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How to Make Shredded Chicken

  • Author: Lindsay Cotter
  • 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. 


Basic Ingredients:

  • 3-1/2 to 4 pounds skinless young whole chicken – innards removed from cavity and skin patted dry or 1-1/2 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

  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • smoked paprika or regular paprika (1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon)

Plus additional ingredients as applicable to methods listed below.

  • Slow Cooker & Instant Pot: use 1/4 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)


Air Fryer:

  1. Pre-heat air fryer to 370F. 

  2. Spray the chicken with cooking oil, coating evenly. In a small bowl, combine the spices then rub generously over the chicken breast.

  3. 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.

Oven Baked:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

  2. 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. 

  3. 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:

  1. 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:

  1. Mix the dried spices together in a small bowl. If using fresh minced garlic, set aside. If using garlic powder, mix with other seasonings.
  2. Coat chicken with 1/4 cup olive oil then rub seasoning evenly over chicken.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 1/2 pound chicken about 20-21 minutes) then natural release. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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 1/3 to 1/2 cup coconut milk and juice of 1/2 lime for homemade “buttermilk”. Then marinade in a Ziplock bag for 3 to 24 hours and continue with the Instant Pot method using 1/2 of the marinade. 

  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: main dish
  • Cuisine: american

Keywords: chicken, shredded chicken, meal prep, main dish