This Instant Pot shredded chicken thighs recipe will help you make quick and easy moist, tender and juicy chicken that you can serve any night of the week! Perfect for meal prep or bulk cooking, this shredded chicken can be used in so many ways throughout the week, you are going to love this simple gluten free, paleo, Whole30 and keto friendly recipe!
Why this recipe works:
- Making shredded chicken in the instant pot is a great way to meal prep chicken for the week ahead
- Pressure cooking the chicken thighs is simple, requires very little time and is ready in about 30 minutes (from start to finish).
- Shredded chicken thighs are much juicier than chicken breast
- Shredded chicken thighs can be used for tacos, stuffed in potatoes topped with barbeque sauce, or drizzled with ranch dressing over a salad.
How to make instant pot shredded chicken:
- Step 1: To lock in flavor (this step is optional): first sear the chicken (in a tablespoon or so of oil) by cooking it in the Instant Pot on saute mode for 7-10 minutes.
- Step 2: Season the chicken with just salt and dried thyme before cooking. After searing the chicken, flip it over and add 1 cup of water.
- Step 3: Add the lid and cook with high pressure for 12-15 minutes, depending on how much chicken you are cooking (12 minutes for 1 pound, 15 minutes for 2+ pounds). Allow the pressure in the Instant Pot to vent naturally if you have the time, otherwise manually vent once the chicken is done pressure cooking.
- Step 4: Shred the chicken (see tips below)
What is the best chicken for pressure cooking?
One thing I have discovered is that chicken thighs are the perfect solution for meal prep shredded chicken! Chicken thighs are more forgiving, they don’t dry out as easily as chicken breast and they tend to have a bit more flavor. Bonus: Chicken thighs are less expensive than chicken breast!
This recipe for instant pot shredded chicken also works great with chicken breast! However chicken breast can take longer to cook, depending on how thick the chicken breast is. To combat this, you can either butterfly it (cut it in half so it’s not so thick) or you can cut it down into strips to cut down on the cooking time.
NOTE: Be sure to buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breast) for quick and easy prep. If you do get the bone-in, you will want to add at least 5 minutes to the cooking time. Always be sure to check the temperature of your chicken, especially when the bone is still in!
Tips on how to shred chicken after pressure cooking:
There are two simple ways you can shred chicken after cooking it in the pressure cooker:
- Use 2 forks and simply pull the meat apart until it has reached the desired consistency
- Put all the chicken in a stand mixer (like a KitchenAid) and use the paddle attachment to quickly shred the chicken.
Personally I usually only make 1.5-2 pounds of chicken at a time so I just use 2 forks. If you are doing a large prep, you might want to use the stand mixer option to save time!
How to store/freeze shredded chicken breast
How to freeze instant pot shredded chicken?
To freeze instant pot shredded chicken, first portion the shredded chicken out into single serving portions (using ziplock bags or small freezer safe containers). This way you don’t have to defrost more than you need!
How long will instant pot shredded chicken thighs last in the fridge?
Shredded chicken thighs can be stored in the fridge in a sealed glass container or Tupperware for up to 3 days once cooked.
If you are trying to prep for the entire week, simply portion out half of the chicken in ziplock freezer bags and freeze immediately. On day 3, pull 1-2 freezer bags out of the freezer to defrost. Continue this for the rest of the week.
What spices are best for making shredded chicken thighs
This recipe for instant pot shredded chicken thighs is simply seasoned with just salt and dried thyme. This is so that the chicken will be free of any flavoring and can easily pair well with almost any sauce or dish you want to use it in!
However, you can also use your favorite seasoning blend:
What can the shredded chicken thighs be used in?
- Burrito Bowls
- In Sandwiches
- On top of pizza
- Covered in barbecue sauce
- Stuffed in sweet potatoes
- In spaghetti squash Asian noodles
- Covered in buffalo sauce and stuffed in cucumber
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Thighs
- Start by searing the chicken in the instant pot (optional). To do this, turn the Saute function on the Instant Pot and set it for 10 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or use non-stick cooking spray to the bottom of the insert of the instant pot. Add the chicken thighs to the insert and sprinkle with salt and dried thyme, cook for 6-7 minutes.
- After 6-7 minutes, try to flip the chicken, if it releases somewhat easily, you can flip the chicken, otherwise let it cook for the full 10 minutes.
- After searing the chicken (and the saute function is done), flip the chicken and add 1 cup of water to the pressure cooker.
- If you don't have time to sear the chicken first: Place the chicken in the bottom of the instant pot insert. Sprinkle with salt and dried thyme and 1 cup of water.
- After adding the water, place the lid on the pressure cooker and set to manual mode, high pressure for 12-15 minutes (see post for instructions)
- Allow the instant pot to naturally release or manually release if short on time.
Update Notes: This recipe was originally posted in January 2019, but was published again in May 2019 to include step by step directions, and recipe notes.