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Slow-Cooker Burnt Honey Barbecue Chicken

Slow-Cooker Burnt Honey Barbecue Chicken

When it's so blazing hot outside that you can't bear the thought of firing up the grill, this no-fuss slow-cooker barbecue chicken recipe will come to the rescue. A quick sear in a cast-iron skillet awakens the flavors of the herbs and spices and gives the chicken a nice crust that makes the finished barbecue taste more authentic.


  • 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (from 1 onion)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (from 3 garlic cloves)
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  1. Stir together paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, dry mustard, thyme, and garlic powder in a small bowl.
  2. Sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of chicken thighs. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add 4 chicken thighs to skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until spice mixture darkens, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker. Wipe skillet clean, and repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining 4 chicken thighs.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium until sizzling. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened and garlic is just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in cider, tomato paste, Worcestershire, chili powder, Dijon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt until blended. Pour sauce over chicken. Turn chicken thighs with tongs to coat with sauce. Cover and cook on HIGH until chicken is tender, about 2 hours and 30 minutes (or on LOW 4 to 5 hours). Using two forks, shred chicken.
  4. Just before serving, bring honey to a boil in a small saucepan over medium. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until honey is dark amber in color and smells like molasses, about 5 minutes. Pour into slow cooker. Stir in lemon juice and vinegar.

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