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Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Breast

$5.72 Recipe/$1.63 Serving

Instant pot shredded chicken is the easiest way to make shredded chicken for meal prep or to use to make salads, soups, casseroles and more! You are not going to believe how simple it is to make pulled chicken in your instant pot!

Fork holding shredded chicken over instant pot filled with chicken.

Why you are going to love this recipe

  • Simple and healthy – once you make shredded chicken breast in the instant pot, you are never going to want to make them any other way. All you have to do is add the chicken and water, put the lid on and set it and forget it. No hassle and unlike the slow cooker, it doesn’t take hours to make. This base recipe is Whole30, paleo, keto, low carb and gluten free so perfect for most diets and a great way to add protein to meals.
  • Perfect for meal prep – get lots of chicken prepped at once for your weekly meal prep. Once the chicken is cooked you can use in in a number of ways or have it on hand during the week to add to dishes. I like to keep the chicken unseasoned so that it can be used a number of different ways throughout the week. You can even freeze the shredded chicken in 1 or 2 cup portions to easily use later. Having pre-cooked chicken on hand can make getting a meal on the table quickly a breeze.  
  • Season it anyway you want – this chicken can be seasoned so many ways to make it fit into any meal. Italian, ranch, cajun, Greek, taco are all easy to make by simply sprinkling the chicken with seasoning before turning on the instant pot. .
  • Great way to cook frozen chicken too! If you forgot to take your chicken out of the freezer for dinner, simply use your instant pot to cook it! This is much safer than using a crockpot since the instant pot heats up faster and there isn’t a time in the middle of cooking where the chicken is at an unsafe cooking temperature. Simply add 3-5 minutes of cooking time to the instant pot depending on how many pounds of chicken you are cooking (3 minutes for 1-2 pounds, 5 minutes for anything over 2 pounds).
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Ingredients

  • Chicken breast – you can make shredded chicken breast or chicken thighs in the instant pot. You want them to be boneless and skinless. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs take less time to cook than chicken breast since they are typically not as thick. I tested this recipe on chicken breast that were about ½ pound each (2 breast in a 1.25 pound pack). If you are using small chicken breast (4 -6 oz), you can cook them for 12 minutes high pressure instead of 15.
  • Water or chicken stock – water is needed to help the instant pot get up to pressure. You can also use chicken broth or chicken stock as it can add more flavor to the chicken. That is 100% up to you and depends on what you have on hand and if you want to spend the money on using chicken stock/broth.
  • Optional: Salt and Spices (see ideas below) – I typically add a pinch of salt and that is about it to the chicken before cooking if the chicken will be for a meal prep. If I am making a batch for a specific meal (tacos for example), I will season the chicken breast before adding the water to the instant pot insert.

How to make shredded chicken in the instant pot

Start by adding the chicken to the pressure cooker. Sprinkle the chicken breast with optional salt and seasoning, liberally coating the top side of the chicken with spices. Add 1-2 cups of liquid to the pot.

Fresh chicken breast in instant pot with water before cooking.

Put the lid on, make sure it’s sealed and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow the chicken to naturally release pressure (this takes typically 10-14 minutes). Note: The total time for cooking chicken breast like this is usually about 35-40 minutes, since it takes about 7-10 minutes for the instant pot to come up to pressure depending on how much water you add and how much chicken is in the pot.

Cooked chicken breast in the instant pot with water.

After the pressure has been released, remove the lid. If you made plain chicken, shred the chicken directly in the instant pot, as the chicken will soak up some of the juices from cooking as you shred it. This makes the leftover chicken juicier. If you added spices, you may want to transfer the chicken to a bowl to shred as the spices will get diluted in the water as you shred the chicken. You can always add a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid to the bowl you are shredding the chicken in to help it absorb some liquid.

Two forks pulling chicken after cooking in instant pot.

