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How to Make Shredded Chicken in the Oven

There are countless recipes that call for shredded chicken and they assume you know how to pull that off. If you’re stumped, get all the easy steps to make flavorful, juicy chicken in just the right amounts to fill your freezer or pile high in your next casserole.

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a large cookie sheet of shredded chicken with tongs

Shredded chicken might be one of the most versatile proteins you can make ahead. I’m always in the freezer looking for a bag of it to toss in to chicken minestrone soup, add to my chicken and stuffing bake, or roll up in some super fast and cheesy 30-minute green chile chicken enchiladas.

I realize a lot of people make their shredded chicken in the Instant Pot or slow cooker but the oven roasting method is just short, sweet and to the point. In a half hour you’re done.

Oven roasting also concentrates flavors–not dilutes them with water from boiling or bobbing around in a slow cooker and it’s a lot less likely to over cook as long as you keep an eye on things.

What cuts of chicken are the best to shred?

Breast or thigh meat will work best. If you prefer dark meat, more fat and a stronger flavor use thighs. If you want a milder flavor and less fat go with breast meat. Wings and legs won’t work here.

Bone-in, skin-on breasts (also called split breasts in the package) or bone-in skin-on thighs would be best for oven roasting but I find it hard to locate them in my stores. If you use bone-in, please note that the cooking times will be different than listed in this recipe but I think the flavor is even better.

If you are mixing thighs and breasts that’s fine. Just use all boneless or all bone-in so everything gets done at the same time.

How to choose quality chicken

Today’s commercial chicken is huge. Have you noticed? That’s because most boneless skinless meat is injected with a salt water solution at the packing plant. You can read how much “retained water” is in your favorite brand right on the package. I’ve seen them range between 3% and 20%+ depending on the brand.

When you are choosing chicken to roast and shred, do your best to get a brand that has the lowest amount of retained water possible. This ensures that your chicken won’t weep water all over your pan in the oven, and that your money goes to buying actual chicken–not water.

I also find that I like the flavor of chicken fed a vegetarian diet. That’s not a deal breaker, but the flavor just seems cleaner. I also check the package for “air cooled” verbiage. This means my chicken didn’t pass through a chlorine bath which also changes the texture of the meat. My all time favorite chicken comes from Katie’s Best or we’ve had (referral link) great luck with Moink’s chicken which you can mail order.

How to make shredded chicken step-by-step

Step One: Lay cuts of chicken on a cookie sheet. Use this opportunity to make as much or as little chicken as you’d like and use all white meat or dark meat or a blend. I’m making a bit of both so that we get some of the flavor and fat from the dark meat (it helps keep things from drying out).

a half sheet pan with chicken thighs and breast meat being prepared to go in the oven

Step Two: Season with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Don’t be shy with the seasoning. Because you’ll be roasting your chicken in the oven under reasonably high heat (400 degrees) use an oil that can handle those temperatures without smoking. Avocado oil is perfect for this. We no longer use vegetable oil but you can do that if you want to.

a person sprinkling the chicken with salt and pepper on a baking sheet

Step Three: Roast the chicken in the oven until just cooked through. That’s about 20-22 minutes max. There’s no need to cook it to death, but you do need the chicken to reach 165 degrees. You can use a meat thermometer to check if you aren’t sure when you’re there. Allow the chicken to cool enough to handle before proceeding.

cooked chicken on a cookie sheet being placed on a table by a person

3 easy ways to tackle shredding

  • I love to do this with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add three or four pieces of chicken whole to the bowl, get a good grip on it and turn it on. Keep mixing until your chicken is as fine or as coarse as you like it.
  • You can also shred it with a powerful handheld mixer, two forks, or just your hands once it cools off enough.
  • If you don’t think you have the patience to shred it, just use a knife and cut your chicken in to bit size pieces. It will still work great in any recipe you have planned.

How to store shredded chicken

To refrigerate: Allow the shredded chicken to cool completely then transfer to an air tight container. Your chicken will keep in your fridge for up to 4 days.

To freeze: Transfer the chicken in 1 or 2 cup measurements (or whatever amount makes sense for the recipes you need to make) to air tight containers or freezer bags and remove as much air as you can. Store for up to 3 months.

To use from frozen: Toss chicken right into a soup or skillet and allow to thaw or thaw overnight in the fridge. If you plan to use your chicken right away, you could even thaw it on a plate (never in the freezer bag) in the microwave.

three small glass baking dishes with shredded chicken

Chicken servings and yields

  • Estimate that you’ll need 1/4 to 1/3 pounds chicken per serving. So if you’re making a dish that feeds 4 people, you’ll need at least one pound of shredded chicken in the recipe.
  • 3/4 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts should yield about 2 cups of chopped cooked chicken.
  • A cooked whole chicken will yield about 3 1/2 cups of meat.

Delicious recipes to make the most of your work

Never run out of ideas for all that shredded chicken again with these delicious recipes:

a large cookie sheet of shredded chicken with tongs

How to make shredded chicken

Shredded chicken is a staple protein you can make, freeze and have on hand for any recipe.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 172kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (make sure they have very little retained water)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400. Lay the chicken in an even layer on a large rimmed baking tray. I use a half sheet pan.If you don’t have a large enough tray, use two separate ones.
  • Drizzle over the avocado oil and sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt and pepper.
  • You can also add other spices like onion or garlic powder here.Bake until just cooked through but not dry—20 to 22 minutes.
  • Allow to cool slightly then shred with a stand mixer on high, with two forks, or by hand.
  • Allow to cool completely and then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days if you plan to use it right away, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 172kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 703mg | Potassium: 372mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 32IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating




Jason

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

Can I do it in the stand mixer if I don't have the paddle attachment?

Rachel Ballard

Wednesday 17th of February 2021

Not with the whisk attachment Jason. You'll probably bend it. If you have a hand mixer I'd use that before I tried something you might break in your stand mixer. --Rachel

Kim Johnson

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

I was a little confused about the directions for shredding the chicken with the Kitchen aid mixer. It sounds like the paddle attachment does the shredding. I have a hard time imagining mine doing that. What am I getting a good grip on? The mixer? Please explain a bit more. Thank you.

Your directions were: "I love to do this with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add three or four pieces of chicken whole to the bowl, get a good grip on it and turn it on. Keep mixing until your chicken is as fine or as coarse as you like it."

Rachel Ballard

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

Kim it works I promise! You sure don't want to do it with your whisk--but put the chicken in, turn it on about 2 or 3 and hold on to the top so it doesn't jump all over (or alternatively put in less chicken at once) and in about 5 to 10 seconds it's done. Check out this video I made showing me shredding it in the Kitchen Aid (skip forward to about 1:45) https://youtu.be/OgkCDZmC3Uc --Rachel

Jen

Thursday 23rd of April 2020

I love how quick and easy this recipe is! Thank you so much for sharing.

Rachel Ballard

Saturday 25th of April 2020

You're welcome Jen! --Rachel