Looking for the best way to make Shredded Chicken for your mealtime dish? Then look no further! We’re shredding chicken breasts and whole chickens in the Crock Pot, Instant Pot, Air Fryer, on the stovetop, and in the oven. Plus, we’re giving you step-by-step tutorials, cooking tips, and shredded chicken recipes to help make your dishes extra nourishing!
Shredded Chicken for the Win!
Learning how to make shredded chicken is the best way to have easy main dish staples the whole family will love. It’s the easiest go-to for those who like to meal prep, but it’s also good to have on hand for recipes like chicken sliders, gluten-free chicken pho, chicken enchiladas, and just about any casserole. With all the health benefits chicken brings to the table, you’re going to be looking for ways to include it in every meal you can!
Health Benefits of Chicken
Not only is chicken super versatile and easy to sneak into pretty much any dish you’re serving, but it’s also one of the most affordable protein options available and super kid-friendly. Plus, it’s full of benefits to boost your overall health! (Source).
Here are some key health benefits to chicken:
- Vitamin B – helps with energy and healthy red blood cells
- Vitamin D – aids in the absorption of calcium into the bones
- Vitamin A – strengthens eyesight and the immune system
- Minerals – Iron, Potassium, and Sodium all found in chicken aid in brain function and metabolic issues.
- Collagen – helps to support healthy skin, hair, nails, stronger bones & joints, and improved gut health.
How to Make Shredded Chicken
I’m taking you through every way I can think of to make shredding chicken easier for your weeknight meals. No matter your preferred method or taste in seasoning, I’ve got options for you!
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
Cooking in the Instant Pot is great for quick weeknight meals or when you forget to pull meat from the freezer and dinner time is right around the corner. It’s also the best way to make quick soups or coconut milk chicken infused with loads of flavor. It’s like having a slow cooker, without waiting around for it to slowly cook. This is a must-have kitchen tool for busy families!
Looking for something extra moist? Try this coconut milk marinated shredded chicken in the Instant Pot.
You’ll need: 2 large chicken breasts or 3 small (around 1-¼ to 2 pounds), or a whole chicken approximately 3-½ pounds. You’ll also need seasonings and liquid such as broth since the Instant Pot needs that in the base to operate properly and of course, an Instant Pot!
Technique: Place the trivet in the Instant Pot. Coat the chicken in oil and your choice of spices. Nestle your whole chicken or your chicken breasts as evenly as possible on the trivet. Pour the broth into the Instant Pot and set it to manual, high pressure for 6 minutes per pound with a natural release.
Tip: If you are cooking a whole bird instead of shredded chicken breasts and would like crispy skin, remove the cooked chicken from the Instant Pot, and broil it on a sheet pan or casserole dish for 2-4 minutes.
Crockpot Shredded Chicken
Crockpot shredded chicken is the perfect cooking method for when you have a long day ahead of you. Running out to do errands? Know you’ll be home just in time for dinner? No worries! Throwing a whole chicken or multiple pounds of chicken breasts in the slow cooker before heading out for the day will ensure that your main dish is done and juicy when you return. Throw together air fryer roasted vegetables platter or asparagus, and you’ll have dinner on the table in record time with virtually no work!
You’ll need: 2 large chicken breasts or 3 small chicken breasts (around 1-¼ to 2 pounds)or a whole chicken, seasonings, and broth like in the Instant Pot version, and, of course, a slow cooker or crock pot.
Technique: Just like in the Instant Pot, you’ll need liquid in your slow cooker to make shredded chicken. Adding liquid and lemon helps to steam the chicken and infuses it with flavor while cooking. You’ll cook both chicken breasts or a whole chicken on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6 hours.
Air Fryer Shredded Chicken
The Air Fryer is another great option to batch make shredded chicken quickly. This method is preferred for chicken breasts. However, if you prefer, you can air fry a whole chicken, too. Just be sure to allow for extra time as it will take longer to cook than if you were preparing chicken breasts. While chicken tenders in the air fryer are a classic among kids, you can also prepare shredded chicken breasts in the air fryer with minimal oil and loads of flavor!
You’ll need: 2 large chicken breasts or 3 small chicken breasts (around 1-¼ to 2 pounds), olive oil spray, seasonings, and an Air Fryer.
Technique: Pat dry the chicken breasts with paper towels. Give a light spray of oil, and season the chicken to your liking. Lay the chicken breasts in an air fryer basket, and bake for 15-18 minutes. These come out perfect every time. Be sure to let it rest briefly after cooking so juices can redistribute.
Tip: To cook from frozen, place the frozen chicken breast in the Air Fryer (preheated) for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes have passed, check to see if the chicken has thawed. If so, follow the normal cooking instructions above. If not, heat the chicken for another 5 minutes, repeating until thawed.
Stovetop Poached Chicken Breast
Boiled shredded chicken might sound difficult to make, but it’s actually really easy! In fact, this is my preferred method when it comes to meal-prepping chicken for the week because I can cook the chicken and keep it very moist and subtle in flavor. That way, later in the week I can easily add more seasonings to incorporate it into any dish that needs a protein boost. Whether that’s a Chicken Salad for lunch, Tortilla Chicken Chili for dinner, or the Chicken Pho pictured below – it’s ready to add!
You’ll need: 2 large chicken breasts or 3 small chicken breasts (around 1-¼ to 2 pounds)
Technique: Place chicken in a wide saucepot, cover with 6 cups of water or broth. Chicken should be submerged. Bring the broth to a quick boil. Then, cover and simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove chicken from heat, and let it sit covered for 5-10 minutes. Check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the chicken has cooked through, remove it from the water and shred it.
