Slow Cooked Chicken for the Week (or to Freeze)

By Ann Fulton

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Why did the rooster run away? He was chicken!

What do chickens serve at birthday parties? Coop-cakes!

You’re either laughing or groaning right now. 😂 Either way, chickens have come to define the world of silly jokes as much as they have influenced our way of eating.

The ongoing popularity of this lean protein source may seem obvious: it’s convenient, mild tasting, and relatively economical. In terms of versatility, however, chicken is hard to beat. It can be baked, braised, broiled, grilled, fried, poached, steamed, or sautéed—and it freezes well, too.

The sheer variety of mainstream chicken dishes is equally impressive: chicken and waffles, chicken curry, kung pao chicken, chicken salad, chicken corn soup, chicken fried rice, fried chicken, chicken cordon blue, and chicken fajitas. If “chicken dinners” was the name of a round in the game Categories, the round might last forever.

Similarly, there’s no shortage of “quick and easy” recipes that include cooked chicken on the ingredient list. Of course, these recipes are even quicker and easier if you happen to have some leftover chicken on hand.

Because that’s often not the case, I rely on a hands-off method of cooking a big batch of chicken to use throughout the week and to stock the freezer. Though the cooking is slow, the prep time is brief and the cleanup is minimal. A few basic seasonings enhance the flavor and a small amount of broth or stock ensures tender, juicy meat.

With Halloween just around the corner, it seemed only fitting to end with a couple of on-theme jokes. They might just perk up the dinner conversation!

What do you call a scary chicken? A poultrygeist.

Why didn’t the chicken skeleton cross the road? Because he didn’t have enough guts!

In addition to your favorite recipes calling for pre-cooked chicken you could…

Add your favorite barbecue sauce to the cooked and shredded chicken for super easy BBQ chicken sandwiches. (Simply drain and reserve the cooking liquid prior to adding the sauce, and then add back enough liquid to thin as desired.)

Following are more family friendly ways to enjoy cooked chicken:

Chicken Fried Rice

STAT Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken & Broccoli Slaw with Speedy Thai Peanut Sauce

Whole Wheat Cheddar Chicken Quesadillas

Southwestern Chicken Quesadilla Salad

Easy Chicken Burrito Bowls

Chicken Chip Bake

Harvest Bowls

White Bean, Tomato & Chicken Pasta

Curried Chicken Rice Salad

Chicken and Spinach Parmesan Pizza

Turkey Tetrazzini (substituting chicken)

Summer Breeze Chicken Salad

Or make a meal out of Fall Slaw or any of the other kale, cabbage, or leaf lettuce salads

Slow Cooked Chicken for the Week (or to Freeze)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Yield: 8-12 servings
Use this tender, all-purpose chicken in soups, salads, casseroles, quesadillas, sandwiches, and more. I like to freeze it in one- or two-cup portions for convenient use whenever a recipe calls for cooked chicken. You might just find it’s easier than picking the meat off a rotisserie chicken—and more economical, too! Yield: About 9 cups shredded chicken
  • 6 large boneless skinless chicken breasts halves (about 3 pounds; may substitute thighs)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Place the chicken in slow cooker. (For this amount of chicken, a 6-quart cooker is recommended. Feel free to adjust the recipe down to accommodate a smaller model.) Sprinkle the spices overtop, and then pour the chicken broth over all. Cover and cook for 4-5 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high. (Newer slow cookers will typically cook on the shorter side; check a little early until you know how long it takes in your cooker. Chicken should shred easily and have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.)
  2. Shred the chicken with two forks. This can be done right in the slow cooker (see tips), or you can remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred or chop it. Cool completely if you’re planning to freeze it, and then divide among zip-top bags or airtight containers. I like to freeze a few 1-or 2-cup portions and save the rest for the week ahead.
  • Tips:
  • Drain the chicken if using in a recipe for which the added moisture is not wanted, like quesadillas. However, if this isn’t an issue, I recommend stirring the shredded or chopped chicken back into the flavorful cooking liquid until ready to use. You can store leftovers in the broth, too. This will make them even more flavorful and tender—it’s sort of like marinating after cooking.
  • I haven’t tried this, but some readers have reported that they like to place the cooked chicken in a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment to quickly shred it.
  • You can absolutely use additional spices to taste. Italian herbs are a nice basic addition, and spices like cumin and chili powder work well if you’re planning on using the chicken in Tex-Mex recipes.
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Did you know? One cup of chopped boneless, skinless chicken breast supplies about 43 grams of protein, 231 calories, 5 grams of fat, and is a good source of B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium.

If you stuck with me this long, I have a few more chicken jokes…🐓🐓🐓

What Do You Get When You Cross A Chicken With A Guitar?  A Chicken That Makes Music When You Pluck It!

Why did the chicken cross the road halfway?  She wanted to lay it on the line.

Why Does A Chicken Coup Have Two Doors?  If It Had Four, It Would Be A Sedan.


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  1. V. Doss

    I find that freezing portions of roasted chicken breast often results in dry meat when defrosted. Any tips for avoiding this?

    1. Ann Post author

      Wrapping the portions well helps, but I often freeze the chicken in some of the broth. That way, the meat is better protected and continues to steep in the juices as it thaws. Hope this helps!

  2. Nols

    Thank you for this! I never thought about freezing cooked chicken. How would you reheat it so that it doesn’t dry out? I am a mother of two toddlers and full time university student so I am very limited on time. I love anything that can be made in a slow cooker but I do find with beef and lamb that it ends up tasting quite meaty and heavy. This recipe seems light so I’m excited to give it a try! I suppose you could put this chicken into sandwiches and pasta sauces too?

    1. Ann Post author

      With two toddlers and a full class schedule, I’m sure you never rest! I often use the leftovers in salads, bowl-type meals, casseroles, etc. It is flavorful enough to be eaten plain, but it definitely works well in all those recipes that call for already cooked chicken. If you want to reheat it to eat as is, I’d recommending briefly warming in the microwave or heating on the stovetop in some of the reserved broth.

  3. Donna Post author

    Love your column and have used many recipes. I find myself cooking chicken so often for various recipes and love the idea in this week’s column of bagging and freezing chopped chicken for waffles, soup, etc. Just wondering …. how long is it safe to freeze small quantities of bagged chicken? Thanks for your response!

    1. Ann Post author

      Thank you for the kind feedback! I would say three months is a good upper end for freezing. Much longer and the chicken will slowly deteriorate in quality, although it would still be safe to eat. Coincidently, I just used a container that had been frozen for nine months. Nobody complained but I thought it was a little mushier than usual. Hope that helps!