The Best Shredded Chicken For Your Chicken Dishes + Homemade Chicken Broth

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestGoogle+Share on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisEmail to someoneShare on Yummly

Boiled Shredded Chicken and Homemade Chicken Broth 5How many of you have a pile of recipes that use shredded cooked chicken as the main ingredient?  <Raising my hand very high here.>  🙂  And, how many of you run to the store to buy a rotisserie chicken when you need shredded chicken in a pinch?  <Raising hand, again.>

A friend shared her mother’s recipe with me where she boils her chicken in a large pot, along with a few vegetables and seasonings for flavor.  After trying this method, I’m sold.  It makes A LOT of moist shredded chicken which gets me through at least three or four recipes.  A rotisserie will get you through ONE (maybe two) recipe plus the gas and time it takes to get to the grocery store.  I have also baked or grilled chicken breasts, but it doesn’t always turn out tender and is sort of a pain to shred, unless you pop it in your food processor.  But, then you have all of those little parts to wash.  So dirtying one pot to boil the chicken is the way to go.  And, you can freeze the extra vegetables you don’t use for the next time around!

Boiled Shredded Chicken and Homemade Chicken Broth 3Another bonus about prepping your shredded chicken this way is that you end up with a fabulous homemade chicken broth, which can also be frozen.  No store-bought chicken broth for me!  (Unless I run out of homemade, of course. I don’t want to sound like I’m above store-bought, because I’m definitely not.)  🙂

This is all you need:

Shredded Chicken and Homemade Chicken Broth

And, this is all you do:

  • Cover chicken with cold water in large pot.
  • Add rest of ingredients to pot.
  • Bring to boil.
  • Simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours.
  • Remove cooked chicken from pot and shred.
  • Strain broth and reserve for later use!

I’m sure I’ll still have days when I pick up a rotisserie chicken or bake up a few chicken breasts, but now that I use this boiling method, my life is much easier and my wallet is a little fatter.   You might feel a little intimidated to try this at first, as was I.  But, really, give it a shot!  It’s SO easy.  If you work during the week, take a weekend morning to let it boil (since it takes a few hours) and then strain it, shred it and throw it in a freezer bag.  Voila! Shredded chicken is now ready for you to use in these recipes:

Chicken Pot Pie
Buffalo Chicken Bites

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Creamy Chicken Pockets
Buffalo Ranch Chicken Quesadillas
Green Chile Chicken Empanadas
Easy King Ranch Chicken
Cheddary Chicken Pie
Chicken Ranch Pizza
Tropical Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken Parmesan Pizza
Cherry Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Chicken Pesto Pizza
Balsamic Strawberry Pizza with Chicken, Sweet Onion and Applewood Smoked Bacon

What recipes do you have where you use shredded chicken?  I have more to share in the near future!

Shredded Chicken + Homemade Chicken Broth

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 8 cups shredded chicken, 16 cups chicken broth

Shredded Chicken + Homemade Chicken Broth

Shredded cooked chicken is one of the most used ingredients in my recipe collection. Here's how I have a large supply of perfectly moist shredded chicken readily available, along with a fabulous homemade chicken broth.

  • 4 large bone-in chicken breasts
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • several whole peppercorns (or about 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 tops of celery stalks (or the stalk, itself)
  • 1-2 large carrots, cut in half
  • 1 whole onion, unpeeled and quartered

Place the raw chicken breasts into a very large stock pot (no smaller than an 8-quart pot). Cover with cold water, then add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, lower the heat and allow to cook at a gentle boil for at least 1 1/2 hours (the longer, the better).

Use a large slotted spoon to remove the cooked chicken breasts from the pot and transfer to a large platter. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes. Use forks or tongs to shred the meat, discarding the skin, bones and fat. Use the chicken immediately in your recipe. Store unused shredded chicken in a sealed tight container in the fridge for a few days, or in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to two months.

After removing the chicken breasts from the pot, pour the remaining ingredients through a mesh strainer and into a large bowl or two, to reserve the broth. Discard the vegetables and store the broth in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for later use. I recommend to freeze the broth in 2-cup portions then use later in soups, rice, sauces, etc.


Freeze any extra vegetables and their scraps to throw into the pot when you're ready to boil up some chicken and broth! When ready to use the broth, skim the solidified fat from the top.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestGoogle+Share on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisEmail to someoneShare on Yummly


  1. I love it, Nikki! Practical, money-saving tips are always welcome in my book!

  2. carrie gerhart says:

    this is so helpful. thanks!

