BBQ Chicken Sandwich


This BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe is better than any deli and easy to make at home!

These Chipotle BBQ Chicken Sandwiches are a fresh and spicy spin on traditional BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.  The chicken is loaded with chipotle seasoning, then smothered in barbecue sauce, topped with grilled pineapple and piled high with creamy, sweet and tangy Mango Guacamole. H-E-L-L-O delicious!  They are juicy, sweet and spicy AKA the ultimate explosion of YUM!  You can customize these BBQ chicken sandwiches as far as toppings go or create a “sandwich bar” for everyone to make their own “Best” BBQ Chicken Sandwich!

up close of a BBQ Chicken Sandwich with cheese on a cutting board
BBQ Chicken Sandwich Recipe

Last week I made my Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad with 5  Minute Blender Tomatillo Avocado Ranch and although it was incredible, an entire salad of BBQ Chicken just wasn’t enough.   I needed more Chipotle BBQ Chicken so I made us the most intoxicating BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe!

The BBQ Chicken Sandwich all starts with the Chipotle Chicken that has been enveloped in a rub of fiesta spices and either rested for 30 minutes or marinated overnight  – if you have the will power.

Once cooked or grilled, the chicken gets smothered in sweet barbecue sauce for an explosion of layered spices, sweet heat, juicy, tender goodness.  Oh, and cheesiness. Monterrey Jack cheesiness.  mmmmmm….

Next, layer your cheesy chipotle BBQ chicken with fresh grilled caramelized sweet pineapple because barbecue sauce and pineapple belong together (and I just love pineapple – PERIOD).  Another layer of delish.

Finally, top your BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Mango Guacamole for a creamy, sweet layer of heaven.  And if you are intimidated by cutting mangos – do’t be, just check out my How to Cut A Mango Post that teaches everything you could ever want to know about mangos! 

I wanted to devour each one of those delicious layers as I was making my sandwich.  That’s when you know a sandwich is GOOD!  But, if you can resist the urge to eat layer by layer… you get to eat every BBQ smothered cheesy chipotle chicken, caramelized pineapple, mango guacamole layer together in one epic bite after bite..for the BEST BBQ Chicken Sandwich ever!

So worth the wait.

a hand picking up easy BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe

WHERE DO CHICKEN SANDWICHES ORIGINATE FROM?

Before we get into the details of this BBQ Chicken Sandwich Recipe, let’s talk chicken sandwiches.  Chick-fil-A claims to have invented the chicken sandwich. The story is that Truett Cathy opened a restaurant in Georgia in 1946 called the Dwarf House, which served meat like hamburger and steak.

In 1964, Cathy received a surplus of chicken breasts from a local supplier. He placed a fried chicken breast in between some buns and dubbed the sandwich a Chick-fil-A.

In 1967, Cathy opened the first Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant in Atlanta. Today, Chick-fil-A is on track to become the third largest fast-food chain.

Do we really believe that no one else ever put a chicken breast in between buns, rolls or even two slices of bread? Probably not. One thing is for sure, Cathy’s Chick-fil-A restaurant is likely responsible for the wide-spread knowledge and popularity of this menu item and without it, we wouldn’t have this sensational BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe! 

WHAT IS THE BEST CHICKEN SANDWICH?

Did you know the question, “what is the best chicken sandwich” is super popular on google?  Well, the answer is not as straight forward as it might seem because it all depends on your taste buds!

Most restaurants have at least one, two or three chicken sandwiches, on their menus. Of course, if you ask me, I’ll say that my BBQ Chicken Sandwich is the very best one out there!   Mango guac, caramelized grilled pineapple and Monterrey Jack atop sweet BBQ chicken all encompassed in a bun. What more could a chicken sandwich connoisseur want?  The flavors in this BBQ Chicken Sandwich are to die for, or at the very least to drool over!

showing how to make BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe by smothering chicken with barbecue sauce

Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich Ingredients

  • chicken:  I use boneless skinless chicken breasts that I slice through the equator to create thin fillets but you are welcome to use chicken thighs if you prefer. 
  • bbq sauce:  use your favorite sweet barbecue sauce to compliment the spicy chipotle seasoning.   The combo is magic!
  • chipotle wet rub:  only takes 30 minutes to transom your chicken from bland to FLAVORFUL!   I find the concentrated flavor of a wet rub creates even more robust, fiestalicious chicken than a marinade.  The wet rub is a simple blend of olive oil, lemon juice, chipotle chili powder, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic and onion powder.
  • buns:  use your favorite buns from burger buns, to sandwich buns, to sesame, dinner, wheat, etc.  I like to see what fresh buns the baker section of my grocery store has that day.  
  • lettuce:  I like to use butter lettuce as a single leaf is perfection and just so pretty!
  • cheese: my favorite cheese for BBQ Chicken Sandwiches is Monterrey Jack cheese but Havarti or pepper Jack would also be delicious.  I don’t recommend cheddar, however,  if you are using pineapple. 
  • pineapple: this has to be my favorite sandwich topping!  Make sure  your pineapple is ripe so your pineapple is sweet instead of tart.  Of course, pineapple is optional, but it is HIGHLY recommended.
  • red onions:  add a punch of tang to balance out the sweetness.  Again, optional but recommended. 
  • bacon:  because bacon makes everything better!  Use thick cut bacon so its meaty texture can hold up in the BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. 
  • add-ons:  of course, you don’t have to stop here!  Add any of your favorites like guacamole mushrooms, sprouts, cucumbers, onion rings, etc.
showing how to make BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe by adding pineapple to chicken

How to BBQ Chicken

You can cook your chicken on the grill or the stove top for this BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe, although I vote grill so the chicken will boast rich, complex, smokey flavor. If you’ve never grilled before, or it makes you a little apprehensive, here are a few tips:

Pound chicken even.  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are quite uneven – with one side much thicker than the other.  If you cook the chicken uneven like this, then it will cook unevenly – with the thinner side cooking much quicker than the thicker side -resulting in half of the chicken breast being dry. 

To solve this problem, it is important to pound the chicken even first.  To do this, place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or inside a freezer bag and pound with a meat mallet or the side of a can.  Take care to pound gently just until it reaches an even thickness. 

Season chicken. You always want to season chicken before grilling so the flavor becomes part of the chicken. For this BBQ Chicken Sandwich recipe, we are going to smother the chicken all over with a chipotle wet rub of chipotle chili powder for a smoky heat, mixed with chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic and onion powder. The spices are mixed with olive oil and lime juice to tenderize the meat so its oh so juicy.

Let chicken rest.  Whether you marinate your chicken or not, you always want to let it sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes in order to come to room temperature.  This allows the chicken to cook more evenly.

For our BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, you can let the wet rub sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or marinate for up to 8 hours. 

Grease Grill.  Grease your grill with olive oil and NEVER cooking spray as cooking spray is flammable. 

Use a thermometer. I highly recommend an instant-read thermometer if you don’t own one otherwise it is always a guessing game as to whether your chicken is cooked which can result in under-cooked or overcooked chicken.  A meat thermometer, on the other hand, will deliver perfectly cooked, tender, juicy chicken every time. 

To check the temperature of your chicken, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken. Your chicken is done when the thermometer registers 165 degrees BUT you will want to remove the chicken when it reaches 160 degrees because it will continue to rise as it rests. 

Rest your chicken. You should never slice into chicken, meat or pork fresh off the grill, stove top or oven, instead let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  While the protein cooks, the juices are pushed to the outside of the meat, the resting allows for the juices to be redistributed and reabsorbed throughout the chicken.   

open faced easy BBQ Chicken Sandwich on a cutting board

How to TOAST BUNS

The BEST Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwiches need toasted buns.  Toasting the buns not only prevents them from becoming soggy but gives us palate please golden, crispy on the outside, giving way to soft inside. 

You can toast your buns in the oven, stove or grill, depending on how our are making our BBQ Chicken Sandwiches:

STOVE

The stove is perfect if you only need 4 buns, like in this recipe, although it will still require 2 batches, to toast both the top and bottoms.

  1. After the chicken is cooked, don’t wipe out pan.
  2. Heat pan to medium low heat.
  3. If there isn’t much grease left, then you may want to melt 1-2 tablespoons butter.
  4. Add buns, cut side down.
  5. Toast until golden, tilting a bun up to check for doneness.

GRILL

If you’re grilling your BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, then toasting the buns is super simple and doesn’t require any additional pans.

  1. Wait until the last minute and your chicken is almost done.
  2. For more flavor, spread some softened butter on the cut side of the buns before grilling.
  3. Add buns to the grill in a single layer, cut side down.
  4. Grill until slightly charred, about 1 minute.

OVEN

If you’re toasting more than 4 buns, then it might be easier to toast them in the oven.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line top and bottom buns on a baking sheet, cut side up.
  3. Spread with softened butter (optional).
  4. Bake until warmed and lightly crispy about 5 minutes.
  5. Don’t over bake or they can become dry – we don’t want croutons!
front view of BBQ Chicken Sandwich on a cutting board with barbecue sauce

Tips for Making BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

If you want to make a truly fantastic bbq chicken breast sandwich, you need to take care when cooking the chicken so it doesn’t dry out.

