I came up with this recipe for Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken one day when I was trying to figure out out to feed my family at three different times due to crazy sports schedules. Using bone-in chicken helps to hold the chicken together and placing onions on the bottom of the slow cooker helps to prevent sticking. For economy sake, you can buy bone in chicken thighs with the skin on and remove the skin yourself. To remove the skin, just locate a portion of the skin which is a little loose, place your fingers under it (I use disposable rubber gloves for this!) and pull the skin off. It's really important to use skinless chicken otherwise the BBQ sauce will be too fatty. I've included a recipe for a homemade BBQ sauce with this recipe, but to make it even easier you could use bottled sauce.
1 onion, coarsely diced
4-6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
1-2 teaspoons paprika
½ onion, finely diced
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon black pepper
Place the coarsely diced onion on the bottom of a slow cooker. To brown the chicken, place the chicken in a large non-stick pan and sprinkle paprika on both sides of the chicken. Turn heat on to medium and brown the chicken on both sides. This may take 3-4 minutes per side. No oil is necessary. If the chicken is sticking too much to the pan you can add 1-2 teaspoons of water. If you have a good non-stick pan, this usually isn’t necessary. Transfer chicken to the slow cooker, on top of the onions.
To make the BBQ sauce: In the same pan that you browned the chicken, sauté the finely diced onion. Mix the cornstarch and the tomato sauce together. Add this tomato sauce mixture along with the remaining ingredients to the pan with the sautéed onions and simmer, stirring fairly often, for 3-5 minutes. Pour this sauce over the chicken. Turn the chicken pieces so that they are thoroughly covered with BBQ sauce. Place the cover on and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
Cook's notes: If you want to use bottled BBQ sauce instead of making this sauce, just mix the cornstarch into the cold sauce and then heat the sauce over the stove before pouring over the chicken. If you want to make this sauce to use on BBQ chicken that you are cooking on the grill, omit the cornstarch.