  3. Ashley Simpson says:

    If you have a Kitchen-Aid, a quick way to shred (boneless) chicken is to place the hot chicken in the mixer with the paddle attachment and let it run on medium speed for about 30-45 seconds (if you have a splatter guard, I would use it in this circumstance-if not cover it with a kitchen towel). Works great! Thanks for the recipes-thanks to this post I believe chicken parmesan pizza is on the menu tonight!

  4. This is really, really smart!! I’m definitely going to give this a try.

  5. I love two for one recipes. I’ll be making a batch of this soon to get my freezer stocked up a bit. I have a cookbook that uses rotisserie chicken in every recipe. It has many great recipes that I can’t wait to revisit. Thanks for posting this!

  6. Chicken in a food processor?! That’s just sick and wrong. You’ll end up with chicken mush. Learn to use a knife.

    • Hi “Coop”,
      I’m saddened that out of this entire post, you felt the need to leave this unkind comment. The instructions in this post are for boiling the chicken and shredding it with just forks or tongs or knives, whatever. The chicken just falls apart this way. I wasn’t going to respond to your comment, at first, because it is mean spirited. But, for the sake of my other readers, I would like to say that you can shred cooked chicken in a food processor with just a couple of pulses. Yes, if you actually process it full on, it will turn to mush. But, just a couple presses of the pulse and you have shredded chicken. Maybe you don’t have a very good food processor… ? Anyhow, I don’t recommend the food processor method, but it can be done. My recommendation is this boiling tip, which is the whole reason for this post.

      I really hope you don’t talk to your friends that way.

      • I’ve actually shredded chicken for chicken salad in a food processor and it comes out great.

        One question, I’m sure bone in chicken breast is best for this, but what if you only have boneless chicken? Would this still work or would it be too watery without the bones and/or skin?

  7. I love reading your blog, but as I am grandmother age I admit I sometimes smile at things I have known forever and cooking chicken in this manner was one of them. This is in no way a criticism, but just a sign of the way times have changed. As a yuong homemaker I had never heard tell of a rotisserie chicken or a store that had them. I will tell you though, from experience, that if you would use bone-in chicken you would have a much richer broth than using boneless skinless breasts. Leave the skin on also. You will not need boullion cubes at all with the natural old fashioned method. It will still be necessary to let the fat harden on top of the broth and remove it. I do leave a little on but not so much as to be greasy or unhealthy. Happy cooking for your family. Mine are all grown and gone and I truly miss cooking for them as I always considered it an expression of love.

    • Thanks, Nana. However, this recipe already calls for bone-in (skin-on) chicken breasts, not boneless, but I still like adding the bouillon for a little more flavor. The fat is strained out through the mesh strainer, but as it sits in the fridge it needs to be skimmed off before using.

      • I am sorry that I did not read thoroughly and see that you did specify bone in chicken. I guess I am so used to most of the recipes now specifying boneless skinless breasts. They have a good purpose also, but do not make as rich a broth. It is certainly perfect weather for a homestyle chicken soup in my area and incidentally the bone-in chicken also adds calcium to the broth.

      • Hi NIkki and fellow cooking enthusiasts, My husband has suffered fro migraine headaches his entire life. A top specialist at Johns Hopkins told us that certain foods and additives are triggers in some people. Avoiding those triggers has had a HUGE impact on reducing the frequency, intensity and duration of his headaches. A big culprit is MSG (and its derivatives–over 20 of them including hydrolyzed soy protein, natural flavorings, etc.) So bouillon has lots of MSG–for those with headaches you can get the same great flavor by simmering the chicken in a store-bought stock that doesn’t have MSG in it or using spices and herbs, which often have the bonus of healing affects. Also, the Savory Spice Shop carries ground bay leaves which offers intense flavor, moreso than using a whole bay leaf–but you only need a little. Mary Cardas at the Savory Spice Shop in Palm Desert, CA, will ship to you. I LOVE their spices and herbs–very high quality. Wanted to share this wonderful resource with you. Thanks for your great idea!

