Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

Originally posted in 2010 ---

Making shredded chicken in bulk is one of the best ways to use your crockpot slow cooker. 

When you find a bunch of chicken on sale, bring it home, cook it up, and then you've got shredded chicken for salads, tacos, sandwiches, and pasta! 


Shredded chicken in the crockpot  slow cooker from on sale chicken that you cook all day

Happy Monday! 

Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and emails about the new baby. 

We're all doing really well, and can definitely feel your warm wishes and love floating through cyberspace.

You all are fantastically amazing. Thank you.

The above picture doesn't look like much----it's just a bowl full of shredded chicken.

 I felt like sharing, though, because sometimes I get questions on how to utilize the slow cooker for meal planning and for stocking the freezer, and thought this might be helpful.

(and we all know that I am a definite meal planner! :-0 )

While in the midst of my crazy nesting phase these past few weeks, my father-in-law reported that our local grocery store had a sale on chicken quarters for $0.57 a pound. 

That's a fantastic price for around here, and I popped on down to pick up a bunch of packages.

Although I did process quite a bit of chicken (de-skinned, and broke into meal-sized portions for future slow-cooked meals!) for the freezer, I also cooked quite a bit so we'd have already-cooked chicken ready to go for lunches, snacks, and dinners.

This is what I did:

buying on sale chicken in bulk to put into the crockpot slow cooker to make shredded chicken

The chicken quarters were bone-in thigh and leg pieces, and they did have skin. 

While the chicken was still fresh, I skinned a bunch and threw it into the largest slow cooker I have, which is 6.5 quarts. 

I was able to get 8 quarters in the pot. I also filled a 5 quart with 6 additional quarters.

And then I covered with lids and turned them on low for 7 hours. 

I did not add water, broth, or any seasoning. You certainly can if you'd like, but I was interested in shredded, naked chicken.

When the time elapsed, I took the lid off and let the chicken cool quite a bit before I handled it. 

There was plenty of juice left in the pot---enough to make a soup base if you were so inclined, or for homemade chicken broth (put the bones back in the pot for the broth!)

I then dug through to separate the bones and the chicken. 

You can use the chicken in a meal right away that calls for already-cooked chicken, or you can freeze for later use.

This is such a great way to make sure the kitchen and freezer is stocked with lots and lots of already cooked chicken for those busy nights when you can hardly think straight and just want to call for pizza.

Instead, pull out a ziplock of shredded HOMEMADE chicken, thaw it in some hot water, and make a sandwich. Or a taco. Or throw it in pasta sauce.


When chicken in on sale, snag it and bring it home! 7 hours later you've got perfect homemade shredded chicken for tacos, pasta sauce, salads, sandwiches, etc. Long live the crockpot slow cooker!

If you are a Keto-er (keto person? not sure the terminology...) then this is RIGHT UP YOUR ALLEY! also, here's more keto-type stuff for you....

cooking in the crockpot slow cooker is one of the easiest ways to stick to your low-carb and keto eating!

more staple ideas:

homemade chicken broth
homemade refried beans
making your own "canned" beans
cooking a whole chicken
rotisserie chicken
homemade cream of mushroom soup
meal planning with the slow cooker

Do you love this recipe?

Please share it with your friends!

Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at November 21, 2022

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What they say about this recipe

  1. Very interesting. I would have thought you needed to add liquid. I would love to try this with chicken breast. I'm not much of a dark meat/skin/bone-in person. I've got to use my crockpot more often.

  2. Great idea, I think I will try this, having already cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer would be a great time saver. And, you can make chicken stock out of it too, very economical! Thanks!

  3. Wow, that would be a good price for chicken anywhere. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. i don't want to sound stupid, but i have always added water of some type bc i thought the meat would scorch before the juices started to run. this is a great discovery for me. thanks!

  5. I always use the crock pot to make chicken for a casserole we like that is pretty time-consuming if I don't cook the chicken beforehand. Throwing the chicken on in the morning means all I have to do when I get home is throw the ingredients in the dish and cook. You've reminded me though about making larger portions and freezing them - I have surgery coming up and I'll be out of commission for 6 weeks, so this will be a huge help!

