Today, I’m going to show you how to make perfectly juicy boneless chicken breasts in the Instant Pot, to make the process as easy as possible. They’re great to have on hand when you want to add protein to a salad or stir fry. (You can see how to properly combine meat, like chicken, on my food combining chart here.)
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Since I cook so many vegetarian entrees, it’s nice to have pre-cooked chicken on hand when my husband wants some extra protein added to his portion. If you’re like me, and don’t love handling raw meat, you’ll probably love the Instant Pot as much as do– because you barely have to touch the chicken to cook it. (I use the 6-quart Instant Pot here.)
When I use frozen chicken breasts, I literally just pour them out of the bag directly into the bottom of the pot. When using fresh chicken breasts, I recommend cooking them on the handled trivet that comes with your electric pressure cooker, to get the best texture possible.
Oddly enough, it can be really challenging to get the right texture when cooking boneless chicken breasts. They cook quickly in the Instant Pot, but if you don’t cook them long enough they get a weird, rubber-like texture that’s nearly impossible to chew, and if you cook them too long, their texture gets dry.
Here are some of the cook times I tried while perfecting this method:
- 8 minutes High Pressure, 10 minutes Natural Pressure Release: Chicken was cooked through, but a little dry.
- 20 minutes high pressure, 10 minutes Natural Pressure Release: Chicken was cooked through, but dry. (Sometimes cooking meat longer results in more tender results, but I didn’t find that to be the case with boneless breasts.)
- 1 minute High Pressure, 10 minutes Natural Release: Chicken was under-cooked and still pink in the middle.
- 4 minutes High Pressure, 10 minutes Natural Release: This works when you need to cook the chicken directly in a sauce on the bottom of the pot. I use this timing for pot-in-pot cooking, and it works well when you need to cook two items at once, but it’s not quite as perfect texture-wise as the method below.
Some things to keep in mind when cooking chicken:
- If your boneless chicken breast winds up with a weird, rubbery texture, it probably means that you need to cook it longer. In general, the Instant Pot does better with longer cook times for meat.
- With other meats you’ll want to let the pressure naturally release, but I’ve found that I get juicier chicken breasts when I quickly release the pressure. (When cooking frozen chicken breasts, I find that you can let the pressure naturally release, as they are more forgiving.)
I keep the seasoning simple– just salt and pepper– but you can add any other sauce you like, too. I’ve included several methods for cooking chicken in my healthy Instant Pot Cookbook, with mouthwatering dairy-free(!) sauces, so consider this just one method that works well for me when meal prepping for the week.
How to Make Juicy Boneless Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot
The key to getting perfectly juicy boneless chicken breasts is to cook them on a trivet, above the liquid. I find that this results in a better texture than cooking them on the bottom of the pot. I also think their texture is best when you quickly release the pressure, rather than letting it naturally release.
Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot
When using frozen chicken breasts, there’s no need to thaw them ahead of time. I typically don’t even use the trivet when cooking frozen chicken, as you can throw them in the bottom of the pot and they’ll thaw as the pot heats up. (When I first got my Instant Pot, I didn’t even add water to the pot when cooking frozen chicken– they thaw and release moisture, so it’s not necessary, though adding a little bit helps it come to pressure faster.) I typically do let the pressure naturally release when cooking frozen chicken, as it needs extra cooking time when compared to fresh.
I hope you’ll find this pressure cooking method works well when you need to prepare a batch of boneless chicken breasts, too!
Here's how I cook a batch of boneless chicken breasts in the Instant Pot to use for meal prep all week long. They're always perfect and juicy every time!
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound boneless chicken breasts (roughly 8-10 ounces each)
- salt and pepper
Pour the water into the bottom of the Instant Pot and arrange the handled trivet over that. (This is the trivet that comes with your pressure cooker.)
Place the boneless chicken breasts on top of the trivet and sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select Manual or Pressure Cook (depending on your machine) and cook at high pressure for 12 minutes. If your chicken breasts are on the smaller side, you can cook them for just 10 minutes, and if they seem especially large, you can cook them for 15 minutes.
When the cooking cycle ends, quickly release the pressure by moving the steam release valve to Venting. When the floating valve in the lid drops, it's safe to remove the lid.
Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing to help it retain its juices. Use the chicken right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
To Cook Frozen Instant Pot Chicken: Pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the pot and place the frozen breasts on top of that. (No trivet necessary.) Make sure the frozen breasts are not stuck together, as they won't cook evenly otherwise. Cook at high pressure for 12 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for at least 10 minutes before venting and removing the lid.
Per 4 ounces: Calories: 195, Fat: 10g, Carbohydrates: 0, Fiber: 0, Protein: 23g
For more quick & healthy Instant Pot recipes, be sure to order a copy of my new book, The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook. Click on the image below for a sneak peek of the book’s recipes!
Other Helpful Instant Pot Tutorials:
- How to Cook Quinoa in the Instant Pot
- Perfect Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats
- Instant Pot Black Beans from Scratch
- Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
- How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot
- Instant Pot Salmon & Broccoli
- Pot-in-Pot Cooking in the Instant Pot
- My Must-Have Instant Pot Accessories
Reader Feedback: Do you meal prep using your Instant Pot, too? Let me know what you make! My go-to staples are quinoa, beans, and chicken at the moment.