    • Nana,
      Your post also made me smile a bit, because i am one of those “young-uns”. I know that my grandma would be so disappointed that i even had to google how to make my own broth in the first place, (Which is why i didn’t call and ask her!!! ha ha ha!). You are so right that it is a sign of the times and we are all about our boneless chicken breasts and pork loin chops. 🙂 I have been really wanting to start trying to get back to natural instead of always opening a can of chicken broth or boiling up some bullion and water, so i think i will try my first batch without the bullion cubes, as you suggested.
      Thanks so much for the great share! Can’t wait to try this tonight and make a chicken chili tomorrow.

  8. Will you not get the same results if you use boneless chicken breasts?

    • I don’t think so, Shannon, but I’ve never tried it. The bone definitely helps with the flavor and tenderness.

      • I like to use a whole chicken, that has been cut into pieces. After it has cooked for about an hour and a half I take the meat out of the broth and off the bones. Then I put the bones back into the broth with the vegetables and herbs(plus I add whole cumin and coriander seed), and I simmer the broth for another 45 minutes.

        I have made chicken broth from just chicken wings, or the whole legs, and chicken breast. My first preference is a whole chicken as I think it makes the best broth.

        I wouldn’t use a food processor to shred a chicken because that is another container to wash besides the chicken is so tender you can shred it with a fork and knife as Nikki has said.

  9. This is fabulous!! Great way to get the shredded chicken AND homemade broth-Love it! I use shredded chicken all the time and am definitely guilty of running out to get a rotisserie chicken:)

  10. I use a kitchenaid to shred my meat also so quick and it does not turn to mush! Another great tip is not to use “new” veggies I keep my scraps in a bag in the freezer (Carrot ends/peels, onion skins, celery clippings, potato skins, even some mushrooms that may be going the other way before I can use them. Just keep putting them in until you have enough and keep the chicken bones and boil them all together. It wonderful to have this broth on hand in the freezer.

  11. You can also shred chicken in your Kitchen-Aid stand-up mixer or with your hand held mixer. I never use a knife or two forks anymore.

  12. Oops – I should have paid closer attention. My Kitchen-Aid and hand mixer shredding methods are for boneless skinless chicken breasts – not bone-in. But if you’ve got boneless skinless, they are awesome!

  13. Sherry Hobbs says:

    I have done this for many years and it is wonderful! If you watch the sales, you can get quarter chicken parts in large bags, then boil them with the veggies, separate chicken and veggies after boled, shred chicken and then FLASH FREEZE it on cookie/baking sheets and then bag it. This way you can take out exactly the amount you need instead of defrosting the entire amount! Also, if you will refrigerate the stock before you dish it up, you can easily separate the fat out and have just your broth or stock! I do not add bullion cubes as they have MSG and I am allergic to that. I only use my homemade broth for all soups, casseroles, dumplings, etc. It is also much more economical. Hope this helps someone else as much as it has me over the years. Also, when you divide the cooled broth it is in a gel state and much easier to work with! I put it in sandwich or snack zip locks, label it and place them in a plastic container to stay upright and pop them in the freezer. So easy to pop straight into a skillet or pot to use at the last minute (even frozen).

  14. I just did this and it worked wonderfully! It’s almost the same as my mom’s recipe (in fact she asked if I gave you her recipe), but it’s nice to have it written down (or pinned), instead of just having someone tell you from memory. So excited to have shredded chicken in the freezer for 3 meals + chicken stock.

  15. Thank you so much for this recipe! I can’t wait to try out the shredded chicken – I usually just boil BONELESS chicken breasts in store-bought chicken broth & it never turns out too great! Glad to know it can store in the freezer for a couple months too.

  16. I use the crock pot to make shredded chicken, that I then bag and freeze in portions. Similar recipe, but less water so I don’t get the broth. It takes about 4 hours on low to cook the breasts in the crock pot and I always do it when the chicken is on sale for under $2/lb.

  17. So excited to try this now! Since I bought a pound of carrots can I freeze the leftovers for later use?

  18. Thank you

  19. Actually I just realized I should have said the carrots leftover that I did not use? I bought just for this which I just finished and can’t wait to try!

  20. Hi! I’ve green reading your blog for months-I love your ideas! My husband and I actually have a bbq blog together, and one of the areas we (ok, I) cover is bbq leftovers. We will smoke whole chickens and then do these types of recipes with the leftovers-it changes the whole dish, as you can imagine with a smoked chicken! Anyway keep up the great recipes, and I’d love for you to come visit our!


