Instant Pot: Shredded Chicken

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Cooking chicken in your Instant Pot is a great way to meal prep! You can use shredded chicken in sandwiches, salads, tacos or in a stir-fry. I love having pre-cooked chicken on hand for putting together last minute lunches and weeknight dinners.

How to make shredded chicken in an Instant Pot for easier meal prep - recipe on MyHeartBeets.com

Let’s be real here, this isn’t so much a recipe as it is a post about how and why to prepare chicken in advance. I’m sharing directions on how to make shredded chicken in an Instant Pot (an electronic pressure cooker) but you can just as easily use your slow cooker to make this too! I just happen to prefer my Instant Pot because it’s much faster to use (and I love it)!

Why should you make shredded chicken? Having pre-made chicken on hand will save you so much time! And, you’ll have a healthy protein readily available for when hunger strikes.

This chicken is great for sandwiches, salads, tacos or a last minute stir-fry. I usually add some chipotle mayo to a bit of shredded chicken, mix it up and make a chicken salad sandwich for Roby (my hubby) to take with him to work. You could also add barbecue sauce for easy bbq pulled chicken. Or stuff some sweet potatoes with shredded chicken. Or… I feel like the ideas on how to use shredded chicken are practically endless.

Once the chicken is done cooking, I divide it up into smaller portions and put most of it in the freezer. That way I can thaw only what I need. Oh also, when you make this, don’t skip the part where I tell you to add some water or chicken broth to the Instant Pot (or crockpot). You’ll want to do this so that the meat doesn’t dry out. I also add the broth to the containers with cooked chicken to help keep it moist.

What do you think you’ll make once you have this shredded chicken all ready to go? 🙂

How to make shredded chicken in an Instant Pot for easier meal prep - recipe on MyHeartBeets.com

Instant Pot: Shredded Chicken Pressure Cooker

How to make shredded chicken in an Instant Pot for easier meal prep - recipe on MyHeartBeets.com

Instant Pot: Shredded Chicken Pressure Cooker

Use this shredded chicken in all sorts of applications: sandwiches, stews, salads!
4.79 from 23 reviews
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Ingredients
 

  • 4 pounds chicken breast*
  • ½ cup water or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.
  • Quick release pressure.
  • Shred the chicken with two forks.
  • Store the chicken in an air-tight container with the liquid to help keep the meat moist.

Notes

  • If you are only using 2 pounds of chicken, then halve the ingredients and cook for 15 minutes at high pressure and quick pressure release.
  • I have been asked many times if 20 minutes is too much for 4 pounds of chicken. I realize there are recipes out there that call for a 5-6 min cook time - this has never worked for me when making this quantity of chicken. You can always reduce the time if you want and if it's not done, add a few more minutes to the cook time. Ultimately the chicken should reach a temperature of 165F.
  • If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 4-6 hours or until the chicken is done.
  • I usually divide the chicken into small air-tight storage containers and keep them in the freezer for longer term storage.
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Looking for more Instant Pot Recipes? Try these:

Instant Pot Saag
Instant Pot Carne Guisada
Instant Pot Habanero Chili
Instant Pot Dal Makhani
Goat Curry in a Hurry
Instant Pot Texas Beef Chili
Instant Pot Ground Lamb Curry
Instant Pot Butter Chicken

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Cookbooks

Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.

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Comments

  1. Whimsy says

    4 stars
    It would be nice if this recipe indicated a few more things for the chicken.

    Thawed or Frozen
    Whole or cubed

  2. Jamie says

    I have a question about InstaPot recipes and cooking times. When it says cook on High for 20 minutes, does that mean 20 minutes total (with preheating) or you start the timer when the pressure cooker is done pre-heating?

  3. J M says

    5 stars
    Added 1 cup of water, but followed recipe exactly otherwise. Worked great! I cooked brown rice in the left over liquid and it made a fantastic meal.

  4. Cathy Augros says

    Is it necessary to use the liquid when pressure cooking the chicken? I’m wondering if the natural juices that will be squeezed out of the chicken during the high-pressure cooking would be sufficient?

  5. Danielle says

    This could be a silly question, but…do you just put the chicken breasts in straight from the package without cutting them first?

    Whenever I make any dish requiring boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I always cut them in half lengthwise down the center (the long way, to make them thinner and into cutlets. Not sure how else to describe this, but I hope I’m making myself clear, haha!) Would I do that for this recipe, or would doing that mess up the cooking time and overcook them? Thanks in advance!

