Chicken is the most popular protein choice in the country. Its mild flavor makes it extremely versatile and it’s generally more affordable. High in protein and virtually zero carb, chicken is perfect for low carb recipes. Shredded chicken is my go-to for many quick family meals.
You can use almost any cooking method or appliance to cook the chicken. Each method has its pros and cons and presents opportunities for adding additional flavor in the way of marinades or rubs.
TIP: There’s nothing easier than a shredding a rotisserie chicken for soups, salads, BBQ chicken sandwiches and casseroles during the week. Don’t have rotisserie chicken? Choose one of the 6 methods below to cook chicken for shredding.
THIS POST INCLUDES AFFILIATE LINKS TO SHARE THE THINGS I LOVE.
How to Make Shredded Chicken – 6 ways!
Ever wonder how to make shredded chicken? Here are 6 ways to make shredded chicken. Choose the method which suits your time constraints and cooking preference. Some methods are better suited for larger quantities.
- How to make shredded chicken in an electric pressure cooker.
- How to make shredded chicken on the grill.
- How to make shredded chicken in a poaching liquid.
- How to make shredded chicken in a pan.
- How to make shredded chicken in the oven.
- How to make shredded chicken in a slow cooker (in recipe card)
How to Make Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Shredded Chicken
To use your Instant Pot or another pressure cooker,
- Place thawed chicken in the inner pot of your Instant Pot.
- Add 1 cup of chicken stock and season with salt.
- Place the lid on Instant Pot and set to high pressure for 6-8 minutes. Make sure the valve is set to seal. The pressure cooker takes about 8-9 minutes to reach pressure.
- Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally, then do a quick release.
- Remove the meat to a plate and cover with foil for 10 minutes. Shred. (See below for methods on how to shred chicken)
FROZEN CHICKEN: Follow the same steps as above but set the pressure cooker to 10 to 12 minutes.
NOTE: For really big chicken breasts, set the pressure cooker to 8 minutes. Check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. It should be 160 F and will reach 165 F while it rests. If the internal temperature has not reached 160 F, cook for 2-5 minutes more.
How to Make Grilled Shredded Chicken
Grilling adds a nice smokey flavor to any food. When grilling, remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking. Then, rub oil on the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper or your favorite rub.
Preheat the grill for at least 10 minutes. Oil the grate (to help prevent sticking) and cook the chicken 5-8 minutes per side. Check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. It is ready when firm to the touch and it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F.
Once the chicken comes to 160 F, remove it to a plate and tent with foil for 10 minutes. The rest period allows juices to redistribute. Shred. (See below for methods).
How to Make Poached Shredded Chicken
Poaching chicken breasts is easy and results in beautiful moist chicken. But poaching does require some care. For tips and detailed instructions on poaching chicken, see my post on how to poach chicken.
Once the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 F, remove to a plate and tent with foil for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, shred the chicken (see below for methods).
How to Make Shredded Chicken in a Pan
When cooking chicken in a pan, remove it from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking. Then rub it with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place a medium to large frying pan or skillet on the stove and heat it over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoons oil and swirl the pan to coat. The oil is hot enough when it starts to shimmer.
Add the chicken and cook 4-7 minutes per side. Smaller breasts need about 4 minutes per side while larger breasts need closer to 7 minutes. It’s ready to flip is when the chicken turns white just past the halfway mark on the side. The chicken is done when the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 160 F.
Remove the chicken to a plate and tent with foil for 10 minutes. The rest period allows juices to redistribute. After 10 minutes, shred the chicken (see below for methods).
How to Make Oven Baked Shredded Chicken
To cook chicken in the oven, first take the chicken out of the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to cooking it. Rub the chicken with oil and season the with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken in a baking dish large enough to accommodate and place a piece of parchment over the chicken. Cook in a preheated 350 F oven for 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 F.
Once the temperature reaches 160 F, remove to a plate and tent with foil for 10 minutes. The rest period allows the juices to redistribute. After 10 minutes, shred the chicken (see below for methods).
How to Shred Chicken (pull chicken)
Warm chicken generally shreds easier than cold chicken. If the chicken is cool, you can easily pull it apart into large pieces with your fingers.
For finely shredded chicken (or pulled chicken) use two forks. Use one fork to hold the meat and the other to pull or scrape off of the larger piece. Some people swear by using shredder claws, which function similarly to forks, but work better for larger pieces of meat smoked pork butt.
A hand’s free method of shredding chicken is to use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a beater attachment. To do this, place the chicken in a large bowl, press the beater into the chicken, and set the beater on low. Allow the beater to work through the meat until it is fully shredded.
How much shredded chicken per person?
Caterers plan on 1/2 pound of uncooked meat per person (which yields approximately 1/3 pound of cooked). Keep in mind that the amount of meat needed per person can vary depending on how you plan to serve it.
For sandwiches, plan on serving between ⅓ and ½ pound cooked meat per person. The amount of shredded chicken needed for tacos, enchiladas, or crepes is less. I always buy a little extra just in case. It’s better to make too much than too little. Any extra shredded chicken can be frozen.
To freeze shredded chicken, place it in an airtight container or zip freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight when needed.
What can you use shredded chicken for?
You can use shredded chicken in many dishes. One of my favorites is to add store bought or homemade BBQ sauce to shredded chicken to make BBQ chicken. Serve it in sandwiches, make BBQ chicken enchiladas or top your lunchtime salads.
Shredded chicken is also perfect for Mexican food like red enchiladas, white enchiladas, or tacos. Or use it to fill crepes or for stuffed peppers. And for a great low carb pizza option, turn shredded chicken into a delicious chicken pizza crust.
You can learn how to make shredded chicken for almost any cooking appliance you have or cooking method you like. It’s easy to do as long as you keep a few things in mind. With a little practice you’ll be enjoying pulled chicken for your recipes in no time.
How To Make Shredded Chicken
- slow cooker
- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup salted chicken broth (or 1 tsp chicken base with 1 cup water)
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 half small onion sliced
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
- Cut the onion into slices, crush the garlic cloves and distribute both evenly over the bottom of the slow cooker. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and pour the chicken broth over (add the rind, too!). Add the bay leaves and cloves to the crockpot.
- Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and place on top of the other ingredients. Dot with butter or drizzle with olive oil. Place a piece of parchment directly on top of the chicken breasts to prevent drying.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
- When chicken is done (at least 160 F), remove it to a separate dish and tent with foil for 10-15 minutes to cool before shredding with two forks or your favorite method. Add some of the cooking liquid to the chicken if it needs additional moisture.