BBQ Chicken in Instant Pot or Pulled Chicken in Pressure Cooker is the most amazing Instant pot chicken breast recipe that you can make in a jiffy. All you have to do is just place BBQ sauce, water, and lightly seasoned chicken breasts in your Instant Pot. Cover the lid and pressure cook for 4-5 minutes. Release pressure and then shred them up using two forks. Sauté for few minutes and voila! your BBQ Chicken is ready to be served.
Instant Pot is not just a time-saver for me. It's a life-saver! If you happen to take a sneak peek at my home, especially during the morning hours, you'd know how much of a craziness it is.
Husband rushing for work with a piece of bread-loaf in his hand. Kids putting on aprons and making smoothies. And, I hanging in between multi-tasking and micromanaging everything. At that point, I was feeling so bad about not preparing my food ahead of time.
Last night, I was feeling so tired that all I did was simply relax in my backyard listening to some good 'ol music and sipping some crazy good wine. (PS: of course, with my husband)
Well, In India we have an old saying - "whatever happens happens for good". I found a bottle of BBQ sauce on the countertop. Reminds me that I had got that to Make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders a few days back.
And, I had already thawed about a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts in the refrigerator. In my mind, my recipe was done.
What happens next is pure magic...
I picked up my bottle of BBQ sauce, added that to the Instant Pot with some water. Seasoned the chicken and placed it in the Instant Pot. Covered the lid and within 10-minutes they were ready.
- How to Make BBQ Shredded Chicken
- Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
- Top tip
- What do I do with so much liquid in the Instant Pot?
- Should I change the cook time if I double the chicken?
- Can I keep a Frozen Slab of Chicken in the Instant Pot?
- More Instant Pot Recipes
- BBQ Chicken in Instant Pot (Pulled Chicken)
Here is a shot pointing out the ingredients used in this recipe.
- Chicken Breasts
- BBQ Sauce
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper
See the recipe card for quantities. Check out the video for a visual.
How to Make BBQ Shredded Chicken
Here is how to make Instant Pot BBQ Chicken with step-by-step images.
STEP 1: Season Chicken
Season Chicken Breasts with Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Salt, and Freshly Ground Black Pepper.
STEP 2: Prepare the sauce
Pour BBQ Sauce and water into your Instant Pot. Add Chicken Breasts and cover the lid. Make sure the pressure valve is set to a sealing position. Pressure cook for 10-15 minutes. If using frozen chicken breasts then you might have to cook it for a longer duration. I recommend cooking for at least 4-5 minutes more. Allow pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes.
STEP 3: Shred Chicken
Open the lid and shred chicken breasts using two forks.
STEP 4: Sauté until the sauce thickens
Shredded chicken soaks up most of the liquid. But to thicken the sauce, put your Instant Pot on Sauté mode. Pour another cup of BBQ sauce. Stir lightly until the sauce thickens.
Hint: if you want you can add cornstarch to the sauce to make it thick - just like I had used cornstarch to thicken my sauce for this Honey Bourbon Chicken recipe.
Keto BBQ Chicken - To Make this recipe Keto-friendly make sure you check the contents of your BBQ sauce. Most of the times BBQ sauce has added sugar in them. In that case, you might need to choose separate Keto BBQ sauce.
Other than that, this recipe is suitable for the keto diet. I haven't tried this recipe with Keto BBQ sauce so I cannot tell you how it would taste.
There are countless variations in this recipe.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar would boost up the flavors.
- Dried Basil and Parsley - A dash of dried basil and parsley would complement the flavors.
- Chicken Tenders - Instead of chicken thighs you can use chicken tenders for this recipe. Just reduce the cooking time by half if using chicken tenders.
- Chicken Thighs - You can use chicken thighs (bone-in or bone-less) to make this recipe.
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Instead of cooking this in an Instant Pot, you can always use a slow cooker to make this recipe. To make this in the slow cooker, you can sear the lightly seasoned chicken in the skillet with some olive oil or avocado oil.
