How to Shred Chicken

Katie Goodman | Good Life {eats} Updated
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If how to shred chicken is at the top of your learn-to-do list, this post is for you. Shredded chicken can fill everything from tacos to soups, making dinner a snap.

How to Shred Chicken Photo

Shredded chicken is a great basic to prepare in advance for use in any number of recipes. Just think how much faster it would be to make up a batch of your favorite chicken enchiladas or chicken tortilla soup (Yes, I’ve got Mexican food on the brain!) if you already have the chicken prepared!

Aside from dinner recipes, having a small stock of shredded chicken is great for making a quick lunch – you can add it on top of a salad, whip up a quick chicken salad sandwich, or add it to a simple quesadilla.

For purposes like these, I find it best to prepare a large batch of shredded chicken ahead of time and freeze it in the portions that I most often use. This will depend on your personal preference, so take a little time to think about how you think you’ll use the chicken, what recipes you might make with it, and how much chicken will be utilized. I find that 1, 2, and 3 cup portions are ideal.

How to Shred Chicken Picture

So, how do you shred chicken?

Well, first you have to cook it. You can do this several different ways – in the crockpot, in the oven, or poach it stovetop. Leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken also works well.

  • Crockpot: The slow cooker is great because you can leave the chicken unattended and because you can add other ingredients to season the chicken. For example, if you know you want a batch of Mexican shredded chicken, you might add some cumin, chile powder, chipotle peppers, salsa, cilantro, or other ingredients. I love this Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Chicken.
  • Bake: Baked chicken can be shredded as well. You can season it as heavily and distinctively as you’d like or you can keep it simple with a basic salt and pepper.
  • Poach: If you don’t know how to poach, check out this great tutorial from TheKitchn.
How to Shred Chicken Image

Now that you’ve cooked the chicken you can shred it!

If you used bone in chicken, first you’ll want to pull all of the meat off the bones. Save the bones for making homemade chicken stock (yum!).

There are a few ways you can shred the meat:

  • With your Fingers: All you do here is use your fingers to pull the chicken apart into chunks. They can be as big or as small as you like. If you end up with bigger pieces, just pull them apart into smaller ones.
  • Using Two Forks: Hold one fork in each hand. I like to use the fork in my non-dominant hand to hold the piece of chicken steady. With the fork in my dominant hand I scrape at the piece of chicken to pull it apart.
  • Using a Stand Mixer: This is a method that I didn’t hear of until a couple of years back (thanks, Pinterest!). It is definitely the fastest and easiest method for shredding chicken. Why is that? Because all you do is dump the meat into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix over low speed until the chicken reaches whatever shred-size you want. The mixer does all the work!

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Chicken Recipes

    Chicken breasts are marinated then grilled in a cast iron pan and finished in the oven. The leftovers are even better than the original meal!
    Jerk Chicken Mango Avocado Sliders are a trip to the tropics, without ever having to leave your kitchen! Shredded jerk chicken is made easily in the Instant Pot, then piled high on toasted Hawaiian buns with mango salsa and avocado. It’s a killer game day appetizer!
    Charred Caesar Salad Avocado Tacos are the way that I make salad something I actually CRAVE! A simple caesar marinade for the chicken really brings out the classic flavors of the salad, and the char from the grill gives the tacos a nice, smoky flavor. Taco night just got a whole lot more interesting!
    The Pioneer Woman's White Chicken Chili makes a satisfying and comforting meal and is full of flavor.
    Hawaiian Chicken Tacos. These fun, flavorful tacos are loaded up with sweet and spicy grilled Hawaiian chicken. Top with juicy pineapple for a tropical treat!
    One Pot Cajun chicken pasta is a delicious dinner recipe that uses chicken, andouille sausage, onions, and tomatoes. Pasta is cooked in the skillet to absorb all the flavors, and it’s finished with Neufchâtel Cheese.
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Katie Goodman

About Katie

Katie's been blogging over at Good Life {Eats} long enough that we think she's an expert in, well, everything! She's our local How-To gal, with some family meals and snacks thrown in too.