This simple Stovetop Shredded Chicken Taco Filling is the key to making quick and easy tacos, burrito bowls, lettuce wraps, and more.
I almost always make my shredded chicken for tacos in the slow cooker but this past weekend I was doing some meal prep on Sunday night and suddenly decided I really wanted shredded chicken instead of the grilled chicken I had planned on. Since it was already late and I didn't have time for the slow cooker, I made this simple stovetop version instead.
The key to keeping the chicken nice and tender is to start the chicken in cold water or broth instead of adding it to already boiled water. Then once it is boiled, just let it simmer covered for 8-10 minutes and you have perfectly moist chicken.
You can add any spices you like to the broth to kick up the flavor. I like a simple blend of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Homemade taco seasoning would also work great.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
This is one of those recipes that you will start making all the time, here's why:
- It's versatile. Use it for tacos, burritos, bowls, sandwiches, pasta, salads, and more.
- It's healthy. This dish is made with chicken breast, chicken broth, and spices. It is packed with protein, lean, and
- It's adaptable. Use the same method to make this with chicken thighs, lean pork, or bone-in chicken. Just adjust the cooking time as needed.
- It's affordable. It's much cheaper to make your own taco chicken than to buy packaged or restaurant versions. Buy the chicken breast in bulk or when it's on sale for even more savings.
- It's flavorful. Poaching the chicken in broth and spices adds a ton of flavor.
Key Ingredients and Pantry Swaps
Here is everything you need to make this tasty shredded chicken, plus some easy swaps to use whatever you have on hand.
- Chicken: This recipe works with chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or chicken legs. Bone-in and boneless will work, although boneless skinless is the easiest option. Just plan on poaching the chicken longer if you are cooking with bone-in chicken. Then remove the skin and bone when shredding.
- Chicken broth: To add more flavor to the chicken, it is poached in broth. You can also use water or vegetable broth. When using water, add some quartered onion and garlic to the water for more flavor.
- Spices: This uses a quick spice blend of chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. You could swap in taco seasoning, fajita seasoning, or another southwest seasoning blend.
What to Make with Shredded Taco Chicken
Although this recipe is intended for tacos, it works for all kinds of Mexican dishes, salads, bowls, and more. Here are some ideas:
- Tacos: Serve this tasty shredded chicken in warmed corn tortillas or baked crispy taco shells with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and shredded cheese. Serve some refried beans or Mexican cauliflower rice on the side.
- Burritos: Grab some cooked rice, black beans, and this chicken in large flour tortillas to make a delicious burrito. Jazz things up with Pico de Gallo, avocado, and cheese.
- Bowls: Burrito bowls more your style? Make some quick weeknight bowls with corn salsa, lettuce, shredded cheese, avocado, and canned beans.
- Taco salad: Grab a big bowl of greens, crispy vegetables, and this chicken. Serve it with this delicious jalapeno ranch and some baked tortilla chips for crunch.
- Quesadillas: Make some tasty lunch quesadillas with black beans, cheese, and sauteed vegetables. Or add shredded chicken to these easy Breakfast Quesadillas.
Easy Recipe Ideas and Customizations
Love switching things up in a recipe? Here are some ideas:
- Add more veggies: Once the chicken is shredded, consider adding in a can of drained diced tomatoes or your favorite chunky salsa. You could also saute any veggies you like and add it to the shredded chicken.
- Spice it up: Cook the chicken in a combination of chicken broth and salsa verde for a spicier option. You could also add some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
- Add beans: Make a heartier taco filling by adding a can of black beans or pinto beans to the shredded chicken. Canned corn would be delicious as well, especially if you also add your favorite red salsa.
- Add aromatics: Add flavor to the poaching liquid with chopped onions, garlic, carrots, celery, or bell peppers. Bay leaves, cilantro, or parsley can be added as well.
How to Store Leftovers
The leftover shredded chicken can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge.
This chicken also freezes well. Let fully cool and then store for up to 3 months in the freezer. Let defrost overnight in the fridge to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to the most common questions about this shredded chicken taco filling.
You can make this shredded taco filling with any type of chicken including chicken thighs. Boneless, skinless thighs are the easiest option. Just trim any extra fat before cooking for best results.
Instead of using chicken broth, the chicken can be cooked in salsa or a combination of salsa and water or broth. Look for a salsa that has a flavor you enjoy. Generally, I recommend salsa verde but any thinner salsa can work.
The easiest way to shred chicken is using two forks and simply pulling the chicken apart into smaller pieces. If you are cooking a large amount of shredded chicken, you can shred it in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low.
The number one reason for tough chicken breast is that it was cooked too long. Make sure to remove the chicken as soon as it is cooked through to prevent it from becoming rubbery.
Stovetop Shredded Chicken Taco Filling
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1.33 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth (or enough to cover chicken)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper
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- Nutritional Information
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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