Dutch oven pulled chicken is juicy, tender, and packed with rich, savory flavors.Jump to Recipe
If you’re looking for an easy but flavorful recipe for chicken thighs, this is it. It’s a simple one pot, dump and go recipe that you can let cook in the oven while you relax. My favorite part of this recipe is the simplicity. You don’t have to have any prior experience in the kitchen to make this crowd pleaser.
Chicken thighs are slow-cooked in a Dutch oven until they’re tender enough to be effortlessly shredded. The chicken is best served on sandwiches, tacos, or served with your favorite side dishes. Any left overs can easily be frozen until later.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Tender and Juicy: Slow-cooking in a Dutch oven allows the chicken to become incredibly tender and remain juicy. You don’t have to worry about dry chicken with this recipe.
Versatility: This pulled chicken recipe can be used in various dishes like sandwiches, tacos, wraps, salads, and more, making it a versatile protein option. You can also meal prep it in a variety of ways.
Effortless Preparation: It's a relatively low-maintenance dish to prepare, with minimal hands-on time, making it perfect for busy schedules. All the ingredients are placed in the Dutch oven then you’re ready to go. This easy dinner recipe is that simple.
Crowd-Pleasing: The rich, savory flavors of Dutch oven pulled chicken are a hit with both adults and children. This portion is also big enough to feed around 6 people making this perfect for big families or small get together.
Freezer-Friendly: Pulled chicken freezes well. If you have leftovers, simply place in the freezer for up to 3 months then thaw before reheating.
One-Pot Wonder: Everything is made in the Dutch oven which makes clean up a breeze. Spend less time cooking and cleaning and more time enjoying the food.
Customizable: You can experiment with different sauces and spices to create unique flavor combinations. Don’t feel like you’re limited to only the ingredients on this list. We will get more into that later.
Healthy Protein: Chicken is a lean source of protein, making Dutch oven pulled chicken a nutritious choice.
Budget-Friendly: Chicken thighs are an affordable protein choice, which helps you save money without skimping on flavor.
Boneless skinless chicken thighs - chicken thighs are one of the most tender and affordable cuts of meat making them a perfect choice for this Dutch oven recipe. You can use bone in thighs and that will also yield delicious tender results. Keep in mind you may spend a little more time shredding the chicken off the bones.
Olive oil - I used extra virgin olive oil because I love the flavor. Any type of cooking oil can be substituted if you don’t have olive oil on hand. We use this to cook the onion and garlic down before baking.
Onion - I used a large yellow onion. White or sweet onion can be substituted.
Garlic - We like a lot of garlic in our home so I used 5 cloves. Fresh garlic is going to give you the best results. Pre-minced will also work but you may notice it has a little bit of an after taste. Garlic powder can be used but you won’t get the same punch in flavor.
Brown sugar - Adds sweetness and makes the sauce more rich. It also works to balance the other flavors in the chicken.
Seasoned salt - I prefer to use seasoned salt in recipes because I feel that it adds so much more flavor. You can use regular salt instead.
Black pepper - To enhance the others flavors in this recipe.
Smoked paprika - For extra smokiness, depth of flavor, and color.
Worcestershire sauce - To add a little bit of tanginess, sweetness, and umami. This takes the chicken to a whole new level. Don't have this on hand? Try using your favorite bbq sauce instead to make a sweet and savory dutch oven bbq chicken.
Whole grain mustard - For a crisp, tart, tangy touch to the sauce.
Chicken broth - The chicken needs a little moisture to cook in and the chicken broth provides just that. You can use water or unsalted chicken broth for a low sodium alternative.
How it’s made
Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2. Place your Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat with olive oil.
Step 3. Add the chopped onions to the dutch oven over medium heat and sauté until they become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
Step 4. Remove the dutch oven from the heat. Add the chicken thighs, brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, Worcestershire, mustard, and chicken broth. Stir to combine.
Step 5. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and fall apart tender. Chicken should have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
Step 6. Place the chicken thighs on a plate and shred chicken using two forks removing any excess fat. Transfer the chicken back to the dutch oven and stir into the sauce.
Optional: Place the dutch oven with the shredded chicken back into the oven and broil on high for 5-10 minutes or until crispy. Before doing this make sure your Dutch oven can withstand temperatures up to 550 degrees.
Tips for The Best Results
Choose the Right Chicken: Thighs are used in this recipe because they tend to be juicier and more flavorful than breasts. Whether you use bone in or boneless is completely up to you.
Customize Flavors: Experiment with additional seasonings and ingredients like chili powder, barbecue sauce, or hot sauce to customize the flavor to your liking.
Rest Before Serving: After shredding, let the pulled chicken sit in the sauce for a few minutes to soak up the flavors.
Add All Chicken Broth: Make sure you don’t forget to add the chicken broth. It is super important that your chicken have liquid to cook in. Otherwise it will be dry and may burn leaving you with a mess to clean up. The liquid should partially submerge the chicken thighs.
Must Try Flavor Variations
Dutch oven pulled chicken thighs are incredibly versatile, and you can experiment with various flavor variations to suit your taste. This may also depend on how you’re serving it. Below are some other flavors you should try!
Buffalo Pulled Chicken: Swap out the mustard for buffalo sauce to give the chicken a spicy sweet kick. Serve it with blue cheese dressing and coleslaw on buns.
Asian-Inspired: Use soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and ginger for an Asian twist. Omit the mustard, Worcestershire, and smoked paprika. Top with sliced scallions and serve in lettuce wraps.
