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What do to with those leftover chicken breasts? Those leftover chicken thighs? Shred them! Leftover cooked shredded chicken is one of the most perpetually useful things to have in your fridge, a springboard for all kinds of meals. 

Whether it’s from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or just extra chicken from a dinner earlier in the week, whether the chicken has been poached, grilled, roasted, baked, made in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, or steamed, it’s a goldmine of future recipes and meals waiting to happen. Think tacos, enchiladas, chicken salads, soups, and quesadillas.

(Psst….anything on this list also works with leftover shredded turkey! Which many of us will have in our fridges right after Thanksgiving.)

If you’re super smart, you’ll plan ahead and make a few extra pieces whenever you cook chicken, and then you’ll have this head start for all sorts of great chicken meals later in the week. You can plan for leftover chicken breasts or thighs or even a whole extra roast chicken.

I often buy a rotisserie chicken at the market if I’m not sure what the week’s meal plan is because there will be a dinner one way or another. There are so many easy shredded chicken recipes just waiting to happen.

Shredded Chicken From Costco

You can also buy packages of freshly shredded rotisserie chicken breasts at Costco, and then you are ready to roll with any of the following. It’s a great shortcut for those moments when you don’t even have time to shred up a rotisserie chicken. These packages are all chicken breasts, so all white meat, perfect for chicken salads and the like.

How to Shred Chicken

You can shred chicken while it’s still warm, once it’s cooled to room temperature, or when it’s cold from the fridge. I think it’s easiest to shred when it’s still slightly warm. You can use your fingers, which is the quickest way to shred chicken, or you can use two forks to pull apart the meat.

And, you can shred the chicken as roughly or as finely as you like, in pieces large or small, depending on the texture you are looking for and how you’re using it. I like smaller pieces for soups, enchiladas, and burritos and larger chunks for stews and salads.


How long is cooked chicken good for?

Leftover cooked chicken will last in the fridge will last for 3 or 5 days, depending on how fresh the chicken was when you cooked it. Keep it tightly sealed in a container or well-sealed zipper top bag.

Can you freeze leftover chicken?

Yes! Put it in a container or zipper top bag, and seal it tightly. Label it with the date and freeze for up to 6 months.

32 Shredded Chicken Recipes

So, without further ado, here’s what can be made from shredded chicken!

Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

This divine soup is scented with chili, cumin, and coriander and topped with all kinds of deliciousness, like avocado and tortilla crisps. This is one of my favorite soups of all time. It’s bursting with flavor, and if you have leftover shredded chicken at the ready, it comes together very quickly. Another soup that can easily hold its own as the main course. Serve with Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bread if you like.

Late Summer Cobb Salad topped with bacon, red onion, crumbled cheese, and other toppings.

Late Summer Cobb Salad

The salad to keep up with the end-of-summer influx of produce. Lay down a bed of crunchy lettuce, and then create rows of whatever ingredients you’re craving, with a row of shredded chicken going right down the middle. I like leftover chicken breasts for this one. Tomatoes, chickpeas, onions, avocados, bacon…anything you’d like to see in your salad is fair game.

5-Ingredient Pasta: Chicken and Mushroom Marsala Rotelle / Mia / Katie Workman /

Chicken Marsala Pasta

Pick up some mushrooms and a rotisserie chicken, and have this pasta for dinner in about 30 minutes. This is the very definition of an easy weeknight dinner, with a sauce anchored by a bit of richly flavored marsala wine and a generous amount of sautéed mushrooms.  And guess what — only 5 ingredients (not including the pasta and olive oil, which I hope you’ll think is fair).

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Shredded Chicken Tacos

This is a delicious twist on the more traditional taco fillings. The shredded chicken is tossed with a Mexican-spice seasoned tomato sauce that has piquancy and depth.

Herbed Chicken Salad in yellow bowl and on toasted bread.

Herbed Chicken Salad

This herbed mayo is a summer staple in my house, and you can make it with whatever herbs you have on hand. It turns some simply shredded chicken breasts into an amazing chicken salad.

Southwestern Chicken Taco Salad Bowl

Chicken Taco Salad

This is one of my favorite lunches of all time, with so much color, texture, and flavor going on. The tortilla chips or fritos on top make the meal!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

This is the perfect combo of Caesar Salad and pasta salad. Don't think for a minute that lettuce in a pasta salad is weird; I promise you it's not! And the dressing is divine.

Barbecued Chicken Quesadillas arranged on a plate.

Barbecued Chicken Quesadillas

You definitely should plan to save some leftover cooked (or rotisserie!) chicken to make these easy, super kid-friendly quesadillas. If you use bottled sauce they can be ready in minutes.

Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad in a bowl and on bread.

Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad

Pureed chipotles in adobo give the chicken salad a lovely smoky heat.

Chicken and Avocado Salad

Chicken and Avocado Salad

You can keep changing this salad up, depending on what veggies you have on hand. Add some pasta to turn it into a chicken pasta salad!

Table setting with a bowl of Pasta Salad with Chicken and a cloth napkin.

Pasta Salad with Chicken, Avocado and Tomato

If you are making this ahead of time, make sure to add the avocado just before serving so it doesn't brown. This a great portable dish — perfect for an office lunch, a buffet, a picnic, you name it.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

This soup is so easy but will make you feel like you've gotten some amazing takeout from a Thai restaurant. Lemongrass, ginger, and fish sauce give it an amazing aroma, and the rice noodles are imminently slurpable.

Easiest Baked Chicken Quesadillas

Easiest Baked Chicken Quesadillas

These are super cheesy and flavorful, and stuffed full. If you are making quesadillas for a crowd, baking them is so much more efficient than making them in a pan.

Overstuffed Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas

Overstuffed Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas

Skimpy quesadillas? No. Boo. I would much rather have a few wedges of a generously filled quesadilla than multiple wedges of a skimpy quesadilla.

Pasta Salad with Chicken, Green Olives, & Ramp Vinaigrette / Photo by Kerri Brewer / Katie Workman /

Pasta Salad with Chicken, Green Olives, and Ramp Vinaigrette

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some ramps in the spring, then make this salad! This robustly flavored hearty pasta salad with shredded chicken is beautiful and delicious.

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Dip

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Dip

With a couple of cups of shredded chicken and a handful of additional ingredients, in less than half an hour you can have a creamy, mildly spicy, and eye-rollingly good hot dip. Perfect for game day.

Indonesian Chicken Salad

Indonesian Chicken Salad

If you love hearty shredded chicken salads, like Chinese Chicken Salad, give this one a try! Loads of texture and color and flavor.

Scooping Chicken Salad out of bowl with fork.

Best Chicken Salad

One of the most classic uses for shredded chicken! A few flavorful and crunchy add-ins turn this chicken salad into something really special.

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

When I don't have the time to make full on Chicken Parmesan, I make this comfort food casserole, and my family is very, very happy.

Chopped Salad with Chicken, Tomatoes and Lemon Thyme Dressing / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman /

Chopped Salad with Chicken, Tomatoes and Lemon Thyme Dressing

A chopped salad made with diced or shredded chicken is one of our favorite lunches. Heavy on the chicken! I made huge bowls of this when the whole family is around.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

The first time I had this salad was at The Cheesecake Factory, and I've never looked back. But this colorful, classic restaurant salad is yours to make at home — savory and sweet, with lots of crunch.

Chopped Salad with Chicken and Blue Cheese Dressing

Chopped Salad with Chicken and Blue Cheese Dressing

Another chopped salad, but this one featured blue cheese dressing, which is one of our favorite creamy dressings. Use your favorite blue cheese, or just use bottled blue cheese dressing (I like Marie's).

Cut Rotisserie Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas on a board with bowls of dip.

Easy Rotisserie Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas

With some shredded chicken, a bag of shredded cheese, and some tortillas on hand, a quesadilla lunch or dinner is but minutes away. Just add a salad.

Black bowl of Greek Chicken Pasta Salad.

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

Feta, cucumber, and tomatoes plus shredded chicken and orzo, all tossed with a Greek dressing equal the perfect forkable Greek chicken salad.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

Instead of buying this at Le Something Or Other, it’s a very easy wrap to make at home!

Hashbrown Chicken Vegetable Pot Pie Casserole

Hashbrown Chicken Vegetable Pot Pie Casserole

Chunks of tender chicken, copious amounts of vegetables, all bound together with an savory sauce.

Lemony Chicken, Barley and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Chicken, Barley, and Mushroom Soup

A hearty cold-weather soup featuring dried mushrooms, chicken, and barley. Substantial, comforting, and perfect for a cold weekday night.

Plate of Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas on a wooden table.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas

This chicken and vegetable quesadilla is satisfying, substantial, and ready for adaptation!

Chicken Sate Salad / Laura Agra / Katie Workman /

Chicken Satay Salad

The salad for anyone who can't get enough of that great peanutty chicken satay dressing. A serious salad meal.

Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas / Mia / Katie Workman /

Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Some kick, how much depends a bit on your poblanos.

Chipotle Chicken Salad / Carrie Crow / Katie Workman /

Pasta Salad with Chicken and Chipotle Dressing

Leftovers join forces to become this better-than-I-expected salad.

Plate of Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas on a wooden table.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas

This chicken and vegetable quesadilla is satisfying, substantial, and ready for adaptation!

Chicken Recipes That Make Good Leftovers

Also see: How to Safely Thaw Frozen Chicken.

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