Pulled BBQ Chicken Panini

In the world of pop music, the remix is often better than the original. When it comes to the panini on this blog, the same holds true.

My tastes haven’t necessarily changed that much over the years, but the more I learn about food the more I find my philosophies about it are evolving. Take, for instance, the Barbecued Chicken Panini I made two years ago (cut me some slack on those old photos, I was still relatively new at this). I’d still eat and enjoy a barbecue sauce-marinated chicken breast with mozzarella, red onions and cilantro on crusty bread today. But you know what I’d love even more? Shredded chicken from a whole-roasted bird, simmered in homemade barbecue sauce with fresh mozzarella and caramelized onions on chili-oil drizzled Italian bread.

God made napkins so we could partake of sandwiches like this. I felt like I was in a Carl’s Jr commercial, minus the bikini body. I savored every sloppy bite. Ellie Krieger’s pulled BBQ chicken recipe is easy to prepare, especially with the help of a rotisserie chicken, and the sweet-smoky flavor of the homemade sauce is mouthwatering. I ate this chicken for several days in a row – it’s the kind of dish that just gets better the longer the flavors meld together.

I try really hard to resist the temptation to go back to my early blog posts and update them to reflect my current thinking on panini and food in general. That’s what makes this a “blog” and not just a “website” – it’s an account of my cooking journey, embarrassing episodes and all. But while I don’t want to change what I’ve done in the past, I think a little recipe remix every now and then is fair :-).



Pulled BBQ Chicken Panini
Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches recipe on FoodNetwork.com

Serves 6


6 Italian rolls (I used filone), halved lengthwise
Pulled BBQ Chicken (see recipe below)
Caramelized Onions (see recipe below)
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
Chili oil for brushing (optional)


Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.

For each sandwich: Add a generous amount of pulled BBQ chicken and caramelized onions to the bottom slice of bread. Top with several slices of mozzarella. Close the sandwich with the top slice of bread. Brush a little chili oil on top of the bread.

Grill for 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bread is toasted on the outside. Slice in half, serve immediately and enjoy!

Caramelized Onions


4 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced thinly
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper


In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and onions and stir vigorously to avoid scorching. Season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring until the onions have a deep brown color. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until the onions are soft, 30 to 45 minutes.

Pulled BBQ Chicken


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 whole rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded into thin strips (about 4 to 4 1/2 cups)


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, vinegar, molasses, pepper and liquid smoke and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped chicken, return to a simmer, and cook an additional 10 minutes.



KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. While I agree that a blog does show evolution, I think that old recipes should be revisited / revised if our newer thinking clashes with them. I like that you put the comparison chart up – what a great way to contrast the before and after!

    Posted 6.10.10 Reply
  2. Wei-Wei wrote:

    This looks amazing. I love pulled chicken/pork/beef. Pulled anything, really, because pulled usually means lovely and tender. Mmmmmmmm.


    Posted 6.10.10 Reply
  3. Steph wrote:

    YUM – all of my favorite things in one sandwich. Looks great!

    Posted 6.10.10 Reply
  4. Oh mama mia this looks incredible! One for lunch would be heaven today!! Great recipe girl!

    Posted 6.10.10 Reply
  5. Pass me a napkin please:D

    Posted 6.10.10 Reply
  6. Joanne wrote:

    No offense to your old recipe, but this remix is off the charts!

    Posted 6.10.10 Reply
  7. It’s a recipe remix as the Neeleys would say! You can totally do tweaks of old recipes. You’re right that this is your journal of experimentation.

    Posted 6.11.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Really, the Neeleys say recipe remix? LOL – that must be what put it in my head. Oh well, they’re onto something. 🙂

      Posted 6.11.10 Reply
  8. Heh, heh, there’s nothing like a good, sloppy sandwich. You’re gonna talk me into getting a panini press one of these days 😉

    Posted 6.13.10 Reply
  9. debra wrote:

    when are you going to put all these awesome pannini recipes in a book?
    I would so buy it!!!!!

    Posted 6.13.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      You’re so kind…maybe someday! 🙂

      Posted 6.13.10 Reply
  10. Bread Instead wrote:

    Looks good. I recently had a panini with tomato, mozzarella and pesto. I used bread from Liscio’s. It was warm, mushy and delicious, and the bread stayed crispy on the outside.

    Posted 6.23.10 Reply
  11. This would be one tasty panini!

    Posted 6.24.10 Reply
  12. Cookie wrote:

    My pictures aren’t nearly as nice as yours but I can still see so much improvement when I look back on my early posts. I love revamping my creations too and they definitely taste better each time!

    Posted 6.25.10 Reply
  13. Lori Delgado wrote:

    LOVE the panini!!! MMM! We had this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! I am obsessed with panini’s and this one was GREAT!! Thanks!

    Posted 10.1.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      I’m so glad, Lori – that’s fantastic! Thanks for sharing your feedback! 🙂

      Posted 10.1.10 Reply
  14. Kelly wrote:

    Just made these for dinner last night, fabulous! Used leftover BBQ chicken made in the crockpot (very tender), shredded mozzerella (because that was what I had), carmelized onions and Pumpernickel bread. Awesome! I’ll definitely come back to this website for new and exciting recipes.

    Posted 12.29.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      That sounds fabulous, Kelly! I like the pumpernickel bread choice. 🙂

      Posted 12.29.10 Reply