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Here’s how to make shredded chicken that’s fast, flavorful, and juicy every time! Use it to top salads, in tacos, on sandwiches, and in any of your favorite shredded chicken recipes.

overhead view of shredded chicken breast in bowl

Ultimate Guide to Shredded Chicken + Recipes to Use It

Table of Contents
  1. Ultimate Guide to Shredded Chicken + Recipes to Use It
  2. How to Make Shredded Chicken: 4 Steps
  3. How to Shred Chicken: My Secret Tip
  4. Shredded Chicken Breast Recipes
  5. How to Store Shredded Chicken
  6. Why Not Just Buy Shredded Chicken?
  7. What About Other Cuts of Chicken?
  8. Shredded Chicken Yield and Serving Sizes
  9. How to Make Shredded Chicken Recipe

Sure you can buy store-bought rotisserie chicken, but when you see how fast and easy it is to make shredded chicken at home, you won’t want to.

While there are a variety of different methods to cook chicken for shredding or dicing, poaching (gently cooking the chicken in water) is the one I’ve found to be the quickest and easiest, with the smallest amount of clean up.

  • You don’t need any equipment other than a pot to make it.
  • The chicken comes out perfectly tender and juicy every time. (Ever wonder how some restaurants get their chicken so moist? Cooking in water is the secret!)
  • This method works for boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs.
  • You can also refrigerate the chicken for up to 4 days or freeze it, so it’s perfect for meal prep!

Other options include shredded chicken in the oven (Baked Chicken Breast), or if you want to use your appliances like your pressure cooker or slow cooker, you can prepare Instant Pot Shredded Chicken, Crockpot Shredded Chicken, or Air Fryer Chicken Breast.

meal prep container of shredded chicken

How to Make Shredded Chicken: 4 Steps

STEP ONE: Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs) in the bottom of a large pot, then season them.

  • Essential Seasoning. I opt for a generous pinch of salt and pepper. If you like, you can add other seasonings, such as a bay leaf, poultry seasoning, or a few springs of fresh herbs.
  • Arranging the Chicken. You can overlap the breasts or thighs slightly, but if you have a lot of overlap, use a larger pot for a big batch.
chicken breasts in water

STEP 2: Cover the Chicken with 1 Inch of Water

  • You can use chicken broth or vegetable broth, though I find that with this cooking method, you don’t need it. Unless you have some that you need to use up, save yourself an ingredient and make this shredded chicken without broth.
boiling chicken in pot of water

STEP 3: Bring the Water to a Gentle Boil on the Stove, then Simmer.

  • Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat and let the chicken breast or thighs simmer for 8 to 16 minutes, depending upon the size and number of chicken breasts or thighs that you are poaching.
chicken boiling in pot of water

STEP 4: Check for Doneness.

  • Chicken is done when the center reaches 165 degrees F (use an instant-read meat thermometer for guaranteed safety and accuracy—I love this one and use it regularly).
  • Check your chicken OFTEN towards the end. If your chicken is dry or tough, it is because it is overcooked.
  • For the Juiciest Chicken. Remove the chicken a few degrees early. Place it on a plate, cover it, and let rest for five more minutes. The carry over cooking will finish the job.

That’s it! From here, you can shred the chicken (or dice it), then use it however you please.

using hand mixer to shred chicken

How to Shred Chicken: My Secret Tip

  • The easiest way to shred chicken is with a hand mixer. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl, then use a hand mixer on low speed to break the chicken into shreds. This hack is a complete timesaver, especially if you are making a larger amount.
  • If you are making a very large batch, you can also shred it in a stand mixer.
  • No mixer? No problem. You can shred the chicken the old fashioned way with two forks (you’ll need forks or protective gloves to shred hot chicken by hand), or my other favorite method: shred the chicken with your fingers. As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle safely, gently pull it apart with your fingers.
  • Instead of shredding the chicken, you can also slice or dice it, which is even faster and perfect for green salads, pasta salads, and wraps.

Shredded Chicken Breast Recipes

bowl of shredded chicken breast

How to Store Shredded Chicken

Shredded chicken is perfect to keep on hand in the refrigerator during the week to cut down on meal-prep time and to add quick servings of protein to your meals.

  • TO REFRIGERATE SHREDDED CHICKEN. Let the cooked chicken cool completely. Place in a shallow, airtight container and press a sheet of plastic against the top. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. (I love these easy-to-store plastic containers.)
  • TO FREEZE SHREDDED CHICKEN. Follow the steps above, but instead of refrigerating, store the chicken in the freezer for up to 2 months. You can also store it in heavy duty freezer bags. Be sure to squish out as much extra air as you can.

Why Not Just Buy Shredded Chicken?

I also use this method for making shredded chicken any time a recipe calls for store bought shredded rotisserie chicken.

While you can buy shredded chicken, the benefits of making it yourself are notable.

  • Health Considerations. Shredded chicken that you make at home is almost guaranteed to be lower in sodium and fat than store-bought rotisserie chicken.
  • Cook the Meat You Want. I like to make shredded chicken breasts, because most of the time I prefer white meat. If your household is more into dark meat, you can cook all chicken thighs. Want a mix? You can choose a blend too!
  • Save Money. By weight, homemade shredded chicken is far less expensive than precooked store bought chicken.
shredded chicken in meal prep container

What About Other Cuts of Chicken?

