Needed pre-cooked shredded chicken for a recipe? Here’s an easy way to get tender, flavorful shredded chicken. A great technique that doesn’t require a lot of prep time and that you can vary to accommodate various flavors.
Basically, we’re poaching chicken in the slow cooker. We’re letting the slow cooker do all the work. All we have to do is add fresh or thawed chicken to the slow cooker along with some liquid. The liquid can be water, broth or some other ingredient like salsa, tomato sauce or water with herbs and spices.
When I need pre-cooked chicken for Mexican inspired dishes like tacos, taquitos, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas or burritos I like to cook the chicken with salsa. For a more general pre-cooked chicken that I can use in various ways, soup stock or water with a few herbs and spices does the trick too.
This technique works with chicken breasts or chicken thighs. While many people automatically turn to chicken breasts, don’t underestimate those chicken thighs! They’re typically cheaper than chicken breasts and because they have a little more fat they’re often more flavorful and tender. In the photo below, I used chicken thighs and soup stock.
Are you ready?
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (4 breasts or 5-6 thighs)
- 2 cups liquid (soup stock, water or salsa (eg Freezer Salsa)
- Place chicken in crockpot.
- Add liquid and any additional seasoning if you choose.
- Cover and let cook 4 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high. Check internal temperature of the chicken to ensure it reaches 165°F or 74°C.
- Remove chicken and shred with fork while still warm.
- Toss chicken with any liquid remaining in slow cooker.
- Use in your favorite recipe.
- Store in a sealed container in fridge for up to 4 days or freeze in a freezer container for 4 months.
- Salsa with 2 Tbsp taco seasoning and hot pepper flakes
- Tomato sauce with 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- Soup stock with 1/2 sliced onion, 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, 2 cloves garlic
- The USDA does not recommend using frozen meat in slow cookers.The meat will stay below 140°F for too long leading to potentially high pathogen counts that could cause foodborne illnesses, especially in those with weakened immune systems.
Adding seasoning is optional but oh so tasty! For Mexican inspired dishes, salsa, taco seasoning and hot pepper flakes are the way to go.
Let it cook while you slave away at work.
Shred meat with a fork.
Toss it with as much or as little of the leftover salsa mix as you want.
Insert meat into your favorite dish.
Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.