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Chicken is slow-cooked in a sweet and spicy honey sauce then shredded and piled high on soft buns to make these crave-worthy slow cooker hot honey chicken sandwiches. With just 5 minutes of prep, they’re an easy meal any day of the week.
Do you crave sweet and spicy flavor combinations? Me, too. And when those cravings strike, these slow cooker hot honey chicken sandwiches really hit the spot. Bonus: they’re super easy to make in your crockpot with less than 5 minutes of prep time. How great is that?
Tender chicken is cooked in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce made with honey, brown sugar, butter, a bit of vinegar, and spices like cayenne, smoked paprika, and garlic salt. Pile the chicken high on soft buns and top with pickles or my creamy no-mayo coleslaw for a mouthwatering lunch or dinner.
It’s the perfect dish for a busy weeknight. And while we like our sandwiches quite spicy, you can easily adapt the heat level to your family’s tastes by modifying the amount of spices. Use less, add more — it’s up to you!
For more effortless crockpot meals the whole family will love, try these Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes, my crockpot root beer pulled pork recipe, or this easy slow cooker Mississippi pork.
For now, here’s what you’ll need to get started on these scrumptious crockpot hot honey chicken sandwiches.
This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts — I use chicken breasts, but if you have boneless skinless chicken thighs on hand, they’re phenomenal in this recipe, too.
- Cayenne Pepper — This spice really brings the heat in this chicken sandwich. Adjust the amount to your family’s liking for the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
- Smoked Paprika — The hint of smokiness from the paprika really adds to the flavor and makes it feel like something you’d have at a summer barbecue. Don’t use sweet paprika; it doesn’t have that same smoky flavor.
- Garlic Salt — Add some garlicky flavor to your shredded chicken. If you’re out of garlic salt, make your own with 3 parts kosher salt and 1 part garlic powder.
- Brown Sugar — Light or dark brown sugar both work here. Dark brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar.
- Honey — The sweet honey helps balance out the spiciness from the cayenne pepper.
- Vinegar — Apple cider vinegar is my preference, but white vinegar works fine.
- Butter — Buttery flavor makes this chicken taste even better. I prefer unsalted since you’re already getting your salt in with the garlic salt.
- Buns — Use your favorite buns! Sesame seed buns, ciabatta, hamburger buns, onion rolls, pretzel buns, or soft brioche buns are all excellent choices.
- Pickles — Optional, but the tart dill pickle flavor really pairs well with the heat from the meat. Bread and butter pickles are a tasty option, too.
Equipment You’ll Need
Grab the following kitchen tools to get started on these simple sandwiches:
- Slow cooker (a 6-quart crockpot will get the job done nicely)
- Meat claws or two forks for shredding the chicken
How to Make Slow Cooker Hot Honey Chicken Sandwiches
This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Step 1: Prep your slow cooker by spraying the crock with some non-stick cooking spray. Add the chicken breasts to the slow cooker in an even layer.
Step 2: Add your cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic salt to a small bowl, mixing to combine. Sprinkle this seasoning all over the chicken breasts. Then sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken breasts, followed by a drizzle of honey all over the top. Place the butter on top.
Step 3: Cook chicken breasts on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.
Step 4: Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a plate and use meat claws or two forks to shred the breasts. Return the shredded chicken back to the slow cooker with the juices. (Or shred chicken directly in the slow cooker if you prefer.)
Step 5: Serve hot honey chicken on soft buns with pickle slices. The chicken is great over salads or baked potatoes, too!
So many of your favorite sides pair well with a pulled chicken sandwich like potato chips, french fries, or potato wedges. You can’t go wrong with my old-fashioned potato salad — it’s a staple at summer BBQs and is perfect for pairing with spicy foods. Mac and cheese is always a winner with chicken. And a tri-color pasta salad is a colorful and tasty accompaniment to sandwiches of all types.
If you get a craving for something similar to a Wendy’s Hot Chicken Sandwich, you can top your chicken sliders with pepper jack cheese, bacon, and dill pickle slices.
