This shredded chicken recipe is very simple to make and can be used in 100 different ways. This easy recipe makes a batch of tender shredded chicken on the stove in less than 1 hour. Jump to the Shredded Chicken Recipe
How to Make Juicy and Tender Chicken in Under 1 Hour
This is how we make a batch of tender and flavorful shredded chicken on the stove in less than 1 hour. If you’d prefer to use a slow cooker to make shredded chicken, see our Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe. By gently simmering boneless chicken thighs in a flavorful cooking broth, they become tender and very moist. Use this simple recipe for shredded chicken tacos, perfect enchiladas, soups, chicken salad, chicken sandwiches and more!
This Recipe Calls For 4 Simple Steps
- Gently simmer chicken thighs or chicken breast in a broth made with water or stock, spices, onion, and garlic.
- Shred the cooked chicken.
- Simmer the cooking liquid until reduced.
- Toss the shredded chicken with the concentrated cooking liquid for extra flavor and moisture.
Our go-to ingredients for making shredded chicken at home 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.
Keep in mind that 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.
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.
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.
It’s this last step that is our real secret to the juiciest shredded chicken! And that’s it, now you have chicken ready for chicken nachos, buffalo dip, chicken-topped pizza, quesadillas, soup, sandwiches and more.
NOTE: Turkey is a great stand-in, here. Shredded turkey is amazing!
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 the 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.
And that’s how we make juicy, tender, crave-worthy shredded chicken. I think I’ll go eat one of those sandwiches now.
More Easy Chicken Recipes
- Here’s another excellent way to cook chicken: Our Perfectly Poached Chicken is soft, tender, and flavorful.
- These Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas are so flavorful and this shredded chicken is perfect for the filling. We toss chicken with salsa verde, sour cream, garlic and cheese.
- If you are wondering whether or not you can make this in a slow cooker, you can! Hop over to our Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe to see how easy it is.
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 Flavorful Shredded Chicken
This is our favortie method for making shredded chicken. 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.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
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
- Cook Chicken
1Combine 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.
2Adjust the heat so that the water simmers very gently around the chicken. Cook until chicken is very tender, about 30 minutes.
3Transfer chicken to a cutting board. When it is cool enough to handle, use two forks or your fingers to shred the meat.
- To Finish
1After removing the chicken, boil the liquid remaining in the saucepan until it has reduced by one-third, or until its flavor has concentrated.
2Spoon 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
- Make-ahead: The chicken and broth will keep refrigerated up to 3 days and can be frozen for 1 month.
- 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, 4 to 6 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
This is how I make shredded chicken for tacos or chicken salad. I keep the seasonings basic (onion, garlic, bay leaves). For tacos, I’ll add smoked paprika, chili and sometimes cinnamon when there’s about a quarter cup of water left. This is the first time I’ve seen “my method” anywhere. Usually recipes say to cube and pan fry or use a crockpot for shredded chicken. The secret is out!
So easy!! Tender shredded chicken in half an hour with chicken broth left over 🙂
I use this recipe all the time and the chicken is tender, easy to shred and declious. Thank You!
Delicious. The recipe results in a wonderfully flavored chicken without competing with how you choose to use it. We put ours on a whole wheat bun, with bbq sauce and avocado slices. Can’t wait to try the coleslaw recipe next. Thank you – this will be a weekly staple.
I used 12 bone in skin on chicken thighs and followed the directions exactly except I left the thighs whole instead of shredding…It was delicious! I kept some for me and gave away some…Never made it to shreds, we used it as whole thighs and just ate them…I used all the broth as a hot drink…I have made my own broth for years, this was the easiest ever, and didn’t dirty up the whole kitchen…Definitely 5 stars…
Could I substitute boneless for bone-in chicken thighs?
This recipe was so easy and delicious! My boyfriend drank the broth as a soup and I froze the rest. Used it as broth in a later dish. The chicken was amazing and tender too!
Wow! …So good… Very tender, delicious chicken AND broth. Absolutely delicious!!! The broth is delectable on its own. The chicken came out great. I plan to use this in my Chicken Tinga Tacos and maybe even my Creamy Tuscany Chicken. It is so easy, with items you likely have on hand. Thank you so much for sharing this. Wow — Love It!
Could you make this in the Instant pot?
Hi Katrina, While we love the gentle cooking process of poaching the chicken thighs in our recipe above, you can use your Instant Pot to cook chicken thighs. I believe the cook time is 8 to 10 minutes depending on whether or not they are bone-in or not.