These easy chicken meal prep ideas are anything but boring! Get the 20 best shredded chicken recipes, gluten free with so much flavor.
If there is one food classically associated with meal prep, it's probably chicken.
When people think of meal prep, they often think of plain chicken breast alongside steamed veggies…not too exciting.
I promise you though, those are NOT the type of chicken breast meal prep ideas I'm sharing with you today. I'm a big believer that taste is key to sticking to healthy eating goals in the long term. Plus, as a chef, it just feels wrong to me to tell people to eat bland food day after day just because it's healthy. There are SO many healthy but totally delicious meal prep chicken recipes.
I'm going to share what I believe are the 20 BEST shredded chicken recipes below. But first, I'll walk you through three easy methods for making shredded chicken. Whether you prefer the stovetop, slow cooker or Instant Pot, I've got you covered.
How to Make Shredded Chicken – 3 Ways
The healthy chicken meal prep ideas I'm sharing below are perfect for leftover chicken. Whether you have some rotisserie chicken leftover or you cooked up some shredded chicken for a salad and have leftovers, these are great ways to use them.
Some weeks though, you may want to cook up a batch of shredded chicken solely for meal prep. It's a super versatile ingredient to have on hand, easy to mix and match with different veggies or eat in different forms like salads, wraps and bowls.
If you do want to make shredded chicken as part of your meal prep, you have three easy options: crock pot, Instant Pot or stovetop. I'll walk you through all three so you can choose whichever method you prefer.
Crock Pot Shredded Chicken
If you plan to use your shredded chicken in a variety of ways throughout the week, keep the seasoning simple. Adding salt and pepper before cooking will add flavor while keeping your shredded chicken versatile.
To make crock pot shredded chicken with boneless chicken breast, cook in the slow cooker for 4-5 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high. For boneless chicken thighs, cook in the slow cooker for 5-6 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high. Cooking on low takes longer but results in more tender chicken so choose low if you have time.
Slow cookers do not require any liquid but adding 1/4 cup – 1 cup of water or chicken broth results in juicier meat. Finally, make sure to place your chicken in a single layer in the crock pot for even cooking.
Remember that sizes and cuts of meat vary. Always check your chicken to ensure the internal temperature has reached 165F.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the crock pot and shred with two forks.
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
The Instant Pot has two advantaged over the slow cooker. First, it cooks more quickly, even when you take into consideration the time it requires to come to pressure. Second, the Instant Pot allows you to safely cook chicken from frozen.
To make shredded chicken in the Instant Pot, first add 1 cup water or chicken broth. Place your chicken on the trivet insert. Cook on high pressure for 10-12 minutes (14-15 minutes for frozen chicken breast or thighs) with a natural pressure release.
Remove your chicken and shred with two forks.
Stovetop Shredded Chicken
Finally, you can make shredded chicken the old fashioned way, on the stovetop. First you'll poach the chicken and then remove it from the liquid and shred with two forks. To poach, add chicken to a large pot, season with salt and pepper and cover with water. After the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and cover, simmering the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F (10-15 minutes). Check the chicken every couple of minutes to avoid overcooking.
How to Use Shredded Chicken – 20 BEST Shredded Chicken Recipes
Now that you have your shredded chicken, let's talk about the best ways to use it! You can of course simply use it to top a salad or in a sandwich but if you want to get a bit more creative, I have some great shredded chicken recipes for you today. Many of these recipes work well with leftover grilled chicken as well so use what you have!
1. BLT Lettuce Wraps
Add some shredded chicken to these wraps for an extra protein boost!
2. Summer Quinoa Salad
Summer Quinoa Salad makes a great vegetarian entree or side but if you want something a little heartier, shredded chicken is a great addition.
Use leftover shredded chicken in these enchiladas to make them super quick and easy.
4. Pesto Chicken & Zoodles
Instead of baking chicken in pesto, toss shredded chicken with the homemade pesto for a slightly different version.
5. Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
Chicken salad is a classic use for shredded chicken and my version is no exception! With avocado and bacon, these wraps are so tasty.
6. Chicken & Cauliflower Chowder
My paleo chowder uses coconut milk instead of dairy to add that decadent creaminess you're looking for in a chowder. The original recipe calls for chicken sautéed in bacon grease, which is delicious, but you can totally use shredded chicken here too.
7. Southwest Buddha Bowls
With crunchy roasted chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes and a completely addictive almond butter sauce, this Buddha bowl packs in a ton of flavor and texture. Add some shredded chicken for an extra protein boost.
8. Spinach Pesto Stuffed Acorn Squash
This is another vegetarian recipe that you could easily adapt to include shredded chicken. It goes so well with pesto!
9. Taco Soup
My taco soup is incredibly popular – all of that beloved taco flavor, but in a healthy soup. Sub shredded chicken for ground turkey for an easy chicken meal prep recipe.
10. BLT Pasta Salad
Either pasta or zoodles are delicious here. The creamy basil dressing is good on pretty much anything. Add some shredded chicken and enjoy!
11. Paleo Waldorf Salad
Creamy, crunchy and slightly sweet, this salad is as tasty as it is nostalgic. Shredded chicken is a natural addition here.
12. Cobb Salad
Who doesn't love a good cobb salad? Sub shredded chicken for shrimp here for a different take on this entree salad.
13. Teriyaki Bowl
Originally written with salmon, this teriyaki bowl is just as tasty with chicken. This is another one where the homemade sauce really brings everything together and takes it to the next level.
14. Chicken Vegetable Soup
It's so simple, but this chicken vegetable soup is one of our most popular recipes! Cozy and vegetable-packed, it's just perfect for a fall or winter night, or for an easy meal prep lunch.
15. Greek Salad with Chicken
Shredded chicken works just as well as baked in this robust salad. Kalamata olives, artichokes and a homemade Greek vinaigrette make this a perfect way to use your meal prep shredded chicken.
16. Chicken with Baked Beans & Coleslaw
I have a big passion for “healthifying” family favorites and I do believe I've been successful here with these healthy baked beans and coleslaw. Serve shredded chicken alongside these tasty sides with a bit of homemade bbq sauce for a family favorite!
17. Healthy Gumbo
You can either sub shredded chicken for the sausage in this gumbo or just add it to the mix!
18. Zucchini Pasta Salad
Adding shredded chicken to this zucchini “pasta” salad makes it hearty enough for the perfect summer entree.
19. Balsamic Roasted Beet Salad
Roasted beets, walnuts and goat cheese are such a classic combo, and for very good reason! The addition of fennel makes this one extra special. Add shredded chicken for a protein boost.
20. Mix & Match Lunch Meal Prep
Finally, there may be no better way to use shredded chicken than as part of a meal prep lunch! In this meal prep lunch guide, I give you a roadmap to follow for how to put together a satisfying and totally delicious prep-ahead lunch.