Disclaimer: If you are one of the people that despise the word "moist", then you may want to skip this post altogether. ;) I had a friend once tell me that she couldn't stand the word. I thought she was just weird, but one day I realized that it's a real thing. People really hate the "m" word. Anyway, if you want to know how to cook non-dry, hydrated chicken breasts, then stick around. If you can't stand the word just leave and come back another day.
I don't know about you, but I have several recipes that I need shredded chicken for. After a few years of getting dry chicken every time I put it in the slow cooker, I finally found a way to make it moist, so it actually shreds easily with two forks and tastes good because it's not all dry and touch. Before I would always get tough, dry chicken that was nearly impossible to shred - and made me want to say lots of bad words! I won't name those for you.
Another great thing about this chicken is you can do a big batch - as much as will fit in your slow cooker. Leesh often does up to 6 pounds and then freezes about 2 cups in each freezer bag and freezes it for easy and quick use for later. It makes quick dinners that much easier when you are short on time.
This method has proven to Leesh and me to be easy to make, easy to shred, and perfect to use in our favorite chicken dishes. In fact there are 2 ways. An easy way and an even easier way.
So here it is:
Salt (and pepper!) your chicken, both sides.
There is a chemistry thing with salt and protein.
If you salt it beforehand it helps it not be so tough and dry.
(optional - but highly recommended for a better flavor.
I know, it will dirty another pan, but it's worth it!)
Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a hot skillet and cook the chicken for a couple minutes on each side until you get a nice sear.
Place chicken in a slow cooker with about 1/4 cup of water per pound of chicken. If you skipped the searing step, then drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil per pound of chicken over the chicken. Cover with the lid and let it cook on low for 4-6 hour or on high for 2-3 (depending on your crock-pot it might need more or less time).
To make sure the chicken is done, test it with a meat thermometer and make sure it reaches 165 degrees F. Once it's reached temperature you can turn it off or to warm depending on how soon you plan to use it. I don't like to let it over cook.
Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. With two forks pull the meat apart until it's as shredded as you like. Or be a rebel and use a knife to cut it into small pieces. Whatev. (Sometimes I even put it in my Bosch with my cookie paddles and shred it really quick - and I have a pretty tough hand mixer that will shred it if I place it in a big bowl and turn it on medium to high).
Now you can add your shredded chicken to your favorite meals calling for cooked chicken. It's easy, it's simple, and the meat should shred nicely. Now my kids don't have to learn curse words from me! Enjoy!
See below for a printable version of the recipe - this includes a few more notes and tips.
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
1 pound chicken
Salt & pepper to sprinkle
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
If you want to do a big batch of this shredded chicken you can do as much as you can fit in your slow cooker. Leesh likes to do about 6 pounds and then freeze about two cups of it in a freezer bag for quick and easy use.
You can use as much chicken as will fit in your slow cooker. Just use ¼ cup of water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil per pound of meat (skip the oil if you sear it -see below).
1. Salt and pepper chicken on both sides.
2. (optional but recommended) Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a hot skillet and cook the chicken for a couple minutes on each side until you get a nice sear.
3. Place the chicken in the slow cooker with about ¼ cup of water per poud of chicken that you are doing. If you skipped the searing drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil per pound of chicken over the chicken and cover with the lid.
4. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 (time may vary depending on your slow cooker). Check temperature to make sure it reaches 165 degrees F. I try not to over cook my chicken so it’s not dry and tough.
5.Remove chicken from the slow cooker, reserving the liquid, and place it on a cutting board, let it rest for 5 minutes. Shred with two forks by pulling the meat apart. Or cut with a knife or use cookie paddles in Bosch or other stand mixer. Add as much liquid as you think is necessary back to the meat - this helps it stay moist in whatever dish you are making.
6. Add it to any meal calling for cooked chicken.
A Leesh & Lu original
Here is a handy pinterest friendly picture for saving this for later! :)