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If I were to choose one protein to have in the fridge at all times it would be chicken, and if I were to get more specific it would be cooked shredded chicken, the most versatile protein I know, and a crazy great springboard to all kinds of dishes.

Shredded chicken on a wooden surface.

You can shred any kind of cooked chicken: breast, thighs, drumsticks, whole legs…wings are probably best saved for nibbling or to make stock, since getting the meat off of those little bones is more labor than it’s worth.

You can shred chicken that has been poached, boiled, grilled, broiled, roasted, baked, sautéed, or steamed. But if you are looking to cook chicken from scratch in order to make shredded chicken, my favorite methods are roasting, poaching, or cooking in the slow cooker.

And for making the most tender chicken for shredding, the slow cooker, or crock pot, is a terrific cooking method. Almost completely hands off, set-it-and-forget-it, and resulting in super moist and soft chicken every time.

Tongs pulling chicken from a slow cooker.

Ratio of Liquid to Chicken in Slow Cooker

Use about ½ cup of liquid for every pound of chicken. This is a good ratio no matter what kind of chicken you are using, boneless or bone-in. Use chicken broth if you have it, which will result in a richer cooking liquid with deeper flavor, as well as chicken with a boost of additional flavor. However, if you just want to use plain water you will still get a lightly flavored chicken broth after the chicken cooks and is removed from the slow cooker.

Chicken broth pouring into a slow cooker of chicken.

Leftover Broth from Cooking Chicken

Don’t throw out the cooking liquid! Whether you used water or chicken broth, you’ll want to keep it for use in future recipes. Strain the broth before using in soups and stews, or any recipe of your choice. The broth may be frozen in airtight containers for up to 6 months.

What Kind of Chicken to Cook in the Slow Cooker for Pulling

Your call, any kind works, BUT for the absolute easiest-to-shred-results, I recommend boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs. Once they are cooked you can shred them right away, without having to discard any skin or bones.

Tongs placing seasoned chicken breast into a slow cooker.

The one advantage to using chicken pieces with skin and bones is that they enrich the liquid with even more flavor, so you end up with a richer broth, which can be used in all kinds of ways. You can even use a whole chicken instead of pieces.

How to Make Shredded Chicken in the Slow Cooker: For making the most tender chicken for shredding, the slow cooker is terrific. Set-it-and-forget-it, resulting in super moist, soft chicken every time.

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How to Make Crock Pot Shredded Chicken

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a slow cooker, and pour in the broth. Either cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then use your fingers or two forks to pull the chicken in shreds or chunks as desired.

Strain the broth and reserve for any recipe calling for chicken broth.

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. Warm is the best, because it shreds the most easily, and if smaller shreds are what you are after it easier to achieve this when the chicken is still warm. You can use your fingers, which is the easiest way to shred chicken, or you can use two forks to pull apart the meat, especially if it’s hot.

Two forks shredding chicken on a wooden surface.

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 and enchiladas and burritos, and larger chunks for stews and salads.

You can also make shredded chicken in the Instant Pot if your crock pot’s cooking something else. And, to put that chicken to use, please see 10 Things to Make with leftover Shredded Chicken!

Recipes with Shredded Chicken

Partially-shredded chicken breasts with two forks.

Other Kitchen Tips

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Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

5 from 6 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 6 People
For making the most tender chicken for shredding, the slow cooker is terrific. Set-it-and-forget-it, resulting in super moist, soft chicken every time.

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds chicken pieces any kind, but boneless skinless breasts or thighs are the easiest to shred
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chicken broth preferably less-sodium

Instructions 

  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a slows cooker, and pour in the broth. Either cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then use your fingers or two forks to pull the chicken in shreds or chunks as desired.
  • Strain the broth and reserve for any recipe calling for chicken broth.

Notes

Ratio of Liquid to Chicken in Slow Cooker

Use about ½ cup of liquid for every pound of chicken. This is a good ratio no matter what kind of chicken you are using, boneless or bone-in. Use chicken broth if you have it, which will result in a richer cooking liquid with deeper flavor, as well as chicken with a boost of additional flavor. However, if you just want to use plain water you will still get a lightly flavored chicken broth after the chicken cooks and is removed from the slow cooker.

Nutrition

Calories: 223kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 77mg, Sodium: 215mg, Potassium: 226mg, Vitamin A: 144IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

    1. No, but make sure your chicken isn’t pile too deep in the slow cooker, or that will require more time. Use a big slow cooker, and don’t layer the breasts more than 2 deep.

  1. This is the best recipe I have found for chicken in the slow cooker. And the tip for using your stand mixer to shred it is so good! It worked perfectly. All of your tips and suggestions are great, thank you for sharing.

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