How much chicken is needed for 2 cups shredded?

Quick Answer

To make 2 cups of shredded chicken, you will need around 1.5-2 pounds of raw chicken breasts or thighs. This will yield around 3-4 cups of shredded chicken when cooked.

Detailed Answer

When cooking chicken for shredding, it’s important to understand how much raw chicken yields how much cooked, shredded chicken. Here are some general guidelines:

Amount of Raw Chicken Needed

– 1.5-2 pounds raw chicken breasts or thighs – This will yield around 3-4 cups shredded chicken. This is enough for 2 cups shredded chicken with some leftover. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are easiest to shred.

– 1 whole medium chicken (3-4 pounds) – A whole roasted chicken will yield around 3-4 cups shredded chicken total. You’ll get both light and dark meat.

– 8-10 chicken thighs (around 2 pounds) – Chicken thighs are juicy and full of flavor. Leave the bone in while cooking and then shred or chop the cooked meat off the bone.

– 6-8 chicken legs (around 2 pounds) – Chicken legs are also a good choice. Leave the bone in for added flavor.

Tips for Maximizing Yield

– Weigh your raw chicken – Don’t rely on package labeling alone. Weighing the chicken will give you a more accurate starting point.

– Remove skin and bones – This will maximize the amount of edible cooked chicken for shredding.

– Cook to proper temperature – Chicken should reach an internal temp of 165°F. Overcooking can dry out the meat.

– Allow to cool before shredding – Shred chicken once it has cooled slightly. Shredding hot chicken can dry it out.

– Save any juices – You can moisten shredded chicken with any accumulated juices. This prevents it from drying out.

How Much Cooked Chicken in 2 Cups Shredded?

Generally, 2 cups shredded chicken is around 1 pound of cooked chicken. However, this can vary based on a few factors:

– Type of meat – Chicken breasts tend to yield more shredded meat per pound than chicken thighs or legs. Meat from different parts of the chicken can shred down differently.

– Cooking method – Poached or roasted chicken may shred into slightly different volumes than chicken cooked differently.

– Shredding process – How finely the chicken is shredded can change the volume. Finely shredded chicken packs down more densely in the measuring cup.

– Moisture content – Shredded chicken that retains more juices during cooking may measure fluffier or lighter.

For best results, shred or chop the chicken consistently for uniform pieces. Lightly pack the measuring cup without compressing the chicken down.

Step-By-Step Guide

Here is a step-by-step guide to cook chicken for shredding into 2 cups:


– 1.5-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 tablespoon olive oil


Step 1

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Trim off any excess fat. Cut the chicken into evenly-sized pieces to ensure even cooking.

Step 2

Season both sides of the chicken pieces evenly with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Rub the spices into the meat.

Step 3

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces in an even layer. Cook for 4-5 minutes without moving until browned.

Step 4

Flip the chicken over and cook an additional 4-5 minutes until browned on the second side. The chicken should register 160°F on an instant read thermometer when done.

Step 5

Transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute. Slice or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces for easier shredding.

Step 6

Use two forks to shred the chicken, pulling it apart into long thin strands. Move the shredded chicken to a bowl, along with any accumulated juices.

Step 7

Allow the shredded chicken to cool completely before measuring out 2 cups lightly packed for your recipe. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a rotisserie chicken?

Yes, you can use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. A whole rotisserie chicken typically yields around 3-4 cups shredded chicken total. Pull the meat off the bones and shred or chop it to measure out 2 cups for your needs.

What’s the best chicken to shred?

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs work best. They cook up tender and moist. Whole chicken pieces take longer to cook through to the bone but also yield delicious shredded meat.

Can I shred chicken in the slow cooker?

Absolutely. Use 1-1.5 pounds chicken placed in a slow cooker with seasoning and 1/2 cup broth or water. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. When done, shred the chicken right in the cooker with two forks.

How long does shredded chicken keep?

Properly stored, shredded chicken lasts 3-4 days refrigerated and 4-6 months in the freezer. To maximize freshness, freeze shredded chicken in recipe-sized portions.

How do I reheat leftover shredded chicken?

Place refrigerated shredded chicken in a skillet with a little water or broth over medium-low heat until warmed through. Or reheat gently in the microwave at 50% power. Stir occasionally to prevent drying out.

Tips for Shredding Chicken

Choose the right chicken

Start with chicken pieces that will cook up moist and tender – boneless skinless breasts or thighs are ideal. Whole legs or wings take longer to become shred-worthy.

Cook properly

Undercooked chicken won’t shred well. Aim for a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. But avoid overcooking as that can dry out the meat.

Allow to cool

Let the cooked chicken rest for 10 minutes before shredding. Shredding hot chicken causes it to dry out. Cool chicken shreds easier.

Cut into pieces first

Chop larger chicken pieces into bite-sized shred-friendly chunks before actually shredding with forks.

Work in batches

Avoid cramming a whole bunch into one bowl. Shred in smaller batches for better control over texture.

Use two forks

Hold chicken firmly with one fork while using the other to pull and shred into thin strands.

Keep moist

Lightly moisten chicken with broth, water or pan juices if it seems dry. Don’t drown it though!

How To Use Shredded Chicken

Shredded chicken is versatile. Here are some popular ways to use it:


Pile shredded chicken onto rolls, wraps or bread for delicious sandwiches. Top with cheese, barbecue sauce, avocado – anything goes!


Toss shredded chicken into fresh green salads, pasta salads, potato salads, grain bowls and more.


Mix with your favorite taco toppings like salsa, guacamole, beans, cheese, etc. for easy chicken tacos.


Combine shredded chicken with vegetables, rice, pasta or cream sauce and bake into a hearty casserole.


Add to vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup, chicken tortilla soup and more for extra protein.


Top pizza crust with tomato sauce, shredded chicken and cheese for a tasty homemade pizza.


Fill tortillas with shredded chicken, beans, salsa and cheese then grill until crispy.


Make delicious burritos by rolling shredded chicken, rice, beans, guacamole, etc. into a tortilla.


For most recipes calling for 2 cups shredded chicken, plan on cooking 1.5-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. This will yield 3-4 cups shredded chicken allowing you to measure out the needed 2 cups. Cook the chicken until fully done, let it rest, then shred into bite-sized pieces with two forks. Shredded chicken is incredibly versatile in meals from sandwiches to casseroles and more. Properly stored, it will keep for 3-4 days refrigerated or 4-6 months in the freezer.

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