These BBQ Chicken Melts are hands-down my favorite sandwich. What could be better than a grilled cheese loaded with tender smoked chicken?? This recipe uses chicken that is super easy to make in bulk and freeze, meaning I can whip one up in no time whenever the craving hits. Meal prep this chicken in your smoker or oven, and set yourself up for some delicious and easy meals!
Growing up, grilled cheese was my favorite food. Despite trying many “grown up” loaded grilled cheese sandwiches, nothing really swept me off my feet until this sandwich. I realized that one of the things that makes a grilled cheese great is the melt-in-your-mouth texture, and most loaded grilled cheese sandwiches lose that texture with their added ingredients. The tender, slow cooked chicken is the perfect addition to elevate the grilled cheese without losing that key texture. People often ask me if I dream of starting my own restaurant, and honestly, I dream of starting a food truck dedicated to these BBQ Chicken Melts, I love them that much.
See the Dry Rub BBQ Chicken Breast recipe for detailed instructions on how to prepare this chicken in a smoker or oven, and my suggestions for freezing it!
Key Tips – BBQ Chicken Melts
Use good sourdough bread.
- You can certainly sub any bread you like, but I think you get the best results on good sourdough. Not all sourdough is created equal, and even the sourdough available at most grocery stores comes in a wide variety.
- Look for sourdough that comes in a round loaf, not a typical sliced bread loaf. I swear by San Luis brand sourdough, which is pictured in this post, but Trader Joe’s also has a solid option. Obviously, homemade sourdough, or sourdough from a bakery, will also yield incredible results!
Stock up your freezer.
- This chicken is so easy to make in bulk, and I love to pack it up in freezer packs for easy meals another day. Having it on hand means these BBQ Chicken Melts are one of our “lazy evening” dinners. Pretty much every time I run my smoker, I’m throwing some of this chicken on to replenish our supply.
- You can package the chicken in freezer safe zip bags, but the best option is to use a vacuum sealer. I absolutely love my vacuum sealer and I use it all the time. I have this (surprisingly affordable) Anova brand vacuum sealer. I also recommend these vacuum bags!
Make some tomato soup dip!
- Included in this recipe are the instructions for the dip I typically make with the melts. It’s super easy (because this is usually a lazy night meal) so we’re staring with canned soup. I don’t love to sip tomato soup on its own, but I love to dip my sandwich in it, so dipping is the priority here.
- To prepare the dip, I just sauté a little bit of garlic and red pepper flakes in oil before adding the soup concentrate. This simple step adds a TON of flavor, but you still get the convenience of the premade soup. To help it have a thicker texture, add only about a half a can of water to dilute the soup, rather than a full can.
As written, these sandwiches are large.
- This recipe assumes you’re using very large slices of sourdough (see photos for reference). This makes for a pretty huge sandwich, which is a larger serving size than many people would want. Really, about 1/2 of these sandwiches is a more reasonable serving size (but when I make them, I’m determined to finish the whole thing).
- Depending on the size of your bread, you may need to make some adjustments. The general goal is a single layer of provolone, single layer of chicken, and single layer of cheddar.
Try these with Japanese Mayo.
- Japanese mayo, such as Kewpie Brand, is a different style of mayo compared to the standard American brands. Japanese mayo is richer and creamier than American mayo (read more about that here), and I like it so much that it’s now the only mayo I buy.
Dietary Restrictions – BBQ Chicken Melts
Make it Gluten-Free:
- Substitute gluten-free bread.
A Note On Serving Sizes
Serving sizes are a very personal thing, making it very difficult for me to select a serving size that suits everyone. I consider “one serving” of this to be 1/2 of one of these extra-large sized sandwiches. Accompanied by a side, a 1/2 sandwich would be a filling meal for many people. I typically skip sides with this meal (other than the tomato soup dip) so I can eat both halves of this giant sandwich.
BBQ Chicken Melts + Tomato Soup Dip
- Begin preheating a sandwich press or skillet over medium heat as you prepare the sandwiches. If the chicken is cold, warm it gently in the microwave. (I like to freeze packs of the chicken for making these, so I defrost them prior to starting)
- Lightly butter the outsides of the sandwiches. On the inside, start with a thin layer of mayo on the bottom (just one side), then layer the provolone cheese, chicken, then cheddar cheese.
- Toast the sandwiches until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes in a sandwich press or 2-3 minutes per side in a skillet.
- Slice in half diagonally and serve immediately. (Optionally, serve with the tomato soup included in this recipe! One batch makes enough for a dip, double the recipe if you want more soup.)
Optional, Tomato Soup for Dipping:
- This is a simple way to add extra flavor to canned tomato soup, that can be prepared along with the sandwiches. It makes enough for dipping, but you can double the recipe if you want more soup.
- Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a small pot. Once hot, add the minced garlic. If you want a little spice, add some red pepper flakes along with the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the condensed soup to the pot and mix to incorporate. Rather than adding one full can of water as instructed on the label, add about half a can of water for a thicker consistency. Mix in the water and bring the soup to a simmer until ready to serve. Top with more red pepper flakes if desired.
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