This quick and easy Instant Pot pulled chicken is perfect to have on hand for simple weeknight dinners. You can use it as a filling for tacos, stuffed into sandwiches and mixed into casseroles. With only 4 ingredients you can make healthy Instant Pot shredded chicken breasts ahead of time or at the last minute. Even with frozen chicken breasts.
I consider this to be less of a recipe and more of a starting point for your favorite shredded chicken recipes.
It’s an easy, all-purpose pulled chicken that you can season for everything from Italian to Mexican or even Asian and Indian cuisines.
Instant pot pulled Chicken ingredients
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Kansas City All Purpose Seasoning (or other seasoning)
- Kosher salt
- Low Sodium Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
To make this fast all purpose pulled chicken, I start with the Instant Pot and boneless skinless chicken breasts.
You can use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts but it requires a few more steps. If you’re looking for the quickest, easiest and healthiest way to go… boneless skinless chicken breasts are it.
Best seasoning for pulled chicken breasts
Despite the chicken being a starting point to other recipes, it still needs to be seasoned, otherwise the meat will be monotonously bland.
Even adding herbs and spices later (in another recipe) won’t quite perk up the flavor as much as seasoning early on, so don’t skip this step.
I use my hand-blended Kansas City dry rub to season the chicken. It’s an all purpose rub that brings out the natural flavor of the poultry without dominating it. I keep a jar of this rub in my pantry at all times so it’s ready to use.
Though the Kansas City rub has 4 types of salt, it’s not really salty, which is why I augment it with additional kosher salt. If you have a particularly salty seasoning blend, you may want to scale back on the additional salt.
Other seasoning blends to try:
If you’re planning on using the Instant pot shredded chicken breast in a specific ethnic dish, look for a dry rub seasoning that reflects those flavors, otherwise, an all purpose herb or spice rub will work fine.
How to cook Instant Pot pulled chicken
- Season the chicken breasts liberally with seasonings and salt.
- Transfer chicken to the Instant pot and add the chicken broth.
- Seal the Instant Pot and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.
- Allow the Instant pot to reduce the pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then switch the valve to the “release” function.
- Transfer the chicken to a large bowl or rimmed sheet pan to cool for a few minutes.
- Reserve the juices from the Instant pot to add back to the shredded chicken breasts later.
Cooking frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot:
Everything remains the same, except the amount of time to pressure cook the chicken breasts.
- For 6-8 ounce frozen chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), cook for 12 minutes with 10 minute natural pressure release.
- If you have 9-12 ounce frozen chicken breasts, cook for 14 minutes with 10 minute natural pressure release.
For bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts:
Bone-in skin-on chicken breasts will be more flavorful than their boneless skinless counterparts. Why? The skin provides more fat (fat = flavor).
Additionally, bones and connective tissue dissolve into collagen, which adds body and flavor. Here’s how to take full advantage of it:
- Season the chicken on both sides.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the Instant Pot using the sauté function.
- Sear the chicken breasts, skin side down for 3-5 minutes, or until the skin is browned and beginning to crisp.
- Flip the chicken and continue to brown on the other side for an additional 3-5 minutes. (This browning, a.k.a. the Maillard effect gives more depth and umami notes to the chicken).
- Add the chicken broth, seal the Instant Pot and bring to high pressure.
- Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure, then naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, followed by a quick release.
- Transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and let the breasts rest until they’re cool enough to handle.
- Remove the skin and bones and discard, then proceed to shredding the chicken.
How to shred chicken breasts
- Transfer the chicken breasts to a large bowl or a rimmed sheet pan (I prefer a bowl, because it’s less messy).
- Use two sets of tongs or two forks to pull the chicken breasts into large chunks. If you have BBQ claws you can use them as well.
- Press one fork into a chunk of chicken to hold it steady in the bowl. Use another fork to gently pull and shred the meat from the chunk of chicken.
- Continue with this method until all of the chicken breasts have been pulled into long shreds.
- Add reserved juices from the Instant Pot (about 1/4 cup at a time) to prevent the pulled chicken breasts from being too dry. Toss several times with a pair of tongs to coat. The shredded chicken should be moist, but not drowning in liquid.
That’s all there is to it.
This quick and easy Instant Pot pulled chicken is light and healthy and ready to use in your favorite recipes.
Shredded Instant Pot Chicken Breast FAQ’s
Yes. You can make this up to 5 days in advance and store it in a storage container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator. Use a little at a time for different recipes or all at once for a larger dish to feed the family.
Yes. I recommend portioning the pulled chicken into zip-top freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible and seal the bags, then wrap in freezer paper. The frozen pulled chicken breasts will last for up to two months in the freezer. Thaw before use.
Ways to use Instant Pot pulled chicken:
- In tacos, enchiladas or chalupas.
- For ultimate chicken salad or curried chicken salad or chutney chicken salad.
- Brunswick Stew
- Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
- Chicken, Sausage and Seafood Gumbo
All Purpose Instant Pot Pulled Chicken
- Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons Kansas City Rub or other All Purpose Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- Liberally coat the chicken breasts with dry rub and salt.
- Transfer the chicken and any extra seasoning to the instant pot and add the chicken broth. Set to cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.
- Let the pressure reduce naturally for 10 minutes, then you can use the speed release.
- Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and reserve the juices in the Instant Pot.
- When the chicken is cool enough to handle, use two forks or shredder claws to pull the chicken apart into long shreds. Add reserved juices about 1/4 cup at a time and toss well to coat in order to keep the chicken moist.
- You can use the shredded chicken for any recipe. To store it, refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days. To freeze it, transfer chicken to a zip top freezer bag and press all the air out. Wrap in freezer paper and freeze for up to 3 months.