Instant Pot chicken breast makes the ultimate hands-off, tender, juicy chicken breast from fresh or frozen – perfect for slicing and shredding into dozens of dishes!
If you want super crispy chicken, perhaps you’d prefer oven-baked chicken breast or even fried chicken breast. On the other hand, if super juicy, tender chicken breast ready to slice or shred into other meals is your end goal, then pressure-cooking chicken breast is the way to go!
It’s the best way to avoid dry chicken breast – AND it can be cooked easily from fresh or frozen!
Why Use an Instant Pot for Chicken
- It’s quick! Cooking the chicken in just a small fraction of the time it would take to steam or boil.
- It’s simple! And very hands-off, especially if you skip the initial searing step, which is 100% optional.
- It’s versatile! You can cook it from fresh or frozen, season it or leave it plain, pan-sear it for browning or skip that step. And that’s not even mentioning the dozens of ways to enjoy the cooked chicken.
- It’s healthy! It only uses a little oil, and even that can be omitted if you skip the searing steps for a low-fat, high-protein addition to meals.
- It’s super moist! A pressure cooker is fully sealed and will help to trap all that wonderful moisture within the meat for the juiciest chicken breasts.
And all you need to follow is a simple recipe for this versatile chicken, and it’s meal prep and freezer friendly, too.
How to Cook Chicken Breast in Instant Pot
To make this Instant Pot chicken breast recipe, all you really need is the meat and liquid. Everything else is optional and customizable according to how you wish to flavor and serve the meat.
- Chicken breasts: I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts – fresh, thawed, or frozen.
- Chicken broth: I love using homemade low-sodium chicken broth and turning the leftover juice and drippings into gravy. Water will work, too, but the chicken will be less flavorful.
- Seasonings: I used a simple but super flavorful chicken seasoning made of garlic powder, onion powder, sweet paprika, Italian seasoning (or dried oregano), salt, and black pepper.
- Oil: If you choose to sear the chicken, you’ll need a neutral cooking oil, like olive oil or avocado oil. Butter will work, too.
In a small bowl, combine all the spices, then use your hands to gently rub them into the chicken breasts.
Then, use the sauté function on your Instant Pot to heat the oil. Once hot, brown the chicken on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).
This step isn’t necessary for this Instant Pot chicken recipe, though it adds nice color. I’ll usually skip it if I’m making shredded chicken for other recipes.
Next, add the chicken stock to the bottom of the Instant Pot, scrape away any browned bits (to avoid triggering the “burn notice”), add a trivet over that, and place the chicken breasts on top.
Do I need a trivet when cooking chicken breast in an Instant Pot? It’s possible to cook the chicken breasts directly in the liquid for more of a “boiled” rather than “steamed” result.
Close the lid and turn the seal valve to the “sealing” position, then pressure cook on MANUAL High Pressure for 6 minutes (for 3lb of chicken, though if the fillets are more than 2-inches thick, increase the time to 10 minutes – keep reading for alternative times).
Once the time is up, allow the Instant Pot to natural pressure release for 10 minutes before carefully opening the seal valve to release the remaining pressure.
Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken breasts has reached 160-165ºF/71-74ºC. Then remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and allow it to rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle.
Finally, carve or shred the chicken to your liking, and enjoy!
Using Frozen Chicken Breasts
Cooking Instant Pot frozen chicken breast is great for days when you forget to defrost it. Just skip the searing steps and increase the cooking time. For example, with 3lb of meat, increase the cooking time to 10 minutes.
As a general rule, it’s best to increase the cooking time by about 50% when using frozen chicken vs. fresh chicken breast.
How Long to Pressure Cook Chicken Breast?
I’ve found the most accurate way to adjust the cooking time when cooking chicken breast in Instant Pot is by the thickness and weight of the chicken breast. As a general guideline:
- 1 lb. – 4 minutes
- 2 lb. – 5 minutes
- 3 lb. – 6 minutes
- 4 lb. – 8 minutes
- 5 lb. – 10 minutes
When ready, a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken breast should read 165ºF/74ºC, though it’s fine if it’s 160ºF/71ºC, too, as the “resting” time will allow the residual heat to bring it up the last few degrees.
Ways to Use Instant Pot Chicken Breast
While you can enjoy pressure cooked chicken breasts whole, sliced, or shredded, I usually use it for the latter two. Its juicy tenderness is perfect for adding to:
- Chicken ramen and other soups,
- Tacos, quesadillas, burritos,
- Sandwiches and wraps,
- Over pizza,
- Salads – both creamy chicken salad and tossed into leafy green salads and grain bowls,
- Pasta salads and warm pasta dishes,
- With sauce – like BBQ sauce or teriyaki sauce.
Store: Allow the chicken to cool (don’t leave it at room temperature for any longer than 2 hours). Then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freeze: You can freeze the pressure-cooked chicken breast whole, slices, or shredded in Ziplock bags for up to 3 months. I like to do so in portions, so it’s easy to thaw the amount I need. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight when needed.
Reheat: To avoid the chicken drying out, I prefer to reheat it in a lidded pot with a large splash of water/chicken broth until piping hot. You could also wrap it in foil and bake it at 350ºF/175ºC for 10-15 minutes.
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage
- Perfect Peel Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
- Instant Pot Artichokes Recipe
- Perfect Instant Pot Jasmine Rice
- The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup
If you try this chicken breasts in instant pot recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Instant Pot Chicken Breast
- 3 lb chicken breasts skinless and boneless, 5 medium-sized
- 1.5 cups chicken broth low-sodium OR water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika optional
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried oregano, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder optional
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder optional
- 2 tablespoon olive oil or another neutral oil (optional – only if searing)
- Instant pot or another pressure cooker
- In a bowl, combine all the spices, then use your hands to gently rub them into the chicken breasts.
- Use the sauté function on your Instant Pot to heat the oil. Once hot, brown the chicken on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).This step isn't necessary, though it adds nice color. I'll usually skip it if I'm making shredded chicken for other recipes.
- Add the chicken broth to the bottom of the Instant Pot, scrape away any browned bits (to avoid triggering the "burn notice"), add a trivet over that, and place the chicken breasts on top.It's also possible to cook the chicken breasts directly in the liquid for more of a "boiled" rather than "steamed" result.
- Close the lid and turn the seal valve to the "sealing: position, then pressure cook on MANUAL High Pressure for:– 1 lb. – 4 minutes– 2 lb. – 5 minutes– 3 lb. – 6 minutes – 4 lb. – 8 minutes – 5 lb. – 10 minutes
- Once the time is up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release pressure for 10 minutes before carefully opening the seal valve to release the remaining pressure.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken breasts has reached 160-165ºF/71-74ºC, then remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and allow it to rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle.Then, carve or shred the pressure cooker chicken breast to your liking, and enjoy!
Using Frozen Chicken Breasts
- Cooking frozen chicken in an Instant Pot is great for days when you forget to defrost it. Just skip the searing steps and increase the cooking time. For example, with 3lb of meat, increase the cooking time to 10 minutes.As a general rule, it's best to increase the cooking time by about 50% when using frozen chicken.
- Seasoning is optional: Depending on how you plan to use the meat, a bit of salt & black pepper may be all you need.
- Don’t overcrowd the chicken: It’s best to cook the breasts in a single layer so they cook evenly.
- Allow the chicken to rest: During this time, the juices within the chicken settle and redistribute for perfectly juicy chicken breasts.
- Use the leftover juices: The chicken broth will have picked up all the chicken juices, making for a flavorful liquid to drizzle over the chicken or reduce and use in sauces and turn into a gravy with 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a slurry.