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 easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos. This recipe yields the BEST EVER shredded Mexican chicken. Once you try shredded chicken tacos, pressure cooker style, there is no going back.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos in hard corn shells on a plate garnished with jalapenos, radish, queso fresco, cilantro and avocado crema

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

  • 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.

Shredded chicken cooked and seasoned in an Instant Pot for tacos.

5 Star Review

“This was SO good! I had never used the instant-pot, or this dish. But you made it very clear, and the instructions/times were perfect!”

— Ryan —

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. (This Baked Chicken Breast is a new favorite in our house too.)

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.

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.

Instant Pot shredded chicken tacos in crunchy corn tortillas with avocado sauce, cilantro and cheese on a mint-colored plate

How to Make Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos

Cue the Instant Pot.

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.

(Another Instant Pot winner with a similar flavor profile: Instant Pot Mexican Casserole!)


Ingredients

  • Chicken. I opted to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. However, if you’re a fan of dark meat, feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead.

How to Make Using Frozen Chicken

  • Follow the recipe instructions below, but cook on high pressure for 10 minutes instead of 8. That’s it!
  • Note: you will need to skip searing the chicken, so you will have some loss in flavor; that said, if you forget to thaw your chicken, this is certainly still a workable option.
  • Chipotle Chilis. My other mega-flavor tip for next-level shredded chicken tacos. 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.
  • Avocados. Add a creamy, cool factor that balances the shredded chicken’s spice.

Tip!

I like to blend my avocados with Greek yogurt and fresh lime juice to make a rich but healthy sauce. 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

  • Diced Tomatoes. Don’t drain these. The tomatoes and their juices functions as the primary cooking liquid for the chicken in the Instant Pot.
  • Onions and Garlic. Provides a great base of flavor when sautéed in the Instant Pot.
  • Chili Powder. Add an additional layer of heat, spice and flavor to the chicken
  • Lime. Add a little zip and acidity to balance the flavors.
Avocados sliced in half and arranged white marble with cilantro

Directions

  1. Season the chicken and then sear on both sides in the Instant Pot, using the saute function. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Next, sauté the onion and garlic and season with chili powder salt.
  3. Stir in the chipotle peppers, tomatoes, and reserved chicken in a single layer and pour the lime juice over the top.
  4. Lock the lid and cook on manual pressure for 8 minutes.
  5. Manually release the pressure, remove the chicken and switch the Instant Pot back to sauté. Simmer and reduce the cooking liquid by about half. Meanwhile, shred the chicken with two forks.
  6. Return the shredded chicken into the Instant Pot and coat in the sauce.
  7. Serve as desired with your choice of toppings. ENJOY!

Ways to Serve

While tacos are my favorite way to enjoy this recipe, this shredded pressure cooker Mexican chicken is versatile. Try it:

  • Mixed with rice and beans as a burrito bowl.
  • As a filling for enchiladas.
  • On top of this Skinny Taco Salad.
  • Rolled up in a jumbo, low-carb tortilla as a burrito
Three instant pot shredded chicken tacos in crunchy corn tortillas garnished with cilantro and avocado on a mint-colored plate.

I would be hard-pressed to imagine an occasion where easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos wouldn’t be welcome.

  • They’re impressive enough to serve your in-laws for a family dinner.
  • A guaranteed crowd-pleaser that would be a hit at any game day party (So would these Flank Steak Tacos).

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. (Or try this Crockpot Mexican Chicken, which can keep warm in the slow cooker.)