  6. I also slow cook chicken for other recipes but I use a whole chicken (6-7 lbs) and I do remove the skin. I quarter a large onion and separate and peel a head of garlic. I put the quartered onion and half the garlic cloves in the bottom of the crockpot. I rub the chicken with a paste made of olive oil, paprika, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper then put the rest of the garlic cloves in the body cavity of the chicken and cook it on low for 6-7 hours. It is SO good and makes a great tasting casseroles!

  7. thank you for all your helpful inspiration. You've shared so much and done it so well.

  8. does it not burn without the water? nature (and slow cookers) are just amazing. :) I have to admit I am a boneless/skinless breast type girl. I can't get myself to handle chicken and/or pay for the weight of bones, skin, etc. I'm a wimp and lazy I guess. :)

  9. Hi Michel-lee and Amie, if you would like to shred boneless, skinless breast pieces, I would definitely add some water---maybe 1/3 to 1/2 cup for a full slow cooker. Breast pieces are much drier and won't give off as much cooking liquid on their own.

    Also, if you have vent holes in your slow cooker, or if it doesn't seal well (you can tell because there won't be much if any built up condensation on the lid), you may want to put a layer of foil down, and then the lid to help trap in the moisture.

    xoxo steph

  10. Michel-lee and Amie: I always add chicken broth or stock instead of water when I'm just cooking chicken breasts. It may just be psychological, but I always feel like that helps with flavor instead of water. :-)

  11. Thanks for this information. Now I can't wait until the next chicken sale!

  12. I have done this with a whole chicken as well. The skin comes off very easily as does the meat. The nice part about a whole chicken is having the white and dark meat, yet it's simple to separate them. I use a meat fork to pull the meat out in pieces (breasts, legs, then the cavity which I cool in a strainer beforing pullin the meat from it).

  13. Wow, I never thought of doing that but what a helpful hint. Thanks.
    BTW- I admire you, I couldn't even look at raw chicken when I was pregnant, much less touch it. Urrr...

  14. you are brilliant, you know that, right? fabulous idea. I'm trying to come up with more recipes to utilize left over chicken which can be challenging since my husband doesn't do casseroles. But what a fabulous way to plan prior to a new baby. Congratulations by the way!

  15. I did this recently with a whole chicken. Our local Weis had a special on chickens for 59-cents/lb awhile back and I'd purchased two birds. I skinned and defatted them then just put them into the slow cooker on low overnight. Drain off the resulting juices for the best broth EVER, and shred the chicken for salads, DS's sandwiches, adding to frozen veg for a quick stir-fry, etc. Works SO WELL!!

  16. When I discovered that I could fit a small, whole chicken in my slow cooker I was ecstatic! It's great to have a roasted chicken so easily; make the whole week's meals easier.

  17. Hi Stephanie. Congrats on your new little bundle of joy! I had to come by and tell you that my Mom, who is also a blogger, ran across info about your cookbook (Make it fast, cook it slow) and bought me one for Christmas. I have to tell you I have NEVER dog-eared so many pages in a cookbook! I can NOT wait to cook these recipes. I am making my list right now. This will be my favorite cookbook. I have four kids and every little bit helps! Thanks! Have a great day!

  18. Interesting! I think I need to get your cookbook because I LOVE this blog.

  19. Wonderful information. I will have to check this book out, great post. Thank you!

  20. Great post. I like using leftover shredded chicken to make chicken salad for sandwiches. I have also used leftover shredded chicken to make chicken tacos or mixed into a broccoli/rice/cheese casserole. Then again, it is also good for snacking on straight out of the fridge!

  21. This is a fantastic idea. I've done this before and it saves so much money, especially when you can get the chicken for super cheap!

  22. I've always been a 'white meat only,' but I spotted a 39cent/lb leg quarters sale for 10lb bags. Might have to get a bag (or more if the meat looks nice). The same store also has ham ends and pieces @ .99/lb in the same 2 day sale. Guess where I'll be?
    Thx, Steph, for the inspi!

  23. I just wanted to let you know that your website is one of those that always brings a smile to my face.
    I am passing on to you the Happy 101 award, you can pick it up at

  24. I worked at a deli and we always had precooked shredded and precooked cubed chicken in the freezer. We made oriental chicken salad, chicken pesto salad sandwiches, a fruity chicken salad for sandwiches and so much more with it. It is an extremely versatile way to keep chicken!

