A family friendly and easy slow cooker meal, Slow Cooker Pumpkin BBQ Pulled Chicken is full of tender white meat and sweet onions in a sweet and smoky pumpkin-y barbecue sauce. This recipe can help increase your family’s fruit & veggie intake and is a great way to use up leftover pumpkin puree!
Pumpkin season is almost upon us!
To be honest, you can find canned pumpkin in my pantry all year round. I keep it on hand for baking, feeding to my toddler, and for giving to my dog whenever he’s got an upset stomach.
Wasting food is such a pet peeve of mine and yet I’m 100% guilty of letting leftover pumpkin puree go bad.
Somehow, I always forget when there’s leftover pumpkin puree in my fridge and then something funky grows on it before I remember it’s in there and then I kick myself for wasting it when I easily could have added pumpkin to a breakfast smoothie or bowl of oatmeal.
But I’m getting better! This pulled bbq chicken recipe was born from spying a container of leftover pumpkin puree in my fridge.
I set out to make plain old bbq pulled chicken in my slow cooker, decided to add the leftover pumpkin puree to the bbq sauce, and it turned out surprisingly good (read: my family happily ate it)!
Why Try Adding Pumpkin Puree to BBQ Pulled Chicken
Pumpkin + bbq sauce + chicken?
Yes, yes, and yes.
If you’re over all the sweet pumpkin recipes this time of year and want a new, savory way to enjoy pumpkin puree, this recipe is for you.
Before you knock it, I promise you can barely even tell there’s pumpkin in this recipe. All the pumpkin kind of just melts into the bbq sauce and mellows everything out.
You know what that means? This is a GREAT way to “hide” produce from picky eaters in your life, whether they’re your kids or a veggie-avoidant partner.
Plus, it’s an extra easy way to get some squash in everyone’s bellies since there’s no chopping or any prep work required.
How to Make Slow Cooker Pumpkin BBQ Pulled Chicken
This is a true “set it and forget it” kind of recipe!
Besides chopping a couple of onions and garlic cloves, all you have to do is dump a few pantry staples in your slow cooker and walk away.
Psst…I know there are lots of digital slow cookers with all sorts of cooking presets, but I have this classic manual model that I love!
I used a bottle of Primal Kitchens Classic BBQ Sauce, which I prefer because it doesn’t contain a ton of added sugar like lots of premade bbq sauces.
Bottled BBQ sauce is notorious for having loads of sugar added to it and I don’t want my bbq super sweet, but you go as sweet or spicy or smoky as you want.
I cook my chicken on high for 3 to 4 hours, but you could also do it on low for 6 to 8 hours if you’re going to be away from home.
When the cook time is up, you just have to shred the meat, then stir the shredded chicken into the pumpkin-y, onion-y, yummy bbq sauce and it’s ready to serve.
Make It A Meal
Here are my family’s two favorite ways to use this chicken.
Serve the pumpkin bbq pulled chicken over a scoop of homemade mashed potatoes with a green veggie on the side.
Make bbq chicken sandwiches! Top a scoop of the chicken with lettuce, pickles, and cole slaw or cabbage slaw on your favorite bun.
Serving Suggestions for Kids
I’ve become even more passionate about family meals since becoming a mom last year.
My goal was always to have my son, Beau, eating and enjoying the same foods as everyone else at the table as soon as possible. I modify and “deconstruct” everything we eat on divided plates so we’re all sitting down to the same meal.
Here’s how I serve the above two meals toddler-style to my almost one-and-a-half year old.
This one’s pretty easy. My son gets a scoop of shredded chicken, a scoop of mashed potatoes, and a tender cooked veggie cut into appropriate bite size pieces. Depending on age and skill, you can shred the chicken super fine or even puree it for younger children.
Sometimes Beau wants nothing to do with meat, so I’ll tuck a bit of meat into a bite of potato on a utensil and let him have at it. It works 90% of the time!
And here we have deconstructed bbq chicken sandwiches! A scoop of chicken, some finely sliced pickles, and strips (or small cubes) of a toasted bun.
I’d probably serve some fruit on the side for him, too.
As always, these toddler meals are ideas and suggestions. This is what works for my family and is not intended as pediatric feeding or nutrition advice. You know your child best! Speak with your healthcare provider if you have specific questions regarding baby and toddler feeding.
To scale this recipe up for a bigger batch to feed more people or freeze for another day, simply double all of the ingredients.
I haven’t tried slow-cooking a beef or pork roast with this sauce yet, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. If you try this recipe with another protein, let me know how it turns out!
More Pumpkin Recipes to Try
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make it, please leave a comment so I know how you liked it!
Slow Cooker Pumpkin BBQ ChickenCourse: Main Dish, Meat & Poultry, Slow Cooker
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup bbq sauce
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
- Season chicken breasts with a pinch of salt and set aside.
- Place onions, garlic, pumpkin, bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, and black pepper in your slow cooker. Stir everything together.
- Place the chicken breasts on top of the pumpkin bbq sauce mixture. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- Turn your slow cooker off and transfer the chicken breasts to a large bowl. Use two forks or a handheld mixer with beaters attached to shred the chicken. Put the shredded chicken back into the crockpot and stir it up with the sauce.