Air Fryer Shredded Chicken
Air Fryer Shredded Chicken recipe makes fall-apart, succulent shredded chicken breasts quickly and consistently. This shredded chicken is great to make once and eat in your favorite chicken dishes all week using your air fryer or Ninja Foodi!
When you need a quick and efficient way to make shredded chicken for all your recipe needs, toss it in the air fryer! Cooking chicken breast in the air fryer yields tender meat with a lightly browned surface that effortlessly pulls apart.
These step-by-step instructions will show you how to make shredded chicken in an air fryer or Ninja Foodi that will become a staple in your weeknight rotation.
You can air fry the chicken at the beginning of the week to make enchiladas, frittatas, pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches, and much more throughout the week. No air fryer? This all-purpose shredded chicken guide includes instructions for the stovetop, slow cooker, and Instant Pot.
♨️ Why Make Shredded Chicken In The Air Fryer?
- The margin for mistakes is minimal. You’ll make tender, shredded chicken every time.
- It’s quicker than both pressure cooking and slow cooking.
- Having shredded chicken ready to go makes weeknight dinners a breeze.
- It’s naturally gluten-free, low carb, and high protein.
🐔 Ingredients & Tools
- Chicken breasts (or thighs) – You can use breasts or thighs to make shredded chicken. Chicken breast is leaner, while chicken thighs are a much fattier cut. Therefore, needing more time to cook in the air fryer.
- Cooking oil – To lightly coat the chicken and create a browned surface. You can use olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.
- Salt & pepper – Lightly season the chicken, enhancing its natural flavors.
- Recommended tools – First, you’ll need an air fryer (or Ninja Foodi). You’ll also need something to shred the chicken. Two forks, meat shredder claws, or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment will get the job done.
🥣 How To Make Shredded Chicken In Air Fryer
1️⃣ Prep chicken breasts for air frying. Ten minutes before starting, set the chicken out at room temperature to take the chill off. Then, dry the pieces with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
2️⃣ Preheat the air fryer basket. Preheat your air fryer at 375F° for 3-5 minutes. Then, add the chicken breast to the preheated air fryer basket,
3️⃣ Cook chicken in the air fryer. Set the timer for 18 minutes. At the halfway mark, flip each piece, and cook for the remaining time (or until the internal temperature reaches 165F°).
4️⃣ Let rest, then shred. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and let rest for 5 minutes. Finally, shred the chicken to use in your favorite recipes that call for shredded chicken. Enjoy!
👉 How to Shred Chicken
Stand Mixer: Add the chicken to the bowl of your stand mixer, then mix on low speed with the paddle attachment. Shredding it a too high of a speed will overwork the chicken and dry it out.
Meat Claw Shredders: This neat gadget is excellent for shredding chicken, pork, and beef. You can buy them here for under $10, and clean-up is easy!
Two-Fork Method: Holding a fork in each hand, shred the chicken. This method is a bit more labor-intensive, but it works if you don’t have fancy equipment!
💭 Recipe Tips
- Bring the chicken to room temperature before air frying. This ensures the pieces cook at the same rate, making more tender chicken.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket. Instead, arrange the chicken in a single even layer leaving room in between each, so everything cooks evenly.
- Use a kitchen thermometer. Your air fryer’s functionality affects the precise time it will take to cook. Each one is different, so remove the chicken once the internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Let the chicken rest before shredding. This gives the flavorful juices a chance to soak back into the meat.
Chicken thighs – I tested this recipe with chicken breasts. However, you can easily use chicken thighs by adding to the cooking time. Thighs have more fat and are inherently moist and tender.
Spices & seasonings – Go beyond salt and pepper and amp up the flavors with any of these seasoning blends.
- All-purpose (salt, black pepper, garlic powder)
- Greek Seasoning
- Lemon Pepper
- Italian Seasoning
- Everything Bagel seasoning
Make tacos with crispy shredded chicken – Add the shredded meat back to the air fryer and cook at 400F until the ends begin to darken and become crisp.
🧊 Storing & Freezing
Storing: Let cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Freezing: You can make a batch of all-purpose air fryer shredded chicken for now and freeze another for later. Place the shredded meat in a freezer-safe bag, removing as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 5 months—Thaw in the fridge overnight before using in recipes.
Yes. When cooked to precisely 165F in the air fryer, chicken becomes tender, juicy, and easy to shred.
There are a couple of factors to take into account. The functionality of your air fryer and the size of your chicken breasts will determine the precise time to cook chicken in the air fryer, but 18 minutes (flipping halfway) is a good start.
If you like dark meat’s more profound, meatier taste, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are best for shredding. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts also work for shredding, but thighs are naturally juicier and more tender.
Recipes Using Shredded Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
- Buffalo Chicken Frittata
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Chicken Zucchini Enchiladas
- Shredded BBQ Chicken Salad
- Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers
- Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad
- Keto Buffalo Chicken Dip
Air Fryer Shredded Chicken
- air fryer or Ninja Foodi
- cutting board
- meat shredding equipment like two forks, meat shredding claws, or a stand mixer with the paddle attached
- 2 pounds chicken breast boneless, skinless
- 2 teaspoons cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 10 minutes before getting started, set the chicken out at room temperature to take the chill off. Then, pat the pieces completely dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the air fryer at 375F° for 3-5 minutes.
- Then, add the chicken breast to the preheated air fryer basket, and set the timer for 18 minutes.
- At the halfway mark, flip each piece using tongs, and cook for the remaining time (or until the internal temperature reaches 165F°).
- Remove the chicken with tongs, transfer to a cutting board., and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Using two forks, meat shredders, or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, shred chicken. Use in your favorite recipes that call for shredded chicken. Enjoy!