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Instant Pot Shredded Mexican Chicken

$8.69 Recipe/$2.17 Serving

Mexican shredded chicken in the instant pot is so easy to make! Just 3 ingredients and about 30 minutes (most of that is hands off time) to make the most tender and juicy Mexican shredded chicken for tacos, salads, enchiladas or nachos!

Taco shredded chicken in instant pot with tongs on wooden cutting board.

Why you will love this recipe

  • So easy to make – no searing, browning or prep ahead needed to make this Mexican shredded chicken in the instant pot. Simply dump all the ingredients in, turn it on and you will have dinner ready in about 30 minutes. You can even make this instant pot shredded chicken with frozen chicken if you forgot to pull your chicken out of the freezer! It just adds 2-3 minutes of cooking time!
  • Simple ingredients – all you need is chicken (boneless, skinless breast or thighs both work well), your favorite taco seasoning and a pinch of salt! You can control the quality of your ingredients by making your own taco seasoning (I always have a large jar in my pantry) or using a brand you trust! When you use my homemade taco seasoning, this recipe is gluten free, Whole30, low carb, keto and low FODMAP friendly, making it great for most diets!
  • Great for meal prep – this healthy Mexican shredded chicken is just as good the next day, so you can make a large batch for meal prep and use it in many ways throughout the week! Use it in tacos for dinner and repurpose it for taco salads for lunch the rest of the week! This instant pot Mexican shredded chicken also freezes well, so you can always double the recipe and freeze more for next week or next month!
  • Kid friendly and great for parties too – kids love tacos, nachos, chimichangas and enchiladas (let’s be honest, so do adults). This easy instant pot Mexican chicken is great for kids because it’s not spicy and it allows the kids to dress up their tacos any way they want! Same goes for large parties! For your next get together, host a taco party and let the instant pot Mexican shredded chicken thighs be the star instead of ground beef or turkey.
Ingredients to make instant pot mexican shredded chicken.
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Ingredients

  • Chicken – boneless skinless chicken breast or boneless skinless chicken thighs both work so well for this recipe. Since chicken breast tend to be so much thicker than chicken thighs, you will want to adjust the cooking time depending on which you are making. That is really the only difference though.
  • Taco seasoning – I always have a batch of homemade taco seasoning on hand but if I didn’t I would throw together chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin and oregano in a pinch. You can check out the recipe card for the exact measurements.
  • Salt – just a small pinch of salt helps to balance out the flavors and elevate the chicken. This is optional, especially if you know your taco seasoning is already salty enough.
  • Water – water is needed to bring your instant pot up to pressure. The water needed will depend on your instant pot. Typically, a 6 quart instant pot needs about 1 cup of water, where an 8 quart needs 1.5-2 cups (the manufacturer states 2 cups but the liquid that comes out of the chicken often helps it get up to pressure with just 1.5 cups of water added).

How to make instant pot Mexican shredded chicken

Check out the step by step story of how to make Shredded Mexican Chicken in the Instant Pot.

Start by adding the chicken to the instant pot. Then sprinkle the spices over the top, generously coating the chicken.

Add the water around the chicken.

Raw chicken, taco seasoning in the instant pot before cooking.

Put on the lid, make sure the lid is set to seal and cook high pressure for 13 minutes for boneless skinless chicken thighs and 15 minutes for boneless, skinless chicken breast.

After the instant pot comes up to pressure and cooks, allow it to naturally release the pressure for at least 10-15 minutes. I typically let it naturally release the entire way as I’m doing other things around the kitchen while this cooks.

Taco chicken in the instat pot after cooking, before shredding.

Once the pressure has been released, shred the chicken. You can do this in the instant pot or move the chicken to a large bowl to shred with two forks or a hand mixer or stand mixer.

Bowl filled with instant pot shredded Mexican chicken.

Use the chicken immediately or store in the fridge up to 4 days.

Top tips

  • Be sure to cook the chicken long enough so it’s not rubbery. One of the biggest complaints I hear is that the texture of chicken can get weird in an instant pot. That is because the chicken is technically cooked through, but the proteins have not had a chance to break down and get tender. This is why I recommend you to naturally release pressure when cooking shredded chicken in the instant pot.
  • If your chicken is frozen, add 2 minutes for chicken thighs and 3 minutes for chicken breast (as they tend to freeze in a lump and this extra time helps account for that).
  • If you are doubling the recipe, add 1-2 minutes to the cooking time to account for the instant pot being more crowded. Technically you shouldn’t have to add more time but if your chicken starts to get stacked on top of each other, adding more time can help account for this and ensure all the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  • If you don’t have homemade taco seasoning, you can use store bought or you can use 1 tablespoon chili powder + 1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika + 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin + 1/2 teaspoon oregano in place of the taco seasoning in this recipe.
  • To add even more flavor to the chicken, use chicken broth or stock instead of water.
  • To keep the chicken juicy, especially when storing, store the chicken in the cooking liquid. As it cools it will absorb some of the liquid and it will help keep the chicken moist and tender while in the fridge. This is especially important if you are using chicken breast (thighs are very forgiving).
Hand holding Mexican shredded chicken tacos.

