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Low-Carb Sweet & Smoky Pulled Chicken

4.6 stars, average of 241 ratings

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I only recently got my first pressure cooker. I was super hesitant at first, but once I realised that I could make a perfect healthy bone broth in an hour and a half, I was hooked.

This is a recipe that I cook in my slow cooker a lot, so I tweaked it slightly to work with both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Moist and tender threads of chicken breast enveloped in a rich, sweet, smokey low-carb sauce.

Eat it in lettuce cups, over baby spinach, with cauli-rice or shirataki rice. I like to top mine with a hefty dollop of sour cream for added healthy fats and to offset the richness of the sauce. Enjoy!

Note: A tablespoon of molasses will add about 2 grams of net carbs per serving. If you want to achieve similar results but don't want to add extra carbs to your keto meal, you can swap the 3 tablespoons of Swerve for 3-5 tablespoons of brown sugar substitute such as Sukrin or Lakanto.

Hands-on Overall

Serving size about 170 g/ 6 oz

Allergy information for Low-Carb Sweet & Smoky Pulled Chicken

✔  Gluten free
✔  Dairy free
✔  Egg free
✔  Nut free
✔  Pork free
✔  Avocado free
✔  Fish free
✔  Beef free

Nutritional values (per serving, about 170 g/ 6 oz)

Net carbs4.3 grams
Protein29.2 grams
Fat12.7 grams
Calories259 kcal
Calories from carbs 7%, protein 47%, fat 46%
Total carbs5.8 gramsFiber1.6 gramsSugars2.9 gramsSaturated fat2 gramsSodium824 mg(36% RDA)Magnesium49 mg(12% RDA)Potassium674 mg(34% EMR)

Ingredients (makes 6 servings)

  • 750 g chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (1.65 lb)
  • 400 ml unsweetened tomato passata (sauce) (13.5 fl oz)
  • 100 ml apple cider vinegar (3.5 fl oz)
  • 3 tbsp Swerve or Erythritol (30 g/ 1.1 oz)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp molasses (20 g/ 0.7 oz) - see note above
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos (45 ml)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (60 ml)
  • Optional: 1 cup sour cream, full-fat yogurt or creme fraiche to serve


  1. Place the chicken breasts into the base of your Instant Pot. Combine all other ingredients (except for the olive oil) in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
    Low-Carb Sweet & Smoky Pulled Chicken
  2. Pour sauce over chicken breasts and place lid on pot.
  3. Lock off and set to pressure cook on high for 15 minutes (or slow cook on low for 6 hours). Once finished, release the steam if applicable and remove the chicken (natural release works best in this case).
    Low-Carb Sweet & Smoky Pulled Chicken
  4. Place the chicken in a dish and shred with two forks. If the sauce is too runny, you could thicken it with about 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum, but I’ve never had to. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
    Low-Carb Sweet & Smoky Pulled Chicken
  5. Combine well until the chicken is coated from all sides. Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and combine.
    Low-Carb Sweet & Smoky Pulled Chicken
  6. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 7 days. Best served with non-starchy veggies such as zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, cauliflower mash, shirataki rice or in crispy lettuce leaves. Low-Carb Sweet & Smoky Pulled Chicken
  7. Optionally, serve with sour cream, full-fat yogurt or creme fraiche. Low-Carb Sweet & Smoky Pulled Chicken

Ingredient nutritional breakdown (per serving, about 170 g/ 6 oz)

Net carbsProteinFatCalories
Chicken, breast (without skin, raw)
0 g28.1 g3.3 g150 kcal
Tomato sauce (passata), unsweetened
2.6 g0.8 g0.2 g17 kcal
Apple cider vinegar
0.2 g0 g0 g4 kcal
Swerve, natural sweetener (Erythritol and chicory inulin based)
0.3 g0 g0 g1 kcal
Salt, sea salt
0 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Pepper, black, spices
0.1 g0 g0 g1 kcal
Garlic powder, spices
0.3 g0.1 g0 g2 kcal
Pepper, cayenne, spices
0 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Paprika, smoked (spices)
0.2 g0.2 g0.1 g3 kcal
Coconut aminos (substitute to soy sauce)
0.5 g0 g0 g2 kcal
Olive oil, extra virgin
0 g0 g9 g80 kcal
Total per serving, about 170 g/ 6 oz
4.3 g29.2 g12.7 g259 kcal

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Naomi Sherman
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Naomi Sherman

Naomi is the force behind Naomi Sherman, Food Creative. She is passionate about recipe development, food photography and styling.

