Instant Pot shredded chicken is so easy to make that it practically prepares itself. (No Instant Pot? No problem. Make Crockpot Shredded Chicken instead.)
Shredded Chicken in the Instant Pot is one of my favorite ways to make chicken—I’m not sure how I ever lived without it before this year. You can go from raw, bland chicken breast to perfectly juicy shredded chicken in 30 minutes or less. I prefer the texture with chicken breasts that are not frozen, but you can use frozen chicken breasts here, too.
We use this shredded to make healthy tacos the kids (and adults) love, on top of salads (it’s awesome with Healthy Curry Quinoa Salad, in soups, mixed with pesto, and just about any time we want chicken but only have 1/2 hour or so until dinner.
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is healthy, versatile, and juicy. Everyone loves it.
To be honest, it took me some time to get on board with the Instant Pot because I much prefer the layers of flavor that only traditional stove-top cooking can create, and the Instant Pot in some cases is more hassle than it’s worth.
However, Shredded Chicken is one of the best things to prepare in an Instant Pot.
The biggest advantage of Instant Pot shredded chicken is that you can go from raw (or even frozen) boneless, skinless chicken breasts to shredded chicken in about 30 minutes. (It also makes delicious, fast healthy refried beans with no soaking required, too.)
First a big disclaimer, please read the instruction manual of your Instant Pot and learn how to use it. This thing is a pressure cooker, and while it’s much safer than old-school pressure cookers, it still needs to be respected and used properly.
Easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Instructions:
I give you extra details here to make this as easy as possible, but it’s actually quite simple and you’ll have perfectly shredded chicken in about 30 minutes with the Instant Pot Method. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, a slow cooker works great, too. You’ll just have to start the chicken earlier in the day, but it’s mostly hands-off time (see below).
Step 1: Add 1 cup water to the Instant Pot
Use 1 cup water no matter how many chicken breasts you use—pressure cookers need at least a cup of liquid to function properly; most of this liquid will be discarded. Place the chicken in the water (the water will come up about 1/2 way the chicken breasts), then sprinkle with sea salt, about 1/2 teaspoon per chicken breast (some may go in the water, that’s ok).
Variation: Or, to make shredded chicken for tacos, instead of plain sea salt sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon all-natural taco seasoning on top of each breast (I like the one from ThriveMarket). If your taco seasoning is salt-free, sprinkle the entire thing with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
Step 2: Pressure cook on high for 12 minutes
Make sure the vent lever is in the sealing position and close the Instant Pot. Pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. (It takes about 10 min to come up to pressure, then will cook 12 more minutes.)
Step 3: Allow a 5-minute natural release, then manual release the rest of the pressure.
Once the Instant Pot is done, allow for 5 minutes of natural release, then manually release any remaining pressure (steam will escape, so be careful, read the manual and learn about your Instant Pot). Once the pin drops and all pressure is released, open the lid and carefully place the chicken breasts in a big glass or ceramic (or mixer-safe) bowl. Add two tablespoons of the liquid.
Step 4: Use a hand mixer to shred the chicken
Shred the chicken breast using a hand mixer (yes, the thing you make cakes with!), or manually with two forks.
Simply turn your hand mixer on low and go all around and through the chicken breast for about 45 seconds to a minute and you’ll have perfectly shredded chicken. Add a little more cooking liquid if needed. Discard the liquid (boneless chicken doesn’t leave behind any nutrition, but it can be used in a soup if desired).
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is fast, easy, and delicious. Use your chicken in tacos, salads, soups, and more. If you use this recipe to make tacos, start by getting the chicken in the Instant Pot then prepare your favorite taco toppings while the chicken cooks. This is a great weeknight family meal.
Important Note on Time: You only need to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 12 minutes in a pressure cooker, but it takes about 10 minutes to come up to pressure, adding to the time. The total time for this recipe is roughly 30 minutes.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts* (this recipe can accommodate up to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt per chicken breast
- freshly ground black pepper (if desired)
(optional): 1 packet of all-natural taco seasoning if you’re turning this into tacos; I like the one from ThriveMarket; use 1 packet for up to 4 chicken breasts. Or, add any dry seasoning you’d like. Do not put cream-based sauces in an Instant Pot because they will burn to the bottom.
*Note: I find the texture best using thawed (not frozen) chicken breasts here. But, you can use frozen chicken breasts here if that’s all you have. Pressure cook 16 minutes instead of 12 minutes if your chicken breasts are frozen.
I use a standard 6-quart Instant Pot.
- Add 1 cup water to the Instant Pot (a pressure cooker needs at least 1 cup of water to properly come up to temp, and it does NOT like cream-based sauces. Use plain water.**)
- Add the chicken breasts (preferably pre-salted, but that’s optional). If you think ahead, take the chicken out of the fridge up to 60 minutes before cooking and salt to sit at room temp. This will make it slightly more tender, but if you forget it’s not a big deal. If making tacos, coat the chicken breasts with a full packet (1/4 cup) of taco seasoning (pour any remaining in the water).
- Close the lid, double-check that the valve is set to sealing, and pressure cook for 12 minutes. (On most instant pots, you’ll press “Pressure Cook” then the “+” button 12 times until the display reads 12—then about 10 seconds later you will hear it automatically turn on; check your Instant Pot manual if you need help.)
- Allow a natural release for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure.
- Once the pin has dropped, open the pot and pour out most of the liquid. Discard the liquid or use it in a soup if desired. It has very little nutritional value (bone-in meat is what gives stock nutritional value) so don’t feel bad putting it down the sink.
- Shred the chicken using a hand-mixer starting on low; this takes about 30-60 seconds. Or, use two forks or your clean hands to shred the chicken.
- Shredded chicken will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Freezes well in an air-tight freezer bag (squeeze all of the air out) for up to 3 months (though, I think it’s best fresh.)
**1 cup of water is all you need in the Instant Pot when cooking up to 4 chicken breasts. If adding more, add another 1/4 cup of water per chicken breast. Never start an Instant Pot with less than 1 cup of water in it.
Food Safety: Chicken should always be cooked to an internal temp of at least 165° F (74°C). I’ve never had them not come up to temp using this method, but when in doubt check with a food thermometer.
Keywords: Instant Pot Shredded Chicken, Shredded Chicken