Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. More summer recipes you'll love.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches Recipe

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These barbecue chicken sandwiches are the epitome of a simple yet classic summertime recipe. A quick homemade barbecue sauce is smothered over chicken breasts while grilling, adding sweetness and sauciness. To finish, an easy coleslaw is layered on top, adding a bit of tangy and crunch. It’s the perfect sandwich for both a weeknight meal and a special summer occasion!

Why this recipe works.

I find a chicken sandwich will always satisfy me. Not only myself but any friend or family that may be visiting. The idea is simple, but the execution needs a bit of finesse. To ensure the chicken is full of flavor and doesn’t dry out on the grill, a quick dry brine is needed. The brine allows spices to work into the meat while making sure the meat retains its moisture. Personally, I have become accustomed to making homemade barbeque sauce, and this shows how quick it is. After grilling and the only thing that is needed is a crisp coleslaw on top and summer is served.

Tan-colored plate with barbecue chicken sandwich sitting with layer of coleslaw and some falling out with barbecue sauce all over.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Smoked paprika adds a nice amount of smoky barbecue flavor without the need for a smoker.
  • Tomato paste is extremely important when it comes to a barbecue sauce. It adds both a deep flavor and some necessary sweetness.
  • Apple cider vinegar tempers out the other strong flavors present in the barbecue sauce and adds a tangy flavor against the sweet.
  • Onion in the dressing is essential for creating a creamy dressing without any dairy.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to prepare barbecue chicken sandwiches including raw chicken breasts, tomato paste, spices, molasses, onion, cabbage, yellow mustard, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Prepare the chicken breasts. If your chicken breasts are large, slice each breast in half. Then place each half into a bag and, using a meat pounder, flatten each half until about ½-inch thick.
  1. Prepare the dry rub mixture. In a bowl, combine the smoked paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt. Mix everything together until well-combined. Sprinkle the dry rub mixture over each chicken breast until all sides are coated. Place the chicken breasts in the refrigerator to let marinate for as little as 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  1. Cook the barbecue sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic. Once the onions have softened and are turning translucent, add the kosher salt and tomato paste. Stir in the tomato paste and let the mixture cook until the paste coats the bottom of the saucepan. Then add the apple cider vinegar, molasses, ketchup, and yellow mustard. Stir everything together and let the mixture simmer on the stove until the chicken is ready to be basted while on the grill.
  1. Prepare the coleslaw. In a bowl, combine the neutral oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, celery seed, kosher salt, and roughly chopped onion. Using an immersion blender or canister blender, blend the mixture until smooth. Pour over the shredded cabbage and toss to coat.
  1. Grill the chicken. After the chicken has been marinated, remove it from the refrigerator. Heat the grill on high for 15 minutes. Turn the grill to medium-high and place the chicken breasts on the grill. Let the chicken cook for 4 to 6 minutes on the first side, flip them over, and baste with the barbecue sauce. Flip them again and baste the other side with more barbecue sauce. Grill them until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, then remove them from the heat. To assemble, place a grilled chicken breast on the bottom of a sandwich bun, top with the coleslaw, and place on the top of the bun.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • For easy cleanup and to keep any liquid from the chicken breast contained, use a bag to flatten the chicken. After flattening, discard the bag to prevent any unwanted contaminants from the raw chicken.
  • The coleslaw dressing will make more than needed for the four chicken sandwiches in this recipe. Simply shred and dress as much cabbage as desired for the four sandwiches and store any remaining dressing in the refrigerator. Then, when ready to prepare more cabbage, shred and dress it at that time to prevent the cabbage from getting too soft.
  • The barbecue sauce will likely make extra, depending on how much sauce you use for basting. Use any extra barbecue sauce as an extra amount of sauce on the sandwich, or store it in the refrigerator and use it in the future.
Plate sitting on light pink surface with chicken sandwich layered with coleslaw and more barbecue sauce with more buns and sauce in the background.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Does the barbecue sauce have to be made at home, or will a purchased version work as well?

A favorite store-bought sauce will work perfectly in place of the homemade.

