Skip to Content

How to make dry shredded chicken moist?

Shredded chicken is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many dishes like enchiladas, sandwiches, salads, and more. However, it often dries out during cooking or reheating, making the texture unappealing. Luckily, there are several easy tricks to rehydrate and moisten shredded chicken so it stays tender and juicy for your recipes.

Why Does Shredded Chicken Dry Out?

There are a few reasons why shredded chicken tends to dry out:

  • Overcooking – Shredded chicken is often overcooked which squeezes out moisture and dries it out.
  • Reheating – Reheating cooked and shredded chicken in the microwave, oven or on the stovetop removes even more moisture.
  • Long Holding Time – Letting shredded chicken sit for a while after cooking causes moisture loss as the chicken cools.
  • Lack of Sauce – Shredded chicken is often served plain without a sauce or gravy to keep it moist.

Tips to Rehydrate Dried Out Shredded Chicken

If your shredded chicken has already dried out, don’t worry. Here are some simple tips to rehydrate it:

Use Liquid

Adding some liquid back to dried out shredded chicken is the easiest way to rehydrate it. Try using broth, stock, juice or even water. Let the shredded chicken soak in the liquid for 10-20 minutes to allow it to reabsorb moisture. Stir occasionally.

Use Sauce

Make a flavorful sauce and toss the dried chicken in it. Sauces like barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, salsa, teriyaki sauce, curry sauce, etc. all work great. The sauce will moisten the chicken as well as add lots of flavor.

Steam It

Steaming is an effective way to add moisture back into shredded chicken. Place the chicken in a single layer in a steamer basket or colander. Steam over a pot of boiling water for 5-10 minutes until heated through and tender.

Microwave with Liquid

Place the shredded chicken in a microwave-safe dish and add 2-3 tablespoons of liquid like broth, lemon juice, etc. Cover and microwave for 60-90 seconds until hot. Let stand 2-3 minutes to finish rehydrating.

Use a Slow Cooker

A slow cooker is ideal for rehydrating shredded chicken. Place the chicken in the slow cooker and add enough broth, salsa, barbecue sauce, etc. to cover. Cook on high for 2-3 hours to allow the chicken to absorb the moisture and flavors.

How to Keep Shredded Chicken Moist

Preventing shredded chicken from drying out in the first place is ideal. Here are some tips:

Avoid Overcooking

Be careful not to overcook the chicken when shredding it initially. Cook just until it reaches 165°F internally. Overcooking squeezes out moisture and makes it dry.

Shred Properly

Make sure to shred the chicken across the grain of the meat into thin strips rather than pulling large chunks. Thinner shreds retain moisture better.

Keep Warm

After shredding the chicken, keep it warm in a slow cooker or warming tray until ready to serve. This prevents moisture loss from cooling.

Toss with Sauce

Coat the shredded chicken with your desired sauce immediately after shredding. The sauce will help lock in moisture.

Avoid Dry Heat

When reheating shredded chicken, opt for moist heat methods like the microwave with a liquid or slow cooker rather than dry methods like a hot oven.

Keep Acidic Items Separate

Avoid mixing shredded chicken with acidic ingredients like tomatoes or citrus juice far in advance. The acid can start breaking down the chicken, making it dry.

Use a Steamer

Steaming shredded chicken helps add moisture back if it has dried out a bit in the fridge. Place in a steaming basket for 5-10 minutes.

Best Ways to Use Moist Shredded Chicken

Once you have tender, moist shredded chicken, here are some of the best ways to enjoy it:

  • Chicken Enchiladas – Toss with salsa and cheese then wrap in tortillas.
  • Chicken Salad Sandwiches – Mix with mayo, celery, relish, etc. for sandwiches.
  • Chicken Tacos – Season chicken and serve in warmed tortillas or taco shells.
  • Chicken Casserole – Create a creamy chicken casserole with vegetables and rice.
  • Chicken Soup – Simmer shredded chicken in broth with veggies and noodles.
  • Chicken Pizza – Top pizza crust with shredded chicken, sauce, and cheese.
  • Chicken Quesadillas – Fill tortillas with chicken, cheese, and other fillings.
  • Chicken Pasta Dishes – Toss moist shredded chicken with pasta, sauce, and vegetables.

Moist Shredded Chicken Recipes

Here are some delicious recipes using perfectly moist shredded chicken:

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This pizza is topped with tender barbecue shredded chicken, red onion, cilantro, and melty cheese for an easy weeknight meal.


  • 1 pre-made pizza crust
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3⁄4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1⁄4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet.
  2. Spread barbecue sauce evenly over the crust leaving a 1⁄2 inch border.
  3. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded chicken, red onion and cilantro.
  4. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the crust is crisp and cheese is melted.
  5. Slice and serve immediately.

Buffalo Chicken Wraps

These spicy buffalo chicken wraps are filled with creamy ranch, cheeses, lettuce, tomato and tender buffalo chicken.


  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1⁄3 cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 1⁄4 cup ranch dressing
  • 4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 diced tomato


  1. In a bowl, toss shredded chicken with buffalo wing sauce until coated.
  2. Lay out tortillas and spread ranch dressing on each.
  3. Top with lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese and buffalo chicken.
  4. Roll up tightly and slice wraps in half to serve.

Chicken Caesar Salad

This classic chicken caesar salad uses tender shredded chicken seasoned with lemon, Parmesan and garlic croutons.


  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1⁄4 cup Caesar dressing
  • 1⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup garlic croutons


  1. In a large bowl, toss together chopped romaine, shredded chicken, Parmesan, lemon juice and Caesar dressing until coated.
  2. Top with croutons just before serving.


Should I shred chicken when it is hot or cold?

It’s best to shred chicken while it is still hot. Shredding hot chicken allows steam to escape, which dries it out less. Shredding cooled chicken can damage the fibers, causing extra moisture loss.

How long does shredded chicken last in the fridge?

Properly stored, shredded chicken will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator. To maximize freshness, place chicken in an airtight container. You can also freeze shredded chicken for 2-3 months.

What’s the best cooking method to keep chicken moist?

Poaching, stewing, and braising chicken are the best methods for retaining moisture. Slow cookers and instant pots also steam chicken gently to keep it tender and juicy.

Can you use leftover chicken in chicken salad?

Yes, leftover cooked chicken works great in chicken salads. Just make sure to moisture it first if it has dried out by tossing it with a bit of mayo or broth before mixing into the rest of the salad.

Should you roast a whole chicken or chicken breasts?

Roasting a whole chicken is better for moist, flavorful meat. The bones help keep chicken juicy. Breasts can dry out quickly if overcooked. If using breasts, roast at a high temp or pound thin to prevent drying.


Dried out shredded chicken is unappealing, but it can easily be rehydrated with the proper techniques. Soaking it in liquid, steaming, tossing with sauce, and slow cooking are all effective ways to add moisture back. To prevent dryness in the first place, avoid overcooking, shred while hot, keep warm, and coat with sauce immediately. With tender, juicy shredded chicken on hand, you can easily whip up delicious meals like pizzas, wraps, salads, casseroles and more. Follow these tips for mouthwatering shredded chicken dishes.