No sauce is needed here, because the shredded chicken is already coated in a delicious hot honey sauce. However, you can never go wrong with a drizzle of ranch dressing, especially if you want to cut the heat a little bit.
Storage and Freezing
Refrigerator: Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freezing instructions: Place chicken in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and reheat in the microwave or in a skillet over medium-low heat.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Want to shred your chicken super fast? Use a hand mixer on low speed to make quick work of it!
- Make some extra hot honey sauce (everything in this recipe except the chicken) to keep on hand for dipping chicken nuggets or sweet potato fries. So good.
- Add the chicken breasts to the slow cooker whole — do not chop up the raw chicken. That will dry it out. It will cook perfectly left whole, and you’ll have juicier chicken.
- Save yourself some cleanup time by using a slow cooker liner instead of cooking the chicken directly in the pot.
- Double the batch and put away half for later. It’s a terrific freezer meal to have on hand for an easy weeknight dinner or bbq chicken sandwiches anytime you want them.
Additions and Variations
Add the chicken to potatoes. Instead of using the chicken as a sandwich filling you can it high on a baked potato or sweet potato. You can even make some honey butter to melt inside the potatoes for even more honey flavor.
Serve over rice. This saucy chicken is delicious over white rice.
Make with chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. Chicken thighs are dark meat and have more fat and are more flavorful. They’re a great option if you don’t have chicken breasts on hand.
Try this recipe with pork. You’ll love using the sweet and spicy honey sauce with pulled pork to make some delicious sandwiches with BBQ flair!
Save time with rotisserie chicken. Just make the sauce, pour over rotisserie chicken, and heat in a large skillet until everything is warmed through.
Spicy Chicken Sandwich Recipe FAQ
They’re quite spicy. If your family doesn’t like a lot of heat, reduce the cayenne pepper by half or even more. It’ll still be delicious with honey as the dominant flavor with just a tiny bit of heat.
Yes, the slow cooker is the perfect tool for cooking raw chicken! The heat, long cooking time, and steam trapped in the crockpot get rid of bacteria, making this perfectly safe.
I recommend cooking boneless skinless chicken breasts on low heat whenever possible. Even though it takes longer, the chicken retains its moisture and is juicier and more tender. High heat tends to dry out the chicken.
Easy Slow Cooker Recipes
Looking for more crockpot meals for busy weeknights or for when hot weather strikes? Try one of these great recipes!
- Crock Pot Shredded Chicken — a great slow cooker chicken recipe to start lots of dinners with.
- Crockpot Steak Bites — a winner with kids and adults alike.
- Slow Cooker Corn on the Cob – Perfectly cooked and tender corn made right in your crock pot!
- Crockpot Chili — a go-to meal on a cold day — very filling!
- Slow Cooker Frito Pie — yummy option for game day that you don’t have to stand at the stove and make.
- Crockpot Grape Jelly Meatballs — super popular for potlucks and get-togethers.
- Slow Cooker Queso Chicken — only 4 ingredients and perfect for tacos, nachos, salads, and more.
Slow Cooker Hot Honey Chicken Sandwiches
- Prep your slow cooker by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add the chicken breasts to the bottom of the slow cooker in an even layer.
- In a small bowl, stir to combine the cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic salt.
- Sprinkle this seasoning and brown sugar over the chicken breasts. Top with the honey, vinegar, and pats of butter.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours or HIGH for 2 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through (reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit) and shreds easily.
- Once cooked, shred the chicken using two forks. Place the chicken back in the slow cooker and stir to combine the chicken with the sauce.
- Serve on soft buns with pickle slices.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- You can swap out chicken breasts for boneless chicken thighs.
- Serve on a brioche bun, sesame seed bun, or pretzel bun.
- This is a spicy recipe. Adjust the seasoning to your family's liking. If your family doesn't like a lot of heat, start with 1/2 Tablespoon cayenne pepper (or even less) and then add more if you want later.
- You can also add a drizzle of ranch dressing and some cool, creamy coleslaw to your sandwiches to cool down the heat and mellow out the flavor a bit.