  21. After you pull out the chicken and shred the meat put the carcass/bones back in the water. Boil it another 2 hrs or so. Your broth will be MUCH better as the bones add tons of flavor. Plus bone broth has a lot of health benefits.

  22. This was so easy and made three delicious meals for my family. Shredding the chicken was so simple and it came out perfect. I have been cooking for a very long time. This recipe is a keeper for me. Thank you for sharing.

  23. How long will the shredded chicken last in the freezer?

    • Hi April,
      In the recipe, I state that you can keep it in the freezer for up to two months, but it will probably last even longer. I just always use it up within that time frame so can’t attest to any longer. 🙂 Just made some more of this today!

  24. For those who must watch their sodium intake due to high blood pressure or kidney problems, Herb-Ox makes a wonderful low sodium bullion. And Knorr now has little tubs of low sodium chicken stock in a jelly form and both are just delicious. Regular bullion cubes and granules are killer high in sodium.

  25. I have always wanted to make shredded chicken but never really thought of how to do it. The only question that I have is, is that I never buy bone with my chicken, i always buy boneless chicken breast. Would that work just a good?

    Thank you,


  26. I just tried this last night and I’m never cooking chicken to shred any other way again! It came out perfectly – the chicken is delicious and I got a ton of chicken broth. Thank you!!

  27. Michelle says:

    This is how my grandma did it, & my mom & now its my favorite way to cook chicken as well. Except I prefer to use a whole chicken, cut up. Sometimes the old fashioned ways are still the best. Thanks for posting this for those who havent had it passed down to them!

  28. I feel silly even writing this comment. But I have to agree with all the other young’ins out there (being a 29yr old new mom) that I have totally bought that $6 small pre-cooked chicken at the market to shred up real quick. I am going to boil my very first chicken tonight! I am so excited. (My mother would frown if she knew I googled a how-to on this topic) But I wasn’t sure if it really was as simple as … well… boiling a chicken! haha. I am a little kitchen scientist (in that I ALWAYS use a food thermometer) so I will have my bird hooked up to my temp reader to ensure that I remove it at the most acurate temp so it will remain moist and easily shredable. Happy eating!

    • HAHA, Shannon! I love this! I was there at one time, too. Now boiling chicken is at least a monthly occurrence for me. It’s THE best! Hope it turns out as well for you! (And, get rid of that thermometer, girl! Sometimes the longer it boils, the better, especially if you’re going to use the stock.) 😉

  29. So, I admit that at 34, I buy rotisserie chickens at least once a week to make meals with. I am squeamish around meat (I only eat chicken), so I never wanted to tackle anything with bones, lol. However, I am proud to say that I just did it! And I’m really excited to freeze the broth to have on hand for another day. I just did 2 breasts today as I didn’t want to invest if I screwed it up. However next time I will do a huge batch so that I can have several meals worth of shredded chicken. My mom, aunts and grandma’s would laugh at me as well. 🙂

  30. Hi I have boneless frozen breasts. What should I do?

    • Nikki Gladd says:

      Hi Haylee, You can use boneless breasts, too. I would recommend thawing them in the fridge overnight and then boiling them this same method.

  31. Sian Saunders says:

    I used boneless chicken breast..(I hate deboning chicken). I also used heavy whipping cream and lemon juice to make the buttermilk as I didn’t have any. This is THE BEST Chicken and Dumplings I’ve ever had!! (So much better than Cracker Barrel!!)
    Thanks for the recipe! I’ll be making this a lot more!!

    • Nikki Gladd says:

      Hi Sian! I’m so glad you loved this! I’m ready for cooler temperatures here so we can enjoy it again! 🙂

  32. Jonathan Carter says:

    Hi, I have a question that some may think is gross, but here it is. Could I leftover frozen chicken bones from some of my previously fried chicken to add flavor in the event I want to try this recipe and I only have boneless skinless chicken breasts available? I’ve never been a fan of boneless skinless chicken but there have been times when it was the only kind available at the two grocery stores in my small town.

    • Hi Jonathan,
      You can use the boneless chicken breasts without adding the bones and it will turn out just fine. I’ve never tried adding bones from another chicken, so can’t really comment on that, but I have done this with just boneless breasts when that’s all I had. 🙂

Leave a Comment