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This tangy and spicy pulled chicken is delicious and easy to make. You dry rub boneless, skinless chicken thighs with a mix of Hungarian paprika, ground chipotle and chili powder, then bake the chicken in a low-temperature oven until tender. To finish, you toss the meat with a tangy tomato, apple cider vinegar and honey sauce.
This post was originally published on May 02, 2015.
What does pulled chicken mean?
Pulled chicken is chicken that is cooked in such a way that it becomes so tender that it can easily be pulled apart into small bites with two forks.
For the recipe here I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I rubbed with a mix of spices and then baked in the oven until they were fall apart tender.
I made the sauce for the pulled chicken with tomato, honey, diced onion and a healthy helping of apple cider vinegar for a great sweet and sour flavor. The sauce mellows out the spiciness of the chicken a little bit for a well-balanced flavor.
It’s a great make-ahead meal and requires time in the oven but otherwise not much work at all.
How to make spicy pulled chicken:
The chicken in this recipe is cooked in a low-temperature oven and it goes like this: you start by mixing 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt together, rub the mix on 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs and marinate them in the fridge for four hours.
Next you line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, set a wire rack on it and place the chicken thighs on it. Then you cover everything with aluminum foil and make sure you tightly seal the foil around the edges of the baking sheet so the meat doesn’t dry out in the oven.
You place the chicken in the oven for two hours and after that the chicken is deliciously tender. You let it cool a bit and then shred it with two forks. The meat will come apart very easily.
While the chicken cools, you can make a quick sauce: You sauté 2 tablespoons minced onion in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, then add 2 teaspoons tomato paste, 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes and 2 tablespoons honey.
What goes well with spicy pulled chicken?
I like to stuff the pulled chicken into a burger bun along with a pickle or two and eat it by itself as a sandwich. For a good pickle recipe, I can recommend these refrigerator pickles.
Recipe tip – use high-quality spices:
As always, I recommend that you buy the paprika, chipotle and chili powder for this recipe from a dedicated spice shop. High quality spices make a huge difference in a recipe and that is definitely true here.
If you want to make your own chili powder, I have a great recipe here:
More delicious light chicken dishes:
- Chicken Lettuce Cups
- Mediterranean Chicken Salad
- Sumac Chicken Brown Butter Almond Rice Bowl
- Caesar Salad with Grilled Ras el Hanout Chicken
Spicy Pulled Chicken
For the chicken:
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder*
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons honey
For the chicken:
- Trim excess fat off the chicken.
- Mix Hungarian paprika, chipotle pepper, chili powder and salt together in a bowl, then rub evenly on the chicken.
- Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on it. Put the meat on the wire rack and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Make sure to seal the foil well around the edges of the baking sheet.
- Put the meat in the oven for 2 hours.
- Take the meat out of the oven and set aside.
For the sauce:
- Heat the oil in a pan.
- Add the onion and saute until slightly soft.
- Stir in the tomato paste, the cider vinegar, the crushed tomatoes and the honey.
- Bring to a quick boil then turn the heat off. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pull the chicken with 2 forks and add to the sauce.
- Serve with pickles in a bun.
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