These healthy Instant Pot Apple Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches are sweet-spicy deliciousness topped with a tangy green apple and brussels sprout slaw. Packed with fall flavor, they're also 21 Day Fix approved and Weight Watchers friendly!
Hey guys! I hope you all had an amazing holiday season! We definitely did over here, but I'm SO ready to get back to some better eating habits (as I always am this time of year)!
I had actually intended on sharing these super yum apple barbecue chicken sammies with you guys in September or October, but we were in the middle of buying our forever home (yay!!), and painting and moving and holidays and everything was just SO busy!
Anyway, I think it all worked out fine in the end, because this recipe is such a great way to start the year off right (plus it's awesome game-day grub)! The crazy-delish apple cider barbecue sauce and perfectly cooked chicken are super easy to make in the Instant Pot, it's family friendly (my kids are obsessed with that saucy shredded chicken, you guys) and it makes a good amount that's perfect for freezing and meal prep!
Also I just love when a recipe hits all of my happy notes like this one does - the savory chicken, the sweet and spicy sauce, and that amazing slaw with tart granny smith apples... so freaking good!!
Without further ado, Let's do a little Q&A and then I'll show you how to make it!
How spicy is the apple cider barbecue sauce?
As spicy as you want it to be! When I'm making it for my kids, I leave out the cayenne and it isn't really spicy at all. However, I ALWAYS add a pinch of cayenne if I'm just making it for me because I really love it with a little kick. The beauty of course is that you can add as much as you like (but definitely start with just a little and go from there)!
Can this recipe be cut in half?
Absolutely! Though I will say that it's not a bad idea to still make the same amount of BBQ sauce and throw it in the freezer for next time (or in the fridge for when you want some BBQ sauce to dip something in)!
Are these apple barbecue chicken sandwiches healthy?
Healthy is super subjective, but they're made with lean chicken and ingredients you can feel good about. They're also 21 Day Fix approved and Weight Watchers friendly (I've put the new Personal Points in the recipe card)!
Are chicken thighs 21 Day Fix approved?
While they're not technically on the 21 Day Fix food list, If well-trimmed they actually fit perfectly as a red. If you'd like more info on this, you can read my findings in this Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken post (and then you should save that recipe and totally make it too because it's SO freaking good)!
All of that being said, you can also make this recipe with chicken tenders or chicken breasts 🙂
Are these Instant Pot Apple Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches gluten-free?
The chicken, sauce and slaw are all gluten-free, so as long as you put them on a gluten-free bun or wrap, they are!
Is this recipe dairy-free?
The chicken and sauce are dairy-free, but the slaw isn't. You could either leave the slaw off (still delish!) or substitute the plain yogurt with a plain, dairy-free yogurt that you like 🙂
Are these healthy shredded bbq chicken sandwiches freezer friendly?
The chicken and sauce both freeze beautifully, but the slaw is best made fresh.
Is the apple cider barbecue shredded chicken good for meal prep?
Yes!! I love this recipe for meal prep. The saucy shredded chicken is great as-is in this sandwich, but it's also awesome repurposed as barbecue chicken nachos or barbecue chicken pita pizza!
Are apple bbq chicken sandwiches kid-friendly?
Yes! I just leave out the cayenne for the kiddos and let them choose whether or not they want to add the slaw to theirs. They're absolutely obsessed with these sammies!
Can the apple cider barbecue sauce be made all year round?
Absolutely! If you can't get your hands on some cloudy apple cider in the summertime (though my grocery store does carry it year-round and yours may, too!), you can also use a good, refrigerated apple juice (like Simply Apple Juice) instead of the cider and it'll still be delish!
What should I serve alongside these Instant Pot apple barbecue chicken sandwiches?
Because I do love to have these on a whole wheat bun, I like to serve them mostly with veggies on the side...
- 21 Day Fix Broccoli Salad
- Cardamom, Vanilla and Rum-Marinated Grilled Pineapple (you can also throw these in the air fryer!)
- Carrot-Apple Salad
- a simple salad with this yum copycat Olive Garden dressing
- roast, grill or air-fry whatever veggies you've got on hand (just spray with a little olive oil spray, season and roast on 425° until fork tender!)
- this apple-butternut squash casserole from Carrie Elle
- this air-fryer seasoned cauliflower from Confessions of a Fit Foodie
- an easy fruit salad is also a great side with this!
How to make Instant Pot Apple Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches with Green Apple and Brussels Sprout Slaw:
Add all of the sauce ingredients to your Instant Pot and give them a whisk.
Using the saute function, cook the sauce, whisking occasionally until reduced by half ⇓ - then remove the sauce from the pot and set aside.
Season your chicken and add it to the Instant Pot. Just cover with broth and then pressure cook for the time listed in the recipe card (this depends on the cut used).
