Very few proteins offer equal parts convenience, value, and versatility, but chicken manages to check every box. While many of us opt to serve chicken as whole breasts, thighs, or maybe even drumsticks, we'd like to make a case for shredded chicken, which effortlessly blends itself into hearty dishes like pasta or casseroles while providing a welcome protein boost.
A big perk to shredded chicken is that you can essentially use any cut of chicken as a starting point — shred up those leftover breasts or tenderloins, and you're good to go. Better yet, you can also put rotisserie chicken to good use by giving leftovers the shredding treatment. Indeed, the chicken itself is a versatile protein, but shredded chicken opens up a whole new world of culinary opportunities, especially for those needing a nourishing meal on the table in a pinch.
Not only will you find excellent shredded chicken recipes on this list, but you'll also find that many of them put slow cookers to good use. That means you can relax after a long day at work, since your handy kitchen device handles the heavy lifting to produce a chicken-stuffed dish that the whole family will love.
Read more: 12 Different Ways To Cook Chicken
Easy Mississippi Chicken
Fans of Mississippi pot roast will no doubt love this chicken variation, which yields a delightful chicken thigh dish with some help from the slow cooker. Shockingly, this recipe calls for a mere six ingredients — five, really, since two of the ingredients are pepperoncini and the juice from the same jar. Other components include a ranch seasoning packet for a catch-all flavor boost, a packet of chicken gravy, butter, and, of course, chicken thighs.
Because this is a slow cooker recipe, you will need to give the dish plenty of time to, well, slowly cook. If you crank your device up to high, you can count on dinner being ready within four hours. Or set your cooker to low, and let the chicken cook for seven hours. This method is perfect for those who have some extra time in the morning; simply set your slow cooker before leaving for work, and then dinner will be ready when you get home.
As for serving, you can't go wrong with a classic side dish of mashed potatoes. In fact, potatoes will be a welcome addition to help sop up all of those succulent cooking juices and extra gravy.
Recipe: Easy Mississippi Chicken
Shredded Chicken Quesadilla
Quesadillas are quite a versatile dish, seeing as you can stuff them with just about anything you desire. The only real requirement is that there be cheese somewhere between the tortillas, but from there, you can load up on all the proteins or vegetable toppings that your heart desires. Some people really enjoy the idea of a quesadilla chock-full of pico de gallo, onion, and maybe even some jalapeños for spicy measure.
If you're a fan of simpler quesadillas, then perhaps this shredded chicken variation will be more to your liking. Simple as it may be, we can guarantee that this quesadilla recipe does not skimp on flavor. You'll start with shredded cheese as the base, then you'll combine shredded chicken with salsa to give it a flavor boost. From there, it's a matter of assembling and grilling the quesadilla, and should you want to include more add-ins, then you can easily do so before you close those tortillas up.
Guacamole is a natural pairing option here, but there's nothing stopping you from opting for a drizzle of hot sauce or a dollop of sour cream instead. Better yet, why not dunk your shredded chicken quesadilla in even more salsa?
Recipe: Shredded Chicken Quesadilla
Leftover Makeover Shredded Chicken Tacos
If you've got leftover chicken that is in need of a makeover, then this taco recipe is the perfect solution. These jazzed-up tacos put rotisserie chicken remnants to good use, though any kind of chicken will work here, so long as you shred it up. Of course, given the plethora of colorful ingredients that you'll add to these tacos, the chicken might just be the last thing on your mind when you take that first bite.
So, as far as the toppings are concerned, how colorful are we talking? Well, just about every color of the rainbow will have some representation thanks to red onion, yellow bell pepper, mango, jalapeño, avocado, purple cabbage, and cilantro. And, of course, each ingredient will bring a unique flavor and texture to the taco, so you can count on every bite being jam-packed with crunchy, juicy goodness.
Since this is a recipe for leftovers, there's also minimal cooking involved. In fact, you only need to spark up the stovetop for the tortillas, and you can even skip that step if you're in a hurry.
King Ranch Chicken
Those familiar with Tex-Mex cuisine may have heard of King Ranch chicken before, and perhaps you've even enjoyed a slice or two of this casserole variation. The good news is that if you don't live in Texas, you can still whip up your own batch of King Ranch chicken, a dish so filling that you might not even need any side dishes to pair it with.
