Instant Pot Chicken

It’s rare that I stumble upon a recipe hole in the internet, but after repeated searching, I could not find what I considered to be a simple guide for how to cook Instant Pot Chicken.

How to Cook Instant Pot Chicken. Simple Instant Pot cook times for chicken breasts and chicken thighs, including fresh, frozen, bone in, and boneless for each. Finally everything you need to know about how long to pressure cook chicken, all in one easy place!

I had a basic question: how many minutes does it take to cook chicken in an Instant Pot? I knew it would vary depending on if I was making Instant Pot chicken breasts or Instant Pot chicken thighs, if my chicken was frozen or fresh, and if it was bone-in or bone-out, but I wanted an easy answer.

You would think this kind of basic information (Instant Pot chicken!) would be easy to find. It wasn’t…until now.

If you are wondering how long it takes to cook chicken in a pressure cooker, this is the post for you. Reference it anytime you are making Instant Pot chicken and want to know how long to cook it. I’ve included some bonus information if you’d like to take your Instant Pot chicken to the next level, such as tips for seasoning, but if all you need to know are the basics (how much water to add to the Instant Pot with the chicken and long to cook your chicken in the Instant Pot), you’ll find that information quickly and easily here.


HOW TO COOK CHICKEN IN THE INSTANT POT

How to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot. A simple guide with timing for chicken breasts or thighs, including boneless, bone-in, and frozen!

STEP ONE: Grab Your Chicken and Your Instant Pot + Trivet

How to Cook Instant Pot Chicken. Directions for fresh, frozen, bone-in, or boneless, breasts or thighs! Easy and straightforward.

STEP TWO: Add Water

How Much Water to Add to the Instant Pot (Varies by Model)

  • 6-quart Instant Pot: add 1 cup water
  • 3-quart Instant Pot: add 3/4 cup water
  • 8-quart Instant Pot: add 1 1/2 cups water

STEP THREE: Add the Trivet + Seasoning

How to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot. A simple guide with timing for chicken breasts or thighs, including boneless, bone-in, and frozen!

  • This step is not 100% mandatory, but it will help your chicken cook more evenly, so I recommend it.
  • At this point, you can also season your chicken if you like, but it’s not mandatory. I keep it simple with salt and pepper.

STEP FOUR: Cook on HIGH (Manual) Pressure According to the Cook Times Below

How to Cook Instant Pot Chicken. A simple guide for cooking the best chicken in the pressure cooker.

  • The cook time will remain the same whether you have a small amount of chicken or a lot, but the time the Instant Pot takes to come to pressure will increase the more chicken you have. The time it takes to come to pressure will also be longer if you’re cooking frozen chicken.

The below cook times are based upon average weights. If your chicken is smaller, decrease the cook time by 1 to 2 minutes depending upon the extent of the size variation. If they are larger, increase the cook time by 1 to 2 minutes. When in doubt, error on the side of less time. You can always cook the chicken for longer, but once it’s overcooked (especially when it comes to boneless, skinless chicken breasts), you can’t reverse the process.


CHICKEN BREAST INSTANT POT COOK TIMES

BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS

Fresh Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

  • 8 minutes, vent immediately to release any remaining pressure
  • Based on 10-ounce boneless chicken breasts

Frozen Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

  • 12 minutes, vent immediately to release any remaining pressure
  • Based on 10-ounce boneless chicken breasts

BONE-IN CHICKEN BREASTS (WITH OR WITHOUT SKIN)

Fresh Bone-In Chicken Breasts (With or Without Skin)

  • 10 minutes, natural release for 5 minutes
  • Based on 12-ounce bone-in chicken breasts

Frozen Bone-In Chicken Breasts (With or Without Skin)

  • 25 minutes, vent immediately to release any remaining pressure
  • Based on 12-ounce bone-in chicken breasts

CHICKEN THIGH INSTANT POT COOK TIMES

BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

Fresh Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

  • 6 minutes, vent immediately to release any remaining pressure
  • Based on 3-ounce boneless chicken thighs

Frozen Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

  • 12 minutes, vent immediately to release any remaining pressure
  • Based on 3-ounce boneless chicken thighs

BONE-IN CHICKEN THIGHS (WITH OR WITHOUT SKIN)

Fresh Bone-In Chicken Thighs (With or Without Skin)

  • 10 minutes, vent immediately to release any remaining pressure
  • Based on 6-ounce bone-in chicken thighs

Frozen Bone-In Chicken Thighs (With or Without Skin)

  • 15 minutes, vent immediately to release any remaining pressure
  • Based on 6-ounce bone-in chicken thighs

How to Cook Instant Pot Chicken. Directions for fresh, frozen, bone-in, or boneless, breasts or thighs! Easy and straightforward.