Once pressure is released, remove chicken and let rest for 5 minutes or so, then shred with a couple of forks. Add chicken to the barbecue sauce.
Serve on a whole wheat or gluten-free bun, wrap or lettuce cup, top with some delish green apple and brussels sprout slaw and enjoy!
If you guys give this Instant Pot Apple Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches recipe a try, please let me know what you think!! You can leave a comment below or tag me on Insta @thefoodieandthefix. Or if you’re in my private Facebook group, I’d love to see a photo of your creation in there! I hope you enjoy ♥
Don’t forget to save this Instant Pot Apple Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches recipe to Pinterest! ⇓
Apple Cider Barbecue Sauce:
- 2 cups cloudy apple cider (you can also substitute Simply Apple Juice)
- 1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste (⅔ cup)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 6-8 Tbs pure maple syrup (start with 6 and see if you need more, it depends on the sweetness of your cider)
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce (be sure to grab a gluten-free soy sauce or tamari if you're GF!)
- 2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (or more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- black pepper to taste
- a pinch of cayenne pepper, or more, to taste (optional, but SO yum!)
- 3 lbs chicken thighs, breasts or tenders, trimmed
- salt, pepper and chili powder to season
- 1 (32 oz) box of low-sodium chicken broth
- whatever you'd like to serve them on - lettuce cups, whole grain or gluten-free sandwich thins, buns, English muffins, etc (be sure to check that it's gluten-free if you're GF!)!
- 3 cups of my Green Apple and Brussels Sprout Slaw (see recipe card below)
- Whisk all sauce ingredients in the liner of your Instant Pot and cook on saute until reduced by half to about 2 cups. (If you want to save some time, you can also do this in a pot on the stove while the chicken is cooking, it's up to you!)
- Remove the sauce from the pot and set aside (no need to wipe it out or anything). Season your chicken with salt, pepper and chili powder and add it to the pot, then just barely cover the chicken with the broth (you can even use water if you're out!) Cook on manual (or pressure cook) for 20 minutes for thighs, 15 minutes for tenders or really thick breasts, and 10 minutes for thinner breasts.
- While the chicken is cooking, make the slaw (see recipe card below).
- When cooking has completed, you can turn the valve to quickly release the pressure (it's also fine to let it naturally release if you prefer), remove the lid, remove the chicken to a cutting board, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes or so, then shred with 2 forks.
- Discard the liquid from the pot and put 4 ½ cups of the shredded chicken back in (this is about what you'll get if using thighs, but you might have some extra if using breasts or tenders because not as much gets trimmed away). You can then either add all of the sauce into the shredded chicken and heat through, or you can do what I like to do, which is add all but about ¾ cup of the sauce to the chicken and then each person can add a little extra on top of their sandwich (I find that you really get a kick of flavor that way)!
- Put your saucy chicken on whatever you'd like (don't forget to count it for 21 Day Fix and WW!), top with a tablespoon of extra bbq sauce if you made it the way I do, then ¼ cup of the green apple and brussels sprout slaw and enjoy!
21 Day Fix container counts per serving:
½ Red, ¾ oil tsp, 1 ¾ sweetener teaspoon plus counts for whatever you serve these on (there is also ⅛ purple and ⅛ green for the slaw, but it seemed too little to count to me, up to you though!)
PS - the counts for this without the slaw are ½ Red, 1 ½ sweetener teaspoon plus the counts for whatever you serve these on 🙂
Weight Watchers Personal Points Link:
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: ⅓ cup shredded chicken with sauce, ¼ cup slaw
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 229Total Fat: 6gCarbohydrates: 19g
- 3 Tbs 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 3 Tbs mayonnaise
- 2 Tbs + ¾ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbs pure maple syrup
- salt and pepper to season
- 1 ½ cup packed, shaved brussels sprouts (from an 8 oz bag) - see note if you can't find pre-shaved brussels sprouts
- 1 ½ cup granny smith apples, finely chopped (about 1 large apple)
- In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Stir in the chopped apples and shaved brussels sprouts.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. If the dressing seems a little thick at serving time, you can stir in a little plain unsweetened almond milk at the end, but I usually don't have to 🙂
How to make your own shaved brussels sprouts:
Trim the ends from the brussels sprouts and cut in half lengthwise. Then using a food processor with a slicing disc (make sure it's on the slicing side, not the carrot side), slice 'em up!
You can also (carefully!) thinly slice them with a knife if you don't have a food processor.
21 Day Fix container counts per serving:
¼ Green, ¼ Purple, 1 ½ oil tsp, ½ sweetener tsp
Weight Watchers Personal Points Link:
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: ½ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 93Total Fat: 6gCarbohydrates: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information provided is approximate and for informational purposes only.