What is the best/most efficient way to shred a cooked chicken breast? I *love* chicken tortilla soup (highly recommend Ina Garten's recipe for Mexican Chicken Soup), but I really do dread the time-consuming process of shredding the roasted chicken breasts. Made a batch tonight and spent more time on shredding 2 breasts (4 pieces) than on all other parts of the recipe combined. Thanks for any helpful tips.

  • Posted by: Bemie
  • February 1, 2011


obleak1 February 3, 2011
I have used this method for years to cook a whole chicken for shredding. Room temp whole chicken in lidded pot (should fit somewhat snugly), cover with water, bring to boil, take off heat and let sit (still tightly covered) for one hour. Strip and shred as soon as it is cool enough to handle. This produces a very moist result.
amysarah February 2, 2011
During cold weather, I often make chicken soup an entire meal, using a whole chicken (or two), lots of veggies, noodles, etc. After long cooking, I extract the chicken, discard bones, skin and unidentifiable bits only my dog would find appetizing, and put the meat back in the soup.

The meat is so tender by that point that it literally shreds itself. Plus, cooking the chicken in the soup might even make the broth in your recipe tastier to boot.
nutcakes February 2, 2011
Shred chicken warm! It is much harder to shred chicken when it is cold. Just go at it with one fork or two, you will get the hang of it. The warm meat is softer.

Chicago for Mexican food WTF? Are you kidding me?
innoabrd February 2, 2011
all bow before betteirene!

I'm still hoping she'll adopt me...
betteirene February 1, 2011
Long before the cuisine became mainstream, it was a real treat to go into Chicago for Mexican food. The chicken soup at lunchtime was nice, but the same soup at dinner was lovely, I assume because of the additional time the chicken spent in the pot.

Roasting (dry heat) tightens the muscle; even if chicken breasts are removed from the oven while still tender and juicy, the muscles are contracted so that you are able to get nice, neat, unshredded slices from them, perfect for sandwiches or serving on a dinner plate. Next time, instead of roasting the chicken breasts, brown them very well on all sides in oil in your soup kettle. When they're dark golden (they don't have to be cooked through) remove them from the pot. Follow the recipe--make the stock--just to the point of adding the tortillas. Put the chicken pieces back in the pot and allow them to simmer, covered, for an hour to an hour-and-a-half, until the meat is falling off the bone. Remove the meat to a plate and discard the skin and the bones; follow the remainder of the recipe. You should be able to easily shred the meat with two forks (it's easier if they are wide-tined serving forks).

So now you have a choice, whether to add time to the recipe by simmering (hands-off) or shredding (hands-on).
Splash O. February 1, 2011
I think using the two-fork method gives the best consistency, though if I'm super pressed for time, I'll stick a few cooked and cool chicken breasts in the food processor with the plastic blade. It only takes a few pulses to get the job done; no more, or the chicken will be shredded to bits. Hope that helps!
Kayb February 1, 2011
I never use the forks. I just pull the meat off the bone in chunks, and shred by hand.
latoscana February 1, 2011
Forks and clean hands. I don't know of another method.
virgieandhats February 1, 2011
It's funny how something as seemingly informal as shredding--as opposed to slicing or dicing--chicken breasts is more time-consuming--but it is true that it is more time-consuming! I always wait until the chicken breasts are totally cool and then use two forks to pull the meat apart into an uneven shred--which I think is how most people do it. You have to push the chicken caught on the tines off fairly frequently, but as far as I know, it's the only way!
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