How to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot

Need chicken fast? The pressure cooker is the way to go! This method is fast, simple, and foolproof. Keep the seasoning simple or mix it up depending on how you’re serving the chicken.

Photography Credit: Coco Morante

It’s so convenient to have already-cooked chicken in the fridge. You can use it for salads, sandwiches, last-minute pasta dishes…or any time you are trying to round out a meal with a some protein, really!

And the easiest way method for cooking your chicken? In the Instant Pot, of course!

Instant Pot Chicken is So Easy!

Cooking chicken in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot works similarly to poaching. The biggest difference is that you use less liquid and you can press a button and step away while the pot is doing its thing.

The chicken cooks in water, seasoned with salt, bay leaves, and garlic for a little bit of extra flavor. You can add any aromatic spices or vegetables to the water, really, depending on how you want to flavor the meat. Ginger and green onion would be nice if you plan to use the chicken on top of an Asian-style salad, for instance.

Boneless Skinless Chicken in the Instant Pot cook the chicken

Boneless Skinless Chicken in the Instant Pot cook the chicken

How Long to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot

Boneless chicken breasts and thighs cook in the same amount of time—just 10 minutes at high pressure will do it! Just be sure to arrange the meat in a single, even layer in the pot, as it cooks more evenly that way. It should reach about halfway up the chicken.

This timing works for a 1 1/2 to 2 pound batch of boneless chicken. If you’re cooking more meat (3 to 4 pounds), increase the cooking time to 15 minutes to ensure that it is cooked through. For a smaller amount of meat (1 pound or less), decrease the cooking time to 8 minutes.

Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot

Yes, you can cook chicken from frozen! You’ll just need to adjust the cooking time and method a little bit. Take a look at this handy guide for more details:

Ways to Use Cooked Chicken

The cooked chicken can be used in any recipe that calls for precooked chicken. Shred, slice, or cube it as needed, then use it however you like!

Tuck a few slices of chicken into a sourdough sandwich, or top a salad to make a light lunch. Toss cubed chicken into a soup or pasta dish. Mix shredded chicken with BBQ sauce or hot sauce for sliders or tacos.

BONUS: Chicken Broth!

As a bonus, cooking chicken this way yields about two cups of chicken broth! Save it in the fridge or freezer for later, use it as a base for a soup, or cook up an extra flavorful batch of rice or quinoa, subbing the broth for water.


Updated December 30, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe.

How to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot Recipe

For Stovetop Pressure Cookers: Follow the instructions below, but lower the cooking time to 8 minutes at high pressure.

If your chicken is frozen, see this post for how to adjust the cooking time.


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (use less if chicken is brined or otherwise pre-seasoned)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6-quart electric pressure cooker, such as the Instant Pot


1 Add the chicken to the Instant Pot: Arrange the chicken in a single, even layer in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add the water, then sprinkle with salt. Add the bay leaves and garlic.

three raw chicken breasts placed in the instant pot pour the water for instant pot chicken over the chicken breasts Add the garlic and bay leaves for the instant pot chicken

2 Pressure cook the chicken: Secure the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure that the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Select the “Pressure Cook” or “Manual” program, then adjust the time to 10 minutes at high pressure.

The pressure cooker will take about 10 minutes to come up to full pressure. Cook time begins once it has reached full pressure.

Cook the instant pot chicken for 10 min

3 Release the pressure: As soon as the timer goes off at the end of cooking, perform a quick pressure release by moving the pressure release knob from “Sealing” to “Venting.” It will take a minute or two for the pressure to release completely.

Open the pot, then use a digital thermometer to check the thickest part of a piece of chicken—it should be at least 165ºF. If the chicken is not quite up to temperature, put the lid back on with the vent closed and cook for another minute or two.

Perform a quick pressure release for the instant pot chicken Three cooked chicken breasts in the instant pot Double check that the temperature of the chicken has reached 165-degrees

4 Use the chicken: Use a pair of tongs to transfer the chicken to a dish, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice, shred, or cube the chicken as needed, or refrigerate in a lidded container for up to 5 days.

If you want to save the cooking liquid (it is now a lightly flavorful chicken broth), strain out the bay leaves and garlic. Transfer to a tightly lidded container and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or frozen for up to 6 months.

Cool the instant pot chicken breasts, then shred, slices, or cube as needed Instant pot chicken broth in a canning jar

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