Making shredded chicken in an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker is so simple, it's laughable. So if you're one of those people who still haven't unboxed your Instant Pot because you're not quite sure how to use the thing, read on, friend. This is your sign from the universe that it's time.
Don't worry, it's easy.
What to make with shredded chicken
Before we get on to the super simple recipe instructions, let's take a moment to consider all the reasons to make a big o'l batch of cooked shredded chicken. With this super easy, healthy protein, you can use it to make the following items in the snap of a finger:
- sandwich wrap (chicken salad)
- chicken salad
You can also sprinkle it on your dog's food when he or she gives you that "ugh, kibble again??" look.
What kind of chicken is best for shredding?
Either dark or white meat will both shred well. Dark meat tends to have more flavor, but white meat has fewer calories, more protein and less fat.
How to Make Shredded Chicken in an Instant Pot
Okay, I won't make you wait any longer. Simply fill the instant pot with water (about an inch in depth), take your chicken out of the wrapper, place it in the instant pot and close the lid.
The hard part is now done.
This recipe is for 1.5 pounds (about two large breasts), so set the cook time for 15 minutes. When it's done, let the pressure release for an additional 5 mins and then do a "Quick Release" by turning sealing valve to the venting position. Now you can open the lid.
If you are cooking 2 or more pounds of chicken, you might want to add a few more minutes to the cook time. Less than 1.5 pounds will still require 15 minutes cook time.
How to Make Shredded Chicken in a Crock Pot/Slow Cooker
Same idea as above, you simply fill the pot with about an inch of water at the bottom of the pot, then add the chicken and cook on high for 3 hours and on low for 5 to 6 hours.
Which option is better?
Personally, I like the Instant Pot because faster is better in my books, but the results are pretty much the same.
Starting with Frozen Chicken?
Personally, I don't think the chicken turns out as soft when you start with frozen chicken, but if you're in a pinch, go for it.
- Instant Pot: Add 2 minutes to the cook time (17 mins total)
- Crockpot/Slow cooker - it will still be 3 hours on high, 5 to 6 on low.
Season Shredded Chicken Before or After Cooking?
Personally, I prefer to season after cooking because I may want to use the chicken for different dishes. I also like to sprinkle it on my dog's food, so for that reason, I cook it plain, then dress it up when I'm ready to use it.
However, you can season it before hand. A basic seasoning of salt and pepper is suggested, but you could also add garlic or onion powder to give it basic flavor.
If you know exactly how you're going to use the shredded chicken (ie, all for tacos - and I'm all for that), then you could get more creative with the seasoning. For example, if you're using the chicken for a Mexican dish, add a tsp of chili lime seasoning. I love Tajin!
How to actually shred the chicken
Once you've opened your Instant Pot, you can drain the remaining water and leave the meat in the pot. Now grab two forks and pull that chicken apart. It should be nice and juicy and pull apart beautifully.
If the old fashion way doesn't suit you, you can also use a hand-held emersion blender or a Kitchen Aid blender, but that seems like unnecessary clean up to me.
How to store shredded chicken
Now you can store it in a glass or plastic container in your fridge. If you're tracking macros, you can even portion the chicken into 4 ounce portions and store it that way so you know exactly how much you're eating!
How long will it last in the fridge?
It should last 4 or 5 days. If you don't think you're going to consume it within that time, you can also put it in freezer bags and store it for up to 3 months in the freezer.
This is a great idea for having prepared protein ready in a pinch.
7 Healthy Recipes for Shredded Chicken
Okay, here's a round up of a few of my favorite recipes, as well as some options from other food bloggers I love!
- Shredded Chicken Tacos - Honestly, this barely needs a recipe because it's so easy, but here's a simple option for shredded chicken tacos.
- Add shredded chicken to ANY prepared soup! Just toss in 3 to 4 ounces per bowl and the soup transforms from a side dish to a satisfying meal. I love adding shredded chicken to my cream of mushroom and also my golden lentil soup.
- Make these simple shredded chicken enchiladas, and use these low carb tortillas if you're counting macros.
- A simple shredded chicken wrap sandwich requires no instruction. My favorite low carb wraps are Xtreme Wellness. I made it with pre-shredded coleslaw mix, a little shredded cheese and a drizzle of Bolthouse honey bbq salad dressing. SO good.
- Made a chicken burrito in a snap! Just add your shredded chicken to a heated pan with some sauteed onion, black beans and salsa. Give it a good mix, then add to a large tortilla with a little sprinkle of shredded cheese and some guacamole and you're good to GO!
- Make a quick chicken salad with diced celery, pickle and 2 tablespoons of Bolthouse Caesar dressing! Simply mix it up, add salt and pepper, and then enjoy it as it is, or over a bed of lettuce.
- Perhaps my all-time favorite way to enjoy shredded chicken, is sprinkled onto a mound of air fryer nachos with melted cheese. Ugh - this is SO good. I have a recipe for a "healthier" home made nacho plate, so watch out for that one coming soon!
Have I convinced you to unbox that Instant Pot yet?
Macros for Shredded Chicken
- 4 ounces of chicken breast is 187 calories, 4g fat, 35g protein and 0 carbs.
- 4 ounces of chicken thighs are 203 calories, 9.2g fat, 28g protein and 0 carbs.
21 Day Fix/Ultimate Portion Fix
- 4 ounces of chicken is 1 red container
Curious what the Ultimate Portion Fix (a.k.a. the 21 Day Fix Meal Plan) is? Click here to learn more.
- 1.5 pounds of chicken breast or thighs (skinless and boneless)
- Optional, Seasoning of choice - salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, paprika, etc
- Fill your Instant Pot with water up to about and inch at the bottom and add the raw chicken.
- Set the Instant Pot on "Meat/Poultry" for 15 mins.
- After 15 mins are done, allow the pot to release for 5 minutes.
- Open the valve release and then open the pot lid.
- Drain the water and using two forks pull the chicken apart.
- Store in a container in the fridge until you are ready to use.
- Fill the slow cooker with an inch of water at the bottom and add the chicken.
- Set on high for 3 hours, or on low for 5.
- Check on it every hour to see how it's progressing.
- Once cooked, drain the water, and with two forks, pull the chicken apart.
- Store in a container in the fridge until you are ready to use.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 4 ounces
Amount Per Serving Calories 183Total Fat 3gCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gProtein 35g
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, low carb recipes, quick home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.