Crockpot shredded chicken is the easiest, most basic recipe every busy person should have in their meal prep arsenal. This post will cover everything you need to know about cooking delicious, flavorful, and juicy shredded chicken in the crockpot. I’ll also talk about the best cooking times, seasonings, the best way to shred chicken, how to store and reheat it, along with my favorite shredded chicken recipes.
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Let’s talk about one of my favorite staple recipes, crockpot shredded chicken. This basic recipe will revolutionize your weekly meal prep.
I know this is basic. But trust me, having shredded chicken ready will make it so much easier for you to eat healthier during the week. Plus, who says being healthy needs to be complicated? Not me!
When there’s shredded chicken in the fridge or freezer, you are minutes away from chicken tacos, enchiladas, soup, salad, casseroles, or 100s of other healthy chicken recipes.
Reasons You’ll Love Crockpot Shredded Chicken
- It uses minimal ingredients – boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken stock, and a few seasonings are all you need for this recipe.
- Cooks in the crockpot – In less than 5 minutes, you’ll have all of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Then just turn it on. That’s it!
- It is a super versatile recipe – Any recipe that calls for shredded chicken can use this basic recipe.
- Can be made ahead and frozen – You can make shredded chicken in bulk and freeze it to use in future recipes.
Tips for cooking chicken in a crockpot
I’ve been preparing crockpot shredded chicken for over a decade, so I’ve learned some tips for getting the juiciest, most flavorful shredded chicken.
No. Frozen chicken won’t get up to temperature fast enough when cooked in the slow cooker. Cooking the chicken this way can result in bacteria forming, making you sick. Start this recipe with completely thawed chicken breasts for health and safety reasons.
Let’s start with the best kind of chicken to use. I prefer boneless skinless chicken breasts. This cut cooks and shreds the best. Chicken thighs will work, but they are fattier than chicken breast resulting in a greasier shredded chicken. Chicken thighs taste different and will bring a distinct flavor to other recipes. Chicken breasts are more of a blank canvas and absorb the flavor of the recipe better.
There’s so much conflicting information on cooking chicken in the crockpot. Some recipes say to cook all day while others give a variety of cooking times.
A lot will depend on the size of your chicken breasts and how hot your slow cooker cooks.
However, you should always cook chicken breasts on low for no longer than 6 hours in my experience. Cooking it this way will result in the juiciest shredded chicken recipe.
Most chicken recipes will cook for 5 hours. I learned this tip in the American’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook. I recommend getting this cookbook; it offers many tips for getting the best results when cooking chicken, and other foods, in the slow cooker.
It’s super easy for chicken breasts to dry out while cooking in the slow cooker. Like I said, cooking on low for no longer than 6 hours will help create juicy chicken.
Another tip is to make sure there’s enough liquid with the chicken breasts. Chicken breasts should be halfway covered with liquid. If not, then you’ll run the risk of dried out rubbery chicken breasts.
There are two popular ways to shred chicken. Each method will result in a different texture and size.
Using two forks – take two forks and pull apart the chicken until it shreds into pieces. This method will create larger chunks of shredded meat.
Using a hand mixer – Turn the hand mixer on low, place it into the center of the chicken breasts, and move around until the chicken is shredded. This method will result in smaller pieces of shredded chicken.
For the hand mixer method, you’ll want to make sure to use a larger bowl, so you don’t end up with shredded chicken on the walls.
Before shredding the chicken, I recommend removing it from the crockpot and placing it in a bowl. A lot of liquid settles at the bottom as the chicken cooks, resulting in mushy chicken if it’s shredded directly in the juice. I like to shred the chicken in a separate bowl and then add in the liquid a little at a time.
Organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
Seasoning blend (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper)
This basic recipe doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, so there aren’t many substitutions. However, I’ve experimented with some, so here are my recommendations.
Use bone-in chicken breasts – If all you have is bone-in chicken breasts, then use it. Bone-in chicken breasts might take longer to cook. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature is 165 degrees before removing it from the slow cooker.
Use water instead of broth – Chicken broth gives shredded chicken that extra flavor. However, if you don’t have chicken broth, then water will work too. You can also use vegetable broth. Beef broth is more robust in flavor and not recommended.
Switch up the seasonings – You can use onion flakes or dried minced garlic in place of the powders. You can also use Italian seasoning for additional flavor. If you’re out of dried herbs, just cook it in broth and add flavor when using the chicken in recipes.
How to make crockpot shredded chicken?
Don’t blink, because these instructions are quick.
Start by adding the chicken breasts to the bottom of a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker.
Sprinkle the seasonings on top of the chicken breasts.
Then pour in the chicken broth.
Cover and cook the chicken breasts for 5-6 hours on low. If you must cook the chicken on high, I recommend cooking on high for 3-4 hours.
Remove the cooked chicken from the crockpot and place it into a bowl. Then, using a fork or a hand mixer, shred the chicken. Add some of the liquid from the slow cooker into the chicken.
Use the slow cooker shredded chicken in your favorite recipes.
How to Store and Freeze Shredded Chicken
Store – shredded chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Glass containers work best to keep cooked chicken fresh.
Freeze – shredded chicken, can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Freeze into 1 ½ – 2 cup portions to have ready for recipes.
Reheat – If you can, thaw chicken overnight in the refrigerator. You can also reheat the chicken in the microwave. Place the frozen chicken, or thawed chicken, in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated.
- Crockpot – I have this 5 1/2 quart programmable crockpot.
- Hand Mixer – This Cuisinart 3-speed hand mixer is a great value.
- Glass Mixing Bowls – This Pyrex set has never failed me.
- Souper Cubes – these are FANTASTIC for freezer 1-2 cups recipe ready portions.
- Ello Glass Containers – these are my go-to containers for storing food in the refrigerator.
How to Use Crockpot Shredded Chicken in Recipes
The sky is the limit when it comes to the variety of ways you can use shredded chicken in recipes.
Here are some favorites.
Chicken salad – this avocado and greek yogurt chicken salad is delicious.
Chicken enchiladas – substitute chicken for the beef in this delicious enchilada recipe.
Buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese – stir some hot sauce before adding to baked macaroni and cheese, and you’ll have an epic comfort food recipe.
Make this buffalo chicken dip.
Put together chicken wraps. Throw into a wrap with bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and ranch for a new twist on a BLT
Crockpot Shredded Chicken
- 3 4-6 ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts about 1.5 – 2lbs
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth can use water
- Start by placing the chicken breasts onto the bottom of a 5 1/2 – 6 quart slow cooker.
- Combine the seasonings and then sprinkle on top of the chicken breasts.
- Pour chicken broth over the chicken breasts. The broth should cover half of the chicken. Add more broth if needed.
- Tightly place the lid on and set the slow cooker to cook on low heat for 4-6 hours or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place it into a bowl. Shred the chicken using two forks, or a hand mixer. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker to the shredded chicken.
- Use in your favorite shredded chicken recipe.
How to Store and Freeze Shredded ChickenStore – shredded chicken can be store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Glass containers work best to keep cooked chicken fresh. Freeze – shredded chicken, can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Freeze into 1 ½ – 2 cup portions to have ready for recipes. Reheat – If you can, thaw chicken overnight in the refrigerator. You can also reheat the chicken in the microwave. Place the frozen chicken, or thawed chicken, in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated.
Other Crockpot Shredded Meat Recipes
Have you tried this recipe? If so, I’d love for you to rate this recipe and leave a comment below. We all learn from each other’s experiences. Also, it would be awesome if you could share a picture on Instagram and tag it #organizeyourselfskinny. I can’t wait to see it!