Use immediately or store in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Top tips

  • Cooking time depends on how many pounds you will be cooking at once and how thick the chicken breast is. I tend to buy larger chicken breast (2 breast is about 1-1.25 pounds of chicken), and that needs 15 minutes of high pressure, with a natural release. If you have smaller chicken breast or are cooking chicken tenders, you can reduce the cooking time to 12-13 minutes instead of 15 minutes.
  • If you need your chicken cooked faster, cut it down into thin strips or cubes. You can chicken cut into 1 inch cubes and cook it for 3 minutes, high pressure and at least 10 minutes natural release time.  
  • Season as needed. If you are going to use this chicken as part of your meal prep and plan on using the chicken in many ways (on salads, in tacos, in soups, in casseroles) throughout the week, don’t season the chicken. Instead, season the chicken right before using.
  • Cook directly from frozen by adding 3-5 minutes to the cooking time. 3 minutes for 1-2 pounds of chicken and 3-5 minutes for 2+ pounds of chicken.
White bowl filled with pulled chicken cooked in the instant pot.

Seasoning ideas

I like to make pressure cooker shredded chicken plain so that I can use it as part of my meal prep. This cooked chicken is seasoned the night I plan on eating it when I’m reheating the chicken. If you plan on eating the chicken immediately, you may find it easier to season the chicken before cooking instead. Here are some great spices you could add:

  • Taco – liberally sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and ½ teaspoon salt over the chicken
  • Cajun – liberally sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of cajun seasoning  and ½ teaspoon salt over the chicken
  • Ranch – add 1 tablespoon dried chives, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon dried dill, and ½ tsp. salt.
  • Italian – add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon garlic powder to the chicken
  • Greek – add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon garlic powder to the chicken.

You can also add sauces to the instant pot shredded chicken to add flavor after cooking. Some delicious sauces to add include:

How to use shredded chicken

Common questions

Do you need to use the trivet in the instant pot?

No, just add the chicken directly to the instant pot insert, no need to use the trivet. The chicken will cook directly in the liquid.

What is the best way to shred chicken

Chicken shreds the easiest when it is still warm, so if you plan on shredding the chicken it’s best to do it while it’s still warm from cooking. There are 2 ways to shred chicken easily:

  • Two forks – for 1-2 pounds of chicken you can shred the chicken with two forks. It should be very soft and easy to shred. You can shred the chicken in the liquid from cooking or in a separate bowl.
  • Hand mixer or Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer – if you made more than 2 pounds of chicken at once, it may be easier to shred the chicken using a hand mixer or stand mixer to shred the chicken in under 30 seconds. You can add the chicken back to the cooking liquid to absorb some of the liquid after cooking or leave it out of the liquid.
Shredded chicken on a fork over a bowl of chicken.

How to cut down cooking time

Cooking time is dependent on how thick the chicken is. If you want to cut down cooking time, cut the chicken into smaller pieces. If you can cut the chicken down into 1 inch cubes, you can cook 3 minutes on high pressure and naturally release pressure. You can cut the chicken into tenders, you can cut the cooking time down to 8-10 minutes.

Do you have to increase cooking time when you double the recipe?

If you will be cooking more than 2 pounds of chicken at once in the instant pot, increase the cooking time 1-2 minutes to ensure all the chicken has time to cook through. You do not need to increase the water though.

How to make shredded chicken with frozen chicken breast

Follow the same instructions above but add 3-5 minutes to the cooking time. For 1-2 pounds of chicken, add 3 minutes. For more than 2 pounds of chicken, add 5 minutes.

Can you make instant pot shredded chicken with chicken thighs?

Yes! I would recommend getting boneless, skinless chicken thighs to make it easy to shred them after cooking. You will want to follow the same instructions here but only cook the chicken thighs for 13 minutes on high pressure with a natural release (increase that to 15 minutes for frozen). Check out all my tips on how to make shredded chicken thighs in the instant pot.

How long do you have to cook bone on chicken breast in the instant pot?

If you have bone-in chicken, you will need to increase cooking time to 20 minutes high pressure with a natural release.

Can you make shredded chicken without the instant pot?

Yes! You can also make shredded chicken breast using the slow cooker or you can cook the chicken on the stove.

  • To make shredded chicken in the crockpot, simply add the chicken and about 1 cup of water to the slow cooker. Turn on high for 3-4 hours or low for 8 hours. The chicken should be tender and easy to shred.
  • To make shredded chicken on the stove, add the chicken to a pot and cover the chicken with water. Bring the pot to a boil and immediately turn the heat down to low to allow the water to simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes (depending on how thick the chicken is and how many pieces are in the water). You want the chicken to reach 165F internally at the thickest part of the breast. Once the chicken has come up to temperature, remove it from the poaching liquid and shred it.

