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.
Table of Contents
- Ways to cook shredded chicken
- How to flavor the chicken
- How to shred chicken breast
- Method 1: Your fingers
- Method 2: Two forks
- Method 3: Hand mixer
- Method 4: Stand mixer
- Method 5: Blender
- Method 6: Food processor
- How to choose the right shredding method for the type of chicken
- Shredded chicken yield
- Storing the chicken
- Recipes using shredded chicken
- 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.
- Juicy stovetop chicken breasts
- Baked chicken
- Slow cooker chicken breast
- Easy shredded chicken recipe
- Grilled chicken
- Slow cooker whole chicken
- Instant-Pot whole chicken
- Whole roasted chicken
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
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
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.
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.
- Chicken nachos
- Buffalo chicken dip
- Chicken noodle soup
- Chicken vegetable soup
- Lemon chicken orzo soup
- Chicken and rice soup
- Chicken tortilla soup
- White bean chicken chili
- Chicken salad sandwich
- BBQ chicken sandwiches
- Buffalo chicken pizza
- Pesto chicken pizza
- Chicken tacos
- Chicken enchiladas
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.
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.
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.
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!)
- 2 pounds cooked chicken, boneless breasts or thighs, about 4 pieces
- kosher salt, for seasoning
- black pepper, for seasoning
- 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.
- 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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