Chicken has long been one of the world's most popular protein sources, and as inflation drives up the prices of alternatives, such as beef and pork, consumers are becoming better acquainted with the tasty bird. Sure, a rotisserie chicken can come through in a pinch on a busy weeknight and serve as the base for a few subsequent meals, but there's much more you can do with the versatile bird.
Shredding cooked chicken meat, for example, is a great way to transform a snack (like nachos) into a full-blown, satisfying meal. Additionally, adding shredded chicken to a homemade pizza or bowl of pasta is an excellent way to increase your protein intake. Keep reading to find out how to make shredded chicken and how to add it to some of your favorite meals.
How to Make Shredded Chicken
There are several ways to make shredded chicken, but our preference is the classic stovetop method. By searing boneless chicken breasts or thighs before cooking them all the way through, you'll develop crusts that'll keep the meat moist and flavorful.
Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet (cast-iron is best) over medium-high heat.
Season tempered boneless chicken breasts or thighs with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet.
Let the chicken cook for about 5 minutes on the first side, making sure not to move any of the pieces around.
Use tongs to flip the chicken to the other side.
Add a scant cup of chicken broth or water to the pan, then cover it with a lid and let cook for 8-10 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. (Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature.)
Turn off the heat and move the chicken from the pan to a plate or bowl, then use two forks to shred it up.
Shredded Chicken Recipe Ideas
Now that you know an easy method for preparing shredded chicken, here are several ideas for how to incorporate shredded chicken into your meals!
Make a Nourishing Soup
Two of our favorite feel-good soups include shredded chicken: chicken noodle soup and chicken pho. If you're in need of some comfort, look no further than these recipes!
Dress Up Some Nachos
Nachos are so much fun to eat, and they're super simple to make at home. With some shredded chicken on top, nachos are a filling weeknight sheet pan dinner. Top with pico de gallo, avocado, and cilantro when they get out of the oven, and you've got your fruits and vegetables covered too!
Top a Pizza
Shredded chicken is an underrated pizza topping that you can take in all sorts of directions. We like this sophisticated, untraditional take with sautéed eggplant and capers; it looks like you made an effort, but with pre-made dough and pre-shredded chicken, it couldn't be easier to whip up for guests.
Tuck Into Tacos
Heat up some plain shredded chicken, spice it up with your favorite salsa and seasonings, then tuck it inside warm tortillas with whatever toppings sound good to you—no recipe required! However, if you would like a recipe, we're partial to this one that calls for quick-pickled carrots and daikon radish. When you don't have the energy to cook but you still want to eat something delicious, tacos are the way to go.
RELATED: How to Spatchcock a Chicken at Home
Bake a Cozy Pot Pie
On a chilly night, nothing beats a golden chicken pot pie just out of the oven. If you've never made one before, it may seem like a lot of work, but it's really not, especially if you buy store-bought pie crust and have shredded chicken ready to go.
Add Protein to Pasta
Boost the protein content in your pasta by adding shredded chicken, which will not only fill you up, but also taste amazing. We especially love this Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pasta, which is finished with fresh tarragon to lighten things up.
Fill Your Enchiladas
Enchiladas make for a delightful meal and are endlessly versatile in terms of what you can put inside. Our go-to recipe is this one by Pati Jinich, which includes shredded chicken and a bright, punchy salsa verde.