How to Make Shredded Chicken

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An easy, fast and flavorful shredded chicken recipe that’s incredibly versatile. It’s my favorite method because it keeps the chicken moist, shreds in seconds and infuses more flavor than other methods, such as boiled or poached chicken.

Shredded chicken in a bowl next to plates and a napkin.

Shredded chicken (also known as pulled chicken) is one of those recipe basics that everyone should learn to master. It’s used in many recipes, from salads to appetizers to main dishes – yet those recipes usually never tell you how to make it. They just tell you you need 3 cups of shredded chicken.

Of course, you could easily buy a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket (or make one yourself) and shred that chicken with two forks. But there’s really no need when I show you how incredibly easy it is to make shredded chicken at home.

Shredded Chicken Recipe Video

Once you learn this method you’ll never make it any other way. Watch the video below!

The Best Chicken to Use

You can use boneless skinless chicken breast or boneless skinless chicken thighs. The thighs are naturally more moist but either one works. You just don’t want skin or bones for this method, given how we’ll shred the chicken.

How to Make Shredded Chicken

After testing several methods including boiling, poaching, slow cooker/Crockpot and Instant Pot, this stovetop method is my favorite. And here’s why – it’s far more flavorful (as you’re searing one side), it’s moist (as you do a half poach/steam), and it shreds in seconds (yes, seconds). So let’s break it down.

How to make shredded chicken that's easy, fast and flavorful. It's my favorite method for making shredded chicken.

How to make shredded chicken that's easy, fast and flavorful. It's my favorite method for making shredded chicken.

Sauté the Chicken

You’ll start by drizzling a little olive oil into a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and sprinkle salt and pepper generously on the top side. Let this cook for 5 minutes (it should be slightly golden), then use tongs to flip the chicken over.

Cover and Poach

Once the chicken is flipped over, add 3/4 cup of chicken broth to the pan and cover with a lid. This will keep the chicken moist while cooking it fast. Cook the chicken for another 7-10 minutes. Chicken thighs will require a little more time than chicken breasts. You can also use an instant read thermometer to ensure your chicken is cooked through (to 165 degrees Fahrenheit).

How to Shred Chicken – 2 Ways

Once your chicken is cooked, there are two ways you can shred the chicken. My favorite method is to use a stand mixer as it’s extremely fast and easy. But you could also use two forks if you don’t own a stand mixer.

  • Two Forks: If using this method, place your cooked chicken breast on a plate or cutting board. Use two forks to separate the chicken meat and shred as you separate. Continue this process with each chicken breast.
  • Stand Mixer: If you have a stand mixer, this is by far the fastest and easiest way to shred chicken. Place all of your chicken breasts in the bowl of stand mixer. Add the paddle attachment and make sure to lock the tilt head (if you have one) to prevent it from bouncing up. Turn your stand mixer on low and in 15 seconds you’ll have shredded chicken. Watch the video below to see how I do this.

The stand mixer method for shredding chicken is one of my favorite kitchen hacks. It saves your wrists from the tedious two fork method and takes a fraction of the time to shred your entire batch of chicken. It’s seriously mind-blowing.

If you like your chicken extra moist, you can also add a little bit of the liquid from the pan to the chicken and toss to combine.

How to make shredded chicken that's easy, fast and flavorful. It's my favorite method for making shredded chicken.

How to make shredded chicken that's easy, fast and flavorful. It's my favorite method for making shredded chicken.

How to Store It

Shredded chicken is great for weekly meal prep. You can shred several chicken breasts on a Sunday, store them in a container and have healthy meals throughout the week. It will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge and up to 2 months in the freezer.

I frequently make a large batch, freeze it in small containers and then just thaw as needed. It makes my daily recipes a breeze.

A bowl of shredded chicken on a table.

Recipes That Use Shredded Chicken

A bowl of shredded chicken on a table.

Shredded Chicken Recipe (Super Easy!)

4.98 from 132 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

Learn how to make shredded chicken that's easy, fast and flavorful. This is my favorite method for making shredded chicken. Watch the video above to see how easy it is to make!

