This slow cooker shredded chicken recipe is one of my favorite kitchen shortcuts! Slow cooker chicken takes just minutes to prep, and can be used in a wide range of dishes.
The results of our Gimme Some Oven reader survey are in! It was so awesome to hear from you and read all of your great (and encouraging) feedback about the site. So thank you to everyone who responded!
As far as your recipe requests go, the top two requested categories amongst many choices ended up being slow cooker and chicken recipes.
Like, by far. :)
So since you all apparently love your chicken and slow cookers as much as I do, I figured why not combine the two and start with a simple recipe for slow cooker shredded chicken!
If you are new to cooking or slow cookers, or if you are just looking for ideas to make weeknight meals all the speedier, I can’t recommend this slow cooker chicken enough. It is one of my favorite cooking time-savers! Your crock pot will do all of the work for you (I set mine for during the day while I’m at work!). Then all you have to do is spend literally less than 5 minutes before and after on prep. And voila — many meals’ worth of shredded chicken will be prepped and ready to enjoy whenever you need it.
I have included a few tips below on what chicken to buy, how to shred, how to store. And then I have also included a few quick recipes so that you can put it to use! This is definitely a staple in my kitchen that I regularly make once every few months, so I hope you might give it a try!
A foolproof recipe for easy slow cooker shredded chicken!
6 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
(optional) 1/2 cup water or chicken broth (**see note below**)
Place chicken breasts in slow cooker, and sprinkle with seasonings (and liquid, if using). Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork. (*If making a smaller batch, keep an eye on your slow cooker as the chicken will likely need less cooking time.)
Remove the chicken with tongs, and shred using two forks or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Use immediately, or freeze in ziplock bags or a sealed container.
**I almost always use frozen chicken when I make big batches of slow cooker shredded chicken like this. And the chicken has always released LOTS of extra juices while cooking, making plenty moist. Some of that extra liquid may be from the chicken breasts being a little icy and frozen. But if you are worried about chicken being dry, feel free to add in a little liquid while cooking.
What Chicken To Buy:
You can either buy fresh or frozen chicken for this recipe. If you buy frozen, though, you need to be sure to thaw it to room temperature before adding it to the slow cooker. (Edited: apparently adding frozen meats to a slow cooker is unsafe!) You can use other cuts of chicken if you’d like, but I would just avoid any chicken with bones so that you don’t have to pick them out.
How To Shred Chicken:
My favorite method is the old fashioned two-forks method. Even with a really large batch of slow cooker shredded chicken, I can shred it all in about 2 minutes since the meat is so tender and easily pulls apart.
You can also add the chicken to a stand mixer and (very briefly!!) mix it with the paddle attachment to break it up.
How To Store Shredded Chicken:
If you are not using the chicken right away, I recommend freezing it in small ziplock bags or sealed containers. Be sure not to put the chicken all together in one huge ziplock bag, because then it is harder to separate and thaw in small batches.
How To Use Shredded Chicken:
I add mine to all sorts of recipes!!! Shredded chicken is awesome in soups, tacos, pastas, quesadillas, sandwiches, enchiladas, appetizers, you name it!
I’m a little late to the party on this one….but I seriously thought that those boxes of frozen chicken breasts were going to be “mushy” and “gross” even if done in the crockpot. OH so not true! Mine turned out perfectly! Easy to shred. Tasty. And OH SO EASY! I used some chicken yesterday for a quick chicken salad sandwich at lunch…and then your chicken enchiladas with salsa verde for dinner.
Yay, we’re so glad you enjoyed the recipes Grae! (Btw, we love your name and the spelling of it!)
Hello! I just made this chicken for the first time and couldn’t stop taking bites of it as I was shredding it – so yummy!!
I’m new to the freezing world – how would you recommend thawing the chicken that you’ve store in the freezer?
Hi Chelsea, we’re so happy you liked the chicken! For thawing chicken, we recommend: Thawing in the refrigerator. (Allow about 5 hours per pound of food.) This is the most preferred method, if you have the time.
Whenever I boil chicken to shred it is really chewy. Does the chicken turn out chewy when made like this?
We don’t find it to be chewy at all!
This looks awesome! Definitely going try it this weekend. One question: do you put the chicken in completely frozen or partially defrost it first? Thanks!
I put the chicken in completely frozen, but either will work. Just keep an eye on it so that it does not overcook. :)
would the cook time be the same for newly store bought chicken or cut in half approximately?
Hi Theresa, we apologize, but we’re not really sure we understand your question?
Great recipe! This is the second time I’ve made this shredded chicken, and we use it for shredded chicken tacos, chicken and rice, and even a lemon pasta with chicken recipe I found on Pinterest. It always comes out amazing and allows for a variety of meals all week!
Thanks Kris, we’re happy you liked this recipe! :D
Do you put the crock pot on low?
Yes, we put it on low and cook for 8 hours. We hope you enjoy!