Oven Baked Shredded Chicken
Baking chicken in the oven on a sheet pan or in a casserole dish is great for those beloved one-pot, sheet pan meals. Baking chicken breasts with this method enables you to surround the chicken easily with vegetables such as sliced peppers and onions. While a whole chicken baked in the oven will provide you with shreddable chicken and extra crispy skin.
You’ll need: 2 large chicken breasts or 3 small chicken breasts (around 1-¼ to 2 pounds) or a whole chicken about 3-½ pounds, seasonings, and a sheet pan, 9×13 casserole dish, or Dutch oven.
Technique: Oil and season the chicken as normal, and bake it in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-40 minutes, depending on your oven. Please be sure to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Remove the chicken from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes prior to shredding.
Tip: If cooking a whole chicken and the skin is getting a bit dark while the inside is not yet cooked, loosely cover the chicken with a piece of tinfoil. This will help to keep the moisture in and slow down the browning process.
How to Make Shredded Chicken (Methods)
Use a pair of tongs to remove your hot chicken from the kitchen appliance of choice, and transfer it to a cutting board. Use two forks to loosen and shred the meat, moving with the grain for nice, long pieces of chicken. You can also use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for just a few seconds at a time. However, this method only works well for extra juicy chicken breasts. My preferred method for shredding chicken is to start with forks and then use my hands in order to better control the sizes and texture of the chicken needed based on the recipe.
How to Store Shredded Chicken
Store leftover shredded chicken in an airtight container within the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
What to Serve with Shredded Chicken Recipes
Now that you have the options for cooking chicken and the recipes provided with each cooking method, you may be wondering what to serve as a side. The sky is really the limit, but we have a few suggestions for you.
How to Make Shredded Chicken
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Diet: Gluten Free
Wondering how to make moist shredded chicken for dinner tonight? No matter the cooking method (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, Air Fryer, on the stovetop or in the oven) we’re serving up delicious whole chicken and chicken breasts.
3-½ to 4 pounds skinless young whole chicken – innards removed from cavity and skin patted dry or 1-½ to 2 pounds skinless chicken breast
Olive oil, as needed
1 Tablespoon mixed dried herbs (ex: Italian blend or a mix of oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary)
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon black pepper
- smoked paprika or regular paprika (⅛ teaspoon to ¼ teaspoon)
Plus additional ingredients as applicable to methods listed below.
- Slow Cooker & Instant Pot: use ¼ cup of olive oil, 8 ounces of vegetable broth, and slices of 1 lemon.
- Oven Baked: 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
- Poached Chicken Breasts: 6 cups of water or broth, omitting the oil, with or without seasonings.
- Bonus! Coconut Milk Marinated Shredded Chicken (See Notes)
Pre-heat air fryer to 370F.
Spray the chicken with cooking oil, coating evenly. In a small bowl, combine the spices then rub generously over the chicken breast.
Place the chicken in a preheated air fryer for 10 minutes then flip chicken over and cook an additional 8 minutes. Remove and let the chicken rest before slicing and shredding. For small chicken, air fry for 16 minutes (8 minutes or each side). See notes for frozen chicken breasts.
Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Place the chicken in a baking dish. Rub with olive oil and lemon. Set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together your spices. Rub spice mix evenly around chicken breasts.
Place chicken in the preheated oven for 25- 40 minutes depending on the oven. For smaller chicken breasts, check at 25 minutes with a meat thermometer for doneness. Internal temperature should reach 165F. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing into chicken and shredding.
Stovetop Poached Chicken:
- Place chicken breasts in a wide sauce pot and cover with 6 cups of water or broth. The chicken should be submerged. Bring broth to a quick boil then cover and simmer in low for 15 to 20 minutes . Remove chicken from heat and let it sit covered for 5-10 minutes and shred.
Slow Cooker and Instant Pot Chicken:
- Mix the dried spices together in a small bowl. If using fresh minced garlic, set aside. If using garlic powder, mix with other seasonings.
- Coat chicken with ¼ cup olive oil then rub seasoning evenly over chicken.
- Place cut lemon slices inside and around the chicken and place chicken in the slow cooker or on the trivet in the Instant Pot. Pour broth on top.
- Slow Cooker: Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 6 hours.
Instant Pot: Cook chicken 6 minutes per pound on manual mode, high pressure (for a 3 ½ pound chicken about 20-21 minutes) then natural release.
- For crispy skin on a whole chicken, remove once cooked and place chicken on broiling sheet/pan and under preheated broiler for 2-4 minutes, watching closely as to not burn the chicken.
- Once chicken has cooled, remove skin and remove meat from the bone. Place in a large bowl then use your hands or use 2 forks to shred.
Air Fry from frozen – Place the frozen chicken breast in the Air Fryer (preheated) for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes is up, check to see if the chicken have thawed. Then follow instructions Air Fryer instructions.
Internal temperature of chicken, regardless of cooking method should be 165F.
To make the Coconut Milk Marinated Chicken mentioned in the post, follow the Instant Pot method but limit the ingredients to ⅓ to ½ cup coconut milk and juice of ½ lime for homemade “buttermilk”. Then marinade in a Ziplock bag for 3 to 24 hours and continue with the Instant Pot method using ½ of the marinade.
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: main dish
- Cuisine: american
Keywords: chicken, shredded chicken, meal prep, main dish
This was so quick and easy in the Instant Pot! Loved this recipe and so did my family. Delicious and will be making more!!! Thank you so much for this recipe!
Thank YOU for trying it and giving feedback! We’re so glad you enjoyed!
I did mine in the air fryer, it was so easy. What a time saver.
That’s my favorite method too. 🙂
This is awesome!! You can use it for so many things!