Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos

Have you ever been casually traipsing through your day, only to be sideswiped by the shocking reveal that you’ve been doing something painfully basic wrong your entire life? That was how I felt the first time I made these Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos.

The BEST EVER Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos! Easy, juicy pressure cooker Mexican chicken that's healthy and full of flavor. Use it for tacos, burritos, taco bowls, or mix with black beans and rice.

This recipe is sponsored by Avocados from Mexico

Other days tantamount to epic Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Taco day:

MY LATEST VIDEOS
  • The day I realized the correct phrase is “for all intents and purposes,” not “for all intensive purposes.” (It’s true…and I didn’t find out until I was in my 20s. 🙈)
  • The day I peeled a banana from the bottom instead of the top (TRY IT).
  • The day I discovered baked bacon.

Shredded chicken tacos have been a trusty, easy recipe standby in my emergency dinner rotation since I first learned to combine salsa and chicken in a slow cooker and turned it on.

Come to think of it, salsa chicken has been a trusty, easy recipe standby in my non-emergency dinner rotation too. Sometimes I’d make it in the slow cooker, and sometimes I’d start with this basic tutorial for How to Make Shredded Chicken and then add salsa.

I thought we’d carry on happily for years, this basic salsa chicken and I, until a few weeks ago when I found myself wanting…more.

More flavor.

A better, juicier texture.

A faster cook time.

Sure, salsa chicken was fine, but every time I took a bite of a chicken taco I’d made using it, I found myself essentially smothering the shredded chicken with other ingredients in a desperate attempt to give it more flavor.

I’d gussied the shredded chicken up, but I hadn’t solved the essential problem: how to make truly excellent shredded Mexican chicken that I could use for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or in any which way I pleased.

Oh, and the prep for this mystery shredded chicken of my dreams still needed to be minimal and the cook time fast too.

Cue the Instant Pot.

The BEST easy Instant Pot Chicken Tacos. Juicy, flavorful chicken that's full of flavor and perfect for stuffing into tacos, burritos, and taco bowls. A delicious Mexican dinner recipe!

In addition to slashing the shredded chicken’s cook time, the Instant Pot’s sauté function made it a one-step snap to brown the chicken before cooking it, which had a profound, positive impact on its final flavor, as did sautéing the onions and spices.

My other mega-flavor tips for next-level shredded chicken tacos are chipotle chilis in adobo (available in the Hispanic food section of most grocery stores) and fresh avocados.

The chipotle chilis give the chicken a deep, smoky flavor that makes it taste as if you’ve been cooking it for hours low and slow, instead of 8 minutes in the pressure cooker.

The avocados add a creamy, cool factor that balances the shredded chicken’s spice. I blended mine with Greek yogurt and fresh lime juice to make a rich but healthy avocado sauce that we spooned over EVERYTHING that week. You can take this extra step if you have time. If you are in a hurry, simply pile your Instant Pot Chicken Tacos high with plenty of fresh avocado slices for a similar effect.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos! Easy, healthy, and packed with delicious Mexican flavors. This pulled chicken pressure cooker recipe is ready in under 1 hour and perfect for game day!

While this shredded pressure cooker Mexican chicken is versatile (try it mixed with rice and beans, as a filling for enchiladas, or even on top of this Skinny Taco Salad), most often I use it for tacos.

We were craving hard versus soft shell tacos this time, so I opted for another “OMG I’ve been doing this wrong my whole life!” product, Old El Paso Stand ’n Stuff Taco Shells. The flat base means they stand up on their own, so they are easy to fill and to eat.

The BEST EVER Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos. Use this savory, juicy shredded chiken for tacos, burritos, or taco bowls. Includes a tip for cooking this instant pot shredded chicken from frozen.

Ever picked up a taco to take a bite only to realize you won’t be able to set it back down again until you’ve finished? With these clever flat-bottomed shells, you can!

While I would be hard-pressed to imagine an occasion where easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos wouldn’t be welcome (come on, you know chicken tacos are way more fun than whatever fussy spread you’d planned to serve your in-laws), with the Big Game a few weeks away, football time is prime time for tacos too. This crowd-pleasing recipe would be a hit at any game day party.

For maximum hosting ease, you can keep the shredded chicken taco filling warm in the Instant Pot (or transfer it to a slow cooker and keep it warm there), set out the toppings and shells, and let guests build their own tacos.

For more game day recipe inspiration, Old El Paso and Avocados from Mexico have teamed up to create this website, filled with fresh, fun football recipes. Don’t miss the dedicated Game Day section of my recipe index too!

Easy, healthy Instant Pot Chicken Tacos. Flavorful shredded Mexican chicken is a crowd pleaser that is perfect for game day tacos, burritos, or taco bowls! Delicious recipe for football parties or taco night.

