So many recipes call for shredded chicken — chicken salad, chicken tacos, you name it!
This recipe takes you through the steps of turning a whole chicken into a whole pile of tender shredded chicken to serve with your favorite recipes.
If you are like me and love leftovers, you are going to love this make-ahead pulled chicken recipe. And the best part; making your own pulled chicken is a simple skill to master. Let’s get started!
What is pulled chicken?
Pulled chicken is perfectly cooked chicken that falls apart easily when you try to separate it with two forks. Is it the same as shredded chicken? Yup, pretty much!
When you call it pulled chicken, you are focused on the process. Your forks pull apart the strands of perfectly cooked chicken.
When you call it shredded chicken, you are focused on the results: The pile of shredded chicken you now have to make salads, pasta, or sandwiches. Whatever your family enjoys!
Why is a dutch oven a good choice?
Making pulled chicken in a dutch oven allows you to create tender meat that is evenly cooked.
The cast iron holds its heat really well, especially with the lid on, as this recipe calls for. Although the results do not produce a nicely browned roast chicken, the meat will be moist and tender.
I even use the dutch oven to boil chicken when I’m in a hurry.
This recipe is easy and delivers reliable results with a few special steps:
- adding the salt and pepper under the skin
- coating the chicken skin with oil to promote tender even cooking
- keeping the lid on for the whole cooking process
Great for prepping meals ahead of time!
I like to have shredded chicken prepared ahead of time to make family meals go smoothly on those busy weekdays when everyone has to be somewhere for something.
If you like to plan ahead for such times, you will love this recipe.
If I’m making a roast chicken for Sunday dinner, I will often shred the leftovers for lunches the following day.
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Ingredients and supplies for making dutch oven pulled chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- Avocado oil or cooking oil of choice
- A dutch oven big enough to fit an entire chicken
- A small dish for mixing spices
- Wooden cutting board
- 2 forks for pulling apart cooked chicken
- An instant meat thermometer
How to make pulled chicken in a dutch oven
1. Combine your spices
In a small bowl, combine the salt and pepper. If you know ahead of time how you will use the shredded chicken, you could add more spices to the mixture to infuse the chicken with flavor as it cooks.
2. Prep the chicken — you need your hands for this step!
First, position the chicken on your cutting board, breast side up.
Next, starting at the back end of the chicken, gently slide your fingers underneath the skin to separate it from the meat. Again, work slowly so as not to tear the skin.
Once you have the skin separated from the meat, use your fingers to coat the meat with the spice mixture beneath the loose skin.
Finally, place the chicken in the dutch oven, then drizzle with avocado or the cooking oil of choice.
3. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 70 minutes
Cover your dutch oven with the lid and bake in a 350°F oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Check the internal temperature before removing it to a plate to cool. Cooking time will vary with the weight of your chicken. Chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F.
4. Shred your cooled chicken
Once the meat is cooled enough to touch, remove the breast, thighs and legs.
Use 2 forks to pull apart the white meat. For the dark meat, I find it easiest to pull it apart with my hands.
You’re done when you’ve shredded the whole chicken! And those bones? Be sure to boil them up for a nutritious chicken stock.
5. Store shredded chicken in the refrigerator
Place the shredded chicken in a container with a lid. This will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
How to enjoy this pulled chicken
You have so many possibilities when it comes to using shredded chicken! Here are a few of my family’s favorites:
- Chicken pot pie
- Southwest chicken casserole
- Shredded chicken tacos — my family love-love-loves this recipe!
What does pulled chicken mean? Pretty much what it sounds like. You cook the chicken and pull the meat apart with two forks.
Is pulled chicken the same as shredded chicken? Yes, basically! You pull apart the cooked chicken to get a plate full of shredded chicken. Two points of view, same tender chicken goodness.
What temp should chicken be cooked to? For safety, you want the internal temperature to reach 165° F. It’s best to have a thermometer handy to make sure your chicken is fully cooked before you take it out of the oven. Also, if it’s not fully cooked, it’s not going to shred.
Why do you coat the chicken with oil? Coating the chicken with oil helps keep the chicken moist and tender as it cooks.
Can I use chicken breasts to make pulled chicken? Yes, chicken breasts are perfect for making pulled chicken!
So, tell me what you made!
Making dutch oven pulled chicken is just the starting point. You now have a blank slate — a plate of perfectly prepped shredded chicken — to turn into something delicious for your family.
So what did you make? I’m always curious about what my readers do next.
Please comment below to share your successes and ideas. And if you’d like to try another dutch oven recipe, here are a few suggestions:
- Dutch Oven Pulled Pork
- How to Boil Chicken Thighs
- Dutch Oven Cajun Roasted Chicken
- How to Quickly Boil Asparagus
Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- 2 tablespoons of avocado oil
- Position the chicken breast side up.
- Starting at the back of the chicken, slide fingers underneath the skin to separate it from the meat. Work slowly so as not to tear the skin.
- Combine salt and pepper in a small bowl, and use your fingers to coat the meat beneath the loose skin.
- Place the meat in the dutch oven, then drizzle with avocado oil (or cooking oil of choice) before covering and baking for 1 hour and 10 minutes in a 350°F oven.
- Check the internal temperature before removing it to a plate to cool. Chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F.
- Remove the breast, thighs and legs.
- Use 2 forks to pull apart the white meat.
- The dark meat is easiest to pull apart with your hands.