Easy Shredded Cooked Chicken (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot and Stovetop)

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Make shredded cooked chicken in the slow cooker, instant pot or on the stovetop to have on hand for easy meal prep!

Easy cooked shredded chicken to make cooking easier!

Having cooked shredded chicken in the fridge or freezer, ready to use, is a game changer when it comes to meal prep. I can throw a handful of chicken onto a salad for a quick wholesome lunch, or stir some into a big pot of soup, or use it as a taco filling for a quick and easy dinner. I like to cook chicken breasts in big batches to have ready for busy days and nights, and it’s amazing the difference this one time-saving step makes.

Here are 3 easy ways to make shredded cooked chicken— in the slow cooker, instant pot, and on the stovetop. I’ve got instructions as well as pros and cons for each method, all in one place!

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A few simple ingredients give shredded chicken lots of flavor

Adding flavor to basic cooked chicken

All you really need for cooking chicken in the slow cooker, instant pot, or on the stovetop are boneless skinless chicken breasts, salt and pepper, and water. But a few additional pantry staples can help boost flavor with minimal extra effort. Here’s what I like to add to chicken breasts before cooking (full recipe at the bottom of this post):

  • halved onion
  • bay leaves
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chicken or vegetable broth

Depending on what you want to use the chicken for, you can also add other ingredients like garlic, herbs, lemons or limes, etc. The options are endless!

Making shredded chicken in the slow cooker

How to cook chicken in the slow cooker

Place chicken and other ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours and on low for 4-5 hours, until chicken is completely cooked through.

Pros— You can set it and forget it!

Cons— This method definitely takes the longest, so if you’re in a time crunch it’s best to use an electric pressure cooker or the stove top.

Making shredded chicken in the Instant Pot

How to cook chicken in the instant pot

Place chicken and other ingredients in an electric pressure cooker (such as an Instant Pot), secure lid and make sure valve release is sealed. Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes, then do a quick release. Open lid and make sure chicken is cooked through.

Pros— The whole process takes just about 10 minutes total!

Cons— It’s harder to know when the chicken is done, and it’s a little annoying to have to reset the pressure cooker if the chicken needs more time. That being said, I have never had an issue with the chicken being undercooked using these instructions.

Make shredded chicken on the stovetop

How to cook chicken on the stovetop

Place chicken and other ingredients in a sauce pan or pot. Unlike with the other methods, you’ll need enough water or broth to completely cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through.

Pros— No counter-top appliances needed!

Cons— This method requires a bit more attention as you won’t have anything beeping at you when it’s done.

Shredding chicken to use in all sorts of recipes

How to shred cooked chicken

It’s easiest to shred cooked chicken breasts while they are still warm, but I like to let them cool for about 10 minutes so they’re a little easier to handle. You can shred chicken a few ways:

  • By hand
  • With two forks— my preferred way
  • With a stand or hand-held electric mixer— makes it so easy and takes less than a minute, but then you have extra dishes to wash

Store shredded chicken in the fridge or freeer

How to store shredded chicken

Shredded cooked chicken will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for several months. If I’m not using the chicken right away, I like to freeze the chicken in quart-sized, heavy-duty zip top bags. I also portion out the chicken rather than freeze in bulk so I only need to thaw what I’ll use.

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Easy Shredded Chicken

Make shredded cooked chicken in the slow cooker, instant pot or on the stove top to have on hand for easy meal prep!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (2-4 breasts depending on size)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) water or chicken/veggie broth (see Notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 1 onion, halved (optional)

Directions:

Slow cooker:

  1. Place chicken breasts, water or broth, salt, pepper, bay leaves and onion (if using) in a slow cooker and cover.
  2. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours, or until chicken is completely cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from slow cooker and let cool a few minutes, then shred.
  4. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for several months.

Electric pressure cooker (instant pot):

  1. Place chicken breasts, water or broth, salt, pepper, bay leaves and onion (if using) in an electric pressure cooker, secure lid, and make sure valve release is sealed.
  2. Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes, then do a quick release. Open lid and make sure chicken is cooked through. If needed, cook on high pressure for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken from pressure cooker and let cool a few minutes, then shred.
  4. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for several months.

Stovetop:

  1. Place chicken breasts, salt, pepper, bay leaves and onion (if using) in a sauce pan or pot. Add enough water or broth to barely cover the chicken.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from pot and let cool a few minutes, then shred.
  4. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for several months.
Notes:
  • You'll need more water or broth if you are cooking chicken on the stovetop.
  • Chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature reaches 165° and chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
  • This method can be scaled up or down easily! Just keep the ratio of chicken to liquid (for slow cooker and instant pot methods) at 1 lb chicken to 1/2 cup liquid.

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below, send me an email, or take a photo and tag it on instagram with #completelydelicious.