How to Shred Chicken (6 Ways!)

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Learn how to shred chicken 6 different ways! Using your hands, two forks, a stand mixer, blender, or food processor makes breaking down the meat into bite-sized pieces easy.

How to shred chicken using various techniques.
Table of Contents
  1. Ways to cook shredded chicken
  2. How to flavor the chicken
  3. How to shred chicken breast
  4. Method 1: Your fingers
  5. Method 2: Two forks
  6. Method 3: Hand mixer
  7. Method 4: Stand mixer
  8. Method 5: Blender
  9. Method 6: Food processor
  10. How to choose the right shredding method for the type of chicken
  11. Shredded chicken yield
  12. Storing the chicken
  13. Recipes using shredded chicken
  14. FAQ
  15. How to Shred Chicken (6 Ways!) Recipe

Once you’ve mastered how to make shredded chicken, the next step is breaking down the meat. There are a couple of ways to do it, and I’ll review each technique’s benefits. This step-by-step guide has something for everyone.

You can use shredded or pulled chicken in various ways, from sandwiches, soups, and stews, to casseroles. This versatile ingredient is a healthy protein option for meal prep throughout the week. I’ve got plenty of tasty chicken recipe ideas for you to try once you’re ready!

Ways to cook shredded chicken

When I’m short on time, I use store-bought or leftover rotisserie chicken, but there are plenty of ways to cook chicken breast and thighs at home. You can shred individual parts or the whole bird.

How to flavor the chicken

Keep the seasonings simple with salt and pepper, especially if you plan to toss the meat in a sauce or use it in other recipes. Concentrated dried spices like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, or my homemade taco seasoning are good options for enhanced flavor.

Alternatively, you can incorporate fresh and dried herbs like Italian seasonings, rosemary, thyme, oregano, or basil. If you have the time, my chicken marinade infuses the most flavor into each piece.

How to shred chicken breast

Depending on how much shredded chicken you need, these methods vary from no equipment to using standard kitchen equipment to make the task seamless. I have noticed that they all give different shred sizes. Here are 6 methods to choose from: 

Method 1: Your fingers

Shredding chicken with your fingers.

Sometimes, the easiest way is just to use your hands! For a smaller batch, I go with this method. It gives me the most control over the size of the pieces. Make sure it is cool enough to handle before breaking apart.

Method 2: Two forks

Shredding chicken on a cutting board using two forks.

When the chicken is still warm, and you don’t want to wait. Place the chicken on a cutting board to give you plenty of room to pull it apart. Use the forks to pull in opposite directions to make smaller pieces. You can also use one to hold the chicken down, then shred it with the other. If using chicken thighs that are cooked until it falls apart, tongs also work well for shredding. 

Method 3: Hand mixer

Place chicken in the bowl, and using the flat beater attachment on low, press down on one piece at a time. Move the mixer around in areas that need shredding. I pulse the mixer on and off because prolonging mixing will make the shreds fly out. This method can produce delicate pieces very quickly. 

Method 4: Stand mixer

The fastest way to shred a large batch of cooked chicken. Place one to two pieces in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, break the meat up, gradually increasing to make finer shreds if desired.

Method 5: Blender

The trick is to break up the chicken breast or thighs into chunks before adding them to the blender cup. Work one piece at a time, pulsing at the lowest speed. This method makes for very fine pieces, shredding very quickly. 

Method 6: Food processor

It helps to break up one or two pieces at a time, then add them to the food processor. Pulse a few times until smaller pieces are achieved. Because the blade is so large, some parts will become chopped rather than yield long strands.

How to choose the right shredding method for the type of chicken

  • Bone-in chicken: Hand shredding or using forks works best, especially for a whole chicken. Otherwise, pulling the meat off the bone must be done first if using other methods.
  • Boneless chicken: Hand shredding, using two forks, a hand mixer, a stand mixer, a blender, or a food processor, can be used to break down boneless chicken breasts or thighs.

Shredded chicken yield

A good guide is that every 8 ounces of boneless chicken breast or thighs will yield about 1 cup of shredded chicken. If using bone-in chicken pieces or a whole chicken, you’ll only get about 45% cooked meat, based on the weight of the raw parts. Therefore approximately 1 cup of shredded chicken per 1 pound of raw bone-in chicken.

Examples of how to shred chicken six different ways.

Storing the chicken

Place the shredded meat in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. You could also portion the meat in a plastic bag and freeze it for up to 4 months. I like to measure out 8 to 16-ounce portions to freeze and defrost for various meals.

Recipes using shredded chicken

Now that you have a batch of shredded chicken, here are delicious ideas for appetizers, soups, sandwiches, pizzas, and main dishes.

FAQ

What’s the easiest way to shred chicken?

The easiest and fastest way is to use a stand mixer, especially when shredding multiple pieces of chicken. For a small batch that is warm and not hot, using your hands is the quickest method.

Is chicken easier to shred when it’s warm or cold?

Warm! The meat is softer to shred when hot. The muscle fibers firm up when the pieces are cold, making them harder to break apart.

Can you shred chicken in a blender?

Yes! However, work one piece at a time for the breasts, and two for the thighs, because the blender cup is very narrow. If you add too much, it won’t process correctly, and the pieces on the bottom will be too fine. Break up the pieces into large chunks, then blend or even-sized shreds.

Long strands of chicken pieces in a white bowl seasoned with salt and pepper.

The impact of shredding technique on shred size

Pieces of chicken breasts or thighs have bundles of muscle fibers connected by connective tissue. Pulling apart the cooked chicken pieces by following the natural line of the fibers (with the grain) will give standard shreds. Hand shredding and using a fork give larger pieces. A high sheer blender, stand mixer, or hand mixer will give more delicate pieces. The large blade of a food processor results in a more chopped texture.

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How to Shred Chicken (6 Ways!)

Learn how to shred chicken using your hands, two forks, a stand mixer, blender, or food processor to break the meat into bite-sized pieces.
Pin Print Review
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time5 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds cooked chicken, boneless breasts or thighs, about 4 pieces
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, for seasoning

Instructions 

  • Hand Shredding – Let cooked chicken rest until it is cool enough to handle. Use your fingers to pull apart the meat. Follow the natural lines of the muscle fibers into shreds of the desired size.
  • Using Forks – Place the cooked chicken on the cutting board. Use two forks to pull the meat in opposite directions to make smaller shreds.
  • Stand Mixer – Place one or two pieces of breasts, or three to four thighs, in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, mix the chicken until it shreds to the desired size. Increase the speed gradually for finer shreds. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
  • Hand Mixer – In a large bowl, add one piece of chicken breast or two thighs. Use the flat beater attachment of the hand mixer to press down on the meat. Use the lowest speed, turning it on and off to shred. Move the mixer around to the unshredded pieces, breaking them down to the desired size. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • Blender – Add one piece of chicken at a time. Use your fingers to break them into large chunks, then place them in the blender cup. Cover and blend on the lowest speed, turning the blender on and off every second until desired shred size is achieved. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
  • Food Processor – Work one to two pieces at a time, depending on the size of the food processor. Break the pieces into chunks, adding just enough to cover the bottom of the processor cup. Cover and pulse, stopping to check the shred size after each pulse. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
  • Season – After shredding, season the meat with salt and pepper if desired.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: About 4 cups shredded chicken
  • Serving Size: ½ cup
  • Storing: Store shredded 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.

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Nutrition Facts
How to Shred Chicken (6 Ways!)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 189 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 85mg4%
Potassium 260mg7%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 46IU1%
Calcium 14mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* 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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