Other flavor add ins

  • Salsa – replace ½ cup of water with your favorite salsa or enchilada sauce.
  • Canned green chilis – add these to the chicken before cooking.
  • Pickled jalapenos – you can add these before or after cooking.
  • Diced roasted tomatoes or rotel tomatoes and peppers – replace ½ cup of water with a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes or rotel tomatoes
  • Chipotle in adobo – crush the chilis with a fork and add to the cooking liquid before cooking.

How to use instant pot Mexican shredded chicken

What to serve with instant pot shredded taco chicken

Shredded Mexican chicken in white bowl with instant pot in background.

Common questions

What changes do you need to make if doubling the recipe

You will want to double the ingredients (although you may not need double the water) and add 1-2 minutes to the cooking time. To be on the safe side, I would recommend 15 minutes for boneless, skinless chicken thighs and 17 minutes for boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Can you make instant pot Mexican shredded chicken with frozen chicken?

Yes! One of the main benefits of using the instant pot is how great it is at cooking proteins from frozen. However, you will want to add 2 more minutes of cooking time to the instant pot to account for the chicken being frozen. For boneless, skinless chicken thighs increase the time to 15 minutes and for boneless, skinless chicken breast increase the time to 17 minutes. Allow for natural release of pressure.

How to shred chicken

It is easiest to shred chicken when it’s hot, so I recommend you shred it all within 30 minutes-1 hour of cooking, even if you will be storing leftovers in the fridge for a few days.

  • Two forks: this is the easiest method, especially if you are just shredding 1-2 pounds of chicken. If you are doubling the recipe, it can be a chore though.
  • Using a hand mixer or kitchen stand mixer : using this method, you let the beaters of the mixer shred the chicken. You can easily shred 2-3 pounds in 60 seconds using this method. The con is that you have to then clean the mixer and the bowl you used to mix the chicken up in.

How to make shredded Mexican chicken in the slow cooker

Follow the same ingredients and put the chicken in the crockpot. Cover in spices and pour the water around the chicken. Cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

How to make shredded Mexican chicken on the stove

You will essentially be poaching the chicken on the stove. Add the chicken to the pot, sprinkle with seasoning then add enough water so that there is about 1 inch of water above the chicken (the chicken should be fully submerged in water).

Put the pot on high heat, bringing it to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to low and simmer with a lid on for 15-20 minutes until the thickest chicken is cooked to 165F and shreds easily.

When storing, you will not need to keep all this liquid, as you need more to poach chicken than you do to cook it in the instant pot or slow cooker.

Shredded Mexican instant pot chicken in taco shells, avocado on the side.

Why is the instant pot chicken rubbery?

Typically, this is a sign that the chicken did not cook long enough. I notice this the most when you quick release pressure instead of allowing for a natural release of pressure. The chicken is technically cooked, but the proteins are not soft and tender. To combat this, make sure you are cooking the chicken long enough and allow the chicken to naturally release pressure at least 10-15 minutes.

Can you overcook chicken breast in the instant pot?

It’s very difficult to overcook chicken in the instant pot because the instant pot uses steam and pressure which helps to create a tender, moist chicken even if you cook the chicken too long.

Once you cook chicken in the instant pot at home 2-3 times, you will know what works best for the chicken you typically cook with. Chicken breast size can vary, which will change the cooking time. Larger breasts need that full 15 minutes + natural release but smaller breast may be done in 12 minutes with natural release.

What if you don’t have taco seasoning?

You can make your own quick taco seasoning by combining 1 tablespoon chili powder + 1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika + 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin + 1/2 teaspoon oregano.

Alternatively, you can use Cajun seasoning for a similar flavor if you are trying to use a spice blend you already have on hand.

Storing leftovers

  • Fridge: Store leftover chicken in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. I recommend storing the chicken in some of the cooking liquid to help keep it moist and tender.
  • Freezer: Freeze leftover chicken for up to 3 months. Shredded chicken freezes well and can be frozen in 1/2 cup or 1 cup portions to easily defrost for a single meal (for reference a pound of chicken is typically 3 cups of shredded chicken). I use Soupercubes to freeze the chicken in 1 cup portions. Defrost in the fridge for easy use.
  • Reheat: To reheat the chicken without it drying out, add ½ cup of chicken broth with shredded chicken to a pot and heat on medium low heat, covered. Reheat until warmed through (7-10 minutes). You can also reheat in the microwave 1-2 minutes.
Tongs being held over a pot of instant pot Mexican shredded chicken.