  • Pound chicken even. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are quite uneven – with one side much thicker than the other.  If you cook the chicken uneven like this, then it will cook unevenly – with the thinner side cooking much quicker than the thicker side -resulting in half of the chicken breast being dry.  To solve this problem, it is important to pound the chicken even first.  To do this, place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or inside a freezer bag and pound with a meat mallet or the side of a can.  Take care to pound gently just until it reaches an even thickness.
  • Bring chicken to room temperature.  You always want to let your chicken sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes in order to come to room temperature.  This allows the chicken to cook more evenly.
  • Use a thermometer. I highly recommend an instant-read thermometer if you don’t own one otherwise it is always a guessing game as to whether your chicken is cooked which can result in under-cooked or overcooked chicken.  A meat thermometer, on the other hand, will deliver perfectly cooked, tender, juicy chicken every time.  Your chicken is done when the thermometer registers 165 degrees BUT you will want to remove the chicken when it reaches 155 degrees because it will continue to rise as it rests.

Can I Prep BBQ Chicken Sandwiches in Advance?

This chipotle chicken sandwich is best enjoyed as soon as it’s assembled. However, you can prep the guacamole in advance — just note that it may oxidize (turn brown) over time. You can also slice the veggies ahead of time.

How to Store BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

If you wind up with leftover homemade chicken sandwich fixings, I recommend storing everything in separate containers.

How to Reheat BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

BBQ chicken sandwich patties can be gently reheated in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove.

a hand picking up easy BBQ Chicken Sandwich cut in half with barbecue sauce dripping down

What to Serve with BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

This BBQ Chicken Sandwich goes well with a number of sides including:

Looking For more sandwich and burger recipes?

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

These Chipotle BBQ Chicken Sandwiches are a fresh and spicy spin on traditional BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.  The chicken is loaded with chipotle seasoning, then smothered in barbecue sauce, topped with grilled pineapple and piled high with creamy, sweet and tangy Mango Guacamole. H-E-L-L-O delicious!  They are juicy, sweet and spicy AKA the ultimate explosion of YUM!  You can customize these chicken sandwiches as far as toppings go or create a "sandwich bar" for everyone to make their own "Best" BBQ Chicken Sandwich!v
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

Toppings

  • 4 slices pineapple
  • 4 burger/sandwich buns
  • 4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
  • Tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • red onions
  • bacon (optional)

Easy Mango Guacamole

  • 1 large Avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Easy Mango Guacamole: Add all of the contents to a medium bowl EXCEPT mangoes. Mash guacamole to desired consistency and stir in any remaining sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir in mangoes. Season with salt and pepper and additional lime juice to taste.
  • Chipotle Chicken: Prepare according to recipe directions. Once cooked, toss with ¼ cup barbecue sauce or enough to generously coat, then top with cheese.
  • Pineapple: Lightly grease grill and grill over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until lightly charred and caramelized, flipping once (you can add to grill with chicken).
  • To assemble: Stack toasted bottom buns with lettuce, chicken, pineapple, tomatoes, and lettuce. Drizzle with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

Notes

How to TOAST BUNS

The BEST BBQ Chicken Sandwiches need toasted buns.  Toasting the buns not only prevents them from becoming soggy but gives us palate please golden, crispy on the outside, giving way to soft inside. You can toast your buns in the oven, stove or grill, depending on how our are making our BBQ Chicken Sandwiches: STOVE The stove is perfect if you only need 4 buns, like in this recipe, although it will still require 2 batches, to toast both the top and bottoms.
  1. After the chicken is cooked, don’t wipe out pan.
  2. Heat pan to medium low heat.
  3. If there isn’t much grease left, then you may want to melt 1-2 tablespoons butter.
  4. Add buns, cut side down.
  5. Toast until golden, tilting a bun up to check for doneness.
GRILL If you’re grilling your BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, then toasting the buns is super simple and doesn’t require any additional pans.
  1. Wait until the last minute and your chicken is almost done.
  2. For more flavor, spread some softened butter on the cut side of the buns before grilling.
  3. Add buns to the grill in a single layer, cut side down.
  4. Grill until slightly charred, about 1 minute.
OVEN
If you’re toasting more than 4 buns, then it might be easier to toast them in the oven.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line top and bottom buns on a baking sheet, cut side up.
  3. Spread with softened butter (optional).
  4. Bake until warmed and lightly crispy about 5 minutes.
  5. Don’t over bake or they can become dry – we don’t want croutons!

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6 Comments

    • Jen says

      Thanks Joshua! There is nothing better than a messy sandwich :)!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Stacey! I wish you could! Its a good one – I hope you can make it so you can taste it soon 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Amy, I think you will both love them! Enjoy! Happy New Year!

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