Can store-bought coleslaw be used instead of making it at home?

Yes, any favorite coleslaw dressing will work for personal preference.

For the barbecue sauce, can brown sugar be used instead of molasses?

Yes, brown sugar can be used in place of molasses and will result in a sweeter sauce. The molasses has a bitter-sweet flavor, and the sugar will just be sweet.

Is there a way to make this if I don’t have a grill at home?

Yes, you can also use a grill pan or a skillet. Both will work to cook the chicken breasts.

How long do these chicken breasts last once grilled?

As leftovers, the chicken will last for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator. To heat them up, warm them in the microwave or in a skillet.

Barbecue chicken sandwich sitting on tan colored plate with words on the picture indicating the layers of the sandwich.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More summer grilling recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

Barbecue chicken sandwich sitting on tan colored plate with layer of coleslaw on top of layer of barbecue with pieces spilling onto the plate.

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

5 from 2 votes
These barbecue chicken sandwiches are the epitome of a simple yet classic summertime recipe. A quick homemade barbecue sauce is smothered over chicken breasts while grilling, adding sweetness and sauciness. To finish, an easy coleslaw is layered on top, adding a bit of tangy and crunch. It's the perfect sandwich for both a weeknight meal and a special summer occasion!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 2 large (about 1 lb) chicken breasts
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

For the barbecue sauce

  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard

For the coleslaw

  • ½ head cabbage shredded
  • ¾ cup neutral oil
  • cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ medium onion roughly chopped

Instructions
 

For the chicken

  • In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt. Mix together and set the dry rub aside.
    1 ½ tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tsp kosher salt
  • Slice the chicken breasts in half. Working with one piece at a time, place the chicken into a plastic bag and pound into an even ½-inch thickness. Sprinkle the breasts with the dry rub. Cover and allow the breasts the marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
    2 large (about 1 lb) chicken breasts
  • Heat the grill on high for 15 minutes. Turn the heat to medium or move the coals to one side of the grill. Place the marinated chicken breasts on the grill. Grill the breasts, flipping once, until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F. Once the chicken is at the correct temperature, brush both sides with the prepared barbecue sauce. Remove the breasts from the grill.
  • Serve the barbecue chicken on buns with extra sauce and a helping of coleslaw.

For the sauce

  • In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and salt. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, 4-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until the color has darkened and coats the bottom of the saucepan, 3-4 minutes. Pour in the apple cider vinegar, molasses, ketchup, and yellow mustard. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until thick, 6-8 minutes. Keep warm or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
    1 tbsp neutral oil, ½ medium onion, 2 cloves garlic, 4 oz tomato paste, 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup molasses, 1 cup ketchup, 1 tbsp yellow mustard, ½ tsp kosher salt

For the coleslaw

  • In a large measuring glass or blender canister, combine the neutral oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, celery seed, kosher salt, and onion. Using an immersion blender or countertop blender, blend on high until smooth. Pour over the top of the shredded cabbage and stir to serve. Store leftover or unused dressing in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
    ½ head cabbage, ¾ cup neutral oil, ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 3 tbsp honey, 1 tsp celery seed, ½ medium onion, 1 tsp kosher salt

Notes

  • For easy cleanup and to keep any liquid from the chicken breast contained, use a bag to flatten the chicken. After flattening, discard the bag to prevent any unwanted contaminants from the raw chicken.
  • The coleslaw dressing will make more than needed for the four chicken sandwiches in this recipe. Simply shred and dress as much cabbage as desired for the four sandwiches and store any remaining dressing in the refrigerator. Then, when ready to prepare more cabbage, shred and dress it at that time to prevent the cabbage from getting too soft.
  • The barbecue sauce will likely make extra, depending on how much sauce you use for basting. Use any extra barbecue sauce as an extra amount of sauce on the sandwich, or store it in the refrigerator and use it in the future.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich (no bun)Calories: 481kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Grilling

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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5 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

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1 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight & it was delicious! I will definitely make it again.The chicken had a little kick to it but sweet. The coleslaw was fantastic! Thks Caleb for the great recipe!