To Make This Instant Pot Shredded Chicken from Frozen:

  • Follow the recipe instructions, but cook on high pressure for 10 minutes instead of 8. That’s it!

Tools to Make Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos:

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Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos

The BEST EVER Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos! Easy, juicy pressure cooker Mexican chicken that’s healthy and full of flavor. Use it for tacos, burritos, taco bowls, or mix with black beans and rice.

Yield: 4–6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 small/medium or 3 medium/large), cut in half if large
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo (individual peppers, NOT 3 cans), finely chopped (if you love heat, feel free to add an extra pepper or stir in a few teaspoons of sauce from the can)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)

FOR THE AVOCADO SAUCE:

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2–4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

FOR SERVING:

  • Old El Paso Stand & Stuff Taco Shells
  • Any other bonus toppings: fresh cilantro, diced jalapeno, thinly sliced radishes, cheese, additional salsa, diced avocado (either in place of or in addition to avocado sauce above)

Directions:

  1. Season both sides of the chicken with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Once hot and shimmering, add half the chicken and sear both sides for 2 to 3 minutes each, just until brown (the chicken does not need to be cooked through). Do not disturb the chicken while each side sears.  Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the second half of the chicken and sear each side for 2 to 3 minutes each. Remove to the same plate.
  3. With the Instant Pot still on sauté, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, chili powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Let cook 3 minutes, until the onion beings to soften. Turn the Instant Pot off (on my model, I hit CANCEL). Stir in the chipotle peppers, tomatoes, and reserved chicken. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer (a little overlap is OK, and the chicken will be touching). Pour the lime juice over the top.
  4. Lock the lid in place. Cook on manual pressure for 8 minutes. As soon as the time is up, vent immediately. Once you can open the lid, turn the Instant Pot off, and then remove the chicken to a large bowl or plate. Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE. Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces by about half. Meanwhile, shred the chicken with two forks (or, once it is cool enough, your fingers).
  5. Once the liquid is reduced, turn the Instant Pot off, return the chicken into the Instant Pot, and then stir the chicken to coat in the sauce.
  6. Prepare the avocado sauce (I like to do this while the chicken is pressure cooking): In a food processor, blend together the avocado, Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and salt until smooth. Taste and add additional salt or lime juice as desired.
  7. To serve: Fill the shells with the chicken, drizzle with avocado sauce, and add any desired toppings. Enjoy immediately.
  • Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat gently on the stove with a splash of chicken stock or extra salsa to keep it from drying out.
  • Leftover avocado sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container or mason jar (press a piece of plastic wrap over the top to protect it from air) for up to 2 days.
All images and text ©Erin Clarke/Well Plated.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size: 1 taco (in hard shell), with 2/3 cup shredded chicken and 2 tablespoons sauce (no additional toppings)

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 251 Calories
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 56mg
  • Sodium: 749mg
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Protein: 26g

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!

The BEST EVER Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos! Easy, juicy pressure cooker Mexican chicken that's healthy and full of flavor. Use it for tacos, burritos, taco bowls, or mix with black beans and rice. #pressurecooker #instantpot #shreddedchicken #healthy

I am sharing this post in partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Old El Paso. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!

The BEST EVER Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos! Easy, juicy pressure cooker Mexican chicken that's healthy and full of flavor. Use it for tacos, burritos, taco bowls, or mix with black beans and rice. #pressurecooker #instantpot #shreddedchicken #healthy

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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…

49 comments

  1. This sounds sooooooo good! I’m using my Instant Pot so much that I’m contemplating just leaving it out on my counter instead of storing it after each use. And stand-up taco shells are amazing. I’ve stopped even considering any other kind of shell, because they’re the best!

  2. You just can’t go wrong with tacos like these! :)

  3. wooow those tacos looks so dang tasty! Great work Erin! (:

  4. Oh baby! Where has this recipe been all my life! Love tacos, love shredded chicken and oh the chipolte peppers in adobo sauce so good! Aaand made in a pressure cooker, awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. Been looking for tasty pressure cooker recipes.

  5. I LIVE FOR TACOS! These are perfect!

  6. OMG this is too pretty to eat. But I will, gladly. Love avocados from mexico!

    Rating: 4.5
  7. Erin…my mouth is watering but I don’t have an instant pot! How can I adjust for a crockpot?

    • Kathy, I’ve never tested this, but I think you could brown the chicken, spices, onions etc. on the stove, then transfer them to a crock pot with a splash of chicken stock. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or low for 4 to 6 (depending on your crockpot). Then, remove the chicken and reduce the cooking liquid on the stove. I hope you enjoy them!

  8. Erin, we made this for dinner last night, and it was definitely a winner! The flavor combo for the chicken was excellent (not to mention super tender and juicy – as always, Instant Pot FTW), but the avocado sauce really tied everything together. Also a bonus – as a two-person household, there are plenty of excellent leftovers! :)

    Rating: 5
    • HOORAY Erin, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the chicken! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this awesome review!

