If cooking chicken is part of your meal prep routine, then Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is about to make your life a whole lot easier. It cooks and shreds all in one pot, and most of the process is totally hands-off!
How Long Does it Take to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot?
Cooking chicken in the Instant Pot can take as little as 10 minutes of high pressure cooking, up to 20 minutes if you’re using a frozen chicken breast. The cooking time is determined by how large the individual chicken breasts are.
- 4 to 7 oz. breasts: 10 minutes high pressure
- 8 to 12 oz. breasts: 12 minutes high pressure
- 14 to 16 oz. breasts: 15 minutes high pressure
- Frozen chicken breasts: 20 minutes high pressure
After these pressure cooking cycles, you will always let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, to let the chicken finish cooking.
All of these cooking cycles should have the internal temperature of the chicken reach above 165ºF. In fact, I’ve found that chicken is the easiest to shred when it is slightly over-cooked, so these cooking times should do that for you.
Tip: If you want to cook chicken that you won’t shred, try my Instant Pot Chicken Breasts tutorial, instead.
Can You Overcook Chicken in the Instant Pot?
An electric pressure cooker is pretty forgiving when it comes to cooking chicken, since it is cooked using steam pressure. I wouldn’t cook chicken longer than 20 minutes at high pressure, or it could start to dry out, but don’t worry if you forget about it for a few minutes after the pressure cooking cycle is complete.
The Instant Pot switches to a “keep warm” setting after the cooking time is over, which will let the pressure naturally release while keeping your food warm.
What is a Natural Release?
With pressure cooking, there are two ways you can release the pressure when the cooking cycle is complete.
- Quick Release. As soon as the cooking cycle is over, you’ll immediately move the steam release valve to Venting, to quickly release the pressure that has built up in the pot.
- Natural Release. When the cooking cycle is complete, you’ll do nothing right away. A good recipe will tell you how long to let the pressure naturally release, but typically 10 to 15 minutes is long enough to wait. When the correct amount of time has passed (in this case, you’ll wait 10 minutes) move the steam release valve to Venting to release the remaining pressure.
A natural release is used most often when cooking meat or Instant Pot Spaghetti, and a quick release is most often used when cooking vegetables that could become mushy if they sit in the pot for long.
How To Know It’s Safe to Open the Lid
If you’re new to using your Instant Pot, it’s important to know what it looks like when your pot is pressurized, and when it’s not. The Instant Pot has a floating valve in the lid, which is located near the steam release valve, and that little valve will pop up to signal that your pot is pressurized.
Tip: Watch my 10 Things to Know About Your Instant Pot video, so you can become a pressure cooking pro in just 3 minutes!
The cooking cycle doesn’t begin until the floating valve pops up, so your pressure cooker will simply read “On” as the pot heats up and pressure starts to build. When the cooking cycle is complete and you’ve waited 10 minutes for the pressure to naturally release, you can move the steam release valve to Venting to release the remaining pressure.
When you start to hear the steam slowing down and getting quieter from the release vent, that’s when the floating valve in the lid should drop– signaling that all of the pressure has been released from the pot. When the floating valve has dropped, it’s safe to open the lid.
How To Shred Chicken Quickly
If you own a hand mixer, shredding chicken is unbelievably quick and easy. While the chicken is still warm, you can use your hand mixer directly inside the Instant Pot to shred the chicken. It takes less than 60 seconds! (This method works best with warm chicken, FYI.)
If you don’t own a hand mixer, I’d recommend transferring the chicken to a cutting board and using 2 forks to shred it, instead. Either way, you’ll wind up with perfectly cooked chicken that can be easily added to your meals for the next few days.
I like to use shredded chicken over salads, in soup (you can use chicken instead of turkey in my Leftover Turkey Soup), and in stir-fries. It’s perfect for families that have some vegetarians in the home, and some not, so you can make a vegetarian meal and then add this perfectly cooked chicken to the plates of family members who prefer the extra protein. (Like my husband!)
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- 2 to 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (I use Real Salt brand)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pour one cup of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot, then arrange the chicken breasts directly in the water. Season with the salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and several grinds of black pepper over the top of the chicken.
- Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Use the Manual or Pressure cook button to cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, if using chicken breasts that are 4 to 7 ounces in size. (For 8 to 12 oz. breasts, cook for 12 minutes, and for 13 to 16 oz. breasts, cook for 15 minutes.)
- When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure. When the floating valve in the lid drops, signaling that the pressure is gone, it's safe to open the lid.
- Use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the chicken has reached at least 165ºF. (In my experiments, it was never under, but you can always close the lid and let the chicken rest 5 more minutes, if needed.)
- Use a hand mixer to shred the chicken breasts. It’s so quick and easy! (There's no need to drain the liquid in the pot first; I like to store the shredded chicken in the extra moisture.) If you don't have a hand mixer, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it, instead.
- Serve the chicken right away, or store it in the fridge for up to 3 days to use over salads or add to stir-fries.
Nutrition information above is for 4 oz. of chicken.
- Feel free to adjust the seasoning to your taste. You can use chicken or vegetable broth instead of water, if you prefer, but I didn’t notice a significant difference in flavor when I tried this– so water is my choice because it is easy and cost effective.
- I always use organic chicken breasts, which tend to be smaller than conventionally raised chicken. If you find that cooking times are different for larger or conventional chicken breasts, please leave a comment below and let me know!
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how it works out for you. And if you try something different, I’d love to hear about that, too! We can all benefit from your experience.
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Low-Carb Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Curry Chicken Soup
- Instant Pot Egg Bites
- Instant Pot Brownies
- Instant Pot Frittata
- Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes
- Instant Pot Brown Rice
- Curried Butternut Squash Soup
- Instant Pot Baked Potatoes
Reader Feedback: What do you use your Instant Pot for most often?
Questions and Reviews
What changes would I make for 1 pound of chicken in a mini IP?
Since that pot is smaller and will come to pressure faster, you might want to add 1 to 2 minutes to the cook time to account for that. Then I’d go by the cook times listed in the post for the size of your individual chicken breasts. And please report back and let me know how that works, since I don’t have a mini to test in!
Can you freeze the shredded chicken? If so, for how long and what’s the best way to sire it? Freezer bags/ containers
where do you find small organic chicken breasts? now that mcgonigles is closed, I don’t know where to go…
Trader Joes and Whole Foods both carry them! The frozen options at Whole Foods are very small– closer to 3-4 oz. per chicken breast.
I buy all my meat and poultry from Butcher Box. It’s a good buy and it is organic and grass fed as well as free range.
I love your Instant Pot tutorials! Thank you for being so thoughtful about providing the times for the different weights. I made this today using small chicken breasts and the timing was perfect. I’m going to try your Curried Chicken Salad next!
This is my go-to recipe for making shredded chicken for enchiladas. Fast and easy!