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Food & Recipes

Turn Last Night’s Leftovers Into Tonight’s Feast With These Shredded Chicken Recipes

Our shortcut suppers save you time, money — and taste great!

Chicken breasts were on sale at the grocery store, so you loaded up and cooked up a storm. They were great for dinner, but now you’ve got leftover chicken you’re not sure what to do with. Or maybe you bought a rotisserie chicken to save time and you’d like to something special with it. To the rescue: Our favorite shredded chicken recipes. They’re easy, delicious and perfect for a quick weeknight supper. Bonus: We’re letting you in on our top trick to make shredding chicken a breeze.

How to make shredded chicken

If you’ve tried shredding cold or bone-in chicken before, you know it’s a hassle. To make it easier, First for Women test kitchen manager Susan Chiusano reveals her secret: Simply zap it in the microwave for a few seconds. “Chicken is easier to shred when it’s warm, and all you need are two forks,” she says. Her other trick: “If you don’t want to deal with bones, start with boneless chicken thighs. They are very moist and reheat well.”

Here are Susan’s top ways to make shredded chicken:

To shred chicken with two forks:

  1. Place warmed, boneless chicken on flat, large surface like a cutting board.
  2. Keep chicken in place by piercing with one fork.
  3. Use the other fork in your dominant hand to pull away from the breast so chicken forms shreds.

To shred chicken with a mixer:

  1. Place warmed, boneless chicken in large bowl.
  2. Use mixer — either handheld or stand mixer — to beat chicken on low speed about a minute.

What to make with shredded chicken

Sure, you can throw shredded chicken over some greens for a healthy salad or toss it into tacos, but why stop there? The delicious possibilities are endless. “I like to add shredded chicken to vegetable soup to make it a heartier meal,” says Susan. “It also works well for pulled chicken sandwiches instead of using pork.” Here, some of our favorite recipes to help you take your leftovers to the next level.

8 shredded chicken recipes you’ll love

1. Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Barbecue shredded chicken pizza
Are Media

This spin on a weeknight favorite is made easy with store-bought crust. 

Serves: 4 | Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes


  • 3 tsp. oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced 
  • 1 (10 oz.) pkg. thin prebaked pizza crust (12″) 
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1½ cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, 4 oz. 
  • 1 small tomato, seeded, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 chili pepper, sliced (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 450°F. Line plate with paper towel. In small nonstick skillet, heat 2 tsp. oil over medium heat. Add shallot; cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crisp, 5–6 min. Drain on paper towel; reserve. 
  2.  Meanwhile, place pizza crust on baking sheet; brush top with remaining 1 tsp. oil. Spread top with barbecue sauce, then sprinkle with 1 cup chicken and cheese. Sprinkle tomato and remaining ½ cup chicken over cheese. Bake pizza on baking sheet, or directly on oven rack for a crispier crust, until cheese is melted and crust is golden, about 10 min. Top with crispy shallot and cilantro and, if desired, pepper. 

2. Shredded Chicken, Beet & Lentil Salad

Shredded chicken, beet and barley salad
Are Media

Our flavor-packed buttermilk-tarragon dressing comes together in a snap.

Servings: 4 | Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes


  • 1 (1 lb.) bunch beets, greens trimmed
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (5 oz.) pkg. baby arugula
  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can cooked lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced


  1. Line large baking sheet with foil. Coat beets all over with cooking spray; transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with ¼ tsp. salt and ⅛ tsp. pepper. Roast until tender (when easily pierced with sharp knife), 30-40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes,
  2. In bowl, whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, tarragon, lemon juice, remaining ¼ tsp. salt and ⅛ tsp. pepper; stir until blended.
  3. Arrange arugula on serving platter. Coat hands with cooking spray; peel cooked beets.
  4. Cut into bite-sized wedges (about 1 ½ cups). Toss beets, lentils, chicken and onion with 2 Tbs. dressing. Arrange over arugula. Serve with remaining dressing.

3. Chicken and Vegetable Tortilla Casserole

Shredded Chicken and Vegetable Tortilla Bake
Are Media

Quinoa adds a hint of nuttiness to our Tex-Mex casserole—you can also swap in leftover cooked rice.

