Friday, January 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken (or pork) Lettuce Wraps Recipe with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce is delicious inside lettuce cups or on a sandwich, and my nephew Mitchell loved this inside a quesadilla with some melted cheese.

(Today's pick for the month of  Daily Phase One Recipes is these Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce.  You can make this with pork if you prefer, but be sure to use low-sugar ketchup and an approved sweetener for Phase One.  You can see all the recipes from the month by clicking Daily Phase One Recipes.  Check after the recipe for Phase One Flashbacks from this day in 2012 and 2013.)

I do have a wonderful recipe for Slow Cooker Sriracha-Pineapple Barbecued Chicken on the blog, but I came up with this recipe when I had some of my favorite kids staying at my house and I wanted a barbecued chicken recipe that was less spicy and more kid-friendly.  This Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce uses the same flavorful sauce as my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (and you can certainly make these lettuce wraps with pulled pork if you prefer.)  I did notice that the chicken cooks much faster, and soaks up the sauce a bit more than the pork.  I loved this inside a lettuce wrap, but when the kids were here we used it to make some Quesadillas, which my nephew Mitch gobbled up for lunch one day.

The low-sugar barbecue sauce I made has this reduced sugar ketchup, which contains Splenda, and I realize that's something some of you may not want to use in a kid-friendly recipe.  If that's the case, look for the new "no high fructose corn syrup" ketchup, which will still be lower in sugar than regular ketchup.  I sweetened my sauce with Stevia in the Raw granulated sweetener, but next time I'm going to try all-natural Swerve Sweetener, which I've been experimenting with lately. 

I used four boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 2 1/2 pounds in weight after trimming.  Cut each one down the middle lengthwise so it's easier to pull apart.

Mix together the low-sugar ketchup, tomato paste, sweetener of your choice, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard, green Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Liquid Smoke to make the barbecue sauce.

Spray the slow cooker with olive oil or nonstick spray.  Put chicken in a single layer as much as you can and cover with the sauce.  Cook on high for 1 hour and then on low for 2-3 hours more.

Here's how my chicken looked when I was ready to shred it apart.

Put the chicken on a cutting board and let it cool while you start the sauce simmering.

Put the sauce in a large frying pan and simmer over medium heat until the sauce is reduced by half, about 6-8 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, shred the chicken apart with two forks.

This is the sauce after it had been reduced.

Mix the shredded chicken with the sauce (and heat for a minute or two if needed.)

For lettuce wraps I made my "Easy Guacamole" and sliced up some green onions for garnish.

You can use any lettuce you prefer, but I did like the crunch of the iceberg lettuce with this.  Cut the core out of a head of lettuce.

I used two pieces of lettuce for each one so there would be a generous amount of lettuce to wrap around the saucy chicken.

I added a generous dollop of guacamole to each lettuce wrap and finished with a sprinkle of green onions.

Or if you prefer, use the barbecued chicken to make these simple Quesadillas that my nephew Mitch liked so much.  Just heat a flour tortilla in an oiled pan, add a few tablespoons of chicken and spread it across the tortilla, sprinkle on a generous amount of grated low-fat mozzarella, cover with another tortilla, and cook about 3-4 minutes.  Turn carefully and cook 3-4 minutes on the other side and eat.

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken (or pork) Lettuce Wraps with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce
(Makes about 8 lettuce wraps; the chicken can also be used for barbecued chicken sandwiches or Quesadillas.  Recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce and Slow Cooker Sriracha-Pineapple Barbecue Chicken.)

I used my Crock-Pot 3-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker for this recipe.  It freezes well, so if you have a 6 quart slow cooker you might want to double the recipe and make some for the freezer.

Barbecued Chicken Ingredients:
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 1/2 pounds total weight)
1/2 cup reduced-sugar ketchup (check the label and get the lowest-sugar ketchup you can find if you don't want one with artificial sweetener)
2 T tomato paste
1/4 cup Splenda, Stevia in the Raw granulated sweetener, or sugar
(Use Splenda or Stevia for South Beach Diet)
2 T brown sugar (or use more Stevia in the Raw granulated sweetener if you're making this for SBD)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mustard (plain yellow mustard, not anything fancy)
2 tsp. green Tabasco sauce (optional; this was not spicy)
1 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke (optional, but recommended)

(You can make the lettuce wraps with Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce if you prefer.)

