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Reader Tip: Save time and money by making shredded chicken in the crockpot

Reader tip from Amanda who blogs at Simple Revelations:

I love my slow-cooker. Soups, casseroles, meats, bread, breakfast — what’s not to love about a contraption that can do it all, and save me time?

One of my favorite money-saving crockpot recipe is Shredded Chicken. It’s a lean, protein-rich basis for meals and it only requires around 10 minutes of active involvement to make.

Plus, depending on where you live, you’ll probably be able to find chicken breasts for around $2 a pound. Compare that to the typical $7 a pound for deli lunch meat, and you’re saving a bundle on sandwiches using chicken salad on your sandwiches instead of deli-bought ham or turkey.

How To Make Shredded Chicken in the Crockpot

  • Purchase a large package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Put as many as you like (I’d do 10 or so) in your slow-cooker, cover with water (boiling water if they’re frozen, to get them cooking faster) and sprinkle with a few seasonings. I often use a dash each of lemon pepper and Montreal chicken seasoning
  • Cook on high for 4 hours or so, or low for 6 hours or so, until they are cooked through and literally falling apart at the touch.
  • Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and put in a large pan.
  • Shred with 2 forks.
  • Let cool and store in the refrigerator for use all week long.

Variations: During cooking, substitute the water out for your favorite BBQ sauce or green salsa, and use the meat for BBQ chicken sandwiches/pizza, or a tender and flavorful fajita meat. This is great for dinner guests when you don’t have lots of time to prepare.

Ways to Use Shredded Chicken

Use your supply of shredded chicken for lunches and dinners throughout the week. Some favorite meals ideas are:

  • Soups (chicken noodle, Matzo ball, coconut chicken, buffalo chicken soup)
  • Waldorf Chicken Salad (to eat as salad, sandwich, or wrap)
  • Chili
  • Avocado-bound Chicken Salad
  • Fajita/Enchilada/Taco meat
  • Pizza topping
  • Buffalo Chicken burgers (just mix the meat with a good dash of Frank’s Red Hot sauce, to taste)
  • Salad topping
  • Quesadilla filler
  • Any other recipe that calls for cooked chicken

What’s your favorite way to use the slow-cooker?

Amanda Dykes is a historical romance author who aches to share God’s grace. She’s a spastic shutterbug, unabashed word nerd, and lover of truthful writing that resonates. She can be found scribbling words on her blog and her online Christian Fiction Book Club.

photo source

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  • Emily says:

    if you’re shredding large amounts of chicken (like in this tip), it’s actually easier to dump the cooked chicken breasts into a blender to shred them. Much faster than 2 forks (and less hand cramps, too)!

  • Mama Jenn says:

    Stupid question- does this chicken(once cooked) freeze well?

  • Randi says:

    We do this same thing with whole chickens! It’s more work, but with a good sale you can a chicken for $3. We remove it from the bones and shred it up! It’s a great money and time saver for later!

    • Amanda says:

      We do the same thing. Why pay $2.29 a lb for chicken breast when I can get a whole chicken for $.79 a pound!!! Such a money saver for us. Yes, it does require a little more work when you de-bone the chicken, but when you are on a budget and every penny counts it’s much cheaper to use a whole chicken.

  • Tracy says:

    Thank you for this post and the tip from reader Emily to shred with a blender. I love slow cooker cooking but I don’t always get great results. I’m going to give this one a try next week and I’ll shred with my Ninja.

    And a second thanks to Amanda for including a list of possible uses for the shredded chicken. Coming up with food ideas is another area where I get “stuck” in the kitchen.

    • Beth R. says:

      Same here, I can get and freeze the meat but then I never know what to do with it once I have it. Another idea not listed here is creamy chicken and rice. (Chicken, rice, cream of chicken soup. You can use cheddar cheese soup for Cheese Chicken and Rice). I think I’m going to take all the ideas here and just make ‘Shredded Chicken’ list so I know what my options are.

      Question though: Using the blender/mixer, does this shred it or turn it into ground chicken? I never thought to use either of these to shred chicken. I always do the two fork mess.

      • Emily says:

        I use my blender and I don’t think it becomes ground chicken. I usually “pulse” the blender a few times and that’s it. You don’t want to overdo it, because then I think it would become ground chicken!

        I also only put 1-2 chicken breasts in my blender at a time. And I don’t have a fancy blender (like Vitamix or Ninja)…I just have your regular ol’ Black and Decker. I’d be more afraid of using the Vitamix or Ninja-type blenders because those may puree it before you can blink an eye!

