How to Make Shredded Chicken
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Hey There! I have been getting some questions lately as to how to make the shredded chicken that goes into our low carb tamales recipe.
So, I thought I would just include a quickie post as to how to make shredded chicken. It’s super easy.
The possibilities are endless. Think tacos, enchilada bowls, burritos, chicken salad or the famous low carb tamales.
Shredded chicken really freezes well too. You can keep it frozen in portions and add the whatever sauce you like for a quick weeknight meal.
Let’s get started…
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What type of chicken to use?
For shredding purposes you have two choices unless you are cooking the whole bird. But…I think that is a separate post.
For the sake of time and ease, we’ll talk about these two cuts of chicken…
If you use chicken breast, it’s best to brine the chicken before cooking. It’ll keep the meat from turning out too dry.
Don’t worry, your chicken won’t be super salty.
Wet Brine vs. Dry Brine
The brining methods have been up for debate for a while now. I like both methods, just depending on what I’m making.
If I am cooking a whole chicken or turkey, I wet brine because it’ easiest. If I am making a smaller amount of chicken, I prefer to dry brine.
You can check out the pros and cons if you want to learn more about it.
The basic recipe for a wet brine is one cup of salt to a gallon of water. If you are brining your chicken in 4 cups of water, you would use 1/4 cup of salt and any aromatics you choose. (onion, garlic, cilantro, etc).
I usually only use salt and save expensive spices for later.
But either way, you let the chicken breasts soak in the brine (refrigerated) for 30-60 minutes. No need to rinse before cooking.
To dry brine, coat the chicken with salt and let it sit in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. You’ll need to rinse and pat the breast dry before cooking.
The dry brine method is the easiest and tends to create a less watery meat texture but it really is a matter of opinion.
Chicken thighs have a higher fat content than breasts and are also easier to shred than breasts because of it.
The thighs don’t really need any brining so you can skip it if you are using them.
Four Main Ways to Make Shredded Chicken~
- Crock Pot Method
- Poached Shredded Chicken
- Baked Shredded Chicken
- Pressure cooked – Instant Pot
Lets get started…
I really love the crock pot method because it’s hands off.
It’s my favorite. But, if you are in a hurry, it’s not the way to go.
Use this method if you have some time and love that slow cooked flavor and aroma.
- Crock pot method– Add your brined breast or chicken thighs and a cup of chicken broth and any seasonings you like to the crock pot and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
You don’t have to add much seasoning because you can add whatever sauce you like once the chicken is cooked.
If you are cooking a lot of chicken to use during the week, less spice will provide more options later.
But…your taste buds are boss here and you can add whatever flavor sauce you like once your chicken is cooked.
After a few hours in the crock pot, test the chicken for doneness with a thermometer so you can make sure it has reached 165F.
But you can usually tell when it’s ready by piercing it with a fork.
Remove from the slow cooker and shred it with two forks or your fingers. Add a bit of the broth back into the chicken to make it easier to shred if needed.
- Poached Shredded Chicken – Cover the chicken with water in a stock pot and add some salt, broth, garlic, onions or whatever else sounds appealing and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes until done.
Don’t fill the pot with too much water or the chicken will be bland.
Remove the chicken when done and shred with two forks.
Add in a tiny bit of the cooking broth if needed to make it easier and add whatever sauce you’ll be using to make your dish. (There’s some suggestions for excellent Mexican Sauces at the end of the post).
- Baked Shredded Chicken – Brine the chicken of using breasts. This is important because baked chicken breast can dry out in a hurry!
Then bake in a 375F oven for 45-60 minutes depending on how thick the chicken is. You’ll need to make sure it has reached 165F. Shred with two forks and add your sauce.
If you have more time, turn the heat down to 325F and bake for at least one hour and check for doneness. I prefer to cook the chicken slowly because it makes the meat easier to shred.
Pressure Cooking- this is the ultimate quick cooking way to make tender and juicy chicken.
I still brine chicken breast before pressure cooking them but I am not sure it’s entirely necessary.
The pressure cooker uses steam to cook the chicken and it usually comes out perfectly no matter what.
But, I must confess that I am newer at pressure cooking since most of my life I have been terrified of this happening…
The thought of a pressure cooker blow up was always in the back of my mind before. Good thing I don’t to have to worry about that anymore.
I recently bought the Ninja Foodi Pro and it has a locking safety lid for the pressure cooker, an air fryer option, slow cooker, dehydrator and a bunch of other features.
If you have been thinking about buying an instant pot and an air fryer, this might be your jam….it does “all of the things” without taking up all of your counter space.
I LOVE MINE!
Where was I? Oh yeah….brine the meat if you need/want to and pressure cook according to your device.
I cook about two pounds of chicken thighs in about 12 minutes on high, let it natural release for 10-15 minutes and shred and add the sauce.
This is the best part!
For instance, you can just shred the meat and pair it with some low carb tortillas and taco fixings. It doesn’t get any easier than this….
Or you can use it in:
- Low Carb Salsa
- Homemade Chicken Tinga
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Cobb Salad
- Swap it with the pork in Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Or make chicken sandwiches or soup
- Juicy Baked Chicken Breast
Shredded chicken can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
If you need to keep it longer, you should pack it into a an airtight freezer bag and pack it away for later.
That’s all for now Keto Friends!