How to Cook Chicken Breasts in an Instant Pot – Fresh or Frozen

Here’s how to cook chicken breasts in an Instant pot.

cooked shredded and sliced chicken breast
This tender, juicy chicken with Italian seasoning was cooked from frozen in the Instant Pot.

Also Read: Easiest Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken, Oven Roasted Chicken Fajitas, Chicken Caesar Salad

Using a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot to cook chicken breasts is particularly handy for frozen chicken breasts. Because a pressure cooker cooks food quickly, you can safely cook frozen meat in an Instant Pot. You cannot do the same in a crock pot or slow cooker. The USDA does NOT recommend cooking frozen meat in a slow cooker because the long cooking time keeps food at an unsafe temperature for too long.

seasoned frozen chicken breasts in front of instant pot
A pressure cooker is great for cooking frozen chicken. These frozen chicken breasts are seasoned with Italian Seasoning and are ready to go in the pot with a little soup stock.

Recipe for Cooking Chicken Breasts in an Instant Pot

tender sliced instant pot chicken
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Tender Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot

Here's how to cook tender, juicy chicken breasts in the Instant Pot. The process and cooking time is the same for frozen or fresh chicken breasts. The pressure cooker will take longer to come up to the proper temperature when using frozen meat, so expect an extra 5-10 minutes to the overall time when using frozen chicken.
Prep : 5 mins
Cook : 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup chicken stock, water, salsa or sauce
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning

Instructions

  • Separate frozen chicken pieces. Either leave on counter for 15 minutes or place in cold water until pieces separate. Hint: When freezing chicken, freeze flat with a little space between pieces so they separate easily.
  • Place chicken breasts (fresh or frozen) in bottom of Instant Pot. Trivet not required.
  • Sprinkle seasoning or simply a little salt and pepper over chicken.
  • Add 1 cup (6 quart cooker) or 1 1/2 cups (8 quart cooker) soup stock, water or tomato sauce to Instant Pot.
  • Seal lid and turn valve to “Sealing”. Press “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” and set to cook at high pressure for 8-10 minutes depending on size of chicken breasts.
    - 8 minutes for small to medium (5-6 oz/150-170g) chicken breasts
    -10 minutes for large (7-9 oz/200-255g) chicken breasts
  • When the cook time is finished, the Instant Pot will beep a few times. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes. When the display reads L0:05 carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position to release remaining steam and pressure. Wait for the float valve (pin) to drop then carefully open the lid so any steam rises away from you.
  • Use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest chicken breast. The final temperature of your chicken should read 165°F/74°C on an internal thermometer.*
  • Cover chicken and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing or shredding. This allows any juices to be absorbed by the chicken.
  • If your chicken does not reach the final temperature before cutting, return it to the Instant Pot and cook an additional 2 minutes at pressure and use the quick release feature when time is up. Remember to let chicken rest again for five minutes before slicing.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken breast,, frozen chicken, instant pot
tender juicy sliced chicken
Tender juicy chicken ready to top a salad, add to pasta or enjoy as the main entrée.

Results May Vary – Use a Thermometer

The official Instant Pot instructions for cooking chicken breasts say to pressure cook chicken for 5-8 minutes and use the natural release setting. When I used this method, the internal temperature of the finished chicken breasts was over 182°F/83°C and the texture was much too dry. After several attempts, I found the recipe above to give the best results for my Instant Pot (Lux 8 Quart) and the size of chicken breasts I had. The temperature of the chicken still went a few degrees above the recommend temperature of 165°F/74°C but the texture was great. I’m happy with the results and would rather err on the side of higher than safe internal temps than the opposite.

That said, your pressure cooker, the size of your chicken breasts and the environmental conditions in your kitchen may lead to different results. Your best bet is to rely on an internal meat thermometer and ensure your chicken pieces reach 165°F/74°C before serving.  For more great tips on cooking chicken, check the Cooking School section of the Manitoba Chicken Producers website.

Checking chicken with internal thermometer that reads 165F
Use an internal meat thermometer to ensure the final temperature of your chicken breasts is 165°F/74°C.

What if Chicken is Undercooked?

If your chicken breasts are not done, return them to the pot and pressure cook them for another 2 minutes. When the two minutes are up, push the vent to quickly release the pressure.  Because your pot will still be warm, it’ll only take a few minutes for the pot to return to the right temperature and for your chicken to be done to perfection.

How to Use Instant Pot Cooked Chicken?

Chicken cooked in a pressure cooker will not get a crispy, brown or caramelized outer edge. Other than some seasoning, it will look quite pale on the outside. It can absolutely work as an entrée next to potatoes, pasta, vegetables or rice, but personally I prefer using oven roasted or pan fried chicken for that. This Instatn pot chicken is perfect for  casseroles, soups, tacos, quesadillas, pasta, salad, etc. Here are some examples from my site.

Chicken Corn Chowder

Mulligatawny

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken Strawberry Basil Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Chicken and Apple Salad

Creamy Chicken and Nettle Pasta

Chicken and Salsa Taquitos

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Spinach Wrap

Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

Quick and Easy Pesto Pasta

How will you use your tender cooked chicken breasts from the Instant Pot? I’d love to hear how your chicken turned out and how you’re going to use it. Please leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @getgettys and Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.

Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.

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