How to Make Tender and Flavorful Shredded Chicken

This shredded chicken recipe is very simple to make and can be used 100 different ways. Jump to the Shredded Chicken Recipe or watch our quick recipe video showing you how we make it.

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!

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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.

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

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 simmer 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.

For the most tender chicken, we simmer it gently.

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.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the now incredibly flavorful cooking broth and shred it.

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

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

Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas RecipeYOU MAY ALSO LIKE: These Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas! This chicken is perfect for the filling. We toss chicken with salsa verde, sour cream, garlic and cheese. Delicious!

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!

Making this shredded chicken in a slow cooker is easy!

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!

How to Make Juicy, Tender Shredded Chicken in 1 Hour

Recipe 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

How to Make Tender and Flavorful Shredded Chicken

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

Gently simmering boneless chicken thighs in a flavorful cooking broth, helps them 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.

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 salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Water

Directions

  • 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.

    Adjust the heat so that the water simmers very gently around the chicken. Cook until chicken is very tender, about 30 minutes.

    Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Once it is cool enough to handle, use two forks or your fingers to shred the meat.

    • To Finish
    • After removing the chicken, boil the liquid remaining in the saucepan until it has reduced by one-third, or until its flavor has concentrated.

      Spoon about 1 cup of the concentrated cooking liquid over the shredded chicken and toss to coat. Use within 2 to 3 days.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Skin-On Chicken: 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.
  • Leftover Cooking Liquid: 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.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1 cup / Calories 249 / Protein 33 g / Carbohydrate 4 g / Dietary Fiber 1 g / Total Sugars 1 g / Total Fat 11 g / Saturated Fat 3 g / Cholesterol 174 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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39 comments… Leave a Comment
  • EasyRoast November 21, 2017, 11:23 pm

    Excellent making shredded chicken in a slow cooker, I like it

    Reply
  • Haley November 4, 2017, 10:10 pm

    I got a bunch of bone-in chicken thighs on sale…think I can use them?

    Reply
    • Joanne November 14, 2017, 6:34 pm

      Yes, definitely! The broth at the end will be delicious.

      Reply
  • Pamela Gregory October 31, 2017, 11:41 am

    My new favorite recipe and now in the weekly rotation, so flavorful and easy!

    Reply
  • AR October 9, 2017, 7:54 pm

    Do you put a lid on while cooking?

    Reply
    • Joanne October 10, 2017, 1:13 pm

      We leave the chicken uncovered while cooking.

      Reply
  • Arielle October 3, 2017, 11:56 am

    This recipe was so simple and SO FANTASTIC! I usually do my shredded chicken in the slow cooker, but I found this method resulted in much more moist and flavorful chicken. I can’t wait to try it in more recipes! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Renee September 2, 2017, 1:15 pm

    Hello, I have a question– I recently put 12 chicken breasts in my slow cooker, and they came out hard and kind of weird. Cooked on low about 5 hrs. Any idea why? I threw them out and am afraid to use the slow cooker for breasts!! I really want to try your recipes!

    Reply
  • Ramona August 8, 2017, 9:53 pm

    Very easy. I was never a fan of chicken thighs when cooking but you made it very simple to prepare the shredded chicken and the last step to keep the meat moist. I made your chicken enchiladas tonight and was a big hit! I saved the extra chicken to freeze for another night of enchiladas! Thank you.

    Reply
  • Keerthana Sai July 20, 2017, 11:09 pm

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! I was wondering what the red sauce that you used in the sandwiches were. If you could share the recipe of name, that would be great. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Emily July 20, 2017, 6:51 pm

    I’m currently making this and can’t wait to taste how it turns out – but I had to comment in case you don’t know the most amazing kitchen trick ever. If you have a kitchen aid mixer, toss the boiled chicken in and about 30 seconds on med high (w paddle attachment) will give you the most perfectly shredded chicken ever!

    Reply
  • Mesa July 3, 2017, 11:13 pm

    This recipe was delicious and the sopa…perfection.

    Reply

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