Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
It’s so easy to make shredded chicken in the Instant Pot and its ready in less than 20 minutes! Start with fresh or frozen chicken breasts! This is the juiciest chicken to make ahead for meal prep. You can also enjoy right away with veggies, over rice, and in tacos.
When our kitchen was being remodeled I had to get creative with how to prepare healthy meals for my family without a stove or oven. The Instant Pot quickly became my best friend during those months of kitchen chaos! The mighty pressure cooker became my favorite way to make cooked chicken. Since it uses high pressure everything you put in there has a fast cook time. Any busy parent or meal prep lover can appreciate that on busy weeknights. (I also love the IP for black beans. Plus I have Instant Pot recipes for soups, stews, and several other shredded chicken variations.)
This Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is so easy its practically not even a recipe but you need to know how many minutes it takes to cook chicken in the Instant Pot and how much liquid to use. So here you go, friends!
I’m telling you this is truly the best shredded chicken to use in so many ways. You can use boneless chicken breasts or thighs. Both raw chicken or frozen chicken will work. It has a mild flavor thanks to simple ingredients. This means its kid friendly and you can use it so many ways. Plus I’ll show you how to customize the seasonings based on your own preferences.
You can of course make and serve shredded chicken right away but keeping it in your fridge is the best time saver! You can easily add it to salads, pasta, or vegetables to create fast meals in no time at all!
The best part? It’s not dry. Not even a little bit. When it finishes cooking you’ll notice plenty of liquid in the bottom. That’s what we want! Shred the chicken and add it back to the Instant Pot. The shredded chicken will continue to absorb the liquid to give you the best, moistest, easiest shredded chicken!
Don’t have an Instant Pot? Try my Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken instead!
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Ingredients
- Fresh or frozen chicken: We’re starting with boneless skinless chicken breasts for this shredded chicken recipe. You can use fresh or frozen. In the recipe card I discuss how to adjust the cooking time for each.
- Chicken stock or chicken broth: Both chicken stock and chicken broth can be used. Stock is typically made by simmering chicken bones for hours along with carrots, celery, and onion. Broth is made by simmering the whole chicken instead of only the bones.
- Seasonings: We’re using italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to beautifully flavor this chicken. These should all be pantry staples you already have on hand.
How to Make Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
Toss everything in your Instant Pot to cook for a quick 10 minutes. Once the cooking time has passed do a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. That’s it! So simple!
Can you use water instead of chicken stock?
Yes, you can sub a cup of water or vegetable broth if you like. Keep in mind that if you’re using water you may want to adjust your seasonings to account for the lack of flavor in the liquid.
Can you use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?
Absolutely! Boneless skinless chicken thighs will cook in the same amount of time in the Instant Pot. Since they have more fat they’ll give you a richer flavor. You can also use a combination of chicken breasts and chicken thighs.
Ways to customize this chicken
You can experiment with different seasonings and herbs based on what you have on hand. Here are a few ideas:
- For bigger flavor, try chili powder or smoked paprika. You’d also love my Homemade Taco Seasoning.
- For spice, use a smidge of crushed red pepper flakes (a little goes a long way) or a splash of hot sauce.
- If you don’t have Italian seasoning, add dried basil, parsley, and oregano.
- Stir your favorite bbq sauce into the finished shredded chicken.
Natural release or quick release?
A quick release is best for foods that cook fast like vegetables. You don’t want them to continue cooking any longer than absolutely necessary or they’ll be mush.
A natural release allows the cooking to stop gradually. This is ideal for large cuts of meat (think of it like letting your meat rest) because it will give you more tender meat. This is also a good idea for large pots of soup so you don’t end up with foam shooting out of the valve.
For this shredded chicken I recommend doing 10 minutes of natural release before moving to a quick release. This will ensure your chicken is fully cooked and make it easier to shred.
What is the best way to shred chicken
I know the popular answer right now is to use a hand mixer or stand mixer. I’m personally not a fan. It feels like more work for me to set up the mixer and wash the paddle attachment. Of course you can always use the mixer if you like! I prefer to use two large forks to shred chicken. It may feel a bit old fashioned, but its so effective and quick!
What to do with the remaining liquid in the Instant Pot?
The chicken will continue to absorb the liquid once shredded. You can drain the remaining cooking liquid before serving if you’re planning to eat the chicken immediately. If using this flavorful chicken for meal prep I recommend keeping the liquid with the chicken so that it’s perfectly juicy when you’re ready to eat.
How to Serve Shredded Chicken
- Chicken Wraps – Add this chicken to my Grilled Ranch Chicken Wraps instead of following the instructions there to sauté chicken.
- Pizza – Make a pizza with this shredded chicken and your favorite other toppings (I recommend mozzarella, red onion, and a drizzle of barbecue sauce).
- Chicken Salad – This shredded chicken would work great in any of my chicken salads. Try my Healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad, Easy Pesto Chicken Salad, Healthy Curry Chicken Salad, or Ultimate Chicken Salad.
- Dips – My Dairy Free Green Chile Chicken Dip or Dairy Free Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip are fantastic appetizers you’ll love!
- Salads – Top my Easy Kale Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing with this shredded chicken to make it a meal instead of a side.
- Burrito bowls, tacos, taco salads, and quesadillas – Make this delicious shredded chicken your protein of choice for any of these Mexican inspired entrees.
- Breakfast – Use this chicken in my Salsa Chicken Egg Muffins or simply add it to an omelet!
Does this chicken freeze well?
Yes! Just place the finished Instant Pot Shredded Chicken in a freezer bag or other freezer safe container. If using a bag be sure to squeeze out any excess air before sealing. This chicken will be good in the freezer for up to 6 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy it just thaw it out and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
How to store shredded chicken
Want to enjoy this shredded chicken the next day or later in the week? Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- 2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, can be fresh or frozen
- 1 cup chicken stock or broth
- 2 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Add all ingredients to the Instant Pot.
- Seal the Instant Pot. Set it to Pressure Cook (or Manual, depending on the model Instant Pot you have) on high pressure for 10 minutes if using fresh chicken or 12 minutes if using frozen chicken. (It will take a few minutes for it to come to pressure and then the count down will start.)
- Once the cooking time has passed do a natural release for 10 minutes. (That means you should not vent the instant pot immediately after cooking time is done.) After the 10 minutes is over do a quick release by flipping the valve to "venting" to release any remaining steam.
- Remove chicken from Instant Pot and use a fork to shred it. Place shredded chicken back in the Instant Pot. You'll see quite a bit of liquid but the chicken will absorb a lot of it once shredded. Taste and add more salt or seasonings if desired. (You can drain the remaining liquid before serving if you're eating immediately. If using this chicken for meal prep I recommend keeping the liquid with the chicken so that it's perfectly juicy when you're ready to eat.)