Shredded chicken is a great basic to prepare in advance for use in any number of recipes. Just think how much faster it would be to make up a batch of your favorite chicken enchiladas or chicken tortilla soup (Yes, I’ve got Mexican food on the brain!) if you already have the chicken prepared!
Aside from dinner recipes, having a small stock of shredded chicken is great for making a quick lunch – you can add it on top of a salad, whip up a quick chicken salad sandwich, or add it to a simple quesadilla.
For purposes like these, I find it best to prepare a large batch of shredded chicken ahead of time and freeze it in the portions that I most often use. This will depend on your personal preference, so take a little time to think about how you think you’ll use the chicken, what recipes you might make with it, and how much chicken will be utilized. I find that 1, 2, and 3 cup portions are ideal.
So, how do you shred chicken?
Well, first you have to cook it. You can do this several different ways – in the crockpot, in the oven, or poach it stovetop. Leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken also works well.
Crockpot: The slow cooker is great because you can leave the chicken unattended and because you can add other ingredients to season the chicken. For example, if you know you want a batch of Mexican shredded chicken, you might add some cumin, chile powder, chipotle peppers, salsa, cilantro, or other ingredients. I love this Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Chicken.
Bake: Baked chicken can be shredded as well. You can season it as heavily and distinctively as you’d like or you can keep it simple with a basic salt and pepper.
Poach: If you don’t know how to poach, check out this great tutorial from TheKitchn.
Now that you’ve cooked the chicken you can shred it!
If you used bone in chicken, first you’ll want to pull all of the meat off the bones. Save the bones for making homemade chicken stock (yum!).
There are a few ways you can shred the meat:
With your Fingers: All you do here is use your fingers to pull the chicken apart into chunks. They can be as big or as small as you like. If you end up with bigger pieces, just pull them apart into smaller ones.
Using Two Forks: Hold one fork in each hand. I like to use the fork in my non-dominant hand to hold the piece of chicken steady. With the fork in my dominant hand I scrape at the piece of chicken to pull it apart.
Using a Stand Mixer: This is a method that I didn’t hear of until a couple of years back (thanks, Pinterest!). It is definitely the fastest and easiest method for shredding chicken. Why is that? Because all you do is dump the meat into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix over low speed until the chicken reaches whatever shred-size you want. The mixer does all the work!