Here, I’m going to show you how to make shredded chicken. Shredded chicken is good for many things, particularly cold in wraps, sandwiches, salads and for a cold buffet style spread. It’s also good hot in pies, as a nachos topper or with potato salad, chips or wedges and your favourite condiments (we love it with Nando’s Peri sauce & mayo). Plus, it’s perfect for baby led weaning and it also freezes really well.
I’m going to show you how to make really flavourful shredded chicken using three different cooking methods and two different shredding methods. You can choose your favourite, or test all three!
Shredded chicken is also a great way to serve chicken if you are doing baby led weaning. See how to adapt this recipe for your baby here.
Always use chicken breast for shredding. Using leg meat just won’t shred the same. I give my shredded chicken maximum flavour with a couple quick tricks. I sprinkle the chicken breasts with paprika and then either dried oregano or thyme, plus a little black pepper and salt. If I’m using the chicken for something with a Mexican, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian vibe I use oregano and for anything else I would usually go for thyme. I also cook the chicken in chicken stock instead of just water which also amps up the flavour. Plus, to keep the seasonings mostly on the chicken breasts, I pour the stock into a gap in the pan instead of directly onto the breasts.
If it’s cold shredded chicken you are after then you can prepare and cook the chicken earlier that day or even the day before. If you are having hot shredded chicken then you can measure out the paprika, oregano/thyme and salt & pepper in advance. They can all be added to a mini bowl together, just cover with cling film until you are ready to use.
How to Make Shredded Chicken
Watch me make shredded chicken three ways here, before or as you cook.
Step One - Prep the Chicken
The first step is the same across all cooking methods. Start by adding the chicken breasts to medium-large saucepan / slow cooker pot / Instant Pot, trying not to let the breasts overlap. Then sprinkle over the paprika, salt & pepper, oregano/thyme. Next, slowly pour the stock into a gap in the pot. This way the seasonings will stay mostly in place on the chicken breasts.
How to Make Shredded Chicken on the Stove
Bring the stock to a boil over a high heat, then turn down heat to a low and simmer and cover. Smaller breasts will take around 10-15 minutes and large around 15-18.
How to Make Shredded Chicken in the Slow Cooker
The stock should cover most the breasts, don’t worry if the very top of the breasts are popping out the stock, but you can add a little more hot water if you like. Cover and cook on high for 2-2 ½ hours, medium for 3-3 ½ hours or low for 4-4 ½ hours. It’s important to remember that all slow cookers are different, yours may take longer but test at these times unless you already know the right timings for you. For example, in my slow cooker, small breasts take 2 hours max on high where as large take 2 hrs 15.
How to Make Shredded Chicken in the Instant Pot
Close the lid, set to Sealing and then Pressure Cook on high for 10 minutes. Then natural release for 5 minutes and then Quick Release.
Checking the Chicken is Done
Test by making a cut in the centre of the thickest part, it should be white and no pink juices coming out. Alternatively, use a meat thermometer to check the thickest part, it should be no lower than 65ºc / 149ºf (over 75ºc / 167ºf for boned chicken).
Resting the Chicken
Remove the breasts from the pan and rest on a chopping board for 5-10 minutes, so the juices have time to reabsorb, keeping the chicken juicy.
Shredding The Chicken
If you haven’t already, have a watch of the video above to see the shredding methods in action!
Method One - Shredding with Forks
This is the most common method and all you need is a chopping board and two forks to do it. Place the chicken breasts vertically facing you on the chopping board. Then all you are going to do is pull the chicken apart, working from the bottom up until you have shredded it into chunks.
Method Two - Shredding with an Electric Hand Whisk
As long as your chicken isn’t overcooked and gone dry, you can use this method. Dry chicken will be hard to shred this way. Using an electric whisk to shred chicken will give you smaller shreds than using the fork method. If you are after chunkier shredded chicken I would recommend you stick to the fork method. Also, if you use an electric whisk the seasoning will get mixed throughout the chicken, whereas with the fork method, the seasoning will stay in place.
To shred chicken this way, you will need to put the breasts into a large mixing bowl and with your electric whisk on the lowest speed setting, start breaking them up. If your chicken is tender it will be very quick to do.
What to do with the Leftover Stock
If you have a lot of liquid left once the chicken is removed and you don’t want to waste it, you could keep it and use it in any recipe calling for chicken stock. Just simmer it over a medium heat until reduced. When you think it’s reduced enough, taste it and see if the flavour is strong enough. Then leave to cool for a maximum of 2 hours and refrigerate (for 3-4 days) or freeze it (for 3 months). You could freeze it in pots or food bags.