  6. Rita Meyer says

    Hi, I used 3 thawed chicken breast cut in small medallion size pieces with a half cup of water and cooked for 6 minutes on high, and it was dry and slightly burnt on the bottom. So I tried the same thing using only 3 minutes, there was no pink and very tender. I still can’t believe chicken can cook so fast.

  7. Tanya says

    1 star
    I followed this recipe exactly and got super tough chicken. Other receipes I have seen puts cooking time at 10 minutes. I’m going to try that next time. But now I have to figure out what to do with 4lbs of dry chicken.
    🙁

  8. Amanda says

    5 stars
    This recipe ROCKS!!!! I had three huge frozen chicken breasts, I defrosted them for about 5 min in the microwave then thru them on the pressure cooker with the full recipe ingredients. Cooked for 20 min then let it release naturally for about 5-7 min and it came out super juicy & shredded like a dream!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. Will says

    These came out great!! Instead of shredding the chicken with 2 forks I used my hand mixer to shred the chicken, it’s much easier and takes but a minute when mixing large batch!

  10. Gail says

    I cooked this exactly as written. It cooked exactly as it should have and shredded beautifully but both my husband and myself think this recipe is lacking in flavor. Its just blah. Maybe adding salt would help but neither taco sauce or salsa improved it. Will try again using other spices and salt.

    • AnnB says

      Hi Gail – I have a go-to crockpot recipe for shredded chicken that I’m going to try in the IP this weekend. It uses a small or half thin-sliced onion to 4 lbs breasts or half breasts/half thighs and garlic, pepper, and seasoned salt. I have been using Old Bay in place of seasoned salt for years and really like that. Occasionally I mince 3 cloves of fresh garlic instead of using powdered, but it’s still good with powdered garlic. Slow cooking seems to use more spice than pressure cooking, so I’m going to halve everything, use 3/4 – 1 C of low sodium chicken broth, and try 1/2 Tb each of garlic powder and Old Bay, 1 tsp oregano, and 1 tsp black pepper. I’m thinking Old Bay plus broth will be enough salt but of course that can be added later if I’m wrong. Will post results by St. Patrick’s Day!

  11. Nettie says

    Best tip: leave your cooked chicken breasts in tact when you freeze them! It decreases freezer burn a TON, AND you know exactly how many breasts you’re using when you pull them out. They shred easily once they defrost. Only takes a minute in the microwave. Been doing this for years and I’ll never go back to shredding before freezing.

  12. randi says

    5 stars
    Thank you! I have been frustrated with my new Instant Pot as I haven’t had chicken turn out very well. I used your recipe and added about 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce. It’s some of the most flavorful chicken I’ve had. Thanks so much!

  13. Amy says

    So this was my first time using my new instantpot. I went to release the valve (changing from sealed to venting), and the liquid splattered all over. Does this normally happen for you? I may have used 3/4 cup of water, but nothing outrageous.

    • Jessica says

      When you do quick release you are always supposed to cover the valve with a cloth (I fold up a kitchen towel and drape it over, whether I do quick release or natural release). So yes, this is normal.

  14. Megha says

    Thanks a ton for the recipe. What should be the cooking time for 1 lb chicken and 2 lb chicken?

    Thanks much,
    Megha

  15. Sage says

    5 stars
    The 2016 instant pot defaults to 40 minutes for poultry, so I had to adjust mine down to 20 minutes, not up 5.

    Also, if you’re lazy like me, an old fashioned betty crocker hand mixer with the interlocking blades (the kind u baked with–er, licked–as a child). Works like a charm and super fast shredding action.

  16. Katie says

    5 stars
    thanks for this recipe! 5 lbs of shredded chicken made super fast for a party! i used a cup of broth to ensure the chicken breasts didn’t dry out.

  17. munpreet says

    ashley the instant pot you have mentioned /advertised in your recipes with the link to amazon, have you personally used it and is it a good one to buy?is it a pressure cooker and a slow cooker combined?

  18. Steve says

    Not sure if I have a different model or what. I’m new to using this thing, but when I hit Poltry and add 5 minutes, it says 17 min not 20. Is the warm up “On” time counting for the other 3 min or should I be adding 8 min to the cooking time? Hope this isn’t too confusing. Thanks

  19. Ingrid says

    Hi!

    Mine also came out chewy. It was my first time using the instant pot and you made it really easy. There are two things I am thinking could have affected my result: First, i had less chicken (about 2.5 to 3lbs). I didnt realize till later. I used the same amt of broth and time of cooking. Could it have been overcooked. Also, the chicken had been sitting for a few days in my fridge so it wasnt super fresh. Could that have been the issue?

