An amazingly adaptable, quick, fast, and delectable shredded chicken meal. It's my preferred way because it keeps the chicken juicy, shreds quickly, and infuses more flavor than boiled or poached chicken.
Shredded chicken (also known as jerked chicken) is one of those cooking essentials that everyone should know how to make. It's used in a variety of recipes, from salads to appetizers to main courses, yet none of them explain how to create it. They simply state that 3 cups of shredded chicken are required.
Of course, you could just purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (or cook your own) and shred it with two forks. But there's no need to when I show you how simple it is to produce shredded chicken at home.
THE BEST CHICKEN TO USE
Boneless chicken, skinless chicken breasts, and skinless chicken thighs can be used. The thighs are naturally moist, but either method works. Given how we'll shred the chicken, you don't want any skin or bones for this procedure.
HOW TO MAKE SHREDDED CHICKEN
After experimenting with numerous techniques, including boiling, poaching, the slow cooker/crockpot, and the Instant Pot, I've decided that this cooktop approach is my favorite. And here's why: it's more delicious (since you're scorching one side), moister (because you're doing a half poach/steam), and it shreds in seconds (yes, seconds). So let's dissect it.
SAUTÉ THE CHICKEN
To begin, heat a little bit of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Season the top side of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Let this simmer for 5 minutes (it should be somewhat brown), then flip the chicken over with tongs.
COVER AND POACH
After flipping the chicken, add ¾ cup of chicken stock to the pan and cover it with a lid. This will keep the chicken moist as it cooks quickly. Cook the chicken for a further 7-10 minutes. Chicken thighs will take a bit longer to cook than chicken breasts. You may also use an instant-read thermometer to confirm that the chicken is fully done (to 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
HOW TO SHRED CHICKEN – 2 WAYS
Once your chicken is done, there are two methods to shred it. My preferred way is to use a stand mixer because it is both quick and simple. If you don't have a stand mixer, you may alternatively use two forks.
- Place your cooked chicken breast on a platter or chopping board if using this method. Separate the chicken flesh with two forks, shredding as you go. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
- Stand Mixer: This is by far the quickest and easiest way to shred chicken if you have a stand mixer. Fill the stand mixer bowl halfway with chicken breasts. Install the paddle attachment and make sure the tilt head is locked (if applicable). Install the paddle attachment and lock the tilt head (if applicable) to prevent it from bouncing up. Set your stand mixer on low and you'll have shredded chicken in 15 seconds. See how I do it in the video below.
HOW TO STORE IT
Shredded chicken is excellent for weekly meal preparation. On a Sunday, shred six chicken breasts, put them in a container, and enjoy healthful dinners for the rest of the week. It will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months.
I often prepare a huge quantity, freeze it in little containers, and then defrost it as required. It simplifies my everyday cooking.
SHREDDED CHICKEN RECIPE (SUPER EASY!)
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, or thighs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 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.
- 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.
- Use the shredded chicken in your favorite recipes or freeze in storage containers for future use.
- 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.