Serves: 4 | Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes


  • ⅓ cup quinoa
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 red pepper, halved, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 (10 oz.) zucchini, cut into ¾” pieces
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 (10 oz.) can enchilada sauce
  • 8 white corn tortillas, warmed, torn into pieces
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • Cilantro leaves (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Coat 2-qt. baking dish with cooking spray. In small pot, cook quinoa according to package directions; fluff with fork, breaking apart any clumps. 
  2.  Meanwhile, in 12″ nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, 5–7 min. Add zucchini and corn; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 min. Stir in chicken, enchilada sauce, ½ cup water and quinoa. Transfer half of chicken mixture to baking dish; top with half of tortillas. Repeat layering once. Top with cheese. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, about 10 min. If desired, top with cilantro.

4. Baked Gnocchi Alfredo with Shredded Chicken

Baked Gnocchi Alfredo with shredded chicken
Are Media

Cooking pasta directly in the sauce is the quick secret to this creamy casserole—plus it makes cleanup a breeze. 

Servings: 6 | Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes 


  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 (1.6 oz.) envelope Alfredo sauce mix
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 (17.5 oz.) pkg. shelf-stable potato gnocchi
  • 1½ cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 3 cups baby spinach, 1½ oz.
  • ⅓ cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Coat 2-qt. baking dish with cooking spray. In 12″ nonstick skillet, melt 1 Tbs. butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, until browned, 7–8 min.; transfer to bowl. 
  2. In small pot, prepare sauce mix according to package directions with milk and remaining 1 Tbs. butter; stir in nutmeg. Transfer to baking dish. Add gnocchi, chicken, mushrooms and ½ cup water; stir until combined. Cover loosely with foil. Bake until mixture is bubbly and gnocchi are tender, about 20 min. Add baby spinach and walnuts; carefully stir until spinach is lightly wilted. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

5. Chicken, Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

Chicken, Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad
Are Media

Our easy from-scratch dressing, kicked up with lemon and Dijon mustard, gives this toss plenty of zing.

Serves: 4 | Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes


  • 2 cups snow peas
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 6 cups baby spinach, 3 oz.
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ⅓ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup toasted pepitas
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese, 2 oz.


  1. Place snow peas in large microwave-safe bowl; top with damp paper towels. Microwave in 15-sec. intervals, stirring, until crisp tender, about 45 sec. 
  2. Rinse snow peas under cold running water until cool. Drain well; pat dry. In large serving bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Add spinach, chicken strips, tomatoes, hazelnuts, pepitas and snow peas; toss until evenly coated and combined. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese. Serve immediately.

6. Chicken and Pasta Bake

Shredded Chicken ’n’ Pasta Bake
Are Media

Briny Kalamata olives is the secret ingredient give our from-scratch sauce tons of irresistible flavor.

Serves: 8 | Active time: 30 minutes | Total time: 1 hour


  • 8 oz. rigatoni pasta
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed
  • 6 sprigs fresh basil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) mixed shredded Italian cheese blend
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 11″x7″ baking dish with cooking spray. In large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, 11–12 min.; drain well. Reserve. 
  2.  In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 min. Add garlic and tomato paste; cook, stirring often, 1 min. Add tomatoes with juice and 4 sprigs basil; over medium-high heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until thickened, about 10 min. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard basil.
  3.  In large bowl, combine pasta, tomato sauce, chicken, 1 cup cheese and olives. Spoon into baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 min. Remove foil; top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted, about 10 min. Garnish with remaining basil leaves.

7. Chicken, Barley & Kale Stew

Shredded Chicken, Barley & Kale Stew
Are Media

Barley adds a hint of nuttiness to this stick-to-your-ribs meal — rice would work too.

Serves: 8 | Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 5 hours


  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup uncooked barley
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 6 cups chopped kale
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Coat bottom of 6-qt. slow cooker with cooking spray; add carrots, celery, onion and barley. Sprinkle on curry powder. Add in broth and 1 cup water.
  2. Cover; cook on low until vegetables are tender and barley is cooked, about 4 hours. Stir in chicken and kale; cover and cook until tender. about 15 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred chicken; stir in cilantro.

8. Garden Pasta Salad with Shredded Chicken

Garden Pasta Salad with Shredded Chicken
Are Media

You can easily customize this simple toss with whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand.

Serves: 6 | Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes


  • 12 oz. rotini pasta
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed, 
  • sliced diagonally
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, diced
  • ½  cup whole natural almonds, toasted, chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding green beans during last 2 min. of cooking time. Drain; rinse under cold running water until cool, about 1 min. Drain well; reserve.
  2. In large serving bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until emulsified. Add pasta and green bean mixture, chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella, almonds, red onion and parsley; toss until combined. Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to serve.
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