Lettuce Wrap Ingredients:
2 large heads Iceberg lettuce (or other lettuce of your choice)
2 avocados
1 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1/2 tsp. Vege-Sal (or slightly less regular salt)
2-3 green onions, sliced

Trim visible fat and any membranes from chicken breasts, then cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise.  Stir together the low-sugar ketchup, tomato paste, sweetener of your choice, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard, green Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Liquid Smoke to make the barbecue sauce.

Spray the slow cooker with olive oil or nonstick spray and layer the chicken in a single layer as much as possible.  Pour over the sauce, so all the chicken is covered.  Cook on high for one hour; then turn to low and cook 2-3 hours more.  (Or just cook a little longer on low if you're not going to be home to switch the slow cooker setting.)

When the chicken is done, remove it to a cutting board to cool enough to handle.  Put the sauce in a large frying pan and simmer over medium heat until it's reduced by half, about 6-8 minutes.  Use two forks to shred the chicken apart.  When the sauce is reduced by half, put the chicken in the frying pan and stir to coat with sauce.  You can heat the chicken in the pan for a few minutes if needed.

To make lettuce wraps, combine the avocado, lime juice, chile powder and Vege-sal (or salt) to make the Easy Guacamole, and slice the green onions.  Cut out the core of the lettuce with a sharp knife; then peel off two lettuce leaves together to make a "cup" to hold the barbecued chicken.  Fill each lettuce "cup" with desired amount of the chicken mixture, top with guacamole and sliced green onions, and devour!

This chicken freezes well.  For best results, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator; then heat in a pan on the stove, with a tiny bit of water added if it seems dry.

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South Beach Suggestions:
If you're making this for the South Beach Diet, it's important to use the low-sugar ketchup and use all sweetener (no brown sugar) for phase one.  Obviously, the quesadillas are not Phase One.

Phase One Flashbacks:
January 24, 2012:  Canned Tuna and Tomato Salad with Sunflower Seeds
January 24, 2013:  Grain-Free Meatloaf with Tomatoes, Fennel, and Flax Seed

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Barbecue in the Slow Cooker:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Melts ~ Aggie's Kitchen
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Slow Cooker Teriyaki Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches ~ Taste and Tell
Slow Cooker Sriracha-Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Gates Style ~ Bake Your Day
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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  1. I always feel like bbq sauces are a bit too sweet so I'll have to try this!

  2. I love the giant lettuce cups (and I'm a huge fan of iceberg lettuce), but I think my grandkids would like those quesadillas a lot. Another great slow cooker dish!

  3. Joanne, I was never a fan of bottled barbecue sauce, for that very reason!

    Lydia, Mitch gobbled up the quesadilla but I doubt he would have eaten the lettuce wrap. And Ethan (the older one) said, "Now you can say on your blog that it's kid approved!"

  4. I've been using the slow cooker so much this summer since it's been so hot. I need some new inspiration as I'm making the same things over and over. This chicken could be used for so many things! Thanks for getting my brain turning!

  5. Thanks Kelly. (I'm thinking barbecued chicken tacos for Taco Tuesday!)

  6. Love those lettuce wraps! It's a great idea to serve chicken in them! Looks definitely perfect for summer!

  7. Thanks Zerrin. Glad you like it!

  8. The recipe says Tomato Sauce, but the directions say Tomato Paste. Which one is right, or does either work?

    Also, if I'm feeling lazy (which is likely :) and not worried about dieting, do the same instructions apply if I use bottled barbecue sauce? About how much does the sauce recipe make?

  9. Good catch, it should be tomato paste but I think sauce would work too. There's about 1 1/2 cups of the barbecue sauce, which is thickened and then reduced after it's cooked in the slow cooker. I really don't know how this will work with bottled sauce; I wonder if the sugar will burn in the slow cooker.


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