Instant Pot Pulled Chicken Recipe

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Instant Pot Pulled Chicken is the perfect way to make shredded chicken with minimal effort. Even better, it’s packed with flavor without using any BBQ sauce! Be sure to check out the tip to easily shred your chicken right in the pot!

Instant Pot Pulled Chicken

Hands down this recipe is one of my favorite ways to make sandwich meat or taco meat. This is one of those recipes that you can’t believe you can have at home, because it really reminds me of the best takeout I used to get from those amazing side of the road BBQ stops when I was growing up. If you’re like me and like low effort cooking then you need to try this recipe.

If you’re a fan of chicken carnitas, you’re going to love this pulled chicken. It’s perfect for chicken tacos for your next Mexican themed dinner. Throw it in a few taco shells, top it with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh pico de gallo, and serve. 

A pulled chicken sandwich next to potato chips against a white background.

How To Make Instant Pot Shredded Chicken

Cooking chicken in the instant pot is a simple process. After adding the ingredients to the Instant Pot make sure you cook on manual mode for 15 minutes and let it natural release. This will ensure the chicken comes out tender.

There are two important tricks for this recipe. First, use a combination of boneless skinless chicken thighs and boneless skinless chicken breasts for maximum flavor. Second, add the spices on top of the chicken, and don’t mix the chicken with the spices. This helps avoid the spices sticking to the bottom and getting the “Burn” error message.

A process collage showing cooking chicken in the Instant Pot and then shredding it.

Optional Alterations

If you’re wanting Carolina style BBQ chicken, add a bit of apple cider vinegar and hot sauce. You could also add some buffalo sauce if you’d like it spicier.

Some other fun alterations to try are adding tomato sauce for some more depth of flavor, or some pineapple juice for a sweeter flavor. If you’re looking for a version of this recipe with BBQ sauce, be sure to check out our BBQ Instant Pot Chicken.

How Much Liquid is Needed for Instant Pot Chicken?

Depending on what Instant Pot model you have, anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid will work. I recommend using 1/2 cup for the Lux model.

Seasoning for pulled chicken with individual labels.

Should I Use Boneless Or Bone In Chicken?

I’d recommend using boneless chicken thighs and chicken breasts for this recipe. Using bone in cuts would change the cooking time and make shredding it more difficult.

Can I Use Frozen Chicken?

You can make this recipe with frozen chicken using the same instructions. it will just take a little longer for it to come to pressure. Even though I don’t have to, I normally add a couple of minutes of cooking time when I’m using frozen meat (just for good measure).

A pulled chicken sandwich next to potato chips.

Can You Overcook Chicken in the Instant Pot?

Technically you can, but if you follow the instructions in this recipe you won’t run into a problem. Since the Instant Pot traps so much steam, and creates a moist environment, it’s hard for chicken to dry out and overcook.

How To Shred Chicken

You could shred the chicken in a bowl with two forks by hand, but it’s much easier to shred the chicken right in the pot with a hand mixer. Shredding chicken this way is such a time saver! Just be sure to start on low so the hot liquid doesn’t splatter. If you’re worried about the liquid splattering, you can always transfer the cooked chicken to a heat safe bowl before shredding it.

A picture of pulled chicken in an Instant Pot.

Why Is My Instant Pot Chicken Rubbery?

This normally happens when the chicken hasn’t been cooked long enough. It can also happen if you use the “quick release” method instead of the “natural pressure release” method. As long as you follow the cook times listed in the recipe, and use a “natural release”, you shouldn’t run into this problem.

Can You Make It Keto? 

Yes! All you have to do is leave out the sugar. If you want to thicken the sauce, you’ll want to ditch the cornstarch and instead use xantham gum. Try serving it in the lettuce wraps for a delicious low carb meal!

An overhead image of a pulled chicken sandwich on a plate with potato chips.

How Long Will Pulled Chicken Stay Good For?

Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, pulled chicken can stay good for a few days. This is a perfect meal prep friendly dish.

What Can I Serve This With?

This chicken makes great slider sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls. Some other great ways to use it are with:

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

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A Pinterest pin image with a close up picture of a pulled chicken sandwich and title text.

Chicken Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out our entire chicken recipe section! Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 8 servings

Best Instant Pot Pulled Chicken Recipe

The best Instant Pot pulled chicken recipe.

Instant Pot Pulled Chicken is the perfect way to make shredded chicken with minimal effort. It’s packed with flavor without any BBQ sauce!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base (or a certified gluten free chicken bouillon of choice if necessary)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder*
  • 1/2 onion (grated with juices)
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the hot water, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and chicken bouillon. Add the ingredients to the Instant Pot in this order: chicken broth mixture, chicken, spices, onion. Make sure to sprinkle the spices on top of the chicken and don't let them fall to the bottom of the pot - this helps prevent the spices from sticking and triggering the "Burn" message.
  2. Cook on manual mode for 15 minutes, then let it natural release for 10 minutes before setting it to a quick release to release the remaining pressure. Once the pressure release valve drops, you can carefully remove the lid.
  3. Use a hand mixer to shred the chicken directly inside the pot. Be careful and start on low speed so that the hot liquid doesn't splatter.
  4. If the chicken has a little more liquid than you would like, you can either pour off the excess liquid, or you can set the Instant Pot to the saute mode and mix the cornstarch and 2 Tablespoons of cold water together. Add the cornstarch mixture to the chicken and saute to thicken it up.

Notes

*This is a blend sold in the United States and Canada that's a blend of seasonings. Something with a similar title in the UK and other countries is pure chili powder and would be much spicier, so it would not be a 1:1 translation.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1/8

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 239Total Fat: 7.1gCarbohydrates: 5.4gNet Carbohydrates: 5.1gFiber: 0.3gSugar: 4gProtein: 36.9g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate. This was not calculated with the optional cornstarch.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Try making this delicious Instant Pot pulled chicken for the best chicken tacos or chicken sandwiches!

The best Instant Pot pulled chicken recipe.

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