This slow-cooker spicy chicken is inspired by the American concept of Buffalo Chicken. It brings together the flavours of hot chilli sauce, a good touch of acidity from apple cider vinegar and the richness of butter.
Rather than making it with deep-fried wings, we’re doing this with skinless boneless chicken, either breasts or thighs will work well. The juicy flavourful chicken is then shredded and can be used in dozens of different ways.
It’s an ideal recipe for those who like to meal prep meals to speed things up during the week. It can be enjoyed cold with a salad or in a nourish bowl, hot in slider buns, as a casserole, with nacho chips, in burritos or over rice.
Making spicy chicken in the slow cooker
The preparation for this one is super quick because there is no need to sear and caramelise the meat first before adding it to the pan. I rinse the chicken and pat it dry then trim off any fat or skin that remains before layering it as evenly as possible in the base of the slow cooker insert.
The chicken is then topped with the finely chopped onion.
Mix the rest of the sauce ingredients well in a small jug then pour on top of the chicken mix. Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter on top. The sauce at this stage is quite thick and may sit on top rather than flowing down around the chicken. Don’t worry. Once the low slow heat starts it will all meld together and the flavours infuse forming a sauce as it cooks.
Turn the slow cooker onto low and let it do its magic. You really should avoid disturbing the pot too much once it gets started but I never seem to resist completely.
An odd stir once it is underway to let the sauce flow around and between the chicken pieces won’t hurt but try to resist. The heat is low and the steam that builds up is necessary for the cooking process. It will make the meat ‘fall apart tender’ by the time it is done.
When the chicken is fully cooked and tender, scrape off the sauce and remove it to a cutting board. Using 2 forks pull the chicken apart to shred it.
Take the residual spicy sauce from the slow cooker pan into a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes until reduced and thickened. If you want a thicker sauce you can add a slurry made of 1 part cornflour or potato starch to 2 parts cold water. Add around 1 tablespoon for each cup of liquid in the pot.
We use cornflour or potato starch for this rather than flour because they are pure starches, they won’t make your sauce go cloudy or milky and withstand more heat and cooking before they break down. Flour contains proteins and other components which change the ratios and make it behave less predictably for thickening.
Mix the sauce back through the shredded meat or store it separately and incorporate at serving time.
How to use slow cooker spicy chicken
There are many ways to use this juicy spicy chicken, a few of our favourites are:
- Wrap chicken and coleslaw in burrito wraps, top with grated cheese and grill until cheese is melted and burritos heated through. Top with sour cream and guacamole.
- Our chicken picnic pies
- Pop a split bun on the grill and load up a spicy shredded chicken slider.
- Add your favourite salad ingredients to a bowl, top with slow cooker chicken and dress with our fresh lime vinaigrette.
- Add to black beans in a chilli sauce and serve with corn chips topped with all the trimmings.
- Pile up on a pizza topped with melty cheese.
Storing any extra slow cooked spicy chicken
If you’re using your slow-cooker chicken as part of your meal prep for the week it can be stored in glass or ceramic bowls with tight-fitting lids. Keep it in the fridge for up to four days.
If your spicy chicken was made with fresh meat that hadn’t been pre-frozen you can also freeze the cooked chicken. Store it tightly packed in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
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