Then, add them to your slow cooker along with BBQ sauce and water. Cook for 2-hours on High or 4 hours on Low. Shred chicken and cook for an additional 30-minutes.
When cooking in a Slow cooker, don't add so much water. See this recipe for Authentic Mexican Chicken Tinga (in Slow Cooker) and learn more.
You can allow this to cool down completely. Transfer them to an air-tight container. Refrigerate for 2-3 days.
You can also freeze this for about a month in the freezer.
reheat: To reheat allow this to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Transfer it into an oven-proof dish. Cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until completely warmed through.
- Add enough water or chicken broth in the Instant Pot so that it doesn't show food burn.
- Make sure you check the internal temperature of chicken with an Instant read thermometer. Your chicken is perfectly cooked if it reads 165°F.
- Make sure the pressure valve is in sealing position.
- When sauteeing make sure you keep stirring constantly with a wooden or silicone spatula so that the food doesn't get burnt.
- Allow pressure to release naturally if you are not in a hurry. NPR or Natural Pressure Release will make chicken more tender.
What do I do with so much liquid in the Instant Pot?
Well, just shred your chicken and put your Instant Pot on sauté mode. Sauté for 2-minutes and the liquid will be absorbed.
If not, you can add some cornstarch and stir well. Sauté until the sauce thickens.
Should I change the cook time if I double the chicken?
There is a lot of confusion about this. Let me try and explain. The cooking time will vary depending upon the size of 1 chicken breast. Generally, 1 chicken breast weighs around 6 ounces. Therefore for a pack of one and a half-pound of chicken breasts, you'll have 4 chicken breasts of 6-ounces each.
- 6-ounce chicken breast takes 6-minutes to cook in the Instant pot. Add another 4-minutes if your chicken breast is frozen. Therefore 10-minutes for frozen chicken.
- 7-ounce chicken breast takes 7-minutes to cook in the Instant Pot. Add another 4-minutes if your chicken breast is frozen. Therefore frozen chicken breast would take 11-minutes to get cooked.
So, coming back to the question. If you double your chicken, make sure you weigh 1 chicken breast and then decide on the time. Cooking time depends on the size of your chicken breasts and not how many breasts you are using.
Can I keep a Frozen Slab of Chicken in the Instant Pot?
If your chicken breasts are stuck to each other then do not place them in the Instant Pot directly. Place them in a bowl of cool water and separate the chicken breasts. If you add the frozen slab of chicken breasts without separating them, they won't cook evenly.
More Instant Pot Recipes
BBQ Chicken in Instant Pot (Pulled Chicken)
- 1½ pound boneless skinless chicken breasts if using frozen then thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder or 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1½ cup BBQ sauce divided
- 1 cup water
- fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Season both sides of chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour BBQ sauce and water in your Instant Pot. Lay chicken in one single layer in your Instant Pot. Cover the lid and make sure the vent is in a sealing position. Cook on Manual/Pressure for 10-15minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes.
- Once the pressure has released, set the valve to the venting position. Open the lid and use two forks to shred the chicken. You can also use a hand blender for this step.
- Put your Instant Pot in Sauté mode and pour the remaining BBQ sauce. Stir well and sauté until the sauce thickens. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.
- Cooking time varies based on the size of chicken breasts.
- Make sure you add enough water so that you don't see food burn on the screen.
- Keep your face away when opening the Instant Pot.
- Wear a pair of Oven Mitts when opening the Instant Pot lid and setting the valve to the venting position.
- If using frozen chicken breasts increase cooking time by an additional 4-minutes.
- If frozen chicken breasts are stuck with each other, then keep them in a bowl of cool water for about 1-hour. Separate the pieces and then cook.
- Don't be tempted to Quick Release Pressure. Natural Release Pressure will make chicken tender and juicier.