How Long To Boil Chicken Breast for Shredding?

How Long To Boil Chicken Breast for ShreddingChicken is a staple food in my household. It’s such a tasty and lean versatile meat that can be used in many recipes! Some of my kids’ favorite meals require shredded chicken, like in chicken and dumplings and enchiladas.

Over the years I have learned that boiling chicken breast with the intent to shred versus eating whole are two separate processes! And doing it wrong can dramatically alter the taste and enjoyment of the meal. Today, I’m ready to share the method I use to boil the best shredded chicken for any recipe. And you can do it too!

Read on if you’d like to know my method to boil chicken breast so you always have juicy, tender shredded chicken!

So, How Long Should You Boil Chicken Breast for Shredding?

One of the most important things to remember about boiling chicken breast is this, don’t overboil! Overboiling chicken can cause dryness and chicken breast is already naturally drier than dark meat.

For a standard sized chicken breast, I typically allow 10 to 12 minutes boil time. You’ll need an internal meat thermometer as well. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the internal temperature of poultry should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit before consumption.

At the 10-minute mark, I take the breast out of the water and do a quick temperature check. If it’s reached 165, I know it’s done!

Note: If you boil longer than 12 minutes and the internal temperature rises above 165 degrees, the higher chance the chicken will dry out. Once you put the chicken breast in the boiling water, reduce to a medium to medium-high heat and set the timer.

Boiling Time For Frozen Chicken Breast To Shred

I have found it’s easier to shred chicken if you use fresh or thawed out chicken breast! While the overall quality will be better, I’ve also been in positions in which I just didn’t have the time to wait for chicken to thaw.

If you are going to boil frozen chicken breasts, add 5 minutes to the boiling time. At the 15- minute mark, you’ll want to check the internal temperature of the breast

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How to Boil Chicken Breast for Shredding: Step by Step

Here is a step-by-step guide to boil the perfect tasting shredded chicken breast every time!

Step 1: Prepare the water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. You’ll need enough water to fully submerge the breast(s). I always sprinkle some salt in the water to speed up the boiling process. Something else I’ve learned over the years is to add a tablespoon of butter to the water for added taste!

Step 2: Add the chicken breasts to the water. Once your water has begun boiling, lower the temperature to a medium to medium-medium high. Set the time for 10 minutes if you are boiling fresh chicken and 15 minutes for frozen.

Step 3: Take the chicken’s temperature. Remember, you should never consume undercooked poultry. The internal temperature needs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit prior to eating. So, if it has by this point, the chicken is ready! If not, continue boiling in one-minute increments, retaking the temperature until ready.

Step 4: Let rest for one minute. Remove the chicken breast from the water. I place my chicken in a medium sized bowl, so it’s ready for shredding after it sits. This step IS optional, but I have learned that by letting the chicken sit for just one-minute after being removed from the boiling water, can allow the natural juices to redistribute evenly. And that means juicy chicken that is easy to shred!

Step 5: Shred the Chicken. After it has rested and cooled for a minute, you can start shredding it! I start with two forks to initially separate the larger pieces. Then I use my fingers to shred the chicken into smaller pieces.

Step 6: Enjoy! Now that you have shredded chicken, you can add to your recipe or meal! Bon apetit!

Tips for Boiling Chicken Breast for Shredding

Here are my top tips and tricks for making sure you end up with juicy tender chicken breast that’s easy to shred.

  1. Do NOT overboil. You may think you have to cook chicken longer than necessary to ensure it’s cooked and safe to eat. But often, this leads to overcooking! Overcooked chicken is dry. To avoid this, I highly recommend not skipping the step on checking the temperature of the chicken. As long as the temperature reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the chicken is safe to eat. No need to continue boiling! It’s ironic, but the longer you boil, the more moisture that will be sucked out of the chicken breast and will dry out!
  2. Use a tenderizer before boiling. Prior to boiling, take a meat tenderizer and pound the chicken beast for about 30 seconds on each side. This will break down the tight protein and the collagen that holds together muscle fibers while the chicken cooks. Result? Tender, melt in your mouth chicken breast meat.
  3. Trust the temperature. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s so important I need to mention it again! I used to boil chicken breasts well past 165 degrees, up to 200 degrees, just because I thought that it was better to err on the side of caution when cooking poultry. What I was actually doing was drying out the chicken and it never tasted right!
  4. Use your Best judgment. Even if the chicken has only been boiling for 8 minutes, but the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees, that’s a good indication it’s ready. Chicken breast can come in a variety of sizes. Make notes on taste and juiciness after you cook it and adjust as you go.
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You Have Shredded Chicken, Now What?

I use shredded chicken to make chicken and dumplings for my kids most of the time! But you can use shredded chicken in many other recipes, including, but not limited to:

and more!

Wrapping Up

Now you know exactly how long to boil chicken breast for shredding, and HOW to do it correctly! Whether you have fresh or frozen chicken breast, learn from my mistakes and follow the guidance above, and you’ll always end up with tender, juicy chicken, ready for shredding for any recipe!

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. Don’t forget to drop us a comment if you have questions or just want to share your experience!