        • Amy says:

          Surprisingly, the Vitamix doesn’t puree cooked chicken. If you keep it on a low speed then it just shreds it right up!

          • Emily says:

            Thanks for chiming in! I don’t have a Vitamix, but I’m glad you could clear that up for me. 🙂

            So I think the key is just to blend slowly, with any mixer, and you’ll have ground chicken!

      • Tracy says:

        Oh, creamy chicken and rice sounds so good. I finally found a gluten free cream of chicken soup too so I can easily make that.

        I’m with you. I’m going to make myself a list of all of the ideas that everyone is sharing for shredded chicken. And I’m so happy to hear that the shredded chicken freezes well. This just might help me get more organized for dinners this fall!

        I was surprised by the blender/mixer suggestions too. I even called my mom to tell her about it and she wondered why it didn’t turn into baby food. I figured I would just try a small amount of chicken at short bursts of speed because I’m all for using kitchen gadgets to save time when I can. 🙂 Since so many people here are suggesting it it must work.

        • Laura Lee says:

          Where did you find gluten free cream of chicken soup… what brand? That would be a great time saver if needed in a pinch, plus don’t have to make my own from scratch. Great idea.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’ve been thinking of getting a Ninja. I was thinking of getting rid of my blender and mini chopper and replacing it with the Ninja.

      • Tracy says:

        I use my Ninja all of the time for chopping onions. I also dice up veggies really small for soups…that’s the way I like them.

        I love that it all goes into the dishwasher to clean. I put the blades (which are very sharp) in one of those dishwasher baskets for small baby items on the top rack.

  • Deidre says:

    I do this for freezer cooking! But I buy chicken quarters when they are on sale for $.59 a pound and just pull the bones out. After cooking all day it’s super easy and such a money saver!

    • Deidre says:

      Chicken stuffed green peppers is another great recipe for this and they freeze well for later!

      • Tabitha says:

        I do the same thing Deidre. I love having shredded chicken available in the freezer at all times. I love roasting chicken too and chopping it up as part of my freezer cooking sessions. 🙂 This is definitely a cost saving tool that works well for our family.

        • Kim says:

          I do this too. I buy the 10 lb bags on sell. The pieces from one 10 lb bag fit in my two crockpots. Then, after I skin & remove the bones, I put the bones back in the crockpot, fill with water, & cook on high for 12 hours. Then I fish out the bones, run the broth through a strainer & usually have 9-12 cups homemade chicken broth for the freezer. I love it for soups or homemade chicken (or beef) & noodles.

  • Steph says:

    I literally just put chicken breasts in the crock pot to shred before I sat down and read this, too funny!

    • Icoupon says:

      Haha, same here! We just had guests join us for dinner tonight. Dumped 3 lbs of frozen chicken breast ($6) and a couple bottles of BBQ sauce in the crockpot this morning when I woke up, and voila, 10 hrs later chicken sandwiches everyone raved about. Plus I have enough for tomorrows dinner and sent them home with some as well!

  • Abby says:

    I love to shred chicken using my Kitchen-Aid mixer. The time I spend cleaning the bowl and the paddle attachment afterward is well worth the time I save by not shredding by hand.

  • Maria says:

    I do this all the time, what a time saver! I also use it for chicken pot pie, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, stuffed peppers and chicken salad!

  • We always had spent so much time and labor shredding chicken by hand. Since we figured out that the blender will do it we have saved so much time!! It is a wonderful way! We just bake them and then dump them into the blender!

  • Jenni says:

    I use my KitchenAid to shred chicken using the paddle attachment. SO much easier & faster. I just cooked chicken in my crock pot earlier this week! 🙂 I also froze the stock to use later!

  • Katie L says:

    We make a whole bird in the oven every week or two. In our area, it’s $.89-.99/lb (I have limited freezer space to stock up and the $1.99 breast sales are spaced far apart at my store). A 6 lb. bird feeds our family for one dinner, plus enough leftover shredded chicken to make: two or three chicken salad lunches and one or two dinners with chicken as an ingredient (chicken tacos, enchiladas, soup, BBQ chicken pizza, etc.) We make broth in the crockpot and use that for soups, enchilada sauce, and tuna noodle casserole.

    My family likes it because they call having a whole roasted bird for dinner a “feast.”

  • Krysten says:

    I cook chicken breasts in a pan in the oven, then wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in a gallon freezer bag. Then when I need one for supper, I can thaw it and do whatever I need to do to it for supper (shred, dice, cut into strips, etc.).