Kids Cook Too
Younger children can get involved by helping you season the chicken as well as helping to shred the cooked chicken.
Shredded Chicken Pairs Perfectly With…
- Sandwiches & wraps
- Jacket potatoes
- Your favourite sauce, especially BBQ, Peri Peri, Buffalo
Feed a Crowd
You can cook more chicken breasts, just double the quantities of everything. Bear in mind, you will need to cook them on top of each other which will mean the seasoning on the underneath ones may rub off and also the cooking time may be longer.
Storing My Shredded Chicken
You can store leftovers in an air-tight container or resealable bag in the fridge for up to 3 days (day of cook + 1). You can also freeze the chicken, just defrost it for 24 hours in the fridge.
For more on safe food storage and reheating read here >
My Shredded Chicken is gluten, egg, nut and diary-free.
How to Make Shredded Chicken For Your Baby
Eating together is beneficial for families of all ages and stages, for a multitude of reasons; nutritional, behavioural, psychological and for healthy family functioning. This section will show you how to tweak this Shredded Chicken recipe for sharing with a weaning baby or toddler, to help make it easier for you to eat together as a family.
If you are sharing shredded chicken with your baby, I would recommend using low-salt stock and omitting salt from the cook.
Baby Led Weaning
Shredded chicken is perfect for baby led weaning. Pick them out shreds that are wide enough to palm, and no more than finger width size. If you have shredded chicken within a meal with a sauce then you should give them the thinest pieces of shredded chicken you can.
Just add some shredded chicken to your stick blender pot or food chopper along with some warm boiled water or low salt chicken stock to make chicken purée. Add in some salad vegetables (cucumber, tomato and avocado work great) and yogurt to make them a chicken salad. You can thin it down with some cold water if needed. Blend or chop to the right consistency for their stage and age:
- 6 months - smooth purée
- 7-9 months - finely chopped
- 10-12 months - a chunkier chop, but with no large lumps
You can serve thinner shreds of chicken as it comes or chop down chunkier shreds into bite-size pieces.
For more info on how I keep my family meals baby & toddler friendly, read here >
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HOW TO MAKE SHREDDED CHICKEN
- 3 large / 4 small chicken breasts will make around 400 g / 14.11 oz cooked chicken
- 600 ml hot water with 1 stock cube / bouillon
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano or thyme
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Salt & pepper to taste
PREP THE CHICKEN
- Place your chicken breasts at the bottom of a wide saucepan, trying not to overlap them if possible. Sprinkle over the paprika, salt & pepper and the oregano/thyme and then pour the stock into a gap in the pot.
ON THE STOVE
- Bring to a boil over a high heat, then turn the heat down to a low, cover and simmer. Smaller breasts will take around 10-15 minutes and large around 15-18.
- It’s ok if just the very top of the breasts are poking out of the liquid. If more than that, you can add in a little more hot water. Cover and cook on high for 2 ½ - 3 ½ hours, medium for 3 - 3 ½ hours or low for 4-4 ½ hours. All slow cookers are different, yours may take longer but test at these times. In my slow cooker, small breasts take 2 hours max on high where as large take 2 hrs 15.
- Close the lid, set to Sealing and then Pressure Cook on high for 10 minutes. Natural Release for 5 minutes, then Quick Release.
CHECKING THE CHICKEN IS DONE
- Test by making a cut in the centre of the thickest part, it should be white and no pink juices coming out. Alternatively, use a meat thermometer to check the thickest part, it should be no lower than 65ºc / 149ºf (over 75ºc / 167ºf for boned chicken).
RESTING THE CHICKEN
- Remove the breasts from the pan and rest on a chopping board for 10 minutes, so the juices have time to be reabsorbed.
TO SHRED WITH FORKS
- Place the chicken breasts vertically facing you on the chopping board. Then all you are going to do is pull the chicken apart, working from the bottom up until you have shredded it into chunks.
TO SHRED WITH AN ELECTRIC WHISK
- To shred your chicken this way, you’ll need to put the breasts into a large mixing bowl and with your electric whisk on the lowest speed setting, start breaking them up. If your chicken is tender it will be very quick to do. If your chicken has been overcooked and gone dry it will be too hard to shred this way.
Cool the chicken down as quickly as possible and then store in zip-lock bags or air tight containers for up to 3 days in the fridge, or 3 months in the freezer.