Video

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, or thighs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat and place the chicken in the skillet. Season the top of the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, then use tongs to flip the chicken.
    Chicken breasts searing in a pan.
  • Add the chicken broth, cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 7-10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees fahrenheit. You can easily measure this with an instant read thermometer.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and shred the chicken. There are two ways to do this - you can use two forks to shred the chicken or you can place the chicken in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment on the stand mixer, lock the tilt-head down (if you have one) and increase the speed to 2. The chicken will be instantly shredded in 15 seconds. If you'd like extra moist chicken, you can add any remaining liquid from the pan to the shredded chicken and toss to combine.
    Shredding chicken breasts in a stand mixer.
  • Use the shredded chicken in your favorite recipes or freeze in storage containers for future use.
    Shredded chicken in a bowl.

Lisa's Tips

  • If you have a tilt-head stand mixer make sure to lock the tilt-head, otherwise it will bounce up when it hits the chicken.
  • These are the storage containers I use when making a large batch of shredded chicken.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of recipe | Calories: 158.7kcal | Protein: 24.8g | Fat: 5.9g | Saturated Fat: 1.3g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 64mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make shredded chicken, shredded chicken
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




271 Comments

  1. I never knew about this technique for prepping/shredding chicken. Game changer—thank you–I used the broth that was in the pan to moisten the breast meat. Amazing.5 stars

  2. Overall amazing! Loved the idea of using chicken broth which I’ve never thought of! The chicken came out very juicy and flavorful, I definitely recommend!!5 stars

  3. Game changer!! I followed this to a T and it turned out perfectly. I did add some additional seasoning. The chicken was moist and delicious. I could not believe how well the stand mixer shredded the chicken! Definitely sharing this recipe!5 stars

  4. Perfect recipe that came up when I googled shredded chicken. I usually bake or boil but this was much better. Adding the juices to the stand mixer added extra flavor. I seasoned with a bit more than salt and pepper since I was using this chicken for a mexican recipe and it was so flavorful. Thanks Lisa!5 stars

  5. I left it for nearly an hour in the pot as the chicken breasts were whole (therefore huge!) and I wanted to make sure they would shred properly as I don’t have a blender at hand.
    It stayed perfectly juicy and in much less time than a slow cooker.
    Thank you, as always, Lisa!5 stars

  6. I’ve never left a comment on a blog before, but I had to on this one! This was spot on, full proof, and the chicken retained so much moisture. The entire process was faster than hand shredding a rotisserie chicken (which I typically do). I will be using this recipe from here on out! Thank you!

  7. I’ve used this recipe the last several times I’ve made chicken and it’s amazing! Never fails. I usually use some chicken breasts whole, cut into thick slices and the rest I shred and make into buffalo chicken! Thanks. :)5 stars

  8. I tried half poaching/steaming recipe for cooking chicken and I used two forks which turned out to be very easy to shred the chicken breasts.
    I will use this cooking method again.5 stars

  9. I have tried to make shredded chicken before and struggled. This is such a time saver and I will be making more shredded meat recipes using this tip5 stars

  10. 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. One question… I had six chicken breast, so I shredded four at first. I think I overdid it and now it’s kind of finely shredded. What do you suggest I can do with the chicken that’s shredded that finely?5 stars

  11. This is funny because I’ve made shredded chicken so many times, but I thought
    “I wonder how other people do it”
    And I’m so glad I found this recipe. My chicken is so incredibly juicy and flavorful
    Thank you so much for sharing!5 stars

  12. I must have some very large breasts because mine needed 20 minutes once flipped. I poured some of the broth right back in after shredding. SO good!5 stars

  13. Thank you so much! I didn’t even know that was there until you mentioned it so this is perfect! I’ll be checking it all out : )5 stars

  14. Hi, I’m going to make this recipe but I have to know what pan is that you use to cook the chicken, I need one of those!

