Tender Shredded Chicken Recipe

This shredded chicken recipe is very simple to make and can be used 100 different ways.

Here’s how we make a batch of tender, flavorful shredded chicken on the stove in less than 1 hour. We also share our tips for making shredded chicken in a slow cooker.

Use this for tacos, enchiladas, soups, sandwiches and more!

Salsa Verde Chicken EnchiladasTake a look at our Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas recipe. This chicken is perfect for the filling. We toss chicken with salsa verde, sour cream, garlic and cheese. Delicious!

Shredded Chicken Recipe: How to Make Juicy, Tender Chicken in 1 Hour

By gently simmering boneless chicken thighs in a flavorful cooking broth, they become tender and very moist.

Shredded Chicken Recipe: How to Make Juicy, Tender Chicken in 1 Hour

After a quick shred and a little extra love from concentrated cooking broth (our secret to the juiciest shredded chicken), you’ll have chicken that’s ready for chicken nachos, buffalo dip,  chicken-topped pizza, quesadillas, soupsandwiches and more.

Our recipe is more of a guide. Play around with the flavors and spices based on what you love. Adding a dried chili pepper, chili powder, some spice from crushed red pepper flakes or fresh herbs are all excellent ideas.

Our go-to ingredients for this are onion, garlic, a bay leaf, cumin, salt and pepper.

How to Make Juicy, Tender Chicken in 1 Hour

We love using chicken thighs since they are more tender than chicken breasts, but there is no reason why chicken breasts or a combination of both breast and thighs would not work.

I should also mention turkey is a great stand-in, here. Shredded turkey is kind of amazing!

For the most tender chicken, we like simmering it gently. For the cooking liquid, we use water, which quickly soaks up lots of flavor from the onion, garlic and chicken.

We add just enough water to cover the chicken then bring everything to a low simmer and wait about 30 minutes until the chicken is very tender.

How to Make Juicy, Tender Chicken in 1 Hour

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the now incredibly flavorful cooking broth and shred it. Then, place the cooking broth back over the heat and simmer down by about one-third, concentrating the flavor.

Spoon about a cup of the concentrated broth over the chicken and toss.

How to Make Juicy, Tender Chicken in 1 Hour

By the way, you’ll likely have broth leftover – don’t throw it away. It’s delicious and can be used as a light soup, as broth in other recipes or kept to be added to leftover chicken.

As the chicken sits in the fridge or freezer, it soaks up any broth you originally added to it. So, spooning a little extra over the chicken before eating it isn’t a bad idea.

How to Make Juicy, Tender Chicken in 1 Hour

And that’s how we make juicy, tender, crave-worthy shredded chicken. I think I’ll go eat one of those sandwiches now.

How to Make Tender Slow Cooker Chicken

Making this chicken in a slow cooker is easy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Recipe

Simply add all the ingredients to the slow cooker then cover and cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours or until the chicken is cooked and tender.

Slow Cooker Chicken MeatballsYou Will Also Enjoy these Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Meatballs with lean ground chicken, parmesan cheese, and a simple garlic and basil tomato sauce. Perfect for making in advance!

Remove the chicken thighs from the slow cooker and then shred it. Transfer the broth to a small saucepan then simmer on the stove until reduced by a third. Then, spoon some (or all) of that broth back onto the shredded chicken.

You can use this 100 different ways, but one of our recent favorites is our Shredded Chicken Nachos Recipe. If you like spice, cheese and chicken it is definitely for you!

Shredded Chicken: How to Make Juicy, Tender Chicken in 1 HourRecipe updated, originally posted June 2015. Since posting this in 2015, we have add a recipe video and tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

5.0 from 5 reviews
How to Make Tender and Flavorful Shredded Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
By gently simmering boneless chicken thighs in a flavorful cooking broth, they become tender and very moist. We go the extra step to make sure the chicken is as juicy and flavorful as possible. Once the chicken is cooked, we simmer the cooking liquid down by one-third, and then spoon the concentrated broth over the chicken.
Created By:
Yield: Makes about 4 cups of shredded chicken
You Will Need
  • 3 pounds boneless chicken thighs (or combination of thighs and breast)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Water
Directions
  1. Cook Chicken: Combine chicken, onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, cumin and pepper in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the chicken. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil then remove any foam or scum that floats to the top.
  2. Adjust the heat so that the water simmers very gently around the chicken. Cook until chicken is very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Shred Chicken: Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Once it is cool enough to handle, use two forks or your fingers to shred the meat.
  4. Reduce Cooking Liquid: Boil the liquid remaining in the saucepan until it has reduced by one-third, or until its flavor has concentrated.
  5. Spoon about 1 cup of the concentrated cooking liquid over the chicken and toss to coat. Use within 2 to 3 days.
Notes and Tips
We have made this recipe using boneless, skinless chicken thighs and chicken thighs with skin still attached. Both work very well. If you use chicken with skin, simply remove and discard the skin before you shred the chicken. You may also find that you need to skim some of the fat from the cooking broth before spooning it over the chicken.

