BBQ Chicken Pockets: Carry away the thrill of the grill

I imagine some days you run into the same conundrum I do. You’ve had a marvelous party or event with the best BBQ bounty from your grill. Your friends have gone home satiated, and the family is napping away in the shade.

Lo and behold, you find a few trays with just a tiny bit of leftover goodies. Not stacks upon stacks, but enough that it would be a waste to just toss it out with the bones and bottle caps at the end of the day.

Instead of squabbling over that one lone leftover chicken breast, or the single surplus pork chop, let’s take it one step further and create something sumptuous to enjoy later in the week.

Based on classic char siu buns, let’s make BBQ chicken pockets.

bbq chic

You’ll need one pound of your favorite pizza dough , risen through the first rise; about 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken or pork, and the BBQ sauce of your choice.

Dice up or shred the meat into slivers. These pockets are meant to be eaten out of hand, so you don’t want large pieces getting in the way.

Add enough extra sauce to make the filling the consistency and wetness of thick sloppy joes or oatmeal. Wet enough to make a nice, juicy bite, but not so wet that it will flow and spread over the dough as you try to shape the buns.

If you’re running a little short on meat, add some shredded cheese, onions, olives, or veggies to round it out. One version we tried had a deep, smokey sauce and sharp shredded cheddar with the chicken, truly out of this world eats.


Divide your dough into 12 to 14 equal pieces, depending on how large you want your pockets. Pat the dough with your fingers into a rough circle, about the size of a burger bun bottom.

Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the bun.

BBQ chicken buns

Now, we’re going to think like fighter pilots and use the clock for directions. Gather the dough between 11 and 2 and push it together, using a finger at 12 o’clock to push the filling towards the center.

Continue to gather the dough towards the center, pulling in dough from 3,  9,  4 and 8, then 7 and 5, while using another finger on 6 to hold everything together.

You’ll end up with dough from each section held between your fingers in the center of the bun. Give this a few twists with your fingers to hold everything together. Continue with each bun, tenting them lightly with plastic to keep them from drying out as they rise.

If the clock reference isn’t working out for you, check out this dumpling video that makes it all look seamless. It’s a slightly different technique, but it seals the pockets just as well.

Let the closed buns rise for 20 to 30 minutes, or until puffy. Bake them in a preheated 350°F oven for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on size. The buns will be golden brown on top, slightly paler below the equator, and well-browned on the bottom.


Have no fear, you’ll get the occasional blowout. It happens to everyone, so don’t fret. I doubt you’ll get anyone who’ll refuse to eat an imperfect pocket, especially once they catch the scent of hot bread and BBQ.


These buns freeze very well once baked. It’s great to pull out one or two in the middle of the week to be reheated for an after-school or after-work snack. Just toss in the toaster oven set on 325°F until warmed through.

Like many “recipes” for leftovers, you can absolutely customize it to your tastes. For those who like to keep printed recipes, this one doesn’t have much to write down, but here’s a little summary:

1 pound soft, supple bread or pizza dough
1 1/2 cups filling (meats, sauce, veggies)

Divide the dough into 12 to 14 pieces. Flatten each piece, and fill with 2 tablespoons filling. Pinch and seal the pocket closed. Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 350°F for 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot. Baked pockets freeze well.

So, what’s your favorite way to use up leftovers from the grill? Any silly grilling stories?  Share your comments below with your fellow bakers, and make this a summer to remember.

By the way, I mentioned these buns were based on classic Char Siu buns. I’ve always made my char sui with jarred sauce, but I’d love to try a homemade version. If you have a favorite recipe, please let me know, I’d love to try out a few.  Thanks! ~ MJ

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour’s baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Jamie

    I love these! They are perfect – like mini calzones 🙂 I know my husband will go crazy for them. I work weird hours on weekends and he’s constantly looking for easy things for lunch during those days and these would be perfect options for him. Thanks for including the freezing directions (because you knew that was going to be the first question, didn’t you?). Amazing recipe as always!!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi Jamie,
      Yes, they are so great to have on hand. I keep meaning to make a steak and cheese version too to stock my freezer. I want to have a “dumpling day” with friends so that we can all go home with stuffed freezers (and tummies!). ~ MJ

  2. Hobbit

    This is perfect……last week I made a roasted veggie and cheese with “red sauce” for my people.Of course, my meat eaters felt slighted so this will be just the thing to stuff their mouths with…….thank you MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Wow, I wouldn’t be able to decide between the two. Both sound fab! ~ MJ

  3. waikikirie

    What a great idea MJ……Life has been too crazy lately….haven’t been able to make my pizza dough…..maybe this is the sign to slow down and make it!!!!!xoxoxoxoxo

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      I totally agree! It’s time to slow down and relax a little, eat well and laugh, laugh, laugh. All the best, ~ MJ

  4. cwcdesign

    Hi MJ, These look like just the thing to stick in my freezer for my “boys.”

    You asked about what we do with leftovers from the grill. I often make chicken salad and, yes, chicken salad make with BBQ chicken breasts (sauce and all), celery, scallions (or whatever), mayonnaise and anything else your heart desires is a great way to use up that last bit of chicken.

    1. MaryJane

      ooooh, I have never thought to make the chicken salad with BBQ chicken. I think we need to make a big, big batch of Dave’s BBQ sauce so I can make ALL the things! ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      oooooh, another new site to check out. Thanks!

      My hubs is so excited for BBQ season, I can’t wait for our first round of pulled pork. nom, nom, nom!!! ~ MJ

  5. Deidre

    This sounds incredible! I’ve been making a meatless variation of this for years but stuffed into halved, hollowed out small french rolls. My mixture is: grated sharp cheddar cheese, sliced black olives, thin sliced scallions & enough chili sauce (a type of spicy ketsup) to hold it together. Best part is you fill both sides of the french rolls, slap them back together, wrap well and freeze. You can bake them frozen for 30min +/-. Great on a Sunday when you’re watching sports.

  6. Heidi

    I make something similar to this only they are Pizza buns. I use all the things you’d put on your favorite pizza but bake them in a bun with some pizza sauce only like you mentioned with the sauce just enough to hold everything together, but not too juicy. They are fun to pack in lunches, take on a trip and less messy than a pizza slice.

  7. Stella

    Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for finding us! I hope we can help you in all your baking endeavors. Barb@KAF

  8. Erin

    These came together like a dream during assembly. I did something wrong though because the bottoms blew out and then the dough cooked together on top. I assume I pressed the dough out too thin, but any other thoughts or tips are welcome.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You are probably spot on Erin. The bottoms may have been too thin. I hope you will try these again some day! Elisabeth@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel

      Sure, Sunny, here’s what it says in the blog post: “These buns freeze very well once baked. It’s great to pull out one or two in the middle of the week to be reheated for an after-school or after-work snack. Just toss in the toaster oven set on 325°F until warmed through.” Sounds like you wrap well once they’re baked and cooled, then put them right in a 325°F oven, still frozen, to thaw and reheat. Enjoy – PJH

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