The chicken (Gallus domesticus) is a domesticated junglefowl species, with attributes of wild species such as the grey and the Ceylon junglefowl that are originally from Southeastern Asia. Rooster or cock is a term for an adult male bird, and a younger male may be called a cockerel. A male that has been castrated is a capon. An adult female bird is called a hen and a sexually immature female is called a pullet.
Originally raised for cockfighting or for special ceremonies, chickens were not kept for food until the Hellenistic period (4th–2nd centuries BC). Humans now keep chickens primarily as a source of food (consuming both their meat and eggs) and as pets.
Chickens are one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, with a total population of 23.7 billion as of 2018, up from more than 19 billion in 2011. There are more chickens in the world than any other bird. There are numerous cultural references to chickens – in myth, folklore and religion, and in language and literature.
Genetic studies have pointed to multiple maternal origins in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia, but the clade found in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa originated from the Indian subcontinent. From ancient India, the chicken spread to Lydia in western Asia Minor, and to Greece by the 5th century BC. Fowl have been known in Egypt since the mid-15th century BC, with the “bird that gives birth every day” having come from the land between Syria and Shinar, Babylonia, according to the annals of Thutmose III.
Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
Crockpot Shredded Chicken – a super easy Crockpot recipe for all purpose shredded chicken! This chicken is seasoned and slow cooked all day, then ready to use in any of your favorite wraps, tacos, or casseroles. Or, you can freeze it to use for later!
Out of all of the recipes on my blog, I have to say this simple, plain Jane looking crockpot full of chicken is one of my absolute favorites.
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs – Four pounds will make enough shredded chicken for the entire week.
- Seasonings – We are only adding salt, pepper, garlic powder and a bay leaf. We don’t want to over power the flavor of this chicken so we can use it in a variety of cuisines.
- Chicken broth – This will keep the chicken moist as it cooks all day.
- Salted butter – Adding a touch of fat will add flavor to this chicken.
During the fall, my husband works 14 hour days, 5 or 6 days a week so I am all about making lives easier. With a 6 year old, 3 year old and a baby, my hands are often full at 5:00 when everyone’s tummy starts rumbling.
Having this crockpot shredded chicken prepped is a lifesaver and is so easy to stir into soups, pasta, make quick sandwiches or, hey, even add to a boxed pasta mix when times are really crazy (yes, I have a couple emergency boxes of mac and cheese in the cupboard!).
Tips for making this Crockpot Shredded Chicken:
- Don’t overcook. I know it can be tempting to leave the chicken in for a long time as you would think it would end up more tender, but that’s not always the case. You really want to be sure you hit the sweet spot between “just enough” and “dry and unappetizing”.
- Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Avoid having to deal with skin and bones to make this crockpot shredded chicken recipe super simple. Chicken thighs will have a little more fat (flavor!) and more moisture. Chicken breasts are leaner, but also don’t pack quite the same amount of flavor as thighs. You can use one or the other or a combination! I use chicken breasts because they always turn out incredibly moist and it’s easy to add flavor.
- Know your slow cooker. When cooking 4 chicken breasts like this recipe calls for, I love using my 2.5 quart crockpot — it’s the perfect size and heats up quickly. If you’re doing more chicken than that, you’ll likely want to use a 4-6 quart crockpot. Note that if your crockpot is very full, it will take longer to heat and cook.
- Keep the seasoning simple. You don’t want to end up with a week’s worth of single-purpose chicken (unless you do, I guess!), so by keeping the seasoning on this slow cooker shredded chicken basic, you can use it in a multitude of ways. It doesn’t scream “Mexican!” or “Italian!” or “curry!”.
Can I freeze?
Yes! You can freeze this chicken after it has cooled down. Place the chicken in ziplock bags or Tupperware, add a bit of the broth. Adding the broth will help prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to two months. To thaw the chicken place in the fridge for 24 hours before you need it, make sure to heat thoroughly before serving.
Can I double this recipe?
Yes! There is plenty of room in a 6-quart crockpot to double this recipe if you want to make a very large amount of shredded chicken. Doube all the ingredients. Cook on HIGH for 5 hours or LOW for 9 hours.
Can I overcook chicken in the slow cooker?
If you have plenty of liquid in your crockpot you won’t have an issue overcooking the chicken, it will only get more tender with time.
Can I use frozen chicken?
Yes, if you do not have thawed chicken, frozen will work fine. If you use frozen chicken breasts be sure to keep the lid on the slow cooker the entire cook time, to ensure it cooks properly. Don’t use chicken that is extremely freezer burnt, it may have an off-taste. I cook frozen chicken breasts for 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH.
For Barbecue Crockpot Shredded Chicken
For the easiest BBQ chicken, return the shredded meat to the slow cooker bowl and add your BBQ sauce. Make sure that you mix the sauce under the chicken at the bottom of the slow cooker as well as the top.
Continue to cook the barbecue sauce mixture on the low setting for another 30 minutes.
How Should I Serve This Slow Cooker Recipe?
If you’re serving this as slow cooker BBQ chicken, I like to offer it with buns to create BBQ chicken sandwiches. You can top them with some avocado slices, red onion rings, or any of your personal favorites. A few other fun options are to let everyone make their own BBQ chicken quesadilla (super easy with some flour or corn tortillas and shredded cheese) or BBQ chicken pizza at dinner time.
While you can serve this as a BBQ pulled chicken sandwich, there is a multitude of ways to use it as basic crockpot shredded chicken as well. Serve it on hamburger buns topped with hot sauce, in lettuce wraps, on a baked potato, make chicken tacos with warm tortillas, sour cream, and pico de gallo, or add it to your favorite salad.
The bottom line is that once you’ve made this simple recipe, you can have a week’s worth of easy meal prep with very little effort!
Can I Use Chicken Broth Instead Of Water?
There isn’t a lot of liquid in the basic recipe, but if you’d like to use 1/4 cup of chicken broth instead of 1/4 cup of water, go for it. It should yield the same juicy chicken you’re looking for and it may give you some extra flavor.
Shredded Chicken Yield
The amount of shredded meat your chicken will yield depends on size and how large you shred it, so the amount can vary drastically. Here is an estimated yield for the average weight of each type of chicken:
- An average, 8-to 10-ounce chicken breast will yield about 1 heaping cup of shredded chicken.
- An average chicken thigh will yield about 3/4 cup or slightly less shredded chicken.
- The typical serving size of shredded chicken is about 4 ounces of shredded chicken per person.
If you are making this crock pot chicken for a crowd, I suggest making more than you think you need. Leftovers are never a bad thing, especially since shredded chicken is so easy to store and freeze.
What Type of Chicken is Best for Shredded Chicken?
- Boneless vs. Bone-in Chicken. You can use both boneless and bone-in pieces of chicken to make shredded chicken.
- Boneless is great because because shredding is typically easier, and it cooks faster.
- Bone-in chicken meat tends to stay very moist and may have more flavor than boneless.
- Skin On or Off. While you can leave the skin on your chicken during slow cooking, it will liely become soggy. For this recipe, it is best to remove any skin before you begin cooking.
- If you want to cook your chicken with the skin on, lay it in the slow cooker skin side up, and leave the lid slightly cracked. This will allow some liquid to escape during cooking and help the skin crisp up. Note that you may need to add to the cook time to accommodate the lid being ajar.