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Tender, fall-apart chicken with a warm, spiced applesauce barbecue sauce and crispy apple cabbage slaw on soft pretzel buns make these Slow Cooker Applesauce Pulled Chicken Sandwiches THE sandwich for fall!

An image of a pulled chicken sandwich made in the slow cooker with a pretzel bun, apple barbecue sauce, and an apple cabbage slaw.

I have a serious love of apple season. We go apple picking almost every year and I always try to introduce apples to savory dishes rather than just using them for baking. Like my creamy apple cider chicken skillet and sauerkraut and sausages with apples.

These applesauce pulled chicken sandwiches are another fantastic savory recipe that highlights my favorite flavor of this season! And I love that they are made in the slow cooker, which is a huge help on busy nights!

An image of a slow cooker applesauce pulled chicken sandwich with apple cabbage slaw piled on top.

Freaky Friday Fall Edition

I’m happy to be participating in Freaky Friday again with some of my blogging friends! For anyone new here, it’s where we are secretly assigned someone else’s blog, then we recreate one of their recipes to share on our own blogs. 

These pulled chicken sandwiches come from one of my favorite blogging friends, Erin, from the blog The Speckled Palate. I know Erin in real life and she is the loveliest, coolest person you can imagine. And her recipes are amazing! I seriously drool over her Sauerkraut Burgers with oven fried pickles and sweet sriracha sauce, her bourbon maple bacon cupcakes, and her praline pumpkin upside down cake (which I almost made for this post)!

Also, can I just say how much I love her mocktails & non-alcoholic drinks category? Seriously, she is the queen of entertaining and has so many great appetizers and entertaining tips for busy families.

I knew as soon as I saw them that I just had to make Erin’s shredded applesauce chicken sliders. I’ve been in a slow cooker rut recently and loved the sound of chicken cooked in applesauce then piled on buns with a fantastic homemade slaw! It’s perfect for the fall season and our busy schedule right now!

An image of shredded chicken on a bun with an apple barbecue sauce on top.

I went a tiny bit rogue and used Erin’s apple cabbage slaw recipe from her apple cider pulled pork instead of the brussels sprouts apple slaw she originally paired with this shredded chicken. They were similar, but I had cabbage that needed to be used up and I also wanted to include the jalapeno in the slaw because I love me some jalapeno! I’m sure she will approve.

Also, I went full sandwich-size rather than the slider approach. I fully intended to make sliders, but these pretzel buns were too delicious to resist when I saw them in the store. 

What does pulled chicken mean?

Pulled chicken is just a way of describing chicken that has been cooked to the point of being so tender that it easily shreds apart when pulled with fingers or forks.

If you are doubling or tripling the recipe for a crowd and have a lot of chicken to pull, you can speed up the process by placing the cooked chicken breasts in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mixing on low speed for 30 seconds until it shreds apart.

Is chicken easier to shred hot or cold?

If you are pulling your chicken by hand, you might be tempted to wait for it to cool down. But chicken shreds much more easily when it is still hot.

How to Make Slow Cooker Applesauce Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

  1. Combine applesauce, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, dijon mustard, hot sauce, garlic powder, cinnamon, and salt in the slow cooker. Give it a stir, then nestle four chicken breasts down in the sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours until the chicken is pull-apart tender. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate or bowl and shred using a fork.
  2. Pour the juices from the crock pot into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.
  3. In a small bowl, make a slurry out of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a few tablespoons of the sauce, then add this to the sauce on the stove, stirring it in and decreasing the heat to medium or medium-low and letting the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes until it has thickened to barbecue sauce consistency. Remove from the heat and transfer the sauce to a mason jar.
  4. While the meat cooks, make the apple cabbage slaw by thinly shredding the cabbage and apples with a very sharp knife or mandolin. Mix the cabbage and apples with some finely chopped jalapeno and the dressing ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Cut pretzel rolls or slider buns in half, then butter and toast on a griddle, if desired. Top with the shredded chicken, a generous amount of the delicious apple-spiced barbecue sauce, and a heaping mound of apple cabbage slaw.
  6. Enjoy!

A collage of images showing steps for how to make slow cooker applesauce pulled chicken sandwiches. An image of a pulled chicken sandwich on a pretzel bun with apple cabbage slaw.

More Slow Cooker Recipes For Busy Nights

Slow Cooker Applesauce Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Yield: 8 sandwiches

Slow Cooker Applesauce Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Tender, fall-apart chicken with a warm, spiced applesauce barbecue sauce and crispy apple cabbage slaw on soft pretzel buns make these Slow Cooker Applesauce Pulled Chicken Sandwiches THE sandwich for fall!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 8 pretzel rolls

Slaw

  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped with seeds, stem, and membrane removed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Instructions

  1. Combine the applesauce, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, garlic powder, cinnamon, and salt in the base of a crock pot. Whisk together.
  2. Add the chicken into the sauce. Cover with a lid and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours until the chicken is tender enough to be easily shredded.
  3. When the chicken is done, transfer it to a plate and shred with a fork. Set aside.
  4. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce from the slow cooker to a small bowl, then pour the remaining sauce into a medium saucepan and set over high heat. Whisk the cornstarch into the reserved sauce to create a slurry, then stir it into the sauce in the saucepan.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat.
  6. While the chicken cooks, prepare the slaw by using a mandolin or very sharp knife to shred the cabbage into fine, thin pieces.
  7. Slice the apples into long, thin pieces using a mandolin or very sharp knife so it is about the same size as the cabbage. Add the cabbage, apples, and diced jalapeno to a large bowl.
  8. In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice, Greek yogurt, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper, and celery seed together. Pour over the cabbage and apple mixture and toss until everything is well coated.
  9. To assemble the sandwiches, I like to toast the buns for by buttering them lightly and cooking them on a griddle for a few minutes, but it's not totally necessary. Top the bottom bun with shredded chicken, some of the applesauce BBQ sauce, a big scoop of slaw and finish with the top bun!

Notes

NOTE: You can make this up to 2 days in advance and just store the shredded chicken and sauce in the fridge. Reheat and assemble sandwiches before serving.

Recipe from The Speckled Palate.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 335 Total Fat: 4g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 52mg Sodium: 878mg Carbohydrates: 51g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 19g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 25g

HAVE YOU TRIED THIS RECIPE?

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Take a look at all of our Fall 2019 Freaky Friday Recipes:

  1. An Affair from the Heart – Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup
  2. A Grande Life – Easy Beer Cheddar Dip
  3. Aunt Bee’s Recipes –  Three Cheese Roast Beef Sliders
  4. Bowl Me Over –  Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter Recipe
  5. Healing Tomato –  Stuffed Acorn Squash
  6. Hostess at Heart – Caramel Apple Pie Snack Mix
  7. House of Nash Eats – Slow Cooker Applesauce Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
  8. LeMoine Family Kitchen –  White Cheddar Broccoli Stuffed Baked Potatoes
  9. Lemon Blossoms – Maple Oven Roasted Carrots
  10. Life, Love & Good Food – Pasta Fagioli Soup Recipe
  11. Mildly Meandering – Saffron Rice
  12. Soulfully Made – Salted Dark Chocolate Orange Cookies
  13. Take Two Tapas – Margarita Pizza Pull Apart Bread
  14. The Speckled Palate – Halloween Peanut Butter Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
  15. West Via Midwest – Easy Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings
  16. Who Needs a Cape? –  Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade