Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken

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Make a batch of this crock-pot shredded chicken recipe for a healthy protein option or easy meal prep! The enclosed vessel creates juicy meat that breaks down into flavorful bite-sized pieces.

Looking for a different method? You can make this recipe on the stovetop as well.

Shredded chicken inside a black crockpot.
Table of Contents
  1. Chicken selection
  2. Make a flavorful spice mix
  3. Season the chicken
  4. How to make shredded chicken in a crock-pot
  5. Shred the chicken
  6. Toss in a delicious sauce
  7. Ways to use shredded chicken
  8. Frequently asked questions
  9. Crockpot Shredded Chicken Recipe

Grab your slow cooker to make this easy-to-prepare shredded chicken in a crock-pot. The good news is it only takes a few minutes to prepare the poultry with the savory seasoning mix. Add it to the vessel, then set it and forget it. You’ll have tender and flavorful meat ready to enjoy in a few hours. You can even try my slow cooker chicken breast if you’d like to serve hearty slices of meat with gravy.

Pulled chicken is highly versatile use! Toss in your favorite sauce to make tacos, sandwiches, or pasta. Use it to add extra protein to salads, wraps, soups, pizzas, and even crunchy nachos. Make a big batch for meal prep or freeze and grab whenever you need a quick meal.

Chicken selection

Ingredients to make Crock-Pot shredded chicken.

I prefer to use boneless skinless chicken breast for a lean protein option. Choose pieces between 7 to 9 ounces in size. However, you can use chicken thighs, which contain more flavorful fat.

You’ll need two pounds of meat to yield 4 cups of shredded chicken. If using bone-in pieces, purchase about 3 ½ to 4 pounds. Factor in an extra hour of cook time as the bones act as insulators, taking longer to heat through.

Make a flavorful spice mix

Several spices and herbs in a mixing bowl.
Step 1. Prepare the seasoning

The chicken is neutral in flavor, perfect for customizing with spices to enhance the savory taste. You can keep things simple with salt and black pepper. But I like to add sweet paprika for color or smoked paprika for a charred flavor. Dried alliums like garlic powder and onion powder add dimension.

Dried Italian seasoning is concentrated in herbaceous notes. You can use any blend like herbs de Provence with lavender notes or individual herbs like bay leaf, thyme, or oregano. Fresh chopped herbs work well too! I’ve even seasoned the poultry with taco seasoning to make easy chicken tacos.

Season the chicken

In a large bowl, make a seasoning paste combining olive oil and dried spices. This will dissolve the fat-soluble flavor compound in the herbs, intensifying the taste.

Dry the chicken with paper towels to remove excess juices on the surface. Use tongs to coat with the seasoning. Now it’s ready to add to the slow cooker!

How to make shredded chicken in a crock-pot

I use a 6-quart crock-pot for cooking the chicken. This size perfectly fits four pieces of chicken breast in a single layer. The meat must have even contact with the bottom of the vessel for even cooking. Add the chicken broth or stock to the insert. Only a tiny amount is needed to create steam. Flavorful juices will release into the pan as the chicken cooks.

For moist and juicy pieces, cook on low for about 2 hours. Thinner slices will need about 1 ½ hours, and thicker 2 ½ hours. Any longer, and the meat will become dry. It’s ready when the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC).

Shred the chicken

Fork tearing apart chicken breast inside a slow cooker.
Step 4. Shred the chicken

You can shred the chicken directly in the crock-pot to minimize on dishes. The easiest way is to use two forks and pull the meat apart. Using the low-speed setting, you could also use a hand mixer to shred it.

I like shredding the chicken directly in the vessel because the meat absorbs the flavor juices. Alternatively, try other methods for shredding chicken, like in a stand mixer, blender, or food processor.

Toss in a delicious sauce

Ways to use shredded chicken

Frequently asked questions

Why is my crock-pot shredded chicken tough?

The pieces were cooked too long! All you need is about 2 hours on low setting for 2 pounds of chicken breasts or four pieces of meat. The key is to stop cooking when the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC).

Should chicken be covered in liquid in the slow cooker?

No! You only need a small amount of liquid to generate steam and moisten the meat. Adding too much will dilute the flavor and make it take longer to cook since you need to heat the liquid first.

Should you flip the chicken in a slow cooker?

Flipping the meat is not required. The meat will gradually cook from the bottom up. The steam generated inside the vessel will help cook the top and keep it juicy.

Close up of shredded chicken pieces inside a Crock-Pot.

Is it better to cook chicken on high or low in a slow cooker?

To gently cook the chicken, use the low setting. This is especially important when cooking lean white meat. Both high and low settings reach 175°F to 215°F (79 to 102ºC). However, the low setting turns on and off more frequently. The meat only takes about 2 hours to cook on the low setting, which is much quicker than you’d expect. I avoid using the high settings for chicken breasts to prevent the edges from drying out too quickly.

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Crockpot Shredded Chicken

Easily make tender and flavorful shredded chicken in your crock-pot. Perfect for meal prep, sandwiches, salads, and more.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Servings 10 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, or thighs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup unsalted chicken stock, or broth

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Seasoning – In a large bowl, combine olive oil, salt, Italian seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
  • Season the Surface – Dry the chicken thoroughly with a paper towel, then add them to the seasoning mix. Turn to coat evenly.
  • Cook the Chicken – Add chicken stock to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the seasoned pieces in a single layer. Cover and cook on the "Low" setting for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). An 8-ounce breast takes about 2 hours.
  • Shred the Chicken – Shredding can be done directly in the crockpot, or transferred to a cutting board or plate. Use two forks to shred into desired-sized pieces. Remove the chicken from the crockpot if not shredding immediately to prevent overcooking.
  • Serve – Use shredded chicken immediately or store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Equipment

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: About 5 cups shredded chicken
  • Serving Size: ½ cup
  • Storing: Store cooled chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
  • Reheating: Cover and microwave in 15 to 30-second increments until hot. Alternatively, reheat on the stovetop in a skillet over medium-low heat. If desired, sprinkle on chicken stock or water to prevent dryness.
  • Freezing: Place in a resealable plastic bag for up to 4 months. If desired, make smaller 1-cup portions for 8-ounce servings—Defrost when ready to use.
Nutrition Facts
Crockpot Shredded Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 143 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Trans Fat 0.01g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 58mg19%
Sodium 572mg24%
Potassium 350mg10%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 0.2g1%
Sugar 0.04g0%
Protein 19g38%
Vitamin A 80IU2%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 9mg1%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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4 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Thisni Caza says

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m not a beginner cook…at 73 ; ) …but found your tips for cooking chicken breasts in a slow cooker very helpful. I love having shredded chicken in the freezer!

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