Tools to Make 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. #pressurecooker #instantpot #shreddedchicken #healthy

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos

4.92 from 72 votes
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.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins

Servings: 4 –6 servings

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 yellow onion 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 can diced tomatoes in their juices (14 ounces)
  • 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:

  • Tortillas or taco shells of your choice
  • 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)

Instructions
 

  • Season both sides of the chicken with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • To serve: Fill the shells or tortillas with the chicken, drizzle with avocado sauce, and add any desired toppings. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1taco (in hard shell), with 2/3 cup shredded chicken and 2 tablespoons sauce (no additional toppings)Calories: 251kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 26gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 749mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3g

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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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209 Comments

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  1. I’ve made this recipe a few times with chicken and also tried it out with brisket beef- all amazing!
    I paired it with a red pepper and pineapple salsa, or cabbage slaw since I love the combination of spicy and sweet, and they really helped balance the flavors!
    This recipe is on repeat in my house!5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed the recipe, Emily! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  2. These really are the best. SO flavorful and SO easy! If I’m in a hurry, I skip the sauté step and still get an incredible meal.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed the recipe, Stephanie! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  3. Made this recipe on the whim! Simple easy ingredients – these were delicious shredded chicken tacos! Had mine on blue corn shells and added some Aardvark hot sauce. Yummy!!5 stars

  4. This recipe looks amazing and there are plenty of great reviews, but I have a question. I know there needs to be enough liquid when pressure cooking (usually at least a cup) and I see that there would be liquid in the tomatoes and the added lime juice but I’m questioning how that’s enough liquid. Can you help me understand? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lindsay! Between the tomatoes, lime juice, and the liquid released from the chicken, there ends up being enough liquid for this recipe to come to pressure. I hope this helps and that you enjoy the tacos if you try them!

  5. Fantastic recipe. Thanks so much. Had to do a few mods cuz it snowing here in MT (5/23) and I didn’t want to go the store. Used a splash of bottled lime and some orange juice. No chipotle so I hacked up a jalapeno. It really didn’t matter so much as with all truly great recipes there is room to adlib. Our goto Mexican chicken from now on, nothing else we know of comes close. Big kudos!!!5 stars

  6. Just made this tonight and WOW!!!!! Delicious. I used a can of fire roasted tomato instead because that’s all I had and I fried my own taco shells and they were a crowd pleaser!!!5 stars

  7. Great, easy delicious recipe that’s easy to change up to suit your needs. I had a yellow bell pepper to use up so I added that with the onion. I used a can of petite diced tomatoes with green chilis. I also stirred in a drained can of black beans and a drained can of corn at the end when you add the chicken back in. So good! We stuffed the mixture into flour tortillas for burritos and will be using it to top nachos tonight! Thanks for the great recipe!5 stars

  8. Better the second day! My chicken did not come out tender so I chopped it into small pieces. It was excellent the second day after the chicken was chopped and the spices blended. 👍😁 I followed the directions exactly for the chicken. Any advice on making the chicken tender?4 stars

    1. Hi Pam, I’m sorry to hear the chicken didn’t turn out as tender as you hope. I’m glad you were able to enjoy it the second day. Thank you for this kind review.

  9. Such flavor!!! My husband is always the cook in the family, and he couldn’t compliment these tacos enough! I’ve brought them to work, he’s brought them to work, all compliments! People want seconds, I never get to bring any leftovers back home! I followed recipe exactly, (we put aside some plain shredded chicken for the kids tacos) and they have just enough spicy flavor for me- hubby adds more chipotle peppers . I added shredded red cabbage with a bolthouse farms avocado cilantro salad dressing- perfect. (I haven’t made her cilantro avocado dressing yet). We make this recipe often! I actually use chicken thighs for a little more fat and a little more flavor. It’s great! Thanks so much for this recipe!5 stars

  10. Never made chicken tacos, decide on this one, it was awesome, I made fresh guacamole for it, was a big hit with my daughter who loves tacos .4 stars

  11. Think you could double to recipe in the same pressure cooker? I think the only thing that would change would be that the chicken would overlap and you’d have to have 2 layers of chicken.

    1. Hi Doug! I haven’t tried to double this myself, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t fill your pot past the max fill line. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  12. This was exactly what I was looking for. The chicken is so tender and flavorful. I added extra garlic because I’m a garlic freak but either way absolutely amazing. I also only used 2 Chipotle peppers, because I’m sensitive to heat, and it was just the right amount. Thanks for sharing it!!5 stars

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