This simple shredded slow cooker chicken is perfect for meal prep! A crock pot chicken breast recipe to use in burrito bowls, sandwiches, salads, soups, or pasta.
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If I had to choose the ONE TRUE WEEKNIGHT HERO of my meal prep routine, it would be this easy shredded chicken.
All you need is salt, pepper, olive oil, and a few pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs. Throw it all together in a slow cooker (I love my Crock Pot!), let it cook away for a few hours, and BEHOLD: the most perfect blank canvas for lunches and dinners and sandwiches and salad and anything else you can think of ALL. WEEK. LONG.
We're making this slow cooker chicken without broth or extra liquid. The chicken releases quite a bit of liquid as it cooks, and we didn't notice enough of a taste difference in our testing to justify the extra step and extra ingredients!
Using a nice, long, low-and-slow cook time helps chicken breasts retain plenty of moisture - but you can certainly opt to add a splash of water or chicken stock to the crockpot if you like! If you're worried about dry chicken, you can also swap boneless skinless chicken thighs in for a bit of extra moisture. (PLEASE NOTE: If you want to make shredded chicken with an Instant Pot, you WILL need liquid in the bowl to allow the pot to come to pressure. We recommend using the slow cooker setting if you'd like to use an Instant Pot here!)
How to use shredded chicken:
Need some weeknight chicken dinner inspiration? Here are some of our favorite shredded crock pot chicken recipes:
- Chicken, Pear, and Arugula Salad with Walnuts
- 30 Minute Chicken Spinach Alfredo (with no heavy cream!)
- Chicken Apple Salad Lettuce Wraps
- Easy Lemon Orzo Soup with Pesto and shredded crock pot chicken
- Creamy Pea and Pesto Tortellini
How to store shredded chicken
When shredded chicken has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight container (we love our Pyrex!) and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
You can also freeze shredded chicken - I like to throw a cup or two at a time in a reusable silicone Stasher Bag so I can defrost just what I need! Shredded chicken will keep in the freezer this way for 3-4 months before it starts losing flavor.
VIDEO: HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER SHREDDED CHICKEN
Easy shredded chicken made with a slow cooker or crock pot!
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 large chicken breasts)
- salt and pepper to taste (don't be stingy here!)
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Put everything in a slow cooker and give it a toss to evenly distribute seasonings.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours until chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Remove lid and let chicken cool for 10 minutes or so before shredding (so we don't burn ourselves!)
- Use two forks to shred the chicken right in the crockpot. The chicken will absorb any liquid in the pot as you shred it.
- Serve immediately or let chicken cool completely before transferring to airtight containers. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
Chicken cuts: We use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in this recipe, but you can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs or bone-in chicken if you prefer. Always make sure your chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees for safety.
To scale this recipe for a crowd, use as many chicken breasts as you like - just plan to use about ½ Tablespoon of olive oil per chicken breast and make sure to liberally season with salt and pepper. With more chicken, you may also have to extend the cook time - so keep an eye on it and make sure to test the internal temperature before serving.
Freezing and storing shredded chicken. This chicken will last up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge or 3-4 months in the freezer. You can freeze in portion sized helpings or a larger container - just remove the chicken to the fridge the day before you plan to use it so it can defrost.
In a hurry? Cook chicken on high heat (instead of low) for 3-4 hours. The chicken will typically be cooked through after 3 hours, but the additional hour of cooking time makes it much easier to shred.
Seasoning adjustments. This is a great "blank canvas" recipe - it's great as-is, or you can mix it up with additional flavors. Add some fresh thyme sprigs (remove them before shredding the chicken), garlic cloves, rosemary leaves, dried basil, seasoning salt, or any of your other favorite herbs and spices (don't forget to check out our salsa slow cooker chicken, buffalo slow cooker chicken, and pesto slow cooker chicken recipes!)
Use this slow cooker chicken in your favorite salads, pasta, pizza, burritos, tacos, soups, and more! We love a simple arugula walnut chicken salad, a quick chicken alfredo, or a bowl of lemony orzo chicken soup. Shredded chicken is also delicious as a mix-in for your favorite mac and cheese recipe!
This post was originally published in 2016. It has been updated for clarity.
- Serving Size: About 1 cup
- Calories: 201
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 68 mg
- Fat: 6.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
- Protein: 34 g
- Cholesterol: 110.3 mg
Keywords: slow cooker, crock pot, meal prep, meal planning