Amazing Pulled Chicken Sandwiches tossed with a glorious barbecue sauce made with root beer and molasses are sure to delight friends and family this summer! Chicken thighs are generously seasoned with a simple 4 ingredient rub recipe, grilled, and then tossed with an easy from-scratch barbecue sauce that will have you licking your fingers in delight. Enjoy!
This post is sponsored by Walmart and SheKnows Media.
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
We’re about 2 weeks into summer vacation and I’m already wishing it could last forever. There is just something incredibly magical about lazy days, eating ice cream at will, and grilling almost every night of the week. The first two my kids have covered… I’m in charge of the third.
Happily so, I might add. Except for days when the temperature soars past 100, I’m excited to do much of my cooking outdoors. I get to play in my garden while dinner is cooking and life just seems simple and easy in those moments.
This past week I had a craving for some pulled chicken sandwiches and took a cue from my ever popular Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches and incorporated some root beer into the barbecue sauce. Delish you guys! It adds great flavor and sweetness which I enhanced with just a touch of molasses.
Before heading outdoors to fire up the grill, I pulled together a quick 4 ingredient rub that is wonderful on chicken. It’s a combination of paprika, cumin, garlic powder and salt. Simple enough and yet it really does an amazing job of seasoning the chicken. I picked up all those spices (and lots more!) at Walmart.
They carry over a dozen Great Value spices that are wonderful, high quality spices for just 98 cents – I mean, come ON! Such a deal and as much as we grill during the summer, an absolute must for my spice cabinet. So many great spices that are perfect for grilling, cooking, baking, and seasoning. Kosher too!
A quick drizzle of olive oil really helps the rub adhere to the chicken. You can apply the chicken rub up to 24 hours in advance.
For these pulled chicken sandwiches I opted for chicken thighs but, if you prefer, chicken breasts can also be used. While the grill was heating up and the rub was flavoring my chicken, I made an incredible barbecue sauce to toss the pulled chicken in.
It starts with sautéing onions in some olive oil, as all good barbecue sauce recipes do. Once the onions are nice and soft, I tossed in some more Great Value spices: chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Along with the aforementioned barbecue sauce and molasses, I used ketchup to give the barbecue sauce some body and even more flavor. Let the sauce simmer for awhile for better flavor. (Note: the barbecue sauce only gets better with time. Feel free to make in advance, up to 3 days, and keep refrigerated until needed.)
Grill the chicken, pull apart and then toss with the barbecue sauce. Simple.
I grabbed some Kaiser rolls from my Walmart’s bakery section and lightly toasted them on the grill before piling high that saucy pulled chicken. Toasting the buns helps keep them from absorbing too much of the moisture. Not a deal breaker but a good idea if you happen to think of it.
This recipe is great for a crowd as it can easily be doubled or triple to feed a small army. I also love that the rub and barbecue sauce can be prepared ahead of time. Definitely a summer staple and already on the menu for the 4th of July!
Tips for the Best Pulled Chicken
- I love using chicken thighs because they just have so much more flavor and don’t dry out quickly like chicken breasts can do.
- It’s all about the layers of flavor here. I start with the chicken rub and that creates a base flavor. Grilling adds even more flavor and then that root beer bbq sauce – yassss!
- I let my chicken cool for a few minutes before pulling. It makes it a little easier and if you prefer to pull by hand instead of with two forks, you definitely will want it to be cool enough to handle.
- If you are short on time, both the rub and bbq sauce can be made ahead of time. In fact, I recommend it 🙂
Let me know if you give it a try and what you think in the comments below OR tag me on social media if you take pics – I’d love to see what you’re making!
PULLED CHICKEN SANDWICHES WITH ROOT BEER BBQ SAUCE
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Dry Rub for Chicken
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Root Beer BBQ Sauce
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup root beer
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 8 rolls or buns
- coleslaw, optional
- Heat grill to 400F or thereabouts.
- Combine the ingredients for the rub.
- Drizzle chicken with olive oil and generously season both sides with the rub. Chill until ready to grill.
Root Beer BBQ Sauce
- Heat olive oil in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent.
- Stir in chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
- Pour in root beer and stir to combine.Stir in ketchup, lemon juice and molasses.
- Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
- Place chicken on the prepared grill and grill over direct heat until cooked through, flipping once or twice. Keep the lid closed while grilling. Juices should run clear when done.
- Let chicken cool for a few minutes and then shred the chicken. Add the pulled chicken the barbecue sauce and stir to combine.
- Top toasted buns with chicken mixture and coleslaw if you like.
More chicken favorites:
Have a great day!
Disclosure: This recipe is sponsored by Walmart and SheKnows Media. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Mom On Timeout possible!