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Here’s how to make shredded chicken: the easy way! Shred it up for using in soups, casseroles, enchiladas and more.

Shredded Chicken
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Shredded chicken is the basis for many meals, from soups to chili to casseroles. Here at A Couple Cooks we love to master kitchen basics, so here’s how to make shredded chicken! This master method shows you how to make juicy chicken that falls to beautifully textured shreds. We’ll give you our favorite way of how to shred chicken, an alternative (with caveats), and a few great ways to use the finished product.

What you need for shredded chicken

Shredded chicken is quick and simple to make at home, perfect for soups, stews, enchiladas, and more. You’ll need water and a few flavorings for the boiling liquid. The flavorings infuse a subtle flavor to the chicken, but you can omit them if you don’t have them on hand! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound, organic if possible), butterflied or cutlets
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Peppercorns
  • Celery ribs (optional)
  • Garlic cloves (optional)
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)

Want to use chicken broth instead? You can do that too. Substitute chicken broth for the water, cut the salt in half and omit the other seasonings (see the recipe below for quantities).

Shredded Chicken

How to make shredded chicken (the easy way)

The best way we’ve found to make shredded chicken is to butterfly it, boil it, and then pull it into strips using your hands. That’s right: the best way to shred chicken is using your hands to pull it into shreds. We tried the two-forks method and the stand mixer method, and the good old fashioned way won. It makes the best shreds and takes no time at all! Here’s what to do:

  1. Butterfly the chicken so that it cooks evenly. Place your hand over the top of each chicken breast and use a sharp knife to carefully slice the breast horizontally, leaving the edge intact so it can open up like a book. Open up the breast then cut along the fold to separate the two halves.
  2. Boil for 7 to 10 minutes. Place 1 pound chicken in a pot with 6 cups water, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and seasonings (or use chicken broth and half the salt). Boil for 7 to 10 minutes until the center is no longer pink and the internal temperature is 160°F.
    Shredded Chicken
  3. Tear the chicken into shreds. Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, use your fingers to tear the chicken into shreds.
    How to shred chicken

Alternative: shred chicken with a stand mixer

For large amounts of chicken, you can use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. The downside of using a stand mixer to shred chicken is that if you mix on too high a speed or for too long, the chicken becomes mangled into tiny shreds.

The stand mixer method can work if you’re making large amounts of chicken and prefer a hands-off method. Personally we find hand-shredding is quick and simple for 1 to 2 pounds of chicken. If you’d like to use a stand mixer, do the following:

  • Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.
  • Place the chicken in the bowl and mix on low speed until shredded, about 20 seconds. Do not over-mix!
How to make shredded chicken

Buy organic chicken if possible

When shopping for shredded chicken, keep this in mind: the best chicken to buy is organic. Buying organic makes sure that it is the highest quality meat that was raised sustainably. It is also free of chemicals and additives so it’s the healthiest option for eating, and overall: it just tastes better!

Per the USDA, organic chicken must be raised in living conditions that accommodate their natural behaviors (like grazing on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not given antibiotics or hormones.

Shredded Chicken

Ways to use shredded chicken

There are so many ways to use shredded chicken in recipes: it’s a versatile protein that makes an easy dinner out of anything! Here are a few of our top shredded chicken recipes:

More chicken recipes

This shredded chicken recipe is a kitchen essential! Here are a few more chicken recipes to put in your arsenal:

This shredded chicken recipe is…

Gluten-free and dairy-free.

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Shredded Chicken

Shredded Chicken (The Easy Way!)


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Rest Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Here’s how to make shredded chicken: the easy way! Shred it up for using in soups, casseroles, enchiladas and more.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound, organic if possible), butterflied or cutlets
  • 6 cups water*
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • Celery ribs, chopped (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed (optional)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. If the chicken is not already butterflied, place your hand over the top of each chicken breast. Use a sharp knife to carefully slice the breast horizontally, leaving the edge intact so it can open up like a book (or butterfly!). Unfold the breast like a book, then cut along the fold to separate the two halves.
  2. Add the water to saucepan. Stir in the salt, peppercorns, and optional celery ribs, garlic cloves, and fresh parsley. 
  3. Bring to a boil and add the chicken breasts. Boil until the internal temperature is 160°F or the center is no longer pink, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, use your fingers to tear the chicken into shreds. (Alternatively for large amounts of chicken, you can use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until shredded, about 20 seconds; do not shred too long or on higher speed or it will form very small shreds.)
  5. Season according to the recipe you’re using it for (it will need ½ teaspoon kosher salt added to taste seasoned). To store, add ¼ cup of the cooking liquid in with the shredded chicken to maintain juiciness. 

Notes

*Or, substitute chicken broth and use 1 teaspoon kosher salt and omit the seasonings.

  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Chicken
  • Diet: Gluten Free

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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4 Comments

  1. Kitleigh Clark says:

    What about insta-potting the chicken?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      That should work but we don’t have a recipe!

  2. Sandy says:

    I want to learn to cook

  3. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!