Substitutions

  • Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs can easily be used in this recipe. See the cooking time differences in the recipe card.
  • Taco seasoning: If you don’t have homemade or store bought taco seasoning, you can use 1 tablespoon chili powder + 1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika + 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin + 1/2 teaspoon oregano in place of the taco seasoning. Alternatively you can use Cajun Seasoning.
  • Water: You can also use chicken broth or stock in place of the water for more flavor.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Instant Pot Shredded BBQ Chicken

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Buffalo Chicken Thighs

Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Mexican shredded chicken in the instant pot.

Instant Pot Mexican Shredded Chicken

$8.69 Recipe/$2.17 Serving
Mexican instant pot shredded chicken is so easy to make and uses just 3 ingredients and 30 minutes to make this juicy and tender chicken perfect for tacos, nachos, salads, burritos or taquitos. This instant pot taco chicken is healthy and Whole30, low carb and low FODMAP friendly.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: instant pot shredded mexican chicken, instant pot shredded taco chicken, mexican shredded chicken instant pot
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 13 mins
Pressure Cooker (up to pressure, natural release): 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken - $8.23
  • 1.5 tbsp. taco seasoning - $0.45
  • 1/4 tsp salt - $0.01
  • 1 cup water - $0.00

Instructions

  • Add chicken to instant pot insert.
  • Sprinkle the chicken with taco seasoning, salt and pour water around the chicken.
  • Put the lid on the instant pot, making sure it's set to seal. Turn on high pressure for 13 minutes (chicken thighs) or 15 minutes (chicken breast).
  • After chicken has come up to pressure and cooked, allow to naturally release at least 10 minutes.
  • Once pressure has been released, take off the lid then shred the chicken with two forks or hand mixer.

Notes

Top tips
  • Be sure to cook the chicken long enough so it’s not rubbery. One of the biggest complaints I hear is that the texture of chicken can get weird in an instant pot. That is because the chicken is technically cooked through, but the proteins have not had a chance to break down and get tender. This is why I recommend you to naturally release pressure when cooking shredded chicken in the instant pot.
  • If your chicken is frozen, add 2 minutes for chicken thighs and 3 minutes for chicken breast (as they tend to freeze in a lump and this extra time helps account for that).
  • If you are doubling the recipe, add 1-2 minutes to the cooking time to account for the instant pot being more crowded. Technically you shouldn’t have to add more time but if your chicken starts to get stacked on top of each other, adding more time can help account for this and ensure all the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  • If you don’t have homemade taco seasoning, you can use store bought or you can use 1 tablespoon chili powder + 1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika + 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin + 1/2 teaspoon oregano in place of the taco seasoning in this recipe.
  • To add even more flavor to the chicken, use chicken broth or stock instead of water.
  • To keep the chicken juicy, especially when storing, store the chicken in the cooking liquid. As it cools it will absorb some of the liquid and it will help keep the chicken moist and tender while in the fridge. This is especially important if you are using chicken breast (thighs are very forgiving).
How to make shredded Mexican chicken in the slow cooker
Follow the same ingredients and put the chicken in the crockpot. Cover in spices and pour the water around the chicken. Cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
How to make shredded Mexican chicken on the stove
You will essentially be poaching the chicken on the stove. Add the chicken to the pot, sprinkle with seasoning then add enough water so that there is about 1 inch of water above the chicken (the chicken should be fully submerged in water).
Put the pot on high heat, bringing it to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to low and simmer with a lid on for 15-20 minutes until the thickest chicken is cooked to 165F and shreds easily.
When storing, you will not need to keep all this liquid, as you need more to poach chicken than you do to cook it in the instant pot or slow cooker.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftover chicken in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. I recommend storing the chicken in some of the cooking liquid to help keep it moist and tender.
  • Freezer: Freeze leftover chicken for up to 3 months. Shredded chicken freezes well and can be frozen in 1/2 cup or 1 cup portions to easily defrost for a single meal (for reference a pound of chicken is typically 3 cups of shredded chicken). I use Soupercubes to freeze the chicken in 1 cup portions. Defrost in the fridge for easy use.
  • Reheat: To reheat the chicken without it drying out, add ½ cup of chicken broth with shredded chicken to a pot and heat on medium low heat, covered. Reheat until warmed through (7-10 minutes). You can also reheat in the microwave 1-2 minutes.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
213
Fat
 
7
g
Carbohydrates
 
3
g
Fiber
 
1
g
Sugar
 
1
g
Protein
 
33
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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