The key to King Ranch chicken lies within the layers. You'll start by making a buttery, slightly spiced sour cream sauce, and then you'll layer that in a casserole dish along with diced tomatoes, green chilies, corn tortillas, and of course, shredded chicken. No need to fret over what type of chicken to use here — as long as it's cooked and shredded, you can use anything from leftovers to freshly grilled chicken breasts.
We'd be remiss to not acknowledge the cheesiness of this casserole — you'll find layers of Mexican blend cheese both within the dish as well as on top. As a final garnish, you can't go wrong with some cilantro and jalapeño slices for a little kick.
Recipe: King Ranch Chicken
Easy Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken
There are countless ways to season chicken, and this recipe takes a savory, tangy, and somewhat sweet approach with ingredients like ketchup, honey, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and — you guessed it — sesame oil. This recipe is perfect for those who have chicken breasts sitting in their fridge with the expiration date rapidly approaching; no need to make the same grilled chicken recipe for the third time this week.
Because you're relying on a slow cooker, you can sit back and relax as your kitchen fills with a delightful aroma. And, unlike many slow cooker recipes that require upwards of eight hours of cooking, this chicken can be ready to go in as little as an hour and a half, so long as you crank that setting on high.
As for serving, there are pretty much endless options with such versatile chicken. You can count on the chicken itself to pack plenty of flavor, so even just pairing the shredded goodness with something as simple as white rice will do the trick. If you want to get more creative, you might consider using this chicken in a taco or incorporating it into a casserole.
Recipe: Easy Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken
Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup
The only thing better than a pan of enchiladas is a bowl of enchilada soup — especially if it's chilly outside and your nose is a bit runny. Sure, chicken noodle or vegetable soup may be a sick-day go-to, but this slow cooker chicken enchilada soup tastes far better than any soup you can get in a can. And, thanks to the slow cooker, you can snuggle up under a blanket and rest while knowing that a warm, delicious meal is just around the corner.
This recipe certainly doesn't have the shortest ingredient list in the world, but we can attest to each and every addition helping make this soup delicious. Chicken thighs (which you'll shred after cooking) make up the protein bulk of the soup, whereas both pinto and black beans back them up. The soup gets its enchilada-style flavor thanks to red enchilada sauce, and it gets its surprisingly creamy broth thanks to the addition of cream cheese, pepper jack, and cheddar cheese.
When it comes time to serve, you can't go wrong with just ladling some soup into a bowl and digging in. Of course, to stay true to the enchilada theme, you may want to top off your bowl with corn chips to provide a tortilla aspect to this classic dish.
Slow Cooker Chicken Alfredo
If you enjoy chicken Alfredo but aren't a fan of making it on the stovetop, this recipe offers a nice shortcut without skimping on flavor or quality ingredients. No, you won't be throwing chicken, pasta, and jarred Alfredo sauce into a pot and calling it a day, but you will be making something that's nearly as simple.
Heavy cream, chicken broth, and seasonings will make up the Alfredo sauce — yes, it's really as simple as that — while chicken breasts and penne pasta will round out your dish. The beauty of this recipe is that there's quite a bit of room for customization based on what you have on hand. If you only have another type of pasta, you can use that instead, just make sure that you don't overcook it.
There's a nice balance of carbs and protein in this one-pot dish, so you don't really need to worry about sides. Should you want a little variety, however, you can't go wrong serving this with roasted vegetables or a side salad to add some freshness to your plate.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Alfredo
Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
There's a whole lot of goodness packed into this chicken tortilla soup — from the chicken breasts (which you'll shred after cooking) to the corn to the black beans to the tomatoey broth to the final garnish of tortilla strips. This recipe offers a welcome change from average chicken soup. Plus, the fact that it all comes together in a slow cooker certainly doesn't hurt.
This chicken tortilla soup recipe is ideal for those who like to plan dinner ahead of time, seeing as you'll need at least a few hours to let the soup simmer. Once all of the slow cooking is done, however, you'll have a meal that will feed the whole family, with the appealing possibility of leftovers, too. Do yourself a favor and top off your bowl with plenty of tortilla strips, fresh avocado slices, and perhaps a sprinkle of cilantro to round out the bright and savory flavors that this soup has to offer.
