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 ¾ cup water
  • 8-quart Instant Pot: add 1 ½ 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
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ 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
  • ½ 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)

 

An Instant Pot with shredded chicken

Instant Pot Chicken

4.67 from 24 votes
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!

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts or chicken thighs fresh or frozen, bone-in or boneless, skin off or on
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus other seasonings as desired

Instructions
 

  • 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.)
  • Season your chicken, if desired. (See blog post above for suggestions.)
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Let cool until easy to handle.
  • 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.

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.

Nutrition

Serving: 4ounces shredded boneless, skinless chicken breastCalories: 187kcalProtein: 35gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 96mg

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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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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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85 Comments

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  1. Fantastic recipe for chicken breast. Very moist and tender.
    I have tried several others with poor results .
    Thank you very much5 stars

    1. Hi Michelle! I think it helps the chicken cook more evenly, but you can omit it if you prefer. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

  2. Finally, someone who said that it does not matter how much chicken you cook, the time will be the same. Thank you! I appreciate this information more than you know. I tried so many different places to get this information and could not find it until I found you. Again, thanks so much, I will try this tonight. I only want to cook 1 chicken breast. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to figure this out for all of us! I’ve printed this out to keep as a reference. This is going to be so helpful!!5 stars

  4. So if the cook time is 10 mins and it takes 10 mins or so to come to pressure, then I’m setting timer to 20 mins or 10 total?

  5. Thank you for including a note about different pot sizes and water amounts! I have an 8qt and no one ever includes this distinction. I also appreciated the 8 minute cook time! Other recipes I saw said 10-20 minutes. The instructions with my IP say 6-8. 5 stars

  6. Erin I’m an avid cook and use your recipes a lot but have never left a comment for anyone but I just wanted to say a huge thank you for this!! I had frozen chicken breasts and find defrosting then incredibly stressful as they never defrost in the fridge and I know the advice is not to leave them out! This recipie and your clear instructions for all chicken types is a game changer! Our 4 chicken breasts which weighed 11 pounds each cooked to perfection at 14 minutes high pressure! Thank you!!! Xxx5 stars

  7. I am cooking 4 fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts that weigh about 5 ounces each. It is a total of 21 ounces. How long would you recommend that I cook them? I also have one pound of chicken tenders (5) that I can cook separately that weigh about 3 ounces each. Can I assume that I would cook those for 6 minutes? Thanks.

    1. Hi Sue! I’ve never tried cooking chicken pieces that small in the Instant Pot, but from what I’m reading online, it sounds like the breasts will need about 5 minutes cook time and the tenders will need about 3 minutes cook time. Again, this is just my best guess, so I recommend checking them for doneness and adding more time if needed. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

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