This step-by-step tutorial will show you my favorite way to cook and shred chicken for the most flavorful results to use in all your favorite recipes – you only need 30 minutes!
If you’ve ever gotten excited about a recipe, and then gotten to the part where one of the ingredients is listed as “shredded chicken breasts” with no additional context, and immediately felt frustrated – I hear ya.
That’s why I want to share:
- my favorite way to cook chicken breasts to prepare them to be shredded
- how I shred chicken breasts
- some of my favorite ways to use shredded chicken
How to cook chicken breasts
My personal preference is to bake them, because it means I can stick them in the oven and let them do their thing while I do my thing.
“My thing” might be prepping the rest of a meal, making myself a drink, or lying facedown on the kitchen floor, groaning and taking a break. Depends on the day.
Prep the oven and chicken
First off, you can make any many chicken breasts with this method as you want, just be sure to give them enough room on the baking sheet so that they’re not squished together.
Preheat your oven to 450°F (233°C), and pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel.
Even it out. Use a meat tenderizer mallet to pound the chicken breasts so that they are relatively even in size. You don’t want to pound them to be super thin, just enough to even out how thick it is so that it doesn’t cook unevenly.
Season. Salt and pepper them all over, seasoning to taste. If you want to add additional spices at this point for the particular recipe you’re using, go for it!
Roast and wait
Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and let them roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F (74°C).
Once it’s cooked through, remove from oven and transfer to cutting board to rest.
I highly recommend investing in a good meat thermometer that allows you to insert a probe into the thickest part of the chicken and is attached to the thermometer so you can monitor the temperature as it cooks. I use and love my ThermoWorks ChefAlarm (affiliate link), as you can see in the photo below.
It’s super accurate, and allows me to find the right time to remove the chicken from the oven without having to keep opening the oven door to insert a thermometer and check – in turn losing the heat in the oven, and drawing the process out more.
How to shred chicken
Keep the chicken breasts on the cutting board, and grab a pair of meat claws or two large forks.
Place one of the meat claws or forks in the center of the breast and use the other to pull and tear the chicken in the opposite direction (away from the center).
If you’re comfortable doing so, you can even pull both claws/forks away from each other at the same time. Repeat this process until you’ve shredded the entire breast.
Repeat that process for as many chicken breasts that you have, voila! You’ve got shredded chicken that’s ready to be used, or stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Ways to use shredded chicken
You can use shredded chicken in countless ways, but here are some of my favorites:
- Chicken Shawarma Pita Pizza
- Seasoned with some lime juice and mixed into cilantro lime brown rice
- Added to a freshly made salad with some homemade croutons
- Added to a light pasta dish with tons of veggies
- Seasoned and mixed in with lasagna rollups
- Swap the ground turkey for chicken in these stuffed shells
And if you don’t add the salt and pepper, it can also be given to your dog or cat friends if they’ve had an upset stomach and you’re slowly reintroducing food into their system. (I hope they feel better soon <3)
- Meat tenderizer mallet
- Baking sheet
- Meat claws or two large forks
- Preheat oven to 450°F (233°C) and pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel.
- Pound chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer mallet so that they are relatively even in size. Salt and pepper all over.
- Place chicken breasts on a small baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F (74°C).
- Remove from oven and transfer to cutting board to rest.
- Use meat claws or two large forks to shred the chicken. Place one of the meat claws or forks in the center of the breast and use the other to pull and tear the chicken in the opposite direction (away from the center). If you're comfortable doing so, you can even pull both claws/forks away from each other at the same time. Repeat this process until you've shredded the entire breast.