Introducing the best Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken, a simple and versatile recipe that hinges on slowly poached boneless chicken breasts. This cooking strategy, similar to the sous vide cooking method, creates the most succulent shredded chicken for all your favorite dishes.
Combine your Dutch oven pulled chicken with a homemade barbecue sauce for mouthwatering barbecue sandwiches, or use the shredded chicken for soft tacos. But first you need to grab that Dutch oven, and let’s see where your imagination takes you!
Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are all about ease and convenience because they cook quickly and need no trimming. However, the downside of boneless, skinless chicken breasts is also that they cook quickly, so please don’t overcook them until they’re dry!
The best method for perfectly juicy skinless breasts is this cast iron chicken breast recipe or poaching. Poaching, like in my Moroccan chicken and dates, is a great alternative when you want shredded chicken for chicken tacos or chicken pot pies. Or you can bread and bake chicken breasts for coconut panko chicken.
A Dutch oven is a heavy-duty, lidded pot, usually made of cast iron and often enameled. The cast iron results in even heat distribution, and it can go from stove-top to oven, making it an excellent tool for slow-cooking and braising. It’s also a game-changer for crusty no-knead bread!
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations and substitutions
- Make your pulled chicken using boneless skinless thighs.
- Make Dutch oven shredded chicken in the oven or the slow cooker. You can slow cook chicken either way – the stove top is just easiest to monitor.
Recipe tips and tricks
The key trick to truly moist pulled chicken is the slowest of slow cooking. You’re essentially mimicking the sous vide cooking method.
Start your poached chicken in cold water and then keep the temperature below 180°. I intermittently add ice cubes to my Dutch oven to lower the temperature of the poaching liquid!
Step 1: Put the boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a single layer at the bottom of your Dutch oven. It’s okay if they’re touching. Then scatter the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and other spices over the chicken breasts.
If you’d like, add some carrots and celery to the pot. Or change up the herbs and spices for subtle changes in flavor.
Step 2: Pour enough water or chicken broth into the Dutch oven to cover the chicken by about an inch. If you like, you can add wine, beer, soy sauce, etc to your broth.
Step 3: Cover and place the Dutch oven on the stove top over low heat. Slowly bring the liquid to the gentlest simmer and poach until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), about 30 to 40 minutes.
You should aim to have your poaching liquid always be a temperature of 170 to 180°. Warmer, and the chicken will cook too quickly and may turn out dry. A cooler temperature will take longer to cook.
Step 4: Once the chicken is 165°F, use tongs to remove the chicken breasts from the poaching liquid and place them on a cutting board to cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, strain your poaching liquid into a pot or large bowl and discard the solids. You can use this chicken broth any way you like, or freeze it for longer storage.
Step 5: Once the chicken has cooled enough to touch, use your hands, two forks, or even a mixer to pull the chicken into bite-sized shreds.
Step 6: Serve as is, or return the shredded chicken back to your Dutch oven and add your favorite BBQ or other sauce. Stir the sauce in over low heat until your chicken is coated thickly and warmed through.
What to serve with Dutch oven pulled chicken
- Make it barbecue! Serve BBQ pulled chicken on a soft bun with a purple cabbage slaw, apple pie baked beans, cavatappi mac and cheese, and cast iron skillet cornbread.
- Use the shredded chicken in soft tacos with cheese, 4-ingredient guacamole, and spicy pickled onions.
- Use the chicken in bao in place of pulled duck breast along with Hoisin sauce and green onions.
- Use shredded chicken in a cranberry pecan chicken salad.
- Add chicken to your favorite pizza recipes.
- Add pulled chicken to soups like this garbanzo bean soup or corn soup with bacon and potatoes.
Pulled chicken refers to chicken that has been slow-cooked until tender and then shredded or “pulled” into small pieces.
Yes, this Dutch oven shredded chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, either before or after adding sauce. Reheat it gently on the stove top or in your microwave.
Yes, pulled chicken can also be frozen before or after adding sauce. Cool it completely, then store it in airtight containers or freezer bags for three to six months.
Enjoy the broth as is, or use the strained poaching liquid anywhere you’d use chicken broth – soups and stews, rice and risotto, anything goes! Or freeze it in ice cube trays for future use.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken
- Dutch oven or other heavy pot with fitted lid
- 1-1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 medium onion peeled and cut into halves or quarters
- 2-3 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- water or chicken broth to cover
- Put the boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a single layer at the bottom of your Dutch oven.1-1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Scatter the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and other spices over the chicken breasts.1 medium onion, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Pour enough water or chicken broth into the Dutch oven to cover the chicken by about an inch.water or chicken broth to cover
- Cover and place the Dutch oven on the stove top over low heat. Slowly bring the liquid to the gentlest simmer with a goal liquid temperature of 170 to 180°. Poach until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, use tongs to remove it from the poaching liquid and place it on a cutting board. Let it cool for a few minutes, then use your hands, two forks, or even a mixer to pull the chicken into bite-sized shreds.
- Serve as is, or return the pulled chicken back to your Dutch oven and add your favorite BBQ or other sauce. Stir the sauce in over low heat until your chicken is coated thickly and warmed through.
Feel free to play with the poaching liquid by adding coarsely chopped carrots and celery, herbs, or different broths.
Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking?