Ten Great Ways to Use Shredded Chicken
When you run out of time to make the dinner you planned and your husband took more of the leftovers than you anticipated for lunch – leaving you with nothing – or when your kid says something is simply to yucky to eat, you do have options if you have shredded chicken on hand.
It will keep your family out of the drive-through lane and eating healthy. So plan ahead and use these tips and you’ll avoid that fast-food run every time.
For chicken, I recommend cooking 1-2 pounds in the slow cooker. Simply put in the desired amount, cover it with chicken broth and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When it’s done, you just remove it from the pot and shred it using two forks. Then you can dress it up in many ways:
- Barbecue: Add your favorite barbecue sauce to shredded chicken and throw it on a whole-grain bun. If you top it with cabbage slaw, you’ll get a little health benefit as well as a nice crunch.
- Buffalo: For more kick, use buffalo sauce instead of barbecue – it’s perfect for a sandwich or in a salad. Get creative and use it as a filling for celery sticks – that will make it more fun and appealing to kids.
- Stir fry or fried rice: Pair the shredded chicken with frozen teriyaki vegetables or a frozen Asian rice and veggie blend for a Chinese dinner in a flash.
- Salad: If you’re craving something rich and creamy, mix the meat with your favorite chicken salad approach and pair it with some whole-grain crackers. My favorite way to do this is with Miracle Whip, some freshly grated ginger, green grapes, parsley and celery. It comes together quickly, and if you want something a little more exotic (and even more heart-healthy) you can try avocado chicken salad with a cup of shredded chicken, a ripe avocado and a peeled, cored and finely chopped apple. When you mix that with celery, red onion and cilantro to taste, and just two teaspoons of lime juice, you’ve got a great meal that’s good for you.
- Quesadilla: Keep it simple – just chicken, cheese and maybe a little salsa for flavor and it’s time to eat. Or you can jazz it up with sautéed mushrooms, garlic and spinach. Just be mindful of the amount of cheese and size of the tortillas.
- Top a green salad: Adding protein to a tossed salad helps ensure you won’t be hungry a few hours later. Combine the meat you made with a packaged salad kit as a great grab-and-go lunch combo.
- A hearty soup: Whether adding it to store-bought or making a quick pot from scratch protein is a good way to make soup more filling.
- Pesto pasta salad: A jar of pesto is a great alternative to (surprisingly sugary) jarred marinara sauces. Toss some whole wheat pasta, shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella with your pesto for a delicious meal. But like any pasta dish, be mindful of portion sizes.
- Flatbread pizza: Nothing beats build-your-own pizza night. Start with a flatbread, tortilla, pizza crust or cauliflower crust. I like to use barbecue instead of pizza sauce, but either will work. Get creative with toppings, my go-to would be cheese (of course), pepperoncini and red onion. Depending on the crust you choose, you can then throw it in the oven, on the grill or just toast it in a frying pan on the stovetop.
- Tex-Mex skillet: If you have the time and ingredients the following was adapted from a Food Network recipe. It’s quickly becoming one of our family’s favorites.
- ¾ cup salsa verde
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 head (about 4 cups) of broccoli
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- 3 cups brown rice, cooked
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
- Whisk together salsa, sour cream and ¾ cup water
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-heat. Add the broccoli and sauté for 6 minutes.
- Add the bell pepper, scallions and garlic and continue cooking until softened, about 6 more minutes.
- Add the cumin and stir until toasted, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the chicken, rice, and salsa; reduce heat to medium and simmer until heated through and saucy. Stir in cheese.
- Notes: I use fresh broccoli because I like the crunchier texture and more charred flavor, but a 12-ounce bag frozen florets will also work.