    I really want to try it again! I am sure with some tweaks it will be delicious!

    • Tanya says

      I think chicken can be a little random… no matter how perfectly you cook it or how great the meat should be, it sometimes doesn’t turn out. You probably didn’t do anything wrong. But I would do less time for a smaller quantity. I love my Instant Pot… but I think I should keep a journal. Sometimes the chicken is tough. Luckily it’s usually tender and great. : )

  20. missuspie says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. Would the cooking time be the same if using only 2 lbs of chicken?

  21. Danielle says

    I am looking to make one shredded boneless skinless chicken breast in the pressure cooker. Can I sub salsa for the water? Or maybe half and half?

  22. Diego A says

    5 stars
    Hi! Thanks for all the info. I tried the recipe and my chicken breast came out very chewy even though it was online 15 mins cooking.

    What am I doing wrong?
    Thank you!

  23. Crysta says

    I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks so much for posting it. When you add bbq sauce to the chicken, what is the best way you have found to reheat the shredded bqq chicken without it drying out?

  24. Angel says

    I love making shredded chicken! And as a bonus, it doesn’t heat up the house in the summer. My favorite combo is one pound boneless, skinless breast and one pound boneless, skinless thighs. It’s a nice flavor with a little more fat.

    Have you tried shredding chicken in a stand mixer? I use my kitchen aid, and it’s so easy!

      • AnnB says

        I also have used my immersion blender to shred chicken if I make a lot. It just takes a few seconds to shred this way. Haven’t made this in my instant pot yet, but when I make it in crock pot, I just remove skin and bones if they weren’t boneless pieces and then give it a quick whir before putting it directly into recipe or freezing for later.

  25. ben says

    5 stars
    Thanks for this recipe! As a pressure cooker newbie, I was looking for a simple (1 ingredient) recipe on how to cook a couple of plain drumsticks so that I can shred it into a salad.

    Interestingly, some recipes with many ingredients, don’t add water, which seems kind of strange. I’ve read InstantPot recommends at least 1 cup, but from what I’ve seen many use as little as half a cup, and as much as 3 cups!

    I will try 2 small drumsticks with a 1/2 cup water, and set for 20 minutes. Also what happens if set for too long, for example what could happen if set for 35 minutes, instead of 25 or 20?

    • My Heart Beets says

      Glad you like the recipe! The meat releases water which is probably why most recipes don’t tell you to add much. You can always add more water/chicken stock if you want to. As for drumsticks, you probably won’t overcook them if you set it longer – it’s chicken breast you have to be careful not to overcook.

  26. BYama says

    5 stars
    Love this – my new go-to recipe for so many dishes, always fast, easy, moist, favorful, and I can use the broth for the next recipe, whatever soup/stew/chili/casserole/pie I’m cooking the shredded chicken for. Genius recipe! Many thanks!

  27. Catherine says

    Do you put the chicken on a stand so it isn’t sitting in the water or is it supposed to sit in the water? Thanks, really want this to be a got to recipe for me and the children.

  28. Kay says

    This is definitely the way I will always cook chicken to use in other recipes from now on. It comes out perfectly, and not dry at all. From my last batch, I made the Pad Thai from Well Fed and some chicken salad, and still froze some. I cooked both breasts and thighs in that batch. Love it!

  29. Dr. Priscilla Natanson says

    5 stars
    Super easy shredded chicken to use for all kinds of things – thank you!

    I’ve come back to this recipe a bunch of times (you’d think I’d finally remember it) and just now thought to look at the rest of your site – this is BRILLIANT! I absolutely love how you can select recipes based on checking boxes of food sensitivities!! I just posted your site to my FB page and will be telling my patients about it too.

    Great idea and great work – thank you!!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Thank you, Dr. Natanson! I appreciate you telling your friends and patients about my site! I’m trying to make it as allergy-friendly as possible for readers. Hope you’ll let me know how other recipes turn out for you 🙂

      • Bj says

        Make sure you double wrap with plastic wrap and foil then put in the zip bags. That should cut down on your freezer burn. Pat dry your chicken then wrap. Or alternatively freeze in broth in a smaller zip bag. Then put in a larger zip bag. Use within 6 months to cut down on burn. Hopefully that should help.

        • Donna says

          5 stars
          I have put my chicken in individual zip freezer bags. Then I wrap them in butcher paper. You can buy the paper at Walmart in the hunting section. The paper prevents freezer burn…OR….get a seal a meal. That machine works wonders. One step…throw it in the freezer. I live alone with allot of leftovers. I never buy frozen dinners..they are ready when I am home cooked.

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