Does Cook Time Change if I Have a Smaller (3-Quart) or Larger (8-Quart) Instant Pot?

  • No matter which size model Instant Pot you have, the number of minutes you select on the Instant Pot remains the same.

The capacity of each Instant Pot and the amount of time the differently sized pots take to come to pressure will vary, but you’ll always set it for the same number of minutes, regardless of its size.

If you have a different brand other than Instant Pot and are wondering how long to cook chicken in a pressure cooker, the times listed above should still be accurate for other electric pressure cooker models.

STEP FIVE: Shred, Slice, or Dice! 

How to Cook Instant Pot Chicken. Simple Instant Pot cook times for chicken breasts and chicken thighs, including fresh, frozen, bone in, and boneless for each. Finally everything you need to know about how long to pressure cook chicken, all in one easy place!


How to Use a Mixer to Shred Chicken

Once your chicken is cooked and cool enough to handle, you can dice it up or shred it for use in your recipe.

  • For easy shredding, you can place the chicken in a bowl (or even back in your Instant Pot—discard the liquid and remove the trivet first) and use a hand mixer like this one to shred the chicken. If you have a hand mixer or stand mixer, you need to try this trick!
  • You can also shred the chicken with two forks by hand.

Here’s what the above looks like as a quick step-by-step.

Step-by-Step How to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot

  1. Add 1 cup of water to the 6-quart Instant Pot. Insert the trivet. Add the chicken to the pot. If frozen, make sure the pieces are broken apart and not in a solid mass. (See above for the correct water amount if using a 3-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.)
  2. Season your chicken, if desired. (See blog post below for suggestions.)
  3. Set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for the number of minutes specified above, depending upon the type of chicken you’re cooking.
  4. After the cook time has finished, vent to release any remaining pressure. (If natural release is specified above for the type of chicken you’re cooking, let it natural release for 5 minutes and then vent any remaining pressure).
  5. Carefully open the lid and check the chicken’s internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. The chicken should register 165 degrees F at the thickest part, and the thermometer should not touch the bone. (See below for what to if the chicken isn’t done if your chicken is below 165 degrees F.)
  6. Once cool enough to handle, shred or dice as desired. (See the above mixer tip for a quick way to shred.)

How to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot. A simple guide with timing for chicken breasts or thighs, including boneless, bone-in, and frozen!

What to Do If the Chicken Isn’t Done

  • If your chicken doesn’t read 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer when you open up the Instant Pot but is pretty close (around 160 degrees F), close the lid and let it rest for another 5 minutes before checking the temperature again. Often this rest is enough to get the chicken up to a safe temperature.
  • If it’s still not done, you can recover the Instant Pot and set for an additional 2 minutes of pressure (manual) cook time.
  • Last, if you prefer, you can finish cooking the chicken in a 350 degree F oven.

How to Season Chicken in the Instant Pot

Here are a few flavor ideas to try! (Amounts listed for approximately 1 pound of chicken.)

Mexican Instant Pot Chicken

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Italian Instant Pot Chicken

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

All-Purpose Instant Pot Chicken

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Classic Salt and Pepper Instant Pot Chicken

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Why Does My Instant Pot Say Burn?

  • A BURN warning on an Instant Pot occurs when the heat sensor reads a high temperature on the bottom of the pot, which can indicate scorching. This causes the pot to stop heating until it is resolved.
  • Make sure you are using the required amount of water for your Instant Pot model. You shouldn’t have a problem with this if you follow the instructions here, because this method uses enough water to prevent the warning.

What If I Don’t Have an Instant Pot?

How to Store Instant Pot Chicken

  • Leftover cooked, shredded, or diced Instant Pot chicken can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight.
  • Shredded Instant Pot Chicken is IDEAL for meal prep. Make a big batch at the beginning of the week, divide into individual containers, then use it all week long.

How to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot. Easy directions for fresh or frozen and bone-in or boneless breasts or thighs.

Recommended Tools to Cook Instant Pot Chicken

  • Instant Pot
  • Trivet (this also comes with the Instant Pot, but if you lose it, you can purchase a replacement online)
  • Hand mixer (for easy shredding)

I hope this post is an easy-to-reference, helpful resource for you the next time you’re wondering how to cook Instant Pot chicken. More questions, comments, or tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

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Instant Pot Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time:
5 mins
Cook Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
How to Cook Instant Pot Chicken. Simple cook times for chicken breasts and chicken thighs, including fresh, frozen, bone-in, and boneless. Quick and easy!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts or chicken thighs — fresh or frozen, bone-in or boneless, skin off or on

Instructions

  1. Add 1 cup of water to the 6-quart Instant Pot. Insert the trivet. Add the chicken to the pot. If frozen, make sure the pieces are broken apart and not in a solid mass. (See blog post above for the correct water amount if using a 3-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.)

  2. Season your chicken, if desired. (See blog post above for suggestions.)

  3. Set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for the number of minutes specified in the blog post above, depending upon the type of chicken you’re cooking (breasts or thighs, fresh or frozen, bone-in or boneless). The number of minutes won't change depending upon how much chicken you add (for example, 1 pound or 3 pounds) or your Instant Pot size; it will simply change the number of minutes it takes the pot takes to come to pressure and the countdown to begin.

  4. After the cook time has finished, either vent immediately OR let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes. (Reference the release directions listed in the blog post above for the type of chicken you are using.)

  5. Carefully open the lid and check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer at the thickest part of the chicken. If your chicken is bone-in, make sure the thermometer doesn't touch the bone. The chicken should register 165 degrees F. If it is below 160 degrees F, reseal and cook a few additional minutes. If the chicken is at 160 but not yet 165, you can simply set the lid on top and let it rest for 5 additional minutes, or until it hits the magic 165 degrees F.

  6. Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Let cool until easy to handle.

  7. Once cool enough to handle, shred or dice as desired. Alternatively, you can remove the trivet and excess liquid from the Instant Pot, return the chicken to the pot, then use a hand mixer to shred it quickly and easily. Use as desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Leftover cooked, shredded, or diced chicken can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Instant Pot Chicken

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (4 ounces shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast) — Calories: 187, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 96mg, Protein: 35g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

23 comments

  1. If one wants to cook more than 3 as shown above, can the chicken be layered in the pot? 

    • Hi Susan, yes, you can have chicken layered in the pot, as long as the chicken isn’t frozen together in a big block. Note that it will likely take longer to come to pressure.

  2. I have also been searching for this information for chicken! Chicken is my favorite meat and we have it often. The newer cooking equipment changes the “how to” part. Thank you so much. I have chicken thighs that I must cook today, lots of them for soups and salads. Now, I know how to shred it.

    You really knew exactly what to write for me today. Thank you so much.

    Marilyn

    P.S. I have the same mixer as you do, mine is even red!

  3. Hallelujah! I’ve also had a hard time finding this information through many Pinterest and Google searches. I will be keeping this one handy for reference from now on, so thank you! Plus IP recipes are my favorite, so it’s always a good day when you post one of these. :)

  4. Thanks so much! This will a come in very handy! I have both a stovetop pressure cooker
    for my RV and an Cuisinart electric at home. I believe I’ve read that a stovetop cooker brings the pressure to 15 whereas the electric ones only come to 10 lb of pressure. If si, how much should I cut back the times on my stovetop? By several minutes for each type of chicken I’m cooking?

    Lastly I can’t imagine how much chicken you “enjoyed” as a result of your very thorough research! Whew! You “took one for the team!”

    • Hi Rhonda, I do not have experience with a stovetop pressure cooker, so I’m afraid I don’t have any specific advice to offer regarding adjusting the timing. I’m guessing there are some helpful resources if you do an online search!

  5. this is a wonderful guide that i will be referring to all the time!

  6. I was wondering could you cook the chicken in say a BBQ sauce instead of water? The idea of using a mixer to shred the meat is brilliant. Thank you.

    • Hi Carol, I recommend sticking with water—if using the trivet, the chicken isn’t actually in the water, and I think using barbecue sauce would be more likely to trigger the burn warning. You may be able to find other methods for that with an online search, but this is the method I can vouch for, and I find it easy to mix the shredded chicken with barbecue sauce after cooking.

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve stopped even trying to cook chicken in my IP because I’m never happy with the results. Saving this post for sure!

  8. Thank you for this precious information. Do you intend to have quite a few tips and recipes in your new cookbook in relation with IP? A good book is hard to find.
     

    • Hi Lily-Rose, it’s going to have a mix of everything, from classic stovetop, to baked, to sheet pan, to slow cooker, to yes, Instant Pot!

  9. I’ve never used the hand mixer to shred chicken before, thanks for the tip!

  10. Thank for the info. I plan on printing so I can use it for reference guide.

  11. Patricia Marshall Reply

    Any chance of making a printable version of this?

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