  25. This is my favorite use for my crockpot. Dinner is easy to get on the table after work when there's shredded chicken ready to throw into a variety of recipes!!

    Have to share this funny story. Monday morning I asked my co-worker (we both love to cook and share recipes) "So, what exciting things did you cook this weekend?" She said, "I made an enchilada casserole." I said, "Me too! I made mine in my crockpot." She said, "In your crockpot? Are you sure? Cuz I made mine in my crockpot." I said, "Yes, in my crockpot. There's this great blog I read called 'A Year of Slow Cooking'...." She said, "Nooooo, I read it too!" Can you believe it? We both made your crockpot enchilada casserole this past Sunday. We both loved it!!

  26. I too thought you had to add water when cooking chicken...I always add crockpotting plain chicken for future meals...huge time saver!

  27. I'm new to your blog and this is great. I've not found this chicken that cheap - thats a great price. But I can find it at 89 cents. I would totally do this!

    And will!


  28. You inspired me, and I went out and bought a whole chicken after seeing them on sale. I've always bought boneless, skinless breasts, so WOW... I had no idea what I was in for! I felt like I was in anatomy class again as I pulled all that gunk out of the cavity (chicken heart anyone?). And man oh man, is skin tough to get off! But it was all worth it... at the end of the day I had a lovely roasted chicken and plenty to use in quesadillas and chicken salad for the next few days!

  29. Sandee1/13/2010

    Another thing I do with any crock pot cookery is to spray the inside of the pot with a bit of TJ canola oil spray. Helps a lot with the clean up.

    (I don't do this when I make your fabulous cheesecake though).

    Congratulations on your new daughter!

  30. love your blog. what a great idea!

  31. Thank you!
    My Daughter requested Chicken Salad on everything bagels.
    I was so busy that day, in and out of the house, that I put the chicken breasts and thighs in the crock pot like you said. Mine turned out perfect in 5 hours on low.
    I swear my Crock pot is faster than normal.
    I had 2 cups of stock to freeze. Thanks, and happy new Baby!

  32. I bought the 39 cent/lb chicken leg quarters that I mentioned before. They came in 10-lb bags, so I bought 2 bags. One bag of chicken is stripped and in the big crock. Second bag's in the freezer. How often do we find loss-leaders like that?
    Thanks to your blog, I know what to watch for. Thank YOU!

  33. You are amazing! I can see I'll be coming back here on a regular basis! Congrats on the new baby :-)

  34. Exactly what I needed to read when I saw whole chickens on sale for $.47/lb! The limit was six, so I went to two different Safeways...thankfully we have a huge freezer!

    I am used to roasting whole chickens and such, so I don't mind the icky bits... and we're not afraid of the fat, (chicken fat is actually remarkably healthy, similar to olive oil) so we leave the skin on. I literally just throw the chicken in and leave. I made a "tamale casserole" today with most of the chicken from my first attempt, and will make chicken salad tomorrow with the rest. The bones are busy making stock. YUM. Cheap and so healthy.

    (Not as healthy as pastured chickens would be, but when those are more than ten times the price I'm afraid it's conventional chickens for us for a good while.)

    Also, we're gluten and dairy free around these parts, so I love your recipes! ;)

  35. This is such a great idea! My only concern is reheating the chicken. Reheated chicken, especially if done in the microwave, usually has a icky flavor to it. Any ideas on reheating?

  36. Hi Steph! Thanks for the basic recipe. My mom is coming over and we are going to try to make a bunch of meals for the freezer since I am headed back to work. I have a crockpot full of chicken breast ready to go for tomorrow! Question for you though- do you think bone-in chicken breast will have a different cooking time than yours? Also, do I need to add liquid to my bone-in breasts? Thanks so much Stephanie! Congrats on the new baby- the fact that you are up and blogging is AMAZING!

  37. Hi Wendy,

    I haven't noticed a weird flavor when microwaving to reheat, but I usually have mixed the chicken with bbq sauce or something by then. I usually toss the cooked chicken into a skillet when reheating for a stir fry or with taco seasoning. It also works well cold as sandwich stuffing.


