Barbecued Pulled Chicken

With the barbecuing days beginning to come to their seasonal end, I wanted a quicker, but still flavorful, barbecue. Chicken fits the bill perfectly. But obviously, the chicken will cook much to fast to make a 3-hour BBQ sauce. To accommodate the quicker pace, the onions are pureed in the food processor rather than slowly cooking them down. Also leg quarters are used because they are so much more moist and flavorful compared to breasts. Leaving the skin on during cooking also helped prevent them from drying out.

Not as flavorful as beef or pork, but ready in just 2-1/2 hours.

With Chicken Leg Quarters on sale for 59-cents per pound, I bought 8-1/2 pounds of chicken for less than $5. Unfortunately, 3-1/2 pounds were backbones and packaging, and another 2-1/2 pounds were the discard leg/thigh bones. By the time the recipe was completed, I was left with only 2-1/2 pounds of shredded chicken.

The complete recipe is here. Soak wood chunks in water, then start an almost-full chimney starter of charcoal. Meanwhile remove the backbone and season with salt and pepper. Put a disposable aluminum pan underneath the middle section of the grill, and divide the coals evenly on both sides of pan. Put chicken legs skin side up over the center roasting pan. Close bottom vent half way, and top vent 3/4 closed, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Rotate each leg (without flipping) and cook for another 40 minutes until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 185-degrees. Let cool for 20 minutes. Remove skin and shred, using two forks.

For the sauce, put 1 quartered onion with 1/4 cup of water in food processor for 30 seconds. Pass mixture through a strainer into a large bowl. Add 1-1/2 cups ketchup, 1-1/2 cups apple cider, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup of molasses, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 3 tablespoons cider vinegar.  Saute 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder and 1/2 teaspoons cayenne for 30 seconds. Add onion/ketchup mixture and cook for 20 minutes. Remove 1 cup of sauce for topping, add chicken and heat. Serve on hamburger buns and top with more sauce,


  1. After shredding the chicken, I didn’t like the texture obtained by using the food processor on half the chicken. It left it too pasty. Next time I’m doing it all by hand.
  2. The recipe says to mix the chicken with about 3 cups of sauce, but it was still very dry. Next time I will mix with 3 cups of sauce, and reserve only 1 cup for topping.
  3. The chicken near the edge didn’t cook evenly, requiring an extra 8 extra minutes.
  4. I thought that I would have tons of chicken, but only ended up with 2-1/2 pounds.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $7. (including BBQ sauce)
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Started: 5:00 PM.  Ready:  7:30 PM.


5 Responses to Barbecued Pulled Chicken

  1. lorri says:

    I can’t even remember the last time I purchased chicken breast. For years I’ve preferred dark meat. How would you describe the flavor of the sauce? Tangy? I am thinking tangy-spicy with a hint of sweet from the molasses. That sounds good. What does your palate say?

    • Hi,

      The sauce was well-balanced. Yes, tangy, and with lots of character. Not too sweet (I hate overly sweet BBQ sauce), not too thin. No noticeable heat, which surprised me a little (perhaps because I only had Frank’s Sauce and not Tabasco.) Not too much vinegar either.

      It reheated nicely too. I spent all Sunday at the Bronx Zoo, and within minutes of arriving home I had a great re-heated meal.


  2. lorri says:

    Sounds good – I shall try it!

  3. Kelly says:

    That does sound good. One to add to the list of “to try” recipes.

    If you get a chance, try the Memphis-Style Barbecued Ribs. Seriously the best ribs I’ve ever had. It’s a dry rib and full of flavor. I have a few pictures posted on my blog.

    I’ve been so pleased since I started cooking from the CI, ATK, and CC books and magazines. Every recipe turns out fantastic. I hesitate to even use my other cookbooks now.

    • Hi Kelly,

      The Memphis Ribs do look delicious. I added them to my summer recipes (Yikes; summer ends in 2 days!) Actually, I can still slow-cook for at least another month, before it gets too cold.

      I have been cooking the Kansas City Sticky Ribs for a few years now. But I’ve been also wanting a non-sticky alternative.


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