Storing pulled chicken

  • Fridge: Chicken can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days after cooking. Be sure to put the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge. I like to add a date to the chicken so I know when it was cooked, especially if I am adding the chicken later in the week to a casserole or salad.
  • Freezer: You can store cooked shredded chicken in the freezer for up to 3 months. I like to freeze the chicken in individual servings (4-6 oz) so that I can defrost just one serving or 4 at a time depending on what I’m making. I use Soupercubes to make freezing leftovers easy. Add the cooled chicken to the Soupercubes, freeze it and once frozen, pop it from the mold and store it in a freezer safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Be sure to label with the name, date and use by date.
    • Defrost frozen instant pot shredded chicken in the fridge overnight or in a small saucepan with about ½ cup of water over low to medium low heat until defrosted and warmed through.
White bowl filled with shredded chicken, instant pot in background.

If you love instant pot recipes, check out these other meal prep friendly recipes

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Shredded chicken breast in instant pot.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Breast

$5.72 Recipe/$1.63 Serving
Pulled chicken in the instant pot is so easy to make and turns out perfectly every time. You are not going to believe how simple it is with just 2 ingredients. The chicken breast cooks in the instant pot in about 40 minutes total, all hands off time. Perfect for meal prep.
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Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: instant pot pulled chicken, instant pot shredded chicken breast, meal prep chicken, shredded chicken for meal prep
Prep Time: 1 min
Cook Time: 15 mins
Pressure Cooker (up to pressure, natural release): 20 mins
Total Time: 36 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Add the chicken directly to the instant pot. Sprinkle with salt and optional spices and pour the water around the chicken.
  • Put the lid on and make sure the instant pot is set to sealing.
  • Cook high pressure for 15 minutes, allow pressure to naturally release for at least 10 minutes.
  • Once pressure has released, open the instant pot. Shred the chicken directly in the instant pot with 2 forks or take out and shred in a bowl with forks or a hand mixer/kitchen aid mixer.
  • Use immediately or store in fridge 3-4 days or freezer up to 3 months.

Notes

How to add seasoning to the chicken
Sprinkle the chicken liberally with the seasonings of your choice. Try to pour the water around the chicken instead of over it so the seasoning can stay with the chicken as much as possible. Here are some great ideas on seasonings you can add before or after cooking:
  • Taco – liberally sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and ½ teaspoon salt over the chicken
  • Cajun – liberally sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of cajun seasoning  and ½ teaspoon salt over the chicken
  • Ranch – add 1 tablespoon dried chives, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon dried dill, and ½ tsp. salt.
  • Italian – add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon garlic powder to the chicken
  • Greek – add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon garlic powder to the chicken.
You can also add sauces to the instant pot shredded chicken to add flavor after cooking. Some delicious sauces to add include:
Do you have to increase cooking time when you double the recipe?
If you will be cooking more than 2 pounds of chicken at once in the instant pot, increase the cooking time 1-2 minutes to ensure all the chicken has time to cook through. You do not need to increase the water though.
How to make shredded chicken with frozen chicken breast
Follow the same instructions above but add 3-5 minutes to the cooking time. For 1-2 pounds of chicken, add 3 minutes. For more than 2 pounds of chicken, add 5 minutes.
Storing shredded chicken
  • Fridge: Chicken can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days after cooking. Be sure to put the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge. I like to add a date to the chicken so I know when it was cooked, especially if I am adding the chicken later in the week to a casserole or salad.
  • Freezer: You can store cooked shredded chicken in the freezer for up to 3 months. I like to freeze the chicken in individual servings (4-6 oz) so that I can defrost just one serving or 4 at a time depending on what I’m making. I use Soupercubes to make freezing leftovers easy. Add the cooled chicken to the Soupercubes, freeze it and once frozen, pop it from the mold and store it in a freezer safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Be sure to label with the name, date and use by date.
    • Defrost frozen instant pot shredded chicken in the fridge overnight or in a small saucepan with about ½ cup of water over low to medium low heat until defrosted and warmed through.
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
129
Fat
 
3
g
Protein
 
24
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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