These oven pulled chicken thighs are fall-apart tender and full of delicious flavor. They’re slow-baked with a homemade spice rub of Hungarian paprika, ground chipotle pepper and chili powder seasoning. To finish, the pulled thighs are tossed in a simple sweet and sour sauce. The sauce mellows out the spiciness of the chicken and balances the flavors perfectly.
Ingredients for pulled chicken thighs:
How to make it:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
Step 1. Heat the oven and trim excess fat off of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Mix spices and salt together and rub on the chicken. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on it. Place the chicken thighs on the wire rack.
Step 2. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Tightly seal the foil around the edges so the meat doesn’t dry out in the oven.
Step 3. Bake the chicken for 2 hours, then take it out and let it cool a bit. Carefully remove the cover foil (there will be a lot of hot steam underneath). Pull the chicken with two forks.
Step 4. Heat oil in a pan, then sauté minced onion until soft. Stir in tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, canned crushed tomatoes, honey and salt. Bring to a boil, then toss the chicken with the sauce and serve.
How to store leftovers:
Store leftover pulled chicken tossed with the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
How to freeze pulled chicken:
Transfer the chicken tossed with the sauce into a freezer bag and freeze. Alternatively, you can also freeze the chicken and the sauce in separate bags.
Recipe notes & tips:
- As always, I recommend to buy the spices 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 seasoning, I have a recipe in this chunky chili with chuck roast post.)
- You will need only 4 teaspoons of tomato paste for this recipe and a standard can of tomato paste contains about 10 tablespoons. For tips on how to store and/or use the remaining paste, check out these delicious recipes that use tomato paste.
What to serve with pulled chicken?
- Stuff the pulled chicken into a burger bun along with a pickle and eat as a sandwich. (For a great pickle recipe, I recommend these refrigerator sweet pickles.)
- Use the chicken in a lettuce wrap or a sandwich wrap.
- Make the pulled chicken a main course and serve with a side dish, like these lemon basil potatoes.
How spicy is this dish?
This dish is mildly spicy from the Hungarian paprika and the chipotle powder.
More delicious spiced chicken recipes:
- Blackened Chicken Tenders (stovetop)15 Minutes
- Cajun Chicken Marinade (smoky and spicy)1 Hours 15 Minutes
- Smoked Paprika Rub for Chicken5 Minutes
- Chicken Paprika Soup (with Leftover Rotisserie Chicken)30 Minutes
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating or comment! Thanks!
Full Printable Recipe
Oven Pulled Chicken
- knife and cutting board
- measuring spoons and cups
- mixing bowl
- rimmed baking sheet and wire rack
- aluminum foil
- wooden spoon
- 2 forks
For the chicken:
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder seasoning*
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- ¼ cup minced white or yellow onion (you need about ⅓ of a small onion for that)
- 4 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup canned crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the chicken:
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Trim excess fat off the chicken. Mix Hungarian paprika, chipotle pepper, chili powder and salt together in a bowl. Rub the spice mix evenly on the chicken.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on it. Set 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.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 2 hours.
- Take the meat out of the oven and let cool a bit.
- Carefully remove the cover foil from the chicken (there will be a lot of hot steam underneath).
For the sauce:
- Heat the oil in a pan.
- Add the onion and saute until starting to soften.
- Stir in tomato paste, cider vinegar, crushed tomatoes, honey and salt.
- Bring to a quick boil, then turn the heat off.
- Pull the chicken with 2 forks and toss with the sauce.
- Serve with pickles in a bun.
Nutrition Information (Estimated):
Nutrition values provided on this website are generated from a nutrition database and are estimates only. The accuracy of the nutrition information for any recipe on this website is not guaranteed. Nutrition values can vary quite a lot depending on which brands are used.