Shredded chicken is great for easy meal prep and it's also good to have on hand for a quick dinner. If you are wondering what is the best way to make shredded chicken, I have you covered. I tried four different methods to determine which is the best way to cook chicken breast for shredding so that you can choose the method that is right for you.
Shredded chicken is an easy healthy protein that is perfect to have on hand for a quick dinner or to toss into salads, stir fry recipes, sandwiches, tacos, nachos or soups.
Why This Recipe Works
- Shredded chicken breasts are made with minimal ingredients (only four if you consider water an ingredient)
- It's versatile, easy to make and convenient to have on hand in your fridge for a quick meal.
Shredded Chicken Breasts Ingredients
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 to 1 ½ pounds)
- Sea salt & Pepper to taste
- Water (enough to cover the bottom of the cooking vessel)
Equipment You Will Need to Make Shredded Chicken
Depending on your cooking method, here is a list of suggested equipment you might need to make shredded chicken. Unless you try each way, you won't need all of these.
How to Make Crockpot Shredded Chicken
Place the chicken breasts into the slow cooker and season them with salt and pepper. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the crockpot.
Cover the slow cooker and cook the chicken on low heat for three to four hours. The cooking time can vary depending on your slow cooker. The meat should be cooked through to 165 degrees F.
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken End Result
The chicken is tender and juicy when made in the crockpot and there's very little shrinkage. However, cooking the chicken in the slow cooker takes the most amount of time of all four methods. If you are looking for a quick way to cook shredded chicken the slow cooker is not it. If time is not an issue, this is a great way to make shredded chicken, especially if your slow cooker has a timer so that the chicken does not overcook.
Total Estimated Time to Make This Recipe: 3 to 3 ½ Hours
How to Make Shredded Chicken in an Instant Pot
Place the boneless chicken breasts into the Instant Pot, add just enough water to cover the bottom.
Secure the lid and set the Instant pot to high for 10 minutes. Once the cooking time is over, let the pressure release naturally which will take about 8 minutes longer.
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Results
The Instant Pot chicken, like the Crockpot version, is moist and tender, but the chicken had more shrinkage than the other methods. If you are looking for a quick way to cook shredded chicken that is juicy and tender, this is it!
Total Estimated Time to Make This Recipe: 20 to 30 Minutes
How to Make Shredded Chicken on the Stovetop
Arrange the boneless chicken breasts in a saucepan, season them and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes
Stovetop Shredded Chicken Results
The stovetop shredded chicken is tender but not as moist as the chicken made in the Crockpot and Instant Pot. It's a great choice if you don't have an Instant pot or slow cooker. It takes just a few minutes longer than it does to make shredded chicken in an Instant pot.
Total Estimated Time to Make This Recipe: 30 to 40 Minutes
How to Make Shredded Chicken in the oven
Preheat the oven to 350, and add the chicken to a casserole dish, season it and add enough water to cover the bottom of the dish.
Cover the dish and place it in the oven for 30 minutes.
Total Estimated Time to Make This Recipe: 30 to 40 Minutes
Oven Shredded Chicken Results
The shredded chicken is not as tender when cooked in the oven, but still flavorful. It's a good choice if you are already cooking something in the oven. Try brushing on a few teaspoons of olive oil or melted butter for extra moisture.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
Water. If you prefer more flavor, an equal amount of chicken broth or chicken stock can be used in place of the water and omit the salt.
Chicken. Boneless chicken thighs can be substituted for boneless chicken breasts or you can use a combination of both.
Since shredded chicken is a blank slate and can be used in so many recipes, I like to use minimal seasoning when I make it. If you prefer shredded chicken with more flavor, you can add a pinch of your favorite dried herbs to the water such as, thyme, sage, dill, basil, oregano, garlic powder or onion powder.
To avoid soggy shredded chicken, do not cover the chicken entirely with water.
Do not place the chicken breasts on top of the trivet in the instant pot. Remove the trivet, and place them into the water so that they stay moist and flavorful.
Allow the chicken to sit for at least 10 minutes before shredding it which will allow it to cool and the juices to redistribute through the meat.
If you prefer smaller shreds, chop the chicken breasts, especially if they are large chicken breasts into smaller pieces before cooking it.
How to Shred Chicken
Some people like to shred chicken using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer. It's pretty straightforward; you place the chicken into a mixing bowl and mix at low speed until the chicken is shredded to the size that you want. This method makes more sense for shredding large batches of chicken.
I make smaller batches of shredded chicken, and I like the simplicity of the fork method for shredding chicken or I use my hands; it is the easiest way. It only takes a few minutes and you have more control over the sizes of the shreds.
Whichever way you choose to shred your chicken, allow the chicken to cool off before shredding.
How to Store, and Freeze Shredded Chicken
How to Store Shredded Chicken
Store shredded chicken in the refrigerator for three to four days in an airtight container.
How to Freeze Shredded Chicken
Measure the shredded and cooled chicken into serving portions which makes it convenient for weekly meal prep or making smaller recipes. Place the chicken shreds into an airtight container, freezer bag or a freezer-safe reusable bag for up to four months.
Thaw out frozen shredded chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
The Bottom Line, what is the best way to cook chicken for shredding?
In my opinion, the most flavorful and moist shredded chicken comes from cooking the chicken in the Crockpot or Instant Pot. I was pleasantly surprised at how moist the chicken was and my favorite way, as long as I have the time is the slow cooker.
If you don't have an Instant Pot or a Crockpot, the next best way is the stovetop, and the oven method my last choice. The oven-cooked chicken was not as tender and juicy as the other methods.
Shredded Chicken Recipes
- Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls
- Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls
- Asian Chicken Pasta Salad
- Buffalo Chicken Flatbread
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tostadas
- Loaded Chopped Salad with Chicken
- Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
- Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Soup from Faith Hope Love and Luck
- Mexican Chicken Burritos from SuebeeHomemaker
- Shredded Chipotle Chicken Tacos from Palatable Pastime
- Roasted Garlic & Chicken White Pizza from Family Around The Table
- White Chicken Chili from Kathryn's Kitchen
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Click on serving size to scale this recipe
- 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Crock Pot Shredded Chicken
Pour enough water into a slow cooker so that it just covers the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper,
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 3 hours, chicken should be at least 165 degrees internal temperature. If not, place the cover back on and cook for an hour longer.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the crockpot and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes and shred it with two forks.
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
Place the chicken into the Instant Pot along with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover the Instant Pot and set the chicken to cook at high for 10 minutes. After the cooking process, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 5 to 10 minutes longer.
- Carefully remove the cover, let the chicken cool off for 5 to 10 minutes and shred it using two forks.
- Stovetop Shredded ChickenPlace the chicken into a saucepan along with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover the saucepan and cook it on top of the stove on medium to low heat for 25 minutes, check the internal temperature which should be 165 degrees.
- Remove the chicken from the heat and let the chicken cool off for 5 to 10 minutes before shredding it with two forks
- Oven Shredded ChickenPreheat the oven to 350
- Place the chicken into an ovenproof dish along with enough water to cover the bottom; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover the dish and place it in the oven for 30 minutes. Check the internal temperature which should be 165 degrees.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken from the oven and let it cool off for 5 to 10 minutes before shredding it.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used
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