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Carolina-Style Vinegar BBQ Chicken

I live in Georgia, but I appreciate the tangy, sweet taste of Carolina barbecue chicken. In fact, my sons are more likely to show up to dinner if they know I'm serving this slow cooker recipe. —Ramona Parris, Canton, Georgia
  • Total Time
    Prep: 10 min. Cook: 4 hours
  • Makes
    6 servings


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium chicken base
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 whole wheat hamburger buns, split, optional


  • In a small bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients. Place chicken in a 3-qt. slow cooker; add vinegar mixture. Cook, covered, on low 4-5 hours or until chicken is tender.
  • Remove chicken; cool slightly. Reserve 1 cup cooking juices; discard remaining juices. Shred chicken with 2 forks. Return meat and reserved cooking juices to slow cooker; heat through. If desired, serve chicken mixture on buns.
Editor's Note
Look for chicken base near the broth and bouillon.
Nutrition Facts
1/2 cup (calculated without buns): 134 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated fat), 63mg cholesterol, 228mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 0 fiber), 23g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat.

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Average Rating:
  • Jai
    May 21, 2020

    First I questioned the amount of liquid called for as preparing chicken in a slow cooker generally produces quite a bit of water on its own but as usual I prefer to stick as close to the posted recipe as possible on my first go. Especially if I'm going to review it(note: this is my first review). Didn't have any chicken base but I did have chicken stock which I used in place of the base and water. I couldn't help but think this recipe is missing a key ingredient. So after putting the chicken in a dish, shredding it and adding the reserved liquid then mixing it up, I took a taste, not bad at all, I thought. Then reached into my flavor enhancing cabinet for the bottle of liquid smoke. If you're not used to using liquid smoke a little goes a long way. It improves this recipe tremendously.

  • Lor
    Dec 5, 2019

    If you have serious medical needs related to sodium restriction, please review the sodium calculation (228 mg.) given for this recipe critically. The low sodium chicken base I found had 130 mg per 3/4 tsp = 520 mg sodium per TBlspn. The 3/4 tsp. salt recipe specifies has 1,725 mg. Uninjected raw chicken breast may have only 80 mg. per serving, but much of the raw chicken available at the grocery store is injected with up to 15% sodium phosphate. In the best case, I calculate this recipe as having 480 mg. per serving (6 servings). If chicken is injected, much more. If you have serious health concerns, as we do in our family, where even a single high sodium meal has serious health consequences, it pays to double-check the sodium calculations.

  • Kamie
    Sep 19, 2019

    I used a family pack of the chicken breasts and doubled everything else except the salt and pepper. Turned out moist, tangy, and tender. I will definitely make this one of my go to recipes!

  • Moklechur
    Jul 21, 2019

    Wow !! Yammy yummy recipe . I really Love this one. I don't why some people gave you Zero Rating !! Ma bey they don't know about review.

  • Jane
    Mar 24, 2019

    Why not just boil chicken in vinegar/sugar water? Awful! unless there's some wonderful sauce to go with it, it's a complete loss. Going to see if it can be salvaged into some sweet and sour chicken type dish. UGH!

  • squeakymouse
    Jul 6, 2018

    I didn't use chicken base (didn't want it to taste too chicken-y) or water (chicken has enough water already added during processing). I decreased the sugar and upped the pepper using flakes, cayenne and black. Although good, the texture was too soft, especially as a leftover. I don't plan on making this again.

  • rtroul
    Apr 6, 2018

    Vinegar-based BBQ was very different for us but we loved it!!!! Used a little less sugar and omitted the crushed red pepper flakes but that didn't seem to matter it was quite good.

  • Janice
    Jan 2, 2018

    Can you use this sauce to make pork barbecue?

  • cdsouth
    Sep 19, 2017

    I guess I just don't get this type of BBQ. I thought it was awful. It just tasted like chicken cooked in vinegar. So sad that I wasted my chicken on this recipe.

  • AllisonO
    Sep 12, 2017

    A winner of a chicken dinner! As a Kansas girl, I am not used to a vinegar-based BBQ chicken, but this is absolutely delicious. It's tangy, slightly sweet, and just a little spicy (the heat can be dialed up or down easily). The best part about this recipe is that is a dump-it-and-go recipe. The slow cooker makes it super simple. Bonus (and I say this with all due respect to my KC-style BBQ-loving friends!): this chicken is much less messy than tomato-based BBQ chicken! We will be making this again soon!