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.