  9. This was fantastic! We polished off the whole thing… alas, no leftovers. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Rating: 5
  10. This has become a complete staple at our house! Made it once for a “test” batch (which we promptly devoured) and it’s now become my go-to every time we have house guests. It’s so easy and moist and has a ton of flavor. Thank you!!

    Rating: 5
  11. Such a good recipe! Came across it looking for IP shredded chicken cook times and gave it a whirl. So glad I did! The avocado sauce too is a perfect complement. My only modification was to serve it with fresh white corn tortillas that I toasted on my diffusor. With all of the condiments, the 2# of chicken can serve a fair amount of people. Such a good use for the IP. Prepping the sides took longer than the chicken itself. Thanks!

    • HOORAY Chris, I’m so glad to hear this was a hit! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this thoughtful review—those tortillas sound delicious!

  12. Any thoughts on cooking time if I need to double the recipe?

    • Hi Jacki, I haven’t tested it, so I can’t say for certain. If you want to experiment, I think you could add a minute or two to be safe. I hope you enjoy!

  13. I have a packet of chicken thighs. Think that would work okay? Not sure how “shreddable” it will be in the end.

  14. Made it tonight and it was fabulous! The avocado cream is such an awesome compliment to the spicy chicken! Y-U-M!

    Rating: 5
    • HOORAY Kerrie! I’m so glad the recipe is a winner. Thanks so much for giving it a try and taking the time to report back!

  15. One of the best chicken taco recipes I have ever made or had.  I added jalapeños, extra lime juice, and extra salt to the avocado spread…really good. Thanks for sharing this recipe. 

    Rating: 5
    • Rob, that’s great to hear! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, and I appreciate your taking the time to leave this awesome review.

  16. I’m sorry. I’m getting confused. The Adobe peppers are in a can? Or are they three dried Adobe:)

    • Hi Shari, yes, the chipotle peppers in adobo come in a can. And you use 3 of the peppers out of the can. I hope that helps!

  17. I made this today for a Board Games night with my friends and it was delicious! My friends and brother devoured the tacos. The Chipotle peppers definitely add a kick to it 🙂

    Rating: 5
    • That’s so great to hear Savindi! Thanks so much for taking time to share this lovely review!

      • No problem! I wanted to let you know that it was delicious 😊. I’m usually quite scared to cook meat and this was my second time cooking chicken so I’m glad it turned out so well! Do you think it’s possible to substitute chicken for fish? I’m also looking for a good fish tacos recipe to try out.

        • Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience cooking fish in the Instant Pot. I’d suggest looking online for a fish taco recipe using chipotle chili peppers if you’d like a similar flavor profile. I’ll consider fish tacos for a future recipe too!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Savindi! Thanks so much for giving it a try and taking the time to report back!

  18. This was so delicious! I used half the chicken but the full recipe of sauce—I cooked it longer so it reduced more. I shredded the chicken using my kitchen aid stand mixer—worked great!

  19. Hey, life changing tip that Pinterest taught me: shred chicken with a hand mixer. Make sure it’s in a large deep bowl (it’s messy) and then mix away. You don’t have to wait for it to cool and it’s perfectly shredded in under a minute. (I haven’t made this recipe yet, but I’m making it tonight!)

  20. Hi – this recipe is making my mouth drool simply reading it : ) I do not have an insta pot (maybe the only person on earth ha ha ha) has anyone made them in a slow cooker? if not, would you think I would be able to make these in a slow cooker? Thank you : )

    Rating: 5
    • Hi Laura! Yes, I do think you could make these in a slow cooker. I haven’t tried, so you’d be experimenting (and I’d love to hear how it goes!) I’d sear the chicken and cook the onion/spices on the stove, then transfer everything to a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. You can reduce the sauce on your stove after. If you decide to play around, I’d love to hear how it goes!

      • Thank you for the added tips – appreciate it !!! I will be making them on Friday will def let you know how they turned out : )

      • WoW is all I can say !!!! These were beyond yummy and everyone enjoyed !! Thank you again for the notes and help. The searing def was the key before placing in the crockpot! A def remake!

        Rating: 5
  21. Hannah Barber-Phillips Reply

    These were so good that I had to leave a comment. I looked at a few recipes for chicken tacos, most of which used salsa chicken, which I wasn’t feeling. Then I read this one and saw that it had chipotle peppers in it, and I was sold. It’s not as easy as throwing it in and walking away, but it was so worth it! The avocado sauce complemented the smoky chicken perfectly. My husband ate 5 tacos and I ate 3 before we forced ourselves to stop.

    Rating: 5

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