While I photographed this recipe with shredded chicken breasts, this method also works for making boneless, skinless shredded chicken thighs.

  • If you use thighs, the meat may cook more quickly depending upon their size, so I recommend checking a few minutes early to ensure that you have moist, juicy diced or shredded chicken.
  • I would not recommend this method with chicken wings or legs. Because neither contains a significant amount of meat, these cuts are better to cook for enjoyment on their own, versus for shredding to use in other applications.

Shredded Chicken Yield and Serving Sizes

The amount of shredded chicken your breast or thigh yields will vary widely depending upon their size. Generally:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken will yield about 4 cups of shredded chicken.
  • 1 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast will yield about 1 1/3 cups of shredded chicken. This is a medium breast. The average ones at our grocery store tend to skew larger, but it will depend on the specific brand you purchase. Organic breasts are usually smaller.
  • Plan on about 1/3 to 1/2 pound of uncooked boneless chicken per serving.
  • If you are adding the shredded chicken to a recipe with a large amount of other fixings (such as chicken tacos), you will likely need less. For example, I find 1/4 pound per person for chicken tacos be plenty…assuming we have plenty of chips and guac.
  • The nutritional information in the recipe below is calculated for 1/2 pound or 1 (8-ounce) breast.

I hope this guide on making shredded chicken was helpful for you! What are some of your favorite ways to use shredded chicken? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

shredded chicken in glass meal prep container

How to Make Shredded Chicken

4.83 from 173 votes
Easy recipe to make shredded chicken that's moist and flavorful! Use this fast, versatile method anytime a recipe calls for shredded chicken.

Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes

Servings: 1 –4 chicken breasts

Ingredients
  


Instructions
 

  • Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a large pot, then season them lightly with salt and pepper. The amounts in the recipe are just a suggestion, so don’t feel pressured to measure. Give each breast a nice sprinkle. If you are cooking a lot of chicken breasts, you can overlap them slightly. If you have a lot of overlap, use a larger pot.
  • Cover the chicken with 1 inch of water.
  • Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer or is no longer pink in the center, about 8 to 16 minutes, depending upon the size and number of chicken breasts that you are poaching. A 10-ounce chicken breast will need to simmer for about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the chicken from water and let rest until cool enough to handle. Dice, slice, or shred as desired.

Video

Notes

  • This method for how to poach chicken is intended for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It also works well for boneless, skinless chicken thighs or bone-in chicken breasts too, though you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. If using bone-in chicken breasts, extend the cook time; for thighs, check them early.
  • Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If dicing the chicken, I prefer to cut the chicken just before serving. If shredding, I find that the chicken is the easiest to shred apart while it is still slightly warm, before I place it in the refrigerator. You can shred by hand or use a hand mixer on low speed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(8 ounce) chicken breastCalories: 367kcalProtein: 34gFat: 4g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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4.83 from 173 votes (103 ratings without comment)

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241 Comments

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  1. Turned out perfectly! I had one chicken breast and I had very little time. This worked out great for shredded chicken in pasta.5 stars

    1. Works every time! Fast and easy. Have finally moved this into my permanent files instead of searching for it every time I need to do it!5 stars

  2. Great recipe to play around with, thank you! I boiled chicken breast and used that stock plus put Sazon seasoning on both the chicken once shredded and in the broth, mixed hot Hungarian paprika, ancho Chile pepper powder, and chili powder in lieu of just chili.. used smoked sea salt instead of kosher, used a 9.5 x 13.5 pan and added a layer of stone ground organic corn tortillas, then spinach, then the mix, and repeated again. Topped with Mexican cheese and crumbled siete lime tortilla chips, baked for 35ish min and broiled for 4 more or less.

    Also I swapped the cream cheese for nonfat Greek yogurt and put some Monterey Jack in the mix and Mexican cheese then topped with more Mexican cheese and used rotel hatch green chili. Defo had a bite!5 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe, Makenzie. I know it can be so disappointing to try a new recipe and it does not turn out for you. It has worked well for myself (and others) and I wished it would have been a hit for you too.

  3. I’m making Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells and was looking for the best way to make chicken so it’s moist and shreds easily. This looks perfect! I priced shredded chicken in the store yesterday and it was $8 for about 13 oz! Yikes!5 stars

  4. What a great way to make it! Super moist and tasty. Who knew you could use a hand mixer to shred chicken? I certainly did not! It was fantastic! No more fork shredding for me!5 stars

  5. I made this chicken today, and it was awesome! What an easy way to shred the chicken. To think that after all these years I finally learned an easy way. I was shredding my chicken manually for years omg lol. Thank you so much!5 stars

  6. Oh wow! This is awesome, I used to just seasoned my chicken breast with salt when I boiled them. I’ll try to add other seasonings next time like bay leaves and fresh herbs. Also, the use of a hand mixer was brilliant. Thank you for the tip.5 stars

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