In Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, he tells a story about his childhood, going to bed while his parents were throwing a party, unable to fall asleep, waiting for his mother to come say goodnight to him.
Sometimes he’d still be awake when she’d come, and she’d give him a madeleine, and that sweet cookie was often the last thing he’d taste before drifting into dreams.
So powerful was the memory of those madeleines that years later, tasting a bit of one, it was as if he were transported back to his bedchamber, sitting with his mother before bed.
I’ve had my own Proustian moments – you probably have, too. The thing about these involuntary memories is that they hit you without warning, often when you’re not least expecting them.
For me, this came recently in the form of a new recipe for chicken.
My grandma was a brilliant home cook, so skilled that she baked stacks of cookies for friends every Christmas, and found that her food was appreciated and received more enthusiastically than any other gift.
She even ventured into catering at one point, creating tall wedding cakes of impressive beauty. She, like many stay-at-home women of the 1950s and 60s, clipped recipes from newspapers and magazines regularly.
She hand wrote suggestions in the margins in her cursive penmanship. And when I visited her, she always cooked for me.
Many of her meals were memorable, but there’s one that especially stands out: her barbecue chicken
It was tender – so tender – and packed with flavor. She served it with white rice, on clear glass plates, while my brother and I sat on her sofa and watched I Love Lucy.
When she died, my family inherited everything she owned, which wasn’t much: old clothes, boxes of newspaper clippings, a few books, and some photographs. And most importantly, a few card-sized boxes of recipes.
They’re like a biography of her life: the clusters of delicious, unhealthy ingredients transforming into low-cholesterol finds as the years wore on and she developed high blood pressure and other health problems.
I’ve gone through them all, even organized them with neat dividers, but I’ve never found a written recipe for her barbecue chicken.
But I’ve tried to replicate it in my own kitchen, and finally, this is what I came up with.
The directions couldn’t be simpler: dump just four simple, store-bought ingredients into a slow cooker, and let it do its thing for 3 to 5 hours.
While the ingredients cooked and started to meld together in the Crock-Pot, I noticed something wafting into the upstairs hallway: it was the smell of my grandma’s house, I was on the sofa watching TV, and she was bringing me a clear glass plate.
I know this isn’t her recipe. For one, she didn’t have a Crock-Pot. And she didn’t ever cook with Coca-Cola.
Nonetheless, through some sort of culinary alchemy, this easy, could-not-be-simpler, impossible-to-mess-up chicken is the spitting image, I’d swear up and down, of my grandma’s dish.
Eating it on a Saturday night at my own house as an adult was like eating with my grandma, and the memories that it brings back for me are a remarkable gift.
Whether you look back on a similar dish with fond remembrance or you’re simply craving a flavorful main course that’s easy to prepare, try this chicken. It’s perfect served on its own as is alongside your favorite starch and vegetables, or shredded and used to fill sandwiches or put on a barbecue pizza. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.Print
Slow Cooker Barbecue Cola Chicken
- Total Time: 5 hours 5 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
This is the best 4-ingredient slow cooker BBQ cola chicken recipe out there. With just a few simple steps, you’ll love how flavorful it is.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 20 fl oz Coca-Cola
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.
- Stir to combine.
- Cook on High for 3 hours, or Low for 5 hours. Serve as is or shred to make sandwich filling.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 hours
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Dinner
Keywords: Crock-Pot, barbecue chicken, coke, coca-cola
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure All Ingredients
Measure out all ingredients as listed on the ingredients list. Set out the boneless, skinless breasts.
If you like, you can use homemade ketchup and barbecue sauce made from scratch, but in a pinch, store bought versions will also do nicely.
Step 2 – Slow Cook
Add all ingredients to the slow cooker insert.
Stir to combine and be sure to coat the chicken evenly.
Cover and cook on Low for 5 hours, or High for 3 hours.
Step 3 – Serve
Switch to the Warm setting until you are ready to eat, or serve immediately with your favorite starch and vegetables.
You can also transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred it with two forks.
Return the chicken to the sauce and serve as a filling for sandwiches, or even tacos.
What Should I Serve Alongside This Easy Entree?
So you’ve made the chicken, and now you are wondering how to serve it in the best way.
You can keep the tender chicken breasts whole and serve them with sauce ladled from the slow cooker on top, alongside your favorite starch and a vegetable or green salad.
I love serving this dish with pressure cooked broccoli and mashed potatoes, or even roasted broccoli and potatoes, but you can choose any combination that sounds delicious to you.
Another genius way to enjoy this chicken is to shred it and serve it on rolls with plenty of sauce.
I like to melt a slice of cheddar or American cheese on top under the broiler, and then top it with some crunchy slaw. Barbecue chicken sandwiches perfect for any time of year, no grill required!
For another amazing poultry dish, try our crispy chicken fingers or roasted lemon sage garlic chicken!
Do you need even more slow cooker inspiration? Check out some more flavorful favorites with chicken that you can make in the Crock-Pot:
How will you serve this flavor-packed protein? Tell us in the comments below. And once you make the recipe, be sure to come back to rate it.
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 20, 2008. Last updated: November 16, 2021 at 18:14 pm. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.
2 thoughts on “4-Ingredient Slow Cooker Barbecue Cola Chicken”
This recipe is AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing it! I’ll definitely be making it again. Do you think it could be pressure cooked to speed things up?
Absolutely. If you’re familiar with converting recipes for the pressure cooker, I say go for it. Otherwise, stay tuned for a series of how-to articles coming soon on preparing different types of chicken in the electric pressure cooker.