How to Shred Meat

Shredded beef and pork make a luscious base for many memorable recipes, including tacos, enchiladas, and pulled meat sandwiches. Here's how to cook and shred meat.

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Make a big enough batch of shredded pork or beef to enjoy some tonight in a soup, sandwich, salad, or tortilla-based dish, and have some leftovers to keep on hand in the fridge or freezer for another meal. Here are recipes for shredded pork and beef, along with serving suggestions. Once you get the hang of the basics, try our other recipes for making and serving these tender, moist meats.

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What Cuts to Use for Shredded Meats

Many recipes for pulled meat call for beef chuck pot roast or pork shoulder roast. These cuts, from the shoulder of the animal, contain marbling and connective tissue, which soften during cooking, making it easy to pull the meat apart into moist, tender shards. Beef brisket, from the foreshank/brisket part of the animal, is also sometimes used for pulled beef. These inexpensive cuts require long, slow cooking. While the cooking can be done on the stove top in a sauce, baked in the oven, or grilled, we think the slow cooker does an excellent job and requires little attention.

How to Make Shredded Pork

Two ingredients are all you need to make four cups of shredded pork -- enough meat for a total of 8 servings. Serve some tonight, and refrigerate or freeze the rest.

1. Slow-Cook the Pork Until Tender

  • Trim the fat from a 2-1/2- to 3-pound boneless pork shoulder roast. If needed, cut the pork to fit into a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker.
  • Add 1 cup chicken broth to the slow cooker. This allows the meat to braise and not dry out as it cooks.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook on the low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on the high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.
  • Remove the meat from the cooker and place it on a cutting surface. Cool slightly.

2. Shred the Pork

To shred, place two dinner forks, with their backs facing each other, adjacent to each other in a portion of the meat. Pull the forks in opposite directions, breaking up the pork into shards as you pull. Discard any bits of gristle remaining in the meat. Repeat this process until all the pork is shredded.

How to Make Shredded Beef

This recipe yields 6 cups of shredded beef, which is enough for 12 servings. Onions, garlic, and beef broth add flavor to the beef as it roasts to tender perfection.

1. Slow-Cook the Beef Until Tender

  • Trim the fat from a 3- to 3-1/2- pound boneless beef chuck pot roast; if necessary, trim the meat to fit into a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cut 2 large onions into wedges and mince 2 cloves of garlic. Place the onions and garlic into the slow cooker and top with the beef.
  • Pour one 14-ounce can beef broth into the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 11 to 12 hours or on the high-heat setting for 5-1/2 to 6 hours.
  • Remove the beef from the cooker and place it on a cutting surface. Cool slightly.

2. Shred the Beef

To shred, place two dinner forks, with their backs facing each other, adjacent to each other in a portion of the meat. Pull the forks in opposite directions, breaking up the meat into shards as you pull. Discard any bits of gristle remaining in the meat. Repeat this process until all the meat is shredded.

How to Store Shredded Meat

Add enough of the cooking juices to the leftover meat to moisten. Place the meat in 2-cup portions in shallow refrigerator or freezer containers. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave.

Serving Suggestions for Shredded Meats

  • Tuck into a Taco: Cook and stir shredded beef or pork with enchilada sauce or salsa until heated through. Place the mixture into the center of warm tortillas. Top with your favorite toppings, such as lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives, and/or avocado.

Tip: To soften tortillas, place between paper towels. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 20 to 40 seconds.

  • Stuff into an Enchilada: Check out this completely customizable master plan for making enchiladas.
  • Spoon into a Sandwich: Cook and stir shredded beef or pork with your favorite barbecue sauce until heated through. Place the mixture into toasted sandwich rolls or buns. If you like, top with thinly sliced cheese or shredded cheese and/or coleslaw.
  • Mix into a Chili: Use shredded beef or pork in place of ground meat when making chili. Skip the step for browning the meat and simply add the shredded cooked meat when you add the canned beans. 
  • Add to a Salad: Cook and stir shredded meat or pork with salsa, thawed frozen corn, and canned black beans (rinsed and drained) until the mixture is heated through. Spoon over shredded leaf or iceberg lettuce and top with chopped tomatoes, chopped green sweet pepper, sliced green onions, chopped avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, additional bottled salsa, and, if desired, sour cream.
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