I made this last night and to me .. It tastes great in a salad… My wife mentioned that, while it tasted good, the meat was very chewy. Does that mean I cooked it too long? I had it in there for 6 hours in low, it was chicken breasts cut pretty thin
Hi Nate! Hmmm, it sounds like it was overcooked. It wasn’t undercooked, was it? Did you cut the chicken before you put it in the slow cooker? If so, that would have made it cook faster and in turn get overcooked and dried out. 6 hours on low shouldn’t have made it overcooked, especially since it really should take 8 hours on low to cook it.
I find chicken breast in the crock pot dry out quickly. Using a bone-in chicken is SO easy! The fat/bones just melt away from the meat, making it easy to shred, and you can pour the juices through a strainer and get gorgeous broth! Cheap and easy use for a whole chicken.
I love this! The first time I made it, I set it and left the house. When I got home, I realized I had accidentally cooked it on high and left it for 6 hours! I thought it was ruined. But it was still great! The chicken wasn’t even dry, I guess because of the water. Not overcooked at all. I’ve made it 3 times now, the right way haha, and we love it! Mostly my husband likes to use it for tacos or quesadillas. I also add it to various recipes! None of it ever goes to waste! Thanks!
Thanks Jessica — we’re glad to hear you still enjoyed this despite it cooking for too long! Thanks for sharing with us, and for giving the recipe a try! :D
I love to make chicken soup in my crock pot. I make a small amount and usually pre-cook the chicken. Is it safe to put uncooked chicken with my soup stock and then add the rest of the ingredients while cooking
Yes, as long as you’re cooking the chicken fully, it should be fine.
Made this last night but whilst it feel apart it was chewy and dry. Do u have any idea why this may have been?
We’re sorry to hear that, Kate! It definitely shouldn’t have been chewy or dry. Do you think your slow cooker temp or time could have been off, or one of the ingredients?
Great idea! Planning to try this weekend. If I half the recipe to 3 lbs chicken do I also half the cook time to 4 hours?
Hi Steve — we’re sorry for getting to your comment a little late! If halving this recipe, you want to make sure you’re also using a smaller slow cooker so the heat distributes well and everything evenly. The cooking time should still be the same though.
Hi, do you cover the frozen chicken breasts fully in water to cook and remove to shred once cooked? I did this last week with no added water to the slow cooker, just the frozen chicken breasts and they came out so dry they were rubbery. Thank you x
I cook my chicken like this. Then I simply dump it in a bowl and use my mixed to shred it.
WOW! Total game changer for this cook! Wish I had known about this 20 years ago! Followed recipe as written, totally perfect! Used my kitchen aid to shred, but next time will hand shred it I think it was a little too fine. So excited! Using a it in a bunch of your recipes this weekend.
Awesome, so happy to hear it! :)
Not going to lie, this is fantastic.
I’ve never really cared to use a crockpot before when I was alone but man, i started doing this and I’ve been using it as often as I could. I like a spicier chicken so I split my salt with regular and habanero salt. I also pour in a little Frank’s red hot buffalo sauce.
At the 6 hour mark I pull it all out, shred it and put it back in for the remaining 2 hours. It sucks up pretty much any water/juice that was left behind and comes out super flavorful.
I store it in a Tupperware and it lasts quite well. Makes for awesome (nearly) instant tacos, buffalo ranch wraps, etc. Seriously, I’ve been living this and I certainly intend to make it for parties!
Thank you, we’re so happy you enjoy it! :)
This is a great way to prepare chicken for many recipes. I would recommend it to anyone.
Thanks, Linda, we’re glad you enjoy this!
The chicken came out perfect! Thanks! One question-can I strain and save/use the broth that remains? It seems like a waste to toss and I’m thinking the broth that I started with had to be enhanced from the chicken cooking in it?
Would this work for just whole chicken breasts? So if I didn’t want to shred the chicken but wanted to serve full chicken tenders?
I love this recipe and use if often as I love to have the shredded chicken on hand for salads and to use in other recipes. I’m wondering if you’ve adapted the cooking for the Instant Pot as I recently purchased one and am wondering what the cooking time would be. Thank you!
Easy, delicious and perfect for so many recipes!
This has become a staple for me. I usually make it for my chicken enchiladas. I make a big batch of enchiladas, eat them for dinner that night and freeze the rest in packages of twos. If I ever have more chicken than I need, I also do what she suggests – freeze them in 1 cup portions for chicken salad, quesadillas, white chicken chili, etc.
Do you happen to have a stove top version of this? I wanted to make one of your other recipes, that called for shredded chicken.
p.s. I love your recipes. I’ve made a few (and trust me, I am no cook) and they have all been hits!
Do you think you could use chicken breast tenders in this recipe rather than full breasts? I have a 2 lb package of them and was wondering how to adjust the cooking time.
Sooo…I googled it after reading your addendum re: frozen chicken being unsafe, and just in Oct there was a food scientist on the Today show saying it IS safe as long as internal temp reaches 165°. Of course, this is what I wanted to hear so I figured I’d mention it since it’s prob what you wanted to hear too! ? Love this staple recipe and def making it today to have with salads tonight!
Can i cook on high instead of having to wait 8 hours