    1. Hi Jamie – I’m using a Staub cast iron braiser to cook the chicken! You can find this on the Shop page on my website.

    1. You can use it to cook rice (to add a savory flavor) or include it as a base for soups! Just keep in mind it won’t be as thick or rich as chicken stock.

  15. I have,of course, poached chicken before,but thought I’d look online for some recipes for a friend with some swallowing problems.
    I saw this recipe, but what had me fascinated was the shredding method.
    Cooked the chicken and headed to my Kitchenaid mixer. I followed the instructions and I was totally amazed at how easy it was !
    Thank you !5 stars

  16. I don’t have a stand mixer, but I used my electric hand mixer with normal mixing blades and it worked very well too! Much better than using the two forks!5 stars

  17. What a great way to make! Super moist and tasty and the kitchen mixer method was fantastic! No more fork shredding for me!5 stars

  18. They were so right. I really could easily measure the 165 degrees Fahrenheit with an instant read thermometer. However, they were not truthful about the stand mixer. It took me approximately 45 seconds. Doing the math you will discover that is 3 times as long as this recipe said it would take. That is 30 precious seconds that I’ll never get to spend with my kids. In the grand scheme of things, it was good chicken. I think. I wrote this before I even ate the chicken.5 stars

  19. I made this for a 4th of July picnic. I had different sauces that you could put on your sandwich or just eat it as is. It was so simple to prepare. I did 10 chicken breasts and 6 chicken thighs. Shredding was a breeze using my Kitchen Aid mixer. The chicken was juicy and tender. I put it in my crockpot and added a little chicken broth. Everyone loved it and those who were watching their weight liked that they could eat it without sauce or a roll. We used the leftovers in salads and soft tacos. Easiest recipe ever. Will make this again and take it for vacation at the beach. 5 stars

  20. Who knew you could use your stand mixer to shred chicken? I certainly did not! This recipie makes shredded chicken a snap!5 stars

  21. Excellent! Very good flavor! I used Garlic Olive Oil and wow! Shredded quite easily. I had 5 large breasts. I shredded 4 and ate the one. LOL I couldn’t resist. VERY good.5 stars

  22. I can’t believe I am 33 years old and I am just now finding out that you can shred chicken in a stand mixer!5 stars

  23. Can the leftover chicken broth still be used? Seems a shame to just throw it away with all that salt & peppery flavour! 

  24. Hello, when I play the video, it only gets to the flipping stage then starts on the next video. How can I watch the entire video please?

    1. I would scroll the little bar back to the beginning if you can see that when you hover over it!

    2. You will see the words next, stay while the chicken is being flipped. Select stay and you will get to watch to the end of the video

  25. I’m new to your site.  We have prepared several recipes and enjoyed all of them.  Thank you for sharing.  Got your book and love it!  Recent illness requires meal prep.  Thank you for doing the homework in meal nutrition for us.  Finding your site is allowing me to study/learn how to manage health concerns; and serve up tasty meals.  Thank you Lisa.  :)

  26. Can I do it after I’ve put them in the fridge and they are cold, or should you do it while they’re still hot?

  27. I’m loving your style in the explanations, demo videos and after all is done we’re given the opportunity to print it off.  Thank you so much.  There’s a lot to like with Downshiftology!5 stars

  28. One note of caution: watch out for flying chicken breasts! I loaded up the mixer bowl, turned it on low and stood back to watch. Imagine my surprise when one of the chicken breasts flew out of the mixing bowl and onto the floor! Needless to say, the dogs were thrilled.

  29. Just got down with this – shredding hack is amazing!   Worked like magic!   The Chaco Ken came out fantastic as well – juicy and ready to go.   Adding a little spice for some shredded chicken tacos tonight.   Thx so much 
    Kurt 5 stars

  30. Thank you! Something that seems so easy always eluded me!  I don’t have a mixer but the fork method was not so bad! I’m sure my chicken soup and chicken and rice dinners will be so much better now that I’m not just chunking the chicken.  Made it the new way tonight and it looks good.  Thank you from someone who always finds cooking a chore.5 stars