Shredded chicken is a common ingredient in so many recipes, yet it is often made the wrong way. Here’s how to make it perfect every time.
Shredded Chicken (the RIGHT way)
Shredded chicken is a common ingredient in SO many recipes online. What people fail to realize, is that there is a wrong way and a right way to make shredded chicken. The wrong way is to bring a pot of water to a boil, throw the chicken in, and hope that it doesn’t come out dry. The RIGHT way involves seasoning, far less water, and a little bit of butter. It will take ALL of your shredded chicken dishes to the next level and it won’t take any extra effort.
In the Instant Pot
My favorite way to make shredded chicken is in the Instant Pot (aka pressure cooker). I love it because it’s fast, it cooks evenly, and the chicken comes out perfectly shreddable every time. I also love that you can cook the chicken from frozen (which is not recommended in a slow cooker). Shredded chicken in the Instant Pot couldn’t be easier, here’s what to do:
- Place chicken in the Instant Pot
- Add water, seasonings and a little butter (butter optional but highly recommended)
- Start Instant Pot
- Remove chicken and shred
For more detailed instructions and times, see recipe below. I guarantee you will never want to cook chicken for shredding any other way again.
In the Crock Pot
You can also cook chicken in the Crock Pot (or slow cooker). This method also turns out great, it just takes a lot longer and you aren’t able to cook your chicken from frozen (I mean, you CAN, but it isn’t recommended). To cook chicken in the Crock Pot, simply follow the steps below, but instead of cooking in the Instant Pot, place the chicken in a Crock Pot and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
On The Stove Top
Although the stove top isn’t my favorite method, it can still be done. You will need to add extra liquid so the chicken doesn’t burn. Layer the chicken along the bottom of the Dutch oven or stockpot and cover with water or broth. Then you can add your seasonings and butter. Because there is extra liquid, the flavor won’t be quite as strong. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 15-20 minutes.
What Seasoning Should I Use?
I like to use Montreal Chicken seasoning most of the time when seasoning for shredded chicken (you can find it in bulk at Costco). It has a great flavor and goes well with just about any dish. Other seasonings that I will sometimes use include Italian seasoning, lemon pepper, taco/fajita seasoning, or just a little salt and pepper. It really depends on what you will be using the chicken for.
Tips For Cooking Chicken
Any time you are cooking chicken you will want to make sure it is heated through completely. Make sure there is no pink in the middle and an internal temperature of at least 165-degrees. If you take it out of the Instant Pot or Crock Pot and it shreds very easily, you should be fine. The stove top can be a little more inconsistent so you may want to use a quick-read thermometer just to be safe.
How To Shred Chicken
There are a few different ways you can shred your chicken depending on what you are using the chicken for:
- Forks (or meat claws) are great for doing a quick shred with medium shreds. Meat claws are my preferred method because it is quick with little mess. I like using this method when freezing the chicken because it’s easy to grab the amount you want for recipes.
- Hands work well when you want long, clean-looking shreds. I am usually too impatient to shred with my hands. This method is nice for salads because the pieces are larger and look nicer when serving or presenting.
- Hand or stand mixers work great when you are shredding a large amount. It is a little difficult to control the size and consistency of the shreds, unless you want very finely shredded chicken. I like using this method when I am making recipes like chicken roll-ups.
Can You Freeze Shredded Chicken?
Yes! In fact, whenever chicken is on sale I like cooking up a bunch right away to shred for freezing. You will love having the chicken already done and ready to go for recipes! You can thaw it in the fridge overnight and then add it directly to your recipe. The chicken will stay great in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Shredded Chicken Recipes
You can use this method for ANY recipe that calls for shredded chicken. We have lots of recipes that use shredded chicken here at FFR but here are some of our favorites:
- Chicken Salad Sandwiches
- Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- Chicken Roll Ups
- Hawaiian Style Chicken Long Rice
- Easy Chicken Flautas
How to Make Shredded Chicken (the RIGHT way)
- Place chicken breasts in the bottom of an Instant Pot/Pressure cooker.
- Add chicken broth to Instant Pot and top chicken with seasonings and butter.
- Seal and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes (30 minutes if cooking from frozen) then quick release.
- Remove chicken from Instant Pot and shred with forks or meat claws (or any method above).
- Return shredded chicken to Instant Pot (optional) and combine with juices until ready to use in recipe.
For Crock Pot/Slow Cooker:
- Place all ingredients in a slow cooker (adding up to an extra cup broth if needed to prevent burning)
- Cover and cook on high heat for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- Instant Pot Pressure Cooker