Shredded meat—whether beef, chicken, or pork—makes a luscious base for many memorable recipes, including tacos, enchiladas, pulled meat sandwiches, soups, salads, and more. Here's everything you need to know to cook meat for shredding, plus our super-easy way to shred chicken, pork, or beef.
Make a big enough batch of shredded pork, beef, or chicken. 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 meat, along with serving suggestions. Once you get the hang of the basics, try our other recipes for making and serving these tender, moist meats.
Tip: Pulled meat and shredded meat are the same thing. Generally, "pulled meat" refers to meat pulled off the bone; however, you can use shredded meat in recipes calling for pulled meat, and vice-versa. Read on for easy-to-follow instructions on how to shred pork, how to shred beef, and how to shred chicken.
Get the Shredded Pork Roast Sandwich recipe pictured.
Shredded Beef and Pork: Many recipes for shredded meat call for beef chuck pot roast (pictured) or pork shoulder roast. These cuts, from the shoulder of the animal, contain marbling and connective tissue, which soften during cooking. This makes 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 shredded meat. These inexpensive cuts require long, slow cooking. While the cooking can be done on the stovetop, in the oven, or on the grill, we think the slow cooker does an excellent job for cooking shredded meat. Better yet, it requires little attention.
Shredded Chicken: Chicken thighs are especially moist and richly flavored, making them good choices for shredded meat. However, you can also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, if you prefer white meat.
Two ingredients are all you need to make four cups of shredded meat—enough meat for a total of 8 servings. Serve some tonight, and refrigerate or freeze the rest.
1. Slow-Cook the Pork Until Tender
Follow these steps for perfect shredded meat every time:
2. How to Shred Pork
For the shredded meat, 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 shredded meat. Repeat this process until all the pork is shredded.
This recipe yields 6 cups of shredded meat, which is enough for 12 servings. Onions, garlic, and beef broth add flavor to the beef as it slow-cooks to tender perfection.
1. Slow-Cook the Beef Until Tender
Follow these instructions for perfect shredded meat every time:
2. How to Shred Beef
Shredding beef is just like shredding other meats: 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 shredded meat. Repeat this process until all the meat is shredded.
Get the Shredded Beef and Chile Enchiladas recipe pictured.
P.S.: We find that slow-cooked chicken thighs make richly flavored shredded meat. However, if you need shredded meat in a hurry, you can also use your stovetop to boil chicken to shred. See our instructions, below.
1. How to Cook Chicken to Shred in the Slow Cooker
This recipe yields 6 cups shredded chicken, which is enough for 12 servings. We love the way the bouquet garni seasonings add extra flavor to the shredded meat.
2. How to Boil Chicken to Shred
Boiling chicken breast to shred is a quicker way to go. Simply place two whole chicken breasts in a large skillet and add enough water to cover. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and poach for about 10 to 12 minutes or until no longer pink (170F degrees internal temperature). Then remove and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, shred as directed below.
TIP: Another easy way to shred chicken starts with picking up a deli-roasted bird. Pull the meat off the bird, discarding the skin and bones. Shred pieces using the two-fork method.
Get the Shredded Chicken Filling recipe pictured.
3. How to Shred Chicken Breast or Thigh
Shred chicken breast or the boned chicken thigh meat by placing 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 shredded meat. Repeat this process until all the meat is shredded.
Add enough of the cooking juices to the leftover shredded meat to moisten. Place the shredded meat in 2-cup portions in shallow refrigerator or freezer containers. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Or, seal, label, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave.
There are so many ways to use shredded meat. Here are some of our favorites.
Tip: To soften tortillas, place between paper towels. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 20 to 40 seconds.
Get our shredded Chicken Tacos recipe pictured above.
After you've mastered our easy way to shred chicken, beef, or pork, up your game with these ultra-satisfying shredded meat recipes.
Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Pork Sliders (pictured above)