Easiest Shredded Chicken Recipe Ever

Need 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 lets you change the flavour.

plate of shredded chicken
Shredded chicken with taco seasoning and salsa.

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.

shredded chicken thighs
Shredded chicken thighs cooked in soup stock. Thighs provide dark and light meat.

When I need 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 cooked chicken that I can use in various ways, I use soup stock or water with a few herbs and spices.

chicken breast with salsa in slow cooker
Chicken breasts with salsa in the slow cooker.

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.

making shredded chicken
Chicken thighs with soup stock ready to cook.

Recipe for Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

Easy, moist, delicious chicken flavored just the way you want it. For the liquid try using salsa for Mexican dishes, tomato sauce for Italian dishes or stock for whatever dish you'd like.
Prep : 5 mins
Cook : 4 hrs
Total Time: 4 hrs

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • Place chicken in crockpot.
  • Add liquid and any additional seasoning if you choose.
  • Cover and let cook 4-5 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, cover and let rest five minutes. 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.

Notes

Favorite liquid & spice combos:
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.
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Place chicken thighs or breasts in slow cooker.  If you have frozen chicken, thaw chicken before using in slow cooker. Using frozen meat in a slow cooker is risky since food can stay in the danger zone (40°F to 140°F or 4°C-60°C) where pathogens multiply at a rapid pace for far too long. Even if the final cooking temperature is reached and bacteria is ultimately destroyed, dangerous toxins produced by those pathogens may still be present in the food. For safety sake, thaw chicken first. Read more Slow Cooker safety tips from the USDA or call their hot line at 1-888-674-6854 (works from Canada too!).

plate of shredded chicken
Adding seasoning is optional but oh so tasty! For Mexican inspired dishes, salsa, taco seasoning and hot pepper flakes are the way to go.

chicken spice and salsa

 

In this version, I used chicken bouillon, peppercorns, garlic and some celery ends. When it was finished I used the leftover liquid as a soup stock. Bonus!

chicken in crockpot

Shred meat with a fork.

tender chicken

Toss it with as much or as little of the leftover salsa mix as you want.

tender juicy taco chicken

Insert meat into your favorite dish.

tacos

YUM!

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.

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