An accomplished home cook who was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease eight years ago, Naomi started to explore the connection between healthy, whole food and her symptoms, and a new love was born.

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Comments (28)

Should this be a quick release or natural release? Step 3 doesn't specify and I couldn't find any info in the write up at the beginning. Thanks!

Hi Andrea, unless it includes vegetables, I always use the natural release option so that is what I would suggest in this case.

It's it ok to leave the sweetener out all together, of I'm not a big fan of sweet?

Absolutely! It's just a flavour preference ingredient so you can leave it out.

I want to make this dish without an instant pot.  I don't want to use one due to limited counter space.  Any suggestions.  Right now I am going to wing it by boiling the chicken to pull it and looking for similar recipes on the web that could help me guess how to do it.  I am hoping future posts give other options when relying on just a stove.  I am cooking for the week to make lunch a no brainer and this is the perfect recipe.  I am going to freeze it, but only to make sure it doesn't spoile before use.
Thank you.

Hi Char, yes you can make this in a dutch oven (or any heavy based soup pot) and cook it over a low heat for 1.5 to 2 hours. To do that, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and then reduce the heat to low for slow cooking. Check every 30 minutes to make sure it's not burning on the bottom and add water if needed. I'd add a cup of water to start with. I hope this helps!
PS: I moved your comment here from the pulled chicken wraps as you mentioned it was meant for this one 😊

Thank you, Thank you!  I broke down and used a pressure cooker that has been taking up space since 2002.  I probably won't use it again. It had a very strong industrial smell and the timer stayed on past the15 minutes without counting down or making a noise.  I might buy a new one (the popular one everyone is using), but plan to make this the long slow way on top of the stove.  The sauce was a little burnt, but surprisingly the chicken was not dry.  Tank you again for the instructions. I saved it and will try again on the weekend.  I plan to eat the one I made since not all of the sauce was burnt.  Also thank you for making these recipes smaller portions!

Thank you for getting back to me, this is really useful! I think that a bit more water or stock would be better to prevent any burning.

Hi Char,
I suspect you could also cook this at low heat eg say 300-325F in the oven in a dutch oven, covered for about 2 hrs, check the meat with a thermometer (160F) and perhaps take lid off for last half hr to thicken the sauce. Though I have both a slowcooker and an instant pot for larger crowds I have used all three methods to cook the same recipe . Things may dry out a bit more in the oven and require a bit more liquid.
Good luck. Hope this is helpful.

How do I calculate the serving size?😕

Hi Karla, if you do need to be precise then I suggest weighing the whole batch and then dividing into 6 equal sized portions. When it comes to foods like these I'd rather not give estimates as weight can vary for batches and depends on factors such as evaporation.

Is there additional olive oil, beyond the 1/4cup in the sauce, that is to be drizzled over the chicken at the end (step 6)?  Step 1 says to mix all other ingredients together for the sauce - which I assume means the 1/4c oil listed in the ingredients.  Not sure  if the oil is saved for the end or in the sauce. Thanks for any clarification!  - I really love the KetoDietApp! It has simplified my Keto transition and life so much.  Thank You Martina!

Thank you so much Anna, I appreciate your kind words! There is a big update that we just released - you will love it! 😊
That's correct - it is all ingredients except for the olive oil, although it won't make a big difference if you use it in step one. I just prefer to do that in the final step.

Ooh this definitly is mydaughter's comfort food. Thank you very much.

Thank you for your kind words!

Hi.  Can you freeze it.

Yes, you can freeze this meal. I prefer to freeze it in batches of 2 servings so that it's easy to defrost just what I need.

Wow, this recipe is amazing! Followed exactly using the crockpot timing. Also, I did not add the optional molasses. Tangy, smokey and rich BBQ chicken as promised. For my taste there is enough sauce for even one more chicken breast, so I likely will do that next time. This is a keeper and I would make for non-keto eaters.

Thank you Kim!

How can I cook this on the cooktop or in the oven? I don't have a pressure cooker & not a fan of slow cookers.

You could bake it in the oven covered with a lid or baking foil. I'd bake it at 150 C/ 300 F (fan) for 45-60 minutes.

I let it simmer in a regular cooking pot on the stove. Checking now and again for the chicken not to overdo. Works perfectly.

Hello what are the calories per serving.

Hi Mary, full nutrition facts are in the table above.

This is delicious! I made for dinner and dressed with créme fresh and cilantro. Thank you for such a tasty, satisfying keto option!

Jen, thank you for your lovely feedback, I'm glad you enjoyed!

What is tomato passata?

It's tomato sauce (added in the ingredients to clarify) - I hope this helps!