  • Lacey says:

    Buffalo chicken soup?! I would love the recipe!

  • Alice says:

    I cook up a whole chicken in the crockpot, and then use the leftover juices, bones, water, and veggie scraps (carrot peels, celery and onion…I save them in my freezer) to make chicken broth (just cook it on low for up to a day). I put the broth in the fridge to cool, then all the fat becomes solid and can be taken off the top. It’s much healthier than store-bought broth, and saves a lot of money!

    • Wendy says:

      I always add extra water whenever I cook chicken in the crockpot so that I will have broth to freeze. I don’t think store bought broth is fit to eat.

    • sharon says:

      can you tell me do you save the chicken bones and what? Then you cook them a 2nd time to make the broth? sorry i am confused but would love the recipe.thank you 🙂

  • I love to use shredded crock pot chicken or pork to make homemade taquitos. They freeze really well and my teenager loves them!

    • Tonya says:

      I’ve been doing this for years. It’s one of my favorite ways to save money and have some meat cooked and ready to have on hand for quick and easy meals.

  • Lindsey says:

    I’m sorry, I have done this and I hate it. The meat seems (is) boiled, both in taste and texture. It falls apart easily, but it is mealy and unappetizing (in my opinion, anyway). I would rather put the breasts on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven with foil over them, remvoing the foil for the last 15 minutes or so of cooking. It takes very little time and can be done in the evening, while doing other tings. Just put on the timer so you don’t forget they are in the oven.

    • Sara says:

      While I don’t cook them in the slow cooker, I always have my husband grill a huge batch of chicken breasts at a time and then I chop them up and freeze them. I usually put them in a freezer bag and squish all the air out and roll them up.
      I use them for:
      chicken pot pie
      salads with grilled chicken
      tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, or enchilada casserole with layered chicken, salsa, beans, and tortillas
      chicken with wild rice soup
      chicken caeser wraps
      grind them up and make chicken croquettes (like a crab cake but with chicken)
      bbq chicken sandwiches
      chicken and dumplings
      add them to pasta dishes or make chicken picatta
      Taste of Home has a recipe for chicken in an apple cream sauce that I make alot

    • Katie says:

      I think cooking it with the bones makes it not taste boiled.

    • Icoupon says:

      I agree, using plain water isn’t so great. Works much better with some type of sauce or soup mix. It gets way more tender than it ever would in the oven though. Likee rotisserie style, but without the fancy rotisserie 🙂

    • Ana says:

      I thought the same thing. Although I’ve never cooked boneless chicken in my crock pot, I don’t think I’d add water. This very minute I have a whole chicken cooking in my crock pot with half an onion and seasoning, but with no added liquid. This results in a rostisserie-style chicken that is juicy and flavorful. I think adding water would make it bland. When I have enough space, I add carrots and potatoes to the pot and dinner is covered.

    • Sarah T. says:

      I do a crock-pot full of chicken breasts all the time and have never added water. Plenty of juice comes out of them anyway. The key is not cooking them too long, or you’ll end up with mush. If you cook it the right amount of time, the chicken just falls apart, and using two forks makes it kinda “pulled” which is how we like it it, in no time at all.

  • Jen says:

    I love making shredded chicken in the crockpot. I use it for so many meals, enchiladas, quesidillas, soup, bbq chicken (great for sandwiches or with crackers) and the options go on and on. I usually use half water and half chicken broth to cook and add spices later.

  • jackie Brown says:

    I use my kitchen aid mixer too and add a few tablespoons of the cooking broth to keep it moist when frozen, it won’t get freezer burn with the air between the chicken. I like to buy organic whole chickens on sale, crock and shred meat and freeze and then make overnight broth with the carcass. I make another crock pot of broth the next day with onions, celery and carrot. I’ll save all the broth to make soups and homemade enchilada sauce from the freezer. I have all kinds of recipes on my blog. Happy freezing!

  • Anna says:

    I do this with chicken thighs. It shreds very easily, the bones add more nutrition to the broth, and they’re usually cheaper than b/s breasts. The chicken just falls off the bone after cooking all day.

  • Christina says:

    I just did this and it came out really well. I added some different spices to the water and it came out so good.. very moist and flavorful. Added some spoonfuls of the liquid to the chicken as I was shredding it to keep it moist. I saved the rest of the broth for later on, the only thing was I didn’t know how to get the bits out of the broth and just get a clear liquid, is there an easy way to do this? Thanks so much for this tip will definately use it again.

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