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Slow Cooker Apple Cider Chicken simmers in your crockpot all day with hard cider, apple slices, and onions. Then pile the pulled chicken on bread or rolls with cheddar cheese for an easy dinner on a busy autumn night. You can even make this family-friendly recipe in a flash in your Instant Pot.
Apple Cider Chicken – a Crockpot Shredded Chicken Recipe
Did you ever flip through a cookbook or magazine or browse the web and find a recipe you really wanted to try, then you want to change one ingredient, don’t like another, ran out of something else, and by the time you are eating it, it is absolutely nothing like the recipe you just HAD to have? Yeah, that happened here.
I was checking out How Sweet It Is, one of my favorite blogs, and saw Jessica’s Crockpot Cheesesteak Pulled Chicken, and it sounded awesome. Only it had beer, but since I am gluten free, I figured I’d use hard cider.
I don’t really like green peppers, and I didn’t think red ones would taste really good with the cider. So instead I went with sliced apples. Then once I put in apples, I thought garlic would not be a good addition, so I left it out.
And I didn’t really want to melt the cheese into the chicken, so I just shredded it and put it on top. And there you go, this is NOT the Crockpot Cheesesteak Pulled Chicken from How Sweet It Is.
But it’s still a really, really good pulled chicken crockpot recipe, even if it’s not what I originally intended.
Why This Recipe Works
When you walk in the door after a long day of work or errands or running around with the kids, Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches are a perfect dinner because they are easy, comforting, and not too heavy.
The fall flavors of sweet apple and hard cider as the cooking liquid along with sweet onion give the slow cooker pulled chicken so much flavor. And even though it was originally just a crockpot shredded chicken recipe, I have also tested it in the Instant Pot.
Whether you let it cook all day in your slow cooker or make it fast in your Instant Pot, this is sure to be a dinner the family will love.
For the apple cider chicken
- Apple: You’ll just need one that is peeled and sliced. You can really use any kind of aple yo uhave, but a firmer apple like a red or golden delicous will hold up a little better.
- Onion: I like to use sweet onions such as a Vidalia.
- Chicken: you’ll use about 2 pounds of boneless, skinless breasts
- Seasonings: I like to use paprika and dry mustard powder to enhance the savory flavors with hint of smokiness and balnce the sweetness. And of course yoe need salt and pepper.
- Hard apple cider: If you choose not to cook with alcohol you CAN use sparkling cider. If you cannot find 12 oz. bottles of sparkling cider, just use 1 1/2 cups from a full-size bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, or your favorite brand.
How to Make Crockpot Shredded Chcken with Apples
Add everything to the slow cooker: Peel and slice your apples, then slice your onions. Lay them in the bottom of your slow cooker, and place the chicken breasts on top. Sprinkle salt, pepper, dry mustard, and paprika over the chicken, then pour hard cider or sparkling cider over the top.
Cook and Shred: Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours, or until it is tender and shreds easily. Remove the chicken to a plate and shred with tongs and a fork or two forks. Return it to the slow cooker and mix to combine with the apples, onions, and juices.
How to serve Apple Cider Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
To make the pulled chicken sandwiches, you’ll want some nice thick, crusty bread or rolls (brioche or potato rolls are a tasty option) and sharp cheddar cheese. Be sure to use gluten free bread or rolls, if needed.
Toast the bread or rolls in the oven or on a grill pan or griddle, if desired. Pile on the chicken and top with sharp cheddar cheese.
The slow cooker pulled chicken also makes the perfect party or potluck food. Similar to these Slow Cooker Salsa Pulled Chicken Sliders, you can buy Hawaiian rolls or small slider rolls like Martin’s Potato Rolls. You can even use Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits.
Have your chicken cooked in advance, and then party guests can make their own sliders or you can prepare them and put them out on a platter.
Other Serving Suggestions
Alternatively, there are other gluten free options, or just something different if you love the chicken but want to change it up. You could enjoy it over brown rice or Browned Butter Cauliflower Rice, or stuffed into baked sweet potatoes. A drizzle of Bourbon BBQ Sauce is a great way finish it off, along with the cheddar cheese.
It is also delicious on top of a salad, especially when you drizzle it with Creamy Greek Yogurt Maple Dijon Salad Dressing.
Tips for Success
Make it in the Instant Pot
You can make Instant Pot Pulled Chicken. While this was originally developed as a crockpot pulled chicken recipe, I have tested it in my Instant Pot and it works great. The apples and onions do get a bit softer, but they still hold up and it’s still delicious.
You’ll just use the Manual setting for 15 minutes. It only takes about 10 minutes to cook the chicken through, but those extra few minutes will ensure it is super tender and shreds easily. However, feel free to adjust as you try this recipe based on the size of your chicken breasts.
Additionally, I would NOT recommend using frozen chicken for both food safety reasons and because it will take longer to cook, so the apple slices likely will not hold up.
Make it Gluten Free
The pulled chicken itself is gluten free. As always, be sure to read labels on your spices, and make sure to get hard apple cider or sparkling cider, not an Apple Ale. I’ve used Strongbow and Angry Orchard to make this shredded chicken.
If you are making the Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, just be sure to use gluten free bread or rolls.
Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. You can also freeze extras, especially if you make a double batch. Cool the chicken completely and transfer to an airtight container or plastic freezer storage bag. If you use a container, I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. Enjoy it within 2 months for the best quality.
If frozen, thaw the shredded chicken in the refrigerator overnight. Then you can either put it back in the slow cooker on Low until it heats through. Or warm it in a pot over medium heat on the stove. And you can even heat it up in the microwave. I recommend covering it with a damp paper towel and stirring every minute or two until it is hot.
Make it a meal
Turn your apple cider chicken into a full meal with some of our favorite sides.
Serve with Fries or Tots:
Add a Veggie:
Make a Salad:
Have Soup and Sandwich:
Things You’ll Need
- I usually use my Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Slow Cooker, especially if I want to make a double batch. But the 4-Quart Slow Cooker works just fine too, and is super afforable.
- As mentioned, you can also make it in a pressure cooker like this Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1.
- I prefer to use tongs for shredding and serving.
Apple Cider Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
- 1 apple, peeled and sliced
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 12 oz. bottle of hard apple cider or 12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) non-alcoholic sparkling cider
- 12-16 slices of sourdough or your favorite bread, or 6-8 rolls toasted
- 8 oz. shredded sharp white cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
- Place the onion and apple slices on the bottom of your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- Lay the chicken breasts on top of the apples and onions, and sprinkle on the salt, pepper, paprika, and mustard. Pour the hard cider over the top.
- Cook on in the slow cooker low for 6-8 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and shreds easily. Or set the Instant Pot to Manual for 15 minutes and, after the cooking time is completed, use the Quick Release to release the pressure.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker or Instant Pot, shred with two forks, and return to the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- Using tongs, toss together the chicken, apples, onions and cooking liquid until evenly distributed.
- Top one slice of bread or bottom of a roll with the shredded chicken mixture, sprinkle with about 1 oz. (1/4 cups) shredded cheddar cheese, and top with the other slice of bread or top of the roll.
More recipes with apple cider
Whether it is regular, sparkling, or hard apple cider, it is one of my favorite ingredients to add fresh fruity flavors to sweet and savory dishes like these.