleslaw.
What to serve with chicken sandwiches?
Serve your sandwiches with a side of kettle chips, homemade fries, smashed potatoes, or maybe some macaroni salad (my fave), and a simple veggie like:
More Easy Chicken Recipes
BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
BBQ Shredded Chicken
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar *
- ¼ cup water
- 1½ to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts about 4 small or 2 large*
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons (42g) butter salted or unsalted is fine
- 3 cups pre-shredded bagged coleslaw mix or 2½ cups shredded cabbage and ½ cup grated carrots
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- Salt and pepper
- 6 hamburger buns
- 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
BBQ Shredded Chicken
- In a medium bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, and water. Set aside.
- Pat chicken breasts dry and lightly salt and pepper both sides. Heat a large skillet with a lid over medium-high heat and melt butter.
- Add chicken breasts to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Flip the chicken breasts and pour barbecue sauce mixture over the top.
- Bring sauce to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low, keeping the sauce at just a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the chicken, re-cover, and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 165°F, usually around 3 to 6 minutes more.
- While the chicken simmers, in a medium bowl, stir together all the coleslaw ingredients. Taste and add more sugar/salt/vinegar if needed.
Finish Chicken and Assemble Sandwiches
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Allow the sauce to continue simmering uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.
- Shred chicken breasts and return shredded chicken to the pan of sauce. Stir until well-coated.
- Turn your broiler on high. Open up the buns and place them on a baking sheet. Toast the buns under your broiler for 1 to 3 minutes until they are heated through and lightly toasted. Don’t walk away from your buns while they’re under the broiler as they can burn very quickly.
- Top the toasted buns with mayonnaise, shredded chicken, and coleslaw. Serve and enjoy!
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