Mango Habanero: Add mango puree and a touch of habanero sauce for a sweet and spicy flavor profile. Omit mustard, Worcestershire and smoked paprika from the chicken dutch oven recipe. Top with sliced jalapeños and fresh cilantro.
Honey Mustard: Swap honey for brown sugar and Dijon mustard for whole grain mustard to give the recipe a sweet and tangy twist. Top with pickles and red onion.
Teriyaki: Use teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, and ginger and omit mustard, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and Worcestershire for a sweet and savory dutch oven chicken. Top with grilled pineapple slices and green onions.
Tex-Mex: Season with taco seasoning, add diced tomatoes with green chilies, and serve with avocado, salsa, and shredded cheese. Omit sugar, Worcestershire, and mustard.
Chipotle Lime: Add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, lime juice, and zest for a smoky and citrusy twist. Top with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Omit, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and mustard.
Cajun Spice: Use Cajun seasoning and diced bell peppers and onions for a flavorful, slightly spicy option. Serve with pickles and a dollop of creole mustard.
Pineapple Sriracha: Combine pineapple juice, Sriracha, with the other ingredients for a sweet and spicy pulled chicken. Top with grilled pineapple rings and cilantro. Omit Worcestershire, mustard, and smoked paprika.
Ways to Serve Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken
This easy dutch oven pulled chicken is incredibly versatile, and there are numerous delicious ways to serve it. Below are some of my favorite ways.
Pulled Chicken Sandwich: Serve the pulled chicken on buns or rolls as a classic pulled chicken sandwich. Add coleslaw, pickles, and your favorite condiments for extra flavor.
Dutch Oven Shredded Chicken Tacos: Fill soft or hard taco shells with shredded chicken, and top them with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and salsa for a tasty taco night.
Burritos or Wraps: Wrap the pulled chicken in large tortillas with rice, beans, guacamole, and your choice of toppings for a hearty burrito or wrap.
Pulled Chicken Sliders: Make mini sandwiches by using slider buns. These are perfect for parties or gatherings.
Over Rice or Quinoa: Serve the pulled chicken over cooked rice or quinoa. Drizzle with extra sauce and garnish with fresh herbs or chopped green onions.
Pasta: Toss the pulled chicken with cooked pasta and a creamy Alfredo or tomato sauce for a comforting pasta dish.
Salads: Top a bed of mixed greens with pulled chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and your choice of salad dressing for a lighter option.
Stuffed Baked Potatoes: Load baked potatoes with pulled chicken, cheese, sour cream, and chives for a hearty meal.
Pulled Chicken Nachos: Pile pulled chicken onto a bed of tortilla chips, add melted cheese, jalapeños, and sour cream for indulgent nachos.
Pulled Chicken Quesadillas: Sandwich pulled chicken and shredded cheese between two tortillas and cook until crispy. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
Chicken Soup: Add pulled chicken to your favorite soup or chili for added protein and flavor.
Pulled Chicken Tostadas: Spread refried beans on tostada shells, top with pulled chicken, lettuce, salsa, and cheese for a crunchy, open-faced taco.
Storage and Reheating
Storing and reheating Dutch oven pulled chicken is easy, and it's a great make-ahead dish.
Allow the dutch oven chicken to cool to room temperature before storing. If you plan to use the chicken within a few days, transfer to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Ensure the chicken is completely covered by the sauce to prevent drying out. The pulled chicken can stay in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For longer term storage, place the chicken in an airtight container or freezer bags. Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn. Store for up to 3 months.
To reheat, you have a few options:
Stovetop: Reheat the oven shredded chicken in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. You may need to add a splash of water or chicken broth to maintain moisture.
Microwave: Place a portion in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lid or damp paper towel, and heat in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until warmed through.
If you froze the pulled chicken, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Once thawed, use the methods above to reheat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is Best Cast Iron Dutch Oven or Regular?
The choice between a cast iron dutch oven and a regular (non-cast iron) dutch oven comes down to personal preference. Neither is better than the other and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Cast iron dutch ovens are incredibly durable, excellent with heat retention and can be used in ovens, grills, stovetops, etc. Over time as they become more seasoned, they also become non-stick.
Regular dutch ovens, made from stainless steel, aluminum, or ceramic, are typically lighter and are easy to handle. They're also less maintence because they're dish washer safe and not as prone to rusting. These dutch ovens heat up quicker than cast iron and are great for heat retention. They're also great slow cooker alternatives.
Can I Make This On The Stove?
Yes, you can absolutely make this on the stove. To do this you’ll simply follow the recipe as written. Instead of placing in the oven, you’ll bring the sauce and chicken to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for around 40-50 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and can be shredded easily.
Can I Use Chicken Breasts?
Using boneless skinless chicken breasts for this recipe can be a bit tricky to keep moist compared to chicken thighs. However, the slow cooking process will help maintain tenderness and flavor. You may need to reduce the cooking time to make sure the chicken breasts don't dry out.
More Delicious Chicken Recipes
Easiest Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place your Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat with olive oil.
- Add the chopped onions to the dutch oven over medium heat and sauté until they become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Remove the dutch oven from the heat. Add the chicken thighs, brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, Worcestershire, mustard, and chicken broth. Stir to combine.
- Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and fall apart tender. Chicken should have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
- Place the chicken thighs on a plate and shred chicken using two forks removing any excess fat. Transfer the chicken back to the dutch oven and stir into the sauce.
- Place the dutch oven with the shredded chicken back into the oven and broil on high for 5-10 minutes or until crispy. Before doing this make sure your Dutch oven can withstand temperatures up to 550 degrees.