You will have cooking liquid leftover. It is quite delicious on its own as a light soup. You can also use it as broth for other recipes. Or, if you’re keeping the chicken more than a day, add a spoonful or two to add a little extra moisture.

To make this chicken in a slow cooker, simply add all the ingredients to the slow cooker then cook on LOW until the chicken is cooked and tender, 3 to 4 hours. Shred the chicken and transfer the broth to a saucepan. Simmer the broth until reduced by a third then spoon over the chicken.

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20 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Sandy September 14, 2016, 3:27 pm

    Making it tonight!

    Reply
  • Karen H August 27, 2016, 3:23 pm

    Super tasty, recipe-friendly, tender and moist shredded chicken! The best shredded chicken recipe I have ever made! Making it for the second time tonight. This evening, I am incorporating the broth to make chicken noodle soup with fresh herbs and freshly grated summer veggies on top.
    The broth is so amazing; you cannot let it go to waste 🙂

    Thank you! Keep up the great posts!

    Reply
    • Karen H August 27, 2016, 3:24 pm

      5+ STARS!

      Reply
  • Allie August 14, 2016, 11:43 pm

    Make sure to follow the author’s suggestion to play around and add in more flavors. This is a good base, but definitely pretty bland by itself. I’d suggest some chili powder.

    Reply
  • Mindy August 5, 2016, 2:03 pm

    Turned out awesome!

    Reply
  • Yvonne July 10, 2016, 9:41 am

    I used this to make the shredded chicken thighs, then I used it in a stir fry of red bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, and snow peas with a little cayenne and Mrs. Dash. My men loved it! I have also fixed it with a green bean stir fry. It is wonderful! I just freeze it in 1-2 cup amounts and use for a quick meal!

    Reply
  • LM June 26, 2016, 3:16 pm

    Absolutely loved this! I used the recipe as a guide to make some sweet flavored chicken and dressing for a salad. Salad was greens with some apples and grapes and toasted almonds. I used grape juice instead of water, two apples, cinnamon sticks, and allspice. Chicken is awesome and tastes great with salad! The dressing was just the reduced “broth” (strained). Awesome! Great base recipe to experiment with. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • LM June 26, 2016, 3:17 pm

      I wasn’t able to add stars, so here they are. Five!

      Reply
  • Scarlet Gem April 20, 2016, 10:06 am

    Mouthwatering recipe. I followed this recipe to make sandwiches for a game party. All kids love the taste and texture. Thanks for sharing such a nice recipe.

    Reply
  • Christina March 8, 2016, 5:02 pm

    For how long do you think the concentrated broth will keep in the fridge? Any recipes using it, or do you just use as broth?

    Reply
    • Joanne May 19, 2016, 1:32 pm

      The broth will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. It’s delicious as a soup or use it to cook rice, steam veggies or add to sauces.

      Reply
  • Mel siems December 21, 2015, 1:44 pm

    Looks good, I Will try it..thanks

    Reply
  • Mitch December 5, 2015, 1:48 pm

    Thank you so much for the recipe! Sounds delicious. I’ll be using this method to make pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches, served with a tangy southern Kentuckian worcestershire dipping sauce tonight. When prepping chicken for BBQ, I usually let the chicken sit in a salty brine with a little onion and garlic powder, then marinate in a little dark beer before cooking, to add just a little more depth of flavor. Cheers!

    Reply
  • Beka December 4, 2015, 6:35 am

    Has this ever been tried in the crock pot?

    Reply
  • Karen November 9, 2015, 2:32 pm

    Do you cover chicken when simmering?

    Reply
    • Joanne December 22, 2015, 1:36 pm

      No, there is no need to cover the chicken.

      Reply
  • Cheryl June 29, 2015, 8:43 pm

    I was wondering if there is any reason why you might not be able to use bone-in chicken thighs?

    Reply
    • Adam July 1, 2015, 11:47 am

      You absolutely can us bone-in chicken thighs. We actually just tried it the other night and it was delicious.

      Reply
  • Judy June 26, 2015, 2:47 pm

    You come up with the BEST recipes! You are my only “go to” for pie crust and hummus, now this for shredded chicken. Love getting your emails! Thank you.

    Reply
  • Farha June 19, 2015, 10:33 pm

    Looks delightfully tasty and flavorful. I love garlic and this just looks perfect

    Reply

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