    I'd maybe add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water or broth, just because breasts are usually not as juicy as dark meat.

    xoxo steph

  38. I'll have to try this one. I'm planning on making some enchiladas.

  39. Congrats on your new baby! Chicken went on sale today so I used my crockpot to cook it. I love it! It was so much easier than standing over a hot stove. Tomorrow I'm going to use the juice and bones to make broth. Thanks for the tip!

  40. Anonymous1/19/2010

    I used the bones to make an overnight broth, which I froze for later. Chicken has gone into 2 meals now. Buffalo-wing pulled chicken sandwiches and creole rice w/chicken. Too lazy to add sausage or shrimp. But THAT leftover is stashed now.

  41. There are never enough chicken recipes and this one looks like it can be used for a few different meals.

  42. Just found your site. And last week just bought my first crock pot - a small one for just 2. Your recipes and wit is great. I am subscribing for daily watching. thanks so much!

  43. Hmm, great idea. I'm totally going to try this. Thank you!

  44. Kirsten2/03/2010

    This is similar to my favorite lazy crockpot "recipes". I am freakish about handling raw chicken skin, etc., so I snag the frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts on sale and dump them in my 6.5 quart crockpot with either a jar of salsa or a bottle of BBQ sauce. Cook on low, shred, and have on hand for whatever! Can't get easier than that!

  45. Anonymous2/20/2010

    Thanks for your blog. I never used my crockpot for anything put bbq because I thought everything else required cream of mushroom gravy - not my favorite. Thanks to your blog, I have now made yogurt in my crockpot, and I have shredded chicken cooking right now ($0.79/lb for quarters - what a deal!). Thanks for opening my eyes to a whole new side of crockpottery.

  46. I happened upon this post just as I had a refrigerator full of chicken breasts. I cooked them without any liquid, and when they were done I had fabulous "naked" chicken ready to be shredded and enough chicken broth to make a pot of soup. This was a GREAT idea!!

  47. I tried this recipe today and am thrilled with this results! I could only find chicken breasts (bone in), but it was hands down the best shredded chicken I've ever made. I used it this evening in one of our standard recipes (with 2 extra recipe-portions for the freezer) and it was great. The chicken separated from the bone easily, and shredded even easier! Thank you!!

  48. i think i'm in love. i've grown annoyed by canned chicken... it tastes funny to me anymore which makes it difficult to do stuff like chicken salad and whatnot. My Safeway just had chicken quarters on sale for $0.77/lb which is pretty awesome. i got a package, and i think i'm gonna go tomorrow and get another package. i've got almost six cups of shredded chicken (4 in the freezer, 2 in the fridge for chicken salad later), and i'm gonna whip up some chicken broth tomorrow. i'm trying to lay in supplies now while i still have a job (it's ending in a few weeks), so i feel very giddy and excited that i can lay in this type of stuff now, know i'm saving money *and* be able to be eating fairly healthy during my (probably lengthy) unemployment! (but at least i'll get the thesis mostly done i hope...)

  49. Trying this now with 4 lbs of chicken thighs and drumsticks from Angel Food Ministries...which is great for people who are low income, unemployed, retired, whatever...barely fit in my 5.5 qt Crock Pot! They appear to be skinless so we shall see. They're frozen so I added a bit of warm water to the crock.

  50. I'm getting ready to do this. I also found chicken quarters super cheap. Since I have a deep freezer, I buy up meat on sale and freeze it for later use. Some how though I cannot imagine refraining from adding some spices or broth for flavor. I'm putting chicken broth, garlic, and fresh rosemary in mine. Part of the shredded chicken is for BBQ sandwiches tonight. The rest will be for salads, etc. My quarters are frozen, so I'm not bothering with skinning. I'm just tossing them in the crock pot and letting them do their thing.

  51. I love to cook lots of chicken in my crockpot, especially for shredding. It never occurred to me to just throw it in there with no seasoning or broth. What a great idea. Thanks!!

  52. Anonymous3/29/2017

    Love this idea. We do same when we bring home a bunch of Bugs Bunnies. Me G'snots HATE when I say THAT. But they love EATIN' THEM!
    God Bless you & I hope you has a Blessed Day
    Now, I hungry for Hunter's Stew, thanks Steph! And it WAS the G'snots' turn to cook today. Guess Hunter's Stew today, G'snots' food tomorrow. Lol