North Carolina BBQ-Style Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

If you want to try making something different than the classic pulled pork sandwich, try making this recipe using chicken thighs and a tangy North Carolina-style BBQ sauce.

North Carolina BBQ-Style Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

If you want to try making something different than the classic pulled pork sandwich, try making this recipe using chicken thighs and a tangy North Carolina-style BBQ sauce.


For the North Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce:

  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp hot sauce of choice (Texas Pete is fairly popular in NC)
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or more to taste)

For the Pulled Chicken:

  • 8 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup of BBQ sauce (you made earlier)

For the Honey-Mustard Slaw (optional):

  • ½ head red cabbage (finely shredded)
  • ½ cup carrots (grated or cut finely)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 scallions (finely sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 3 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • ½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp celery seeds
  • ½ tsp poppy seeds

For the Additional Sandwich Components:

  • 6 large potato burger buns (or brioche buns)
  • 6 Tbsp softened salted butter
  • 1 cup dill pickle chips (for serving)


  • For the North Carolina-style BBQ sauce, combine apple cider vinegar and brown sugar in a medium-sized sauce pot and whisk the ingredients together.
  • Bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat to low
  • Add remaining sauce ingredients (ketchup, hot sauce, cayenne, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, freshly-ground black pepper, and kosher salt.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat.
  • Taste and adjust for seasoning level.
  • Cool BBQ sauce down in fridge and reserve for later. *Note, the sauce is not meant to be very thick.
  • For the Pulled Chicken, season the outsides of the boneless chicken thighs with salt.
  • Pour 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil into a very hot pan and wait until the oil is nearly smoking.
  • Sear the chicken thighs quickly in the hot oil for 2 minutes per side
  • Until you develop a gentle golden color on the exterior.
  • Remove from heat and allow the chicken and oil to cool down for a minute.
  • Carefully add the chicken stock and scrape to deglaze the pan.
  • Increase the heat until the liquid is just below a simmer and barely covering the chicken thighs.
  • If needed, add a bit more chicken stock to barely cover the chicken.
  • Add a lid or cover with aluminum foil
  • cook on the lowest heat possible for 90-120 minutes
  • Until your chicken is completely tender and easily shredded with two forks.
  • When the chicken is completely tender, turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool down in the liquid it cooked in.
  • When the chicken has cooled down, remove from the liquid and place into a bowl and shred into small strands using two forks or your clean hands.
  • Combine the shredded chicken with the BBQ sauce and cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  • To make the honey mustard slaw, prepare the cabbage and grated carrots in a bowl and season the vegetables with salt.
  • Combine the scallions with the lemon juice, mayonnaise, honey, whole grain mustard, yellow mustard, freshly-ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, celery seed, and poppy seeds.
  • Taste the slaw dressing mixture and add salt if needed.
  • Drain the salted vegetables and combine with the slaw dressing until thoroughly mixed.
  • Set aside for sandwich assembly later.
  • When you are ready to make your sandwiches, butter your buns with softened salted butter
  • Toast them in the oven to golden brown.
  • Heat up some BBQ sauce in a small stove pot until hot.
  • Add your warm BBQ pulled chicken to your bun.
  • Top with your desired quantity of dill pickle chips
  • Pour on some more hot BBQ sauce.
  • Finish with the honey mustard slaw on top, if desired. Or serve it on the side.
  • Enjoy warm.


Any leftover pulled chicken can be saved in the fridge and reheated in some BBQ sauce the following day.
Use the leftover BBQ sauce will any grilled meats, such as ribs, chicken, or brisket.
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