Want to know how to cook shredded chicken the best and easiest way possible? Look no further! This method is so quick and simple, and your chicken will come out moist and flavorful every time.
This is the quickest, easiest, BEST way to cook shredded chicken.
Whether you need a batch for soup, a sandwich, or are filling something delicious like shredded chicken enchiladas, this method works wonderfully and will save you a ton of time and trouble in the process.
The Best Way to Cook Shredded Chicken
This cooking method is a mix between pan-frying and something similar to poaching. You first sear seasoned chicken breast in a little bit of oil which adds a ton of flavor (as we know, browned foods are delicious).
Then cook the chicken in a covered pan with a little bit of simmering water or chicken broth. The liquid keeps the chicken from burning so you don’t have to babysit it and helps keep it moist as it cooks.
The chicken comes out perfectly cooked, tender, and flavorful every single time.
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts: Any size chicken breast will work for this recipe. You’ll just need to adjust the cooking time for very large or very small ones.
- Salt and pepper or seasoning: Before cooking, season your chicken breast with either a bit of salt and pepper, seasoning salt, or whatever seasonings will complement the final dish it’s being used in, like taco seasoning or Italian seasoning.
How to Make Shredded Chicken
1. Generously season both sides of the chicken breasts.
2. Heat a skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray or drizzle on a bit of your favorite cooking oil. Add chicken to the pan and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Flip and repeat.
4. Once browned, add about 1/2 inch of water to the pan (the amount of water this requires will vary depending on how large your pan is, but it should come about halfway up the sides your chicken breasts).
5. Cover, turn heat down to medium, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes (or longer if you have large chicken breasts), until an instant-read thermometer* inserted into the center of the breasts reads 165°F. If at any time all the water has evaporated from your pan, add more as is needed.
6. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
How to Shred Chicken
There are a number of ways to shred chicken. Some of the most popular are:
Shredded Chicken Method 1: Two Forks and Arm Power
No need to invest in shredding claws (though they do look fun), a pair of forks works perfectly well for shredding chicken and is the simplest method.
- Just hold one fork in each hand, and use one fork to hold the chicken breast down and the other to tear away pieces of meat and shred them into smaller sections.
Best For: When you don’t want to do extra dishes or don’t own a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer.
Shredded Chicken Method 2: A Stand Mixer
The easiest way to shred chicken is with a stand mixer. (I know it sounds a little silly, but it works!) Even when you factor in cleaning time, a mixer can process a ton of chicken much faster than you can shred it by hand.
- Once slightly cooled, transfer chicken breasts to your stand mixer.
- With the paddle attachment, set mixer to low, working up to medium and process chicken until mostly shredded. Don’t over process–there will be a couple of pieces you will need to finish pulling apart by hand.
Best For: Big batches of shredded chicken.
Shredded Chicken Method 3: A Handheld Electric Mixer and a Bowl
You can also use a handheld electric mixer the same way you would a stand mixer. It doesn’t break up the chicken quite as effectively as a powerful stand mixer–you’ll have to pull apart a few more larger pieces by hand, but it’s still quicker than the fork method.
It’s also less clean up than using a stand mixer, so I typically use this method if I’m only working with a couple of small chicken breasts.
- Cool chicken slightly and place it in a large bowl.
- Turn the mixer on medium-low and press the beaters into the chicken breasts. They will break up the meat as they spin. Continue until the chicken is mostly shredded and the beaters don’t seem to be breaking anything up any longer.
- Use your hands to tear apart any remaining larger pieces of chicken.
Best For: Smaller batches of shredded chicken.
How to freeze shredded chicken?
Shredded chicken freezes very well. To freeze cooked, shredded chicken, store it in a freezer bag and press all the air out. Label the bag with the date and amount of chicken and store in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
When you’re ready to use it, defrost chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
How long will shredded chicken last?
Shredded chicken will stay good in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days, according to the USDA.
Shredded chicken will keep in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. After that, it will begin to dry out and be more susceptible to freezer burn.
What do you eat with shredded chicken?
You can use shredded chicken in all sorts of recipes. Here are a few to start:
More Chicken Tutorials
- Roasted Chicken Guide
- How to Cook Chicken for Salads and Sandwiches
- How to Cook Chicken Breasts
- How to Make Chicken Stock
How to Cook Shredded Chicken
- Cooking spray or your favorite cooking oil
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- Generously salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.
- Heat a skillet (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray or drizzle on a bit of your favorite cooking oil. Once hot, add chicken to the pan and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Flip and repeat. Once browned, add about 1/2 inch of water to the pan, cover, turn heat down to medium, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes (longer if breasts are large), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the breasts reads 165°F. If at any time all the water evaporates from the pan, add more as needed.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, transfer chicken breasts to your stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, set mixer to low, working up to medium, and process chicken until mostly shredded. Don't over process--there will be a couple larger pieces you will need to finish pulling apart by hand.
- Wash up and use your moist, shredded chicken in something delicious.
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