Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Breasts (Fresh or Frozen!)

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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.)

sliced chicken with instant pot

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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.

instant pot chicken on trivet

How to Cook Instant Pot Chicken Breasts

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.

juicy chicken breasts sliced on marble

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!

sliced chicken in a meal prep container

How to Make Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Breasts (1-Minute Video):

instant pot chicken on trivet
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4.84 from 12 votes

Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Breasts

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!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken breast, instant pot
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Pressurize time: 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 195kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts (roughly 8-10 ounces each)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcal | Protein: 23g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 249mg | Vitamin A: 95IU | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.8mg
Per 4 ounces: Calories: 195, Fat: 10g, Carbohydrates: 0, Fiber: 0, Protein: 23g

best instant pot cookbook

Other Helpful Instant Pot Tutorials:

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.

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Comments

Natalie Ellis

Such an useful detailed information with the instant pot! Thanks for sharing!

Kathryn

Just made this for dinner tonight and it is hands down the best instant pot chicken recipe I’ve tried. I added an assortment of Italian spices and served it with some zucchini noodles and a homemade sauce I had saved in my freezer. Can’t wait for your cookbook to come out for even more easy recipes!

Jennifer

Oh my gosh, THANK YOU for this post! I was about to give up on cooking boneless chicken breasts in the Instant Pot because the texture has always been terrible, but I just tried your method and they turned out perfectly. My family thanks you!!

Marissa

Thank you for posting this! I’ll be using this technique from now on. Perfectly juicy chicken breasts that I’m going to use for meal prep this week.

Zorana

This was surprisingly good and super easy! I made them from frozen and the texture and flavor were perfect! Another winner recipe from you 🙂 Thanks so much!

carol bittner

THANK YOU THANK YOU; your post has been very informative. I had given up on chicken breasts in the insta pot. Love the insta pot but didn’t have very good luck with the ck. breats. Tried it this morning and they turned out great. Timing and quick release is the key. Thanks for doing all the ‘testing’ for me.

Edna Watkins

I WANTED TO COOK 2 POUNDS OF FROZEN CHICKEN BREAST. SHOULD I DOUBLE THE WATER TO 1 CUP? I MIGHT JUST TRY 3/4 CUP.

THANK YOU!

    Megan Gilmore

    No need to double the water in this recipe. The chicken will release liquid as it cooks, too.

Myrna Gonzalez Childress

Tried and true to what you described. Delicious! Thank you…

Linda

I have been following you here, seems like forever!! Love your website and all the “growth” through the years. I ordered two of your first book and now have preordered two of your new Instant Pot Cookbook. Keeping one and gifting the second. Thank you for such a warm, friendly and caring website to create healthier and realistic recipes. Congratulations Megan!!

Marie

Thanks for sharing! This was easy to follow and my chicken turned out perfect!

Joyce

Do I need to adjust the cooking time for 2 or 3 pounds of chicken?

    Megan Gilmore

    If the breasts are bigger than 8-10 ounces each, then I’d increase the time, but if you’re just cooking more of them, then the time would stay the same. Just make sure that if they were frozen that they aren’t stuck together, because that would affect the even cooking.

      Joyce

      Thanks so much! They came out perfect!

SaRah

Hi Megan,

My chicken turned out exactly as you described! I’ve been working so hard to prepare healthy (yet tasty) meals over the last several years and almost resolved to eating over cooked, rubbery chicken for the rest of my life.

I can’t believe it tasted so good! I’ve subscribed to your page and can’t wait to continue finding more resources and good recipes that help me take better care of myself.. Thanks again!

Dianne

Thank you! So good, the best chicken. Added low sodium chicken broth in place of water. After, poured the broth in a baggie.froze it for soup, noodles, etc. Great way to fix chicken.

Joshua Howard

Great recipe and simple instructions! Yesterday my gf made it and it was really perfect! Thank you

    Megan Gilmore

    I’m so glad to hear it was a success for you. Thanks for letting me know!

Peggy Courtney

i just want to know where did you get the handled trivet for the ip. mine does not have handles. that would be a bog help to have handles.

    Megan Gilmore

    My Instant Pot model came with the handled trivet, but I bet you can buy one on Amazon!

Amy

How much time for 2 chicken breasts? The same or half the time

    Megan Gilmore

    I would use the same time, as long as the two chicken breasts are relatively the same size.

Nancy

Question…I’m a newbie and since you have gotten such good reviews, would like to try these this morning. I would use frozen and want to know if I can use chicken broth instead of water, so I can use the broth later for something else( like with a rice side )

juddy

amazing recipe of chicken brest. it’s very easy to cook. bundle of thanks for this recipe you post for us.

Cathy

Hi! I’m so confused!!! I tried to cook a frozen chicken breast TWICE for 12 minutes with a natural release and both times my chicken was absolutely not cooked on the inside. Like raw. Needed at least another ten minutes. Am I losing my mind? Is there something wrong with my instant pot? Everything else I’ve cooked seems spot on. I watched someone on YouTube and she cooks the frozen breasts for 25 minutes, but they are a little dry. Let me know what you think. Thanks so much. Oh Costco breast’s are a bit thick for sure.

    Megan Gilmore

    So sorry to hear that, Cathy! I’ll go back and test different weights for the frozen chicken when I have a chance. The size and thickness can make a big difference, so I’ll try to come up with a more fool-proof formula based on their weight, like I did for my Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes. I’ll let you know when I update this post!

      Cathy

      Hi Megan…I think my concern is there is something wrong with my instant pot. I’ve looked up other recipes for cooking frozen chicken and no one goes past 18 minutes. So I might have a problem. Thanks so much for responding to me. I’m going to try to get some thinner breast to experiment with…will let you know how they turn out! Thanks again

Uriah Young

Good stuff.

Norik b checkosky

Cooked chicken 4 pieces of breast for 15 minutes , was tuff cooked 5 minutes more still tuff , help, also I have not been able to cook rice in instant pot at all , I have tried every thing same as the chicken

Susan Smith

Could you cook larger amounts (4-5 lbs) of chicken breasts stacked on top of each other? If so, how long would you cook them? I do all my meal preps on the weekend and usually cook 4-5 lbs of chicken.

Thanks you and I love your blog!

    Megan Gilmore

    I haven’t tried cooking that much chicken at once, but I imagine the cooking time could go up to 20 minutes if you want to be on the super-safe side. It will matter more how large each individual chicken breast is. So, if you have a huge chicken breast that is a full pound on its own, then you might want to do 20 minutes. If you have a bunch of small chicken breasts that are 4-6 ounces in size, the 12 minutes might be sufficient. Please report back once you try it so we can all know for future reference!

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