Instant Pot shredded chicken can be used in a variety of different recipes (anything that requires cooked chicken). You will love this quick and easy method to make the best tender shredded chicken!
So many recipes use "leftover" or "rotisserie" chicken. If you've got an Instant Pot, you can cook chicken very efficiently so you have plenty to use for meals during the week. Even if you're not into meal prep per se, having cooked chicken in your fridge is very useful for adding to soups, salads, or sandwiches/wraps.
Cooking chicken breasts in the Instant Pot
My go-to for cooking chicken breasts in various recipes (such as my Instant Pot BBQ chicken or my Instant Pot chicken tacos) is to give them 10 minutes followed by a 5-minute natural release, and then I release the rest of the pressure manually. So, that's the starting point I used when doing these tests.
I could have definitely tested more variables, but based on other Instant Pot recipes of mine and Instant Pot guidelines, I settled on doing these particular tests. The goal was to have the most tender and easily shreddable chicken.
I will just note that you don't have to shred the chicken. You can definitely cut it into pieces instead!
How to shred chicken
Just use two forks to pull it apart!
Instant Pot shredded chicken breasts
Ah, the great Instant Pot chicken experiment of 2019 was a fun one. If you're curious, the tests I performed are below. You can definitely scroll right on down to the recipe, but if you like to experiment in the kitchen and are a bit of a cooking geek like I am, you may find it interesting.
The chicken breasts were around 1/2 pound each... so about 2 pounds (give or take) for 4 of them. They were taken straight out of the fridge (and freezer for one test!) since I know that on busy weeknights people don't necessarily have time to let them warm up for a bit on the counter (and you don't have to worry about it getting too warm and all the sanitary issues that go along with that!).
Test 1 (*the winner*)
- 10 minutes high pressure with a 5 minute natural release followed by a quick release for the remaining pressure.
- The natural release makes all the difference in tenderness. The chicken shreds easily.
Test 2 (slightly different than test 1 and also acceptable)
- 10 minutes high pressure with a natural release.
- This option is good because you don't have to keep an eye out like in test 1. I didn't notice the chicken being much less tender than test 1, so this is a good way to cook chicken breasts in the Instant Pot.
Test 3 (less tender than the first 2 tests)
- 8 minutes high pressure with a natural release (took about 10 minutes to release pressure).
- Chicken was less tender than the first 2 tests.
Test 4 (wouldn't recommend - really rubbery chicken)
- 10 minutes high pressure with a quick pressure release.
- The quick release seems to make the chicken seize up and become really rubbery.
Test 5 (frozen chicken breasts)
- 12 minutes high pressure with a natural pressure release.
- Tender chicken, easily shreddable.
Test 6 (doubled the recipe)
- Cooked 8 chicken breasts on high pressure 10 minutes with a 5 minute natural release followed by a quick release for the remaining pressure.
- The chicken was tender and easily shredded.
I did a seventh test on chicken thighs. Yes, I am bored of chicken. 😛
Instant Pot shredded chicken thighs
Test 7 (chicken thighs)
- I cooked 6 thighs weighing 1.2 pounds.
- 13 minutes on high pressure, 5 minute natural release followed by a quick release for the remaining pressure.
- Chicken was tender and shredded easily.
What about the "poultry" button that some Instant Pots have?
- This button simply has a pre-programmed time. That's all it is.
- I prefer the control of using the "manual" button and setting a time.
Recipes that use cooked shredded chicken:
- Easy Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Creamy Spinach Tortellini Soup with Chicken
- 20 Minute Thai Chicken Curry Soup
- Ranch Chicken Quinoa Salad
- Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad
- Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
- Lemon Chicken Stuffed Shells
What's your go-to method for making shredded chicken?
Questions? Ask me in the comments below.
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- 4 chicken breasts
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Season each piece of chicken with salt. Add the chicken broth to your Instant Pot, along with the chicken.
- Close the lid, set the valve on "sealing", and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
- Once the countdown has completed, do a 5 minute natural pressure release, and then release the rest of the pressure by doing a quick release.
- Take the chicken out of the Instant Pot and shred it with 2 forks. I like to mix it with a bit of the cooking liquid to help keep it moist. You can either discard the remaining cooking liquid or reserve it to add it to soups etc.
- Cooking time will remain the same if you cook 2, 3, 4, or even 8 chicken breasts. The Instant Pot will take longer to come up to pressure with more chicken that's in there.
- For frozen chicken breasts, cook them on high pressure for 12 minutes and do a natural pressure release. Ensure they're separated for best results (not frozen as one big chunk).
- For chicken thighs, cook them on high pressure for 13 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then do a quick release for the remaining pressure (or just let the pressure naturally release fully).
- Chicken will keep for up to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
- I use this 6-quart Instant Pot.
- Inactive time indicates the time it takes the Instant Pot to get up to pressure and release pressure naturally.