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
We're all familiar with classic pulled pork, but what about pulled chicken? This slow cooker BBQ chicken recipe features chicken thighs served very similarly to pulled pork — slow-cooked to perfection in a tangy, sweet sauce, and ideally served in a barbecue setting.
The star of the show isn't necessarily the chicken itself, but instead the plethora of goodies that it will soak in, resulting in some of the best-tasting chicken around. You'll add ingredients like ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and even a little bit of hot sauce (but feel free to add more if you want to pack the heat) to the slow cooker along with the chicken, so you can count on tangy and sweet flavors to really shine through.
When it comes time to serve this chicken, there's really no way to go wrong, but the most obvious way to do it right is serving it on a bun, much like you would pulled pork. You might also want a classic side dish like potato salad or fries to pair with your sandwich, though you won't be disappointed if you enjoy the chicken all on its own.
Recipe: Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip
We dare you to think of one person you know who doesn't like Buffalo chicken dip. Can't think of any? That's because Buffalo chicken dip is one of the most beloved appetizers around, and barring any food allergies or vegetarian preferences, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who won't be grateful when you show up to the function with this dip in tow.
Though you can buy pre-made Buffalo chicken dips, it's incredibly easy to whip up a batch of your own — we're talking five-ingredients easy. Yes, you will need to get your dip going in the morning so that it has plenty of time in the slow cooker, but once it's ready to go, it's guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. Pair the dip with simple sides like chips, vegetable sticks, or crackers to really get the party going.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip
Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Tinga
Chicken tinga is a classic Mexican dish that not only works well in a slow-cooking context, but essentially requires it. The key to getting chicken to absorb those subtly spiced, savory, tomatoey flavors is to play the low-and-slow game, ensuring that all ingredients have plenty of time to mingle and meld together.
Considering the fact that chicken tinga packs plenty of flavor, you may be surprised to learn that the ingredient list is short and sweet. This recipe calls for chicken breasts — which you'll shred after they've had a chance to simmer in the sauce for several hours — along with chicken broth, diced tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You'll simply load everything up into the slow cooker and set it on low for seven hours (or on high for four hours if you need dinner ready a bit sooner), then voilà — deliciously saucy chicken, ready with minimal effort.
Though chicken tinga is typically served in tacos, you can enjoy the shredded meat in any way your heart desires. Add some complexity to enchiladas with this chicken tinga, or keep things simple and enjoy a spoonful over a bed of rice.
Classic Chicken Casserole
There are fewer dinners easier to whip up than a good old casserole, and this classic chicken casserole really checks all of the boxes. You've got a protein thanks to the shredded chicken, nourishing carbs by way of egg noodles, and even some crunchy goodness thanks to a layer of bread chunks to top the whole dish off.
Another perk to this chicken casserole is that it puts canned cream of chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup to good use, both of which make up the bulk of the casserole's sauce. You can count on sour cream to add even more creamy richness to the dish, whereas simple seasonings like dried oregano and thyme add herby goodness.
Once assembled, this casserole needs just 20 minutes to bake before it's ready to grace your dinner table. Pair this rich entree with sides like broccoli or salad to round out the meal.
Recipe: Classic Chicken Casserole
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Chili reigns supreme both in the context of winter meals and those that you prepare in a slow cooker. When cooler months roll around, you really can't beat the comfort of a bowl of chili, and in this case, white chicken chili.
Though most chili recipes feature beef as a star ingredient, this recipe gives shredded chicken a chance to shine, along with other chili staples like beans, corn, and plenty of spices. One glance at the ingredient list will show that this chili is somewhat reminiscent of tortilla soup (especially should you opt to serve it with tortilla strips), so fans of this classic soup are in for a double treat thanks to this recipe.
The toppings almost steal the show here, with garnishes like sliced radishes, avocado, shredded cheese, and sour cream really bulking up the chili. Of course, you could enjoy a bowl without a single garnish and still relish the warming, savory flavors.
Recipe: Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Read the original article on Tasting Table.