This Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is moist and tender and the perfect starting point for so many other meals. It’s great for meal prep or to freeze so you can always have a quick dinner ready to go!
Making shredded chicken is more of a cooking basics overview than it is an actual recipe. But it’s the starting point to so many recipes that it’s worth going over.
I see so many recipes (including dinner recipes on this site) that start with shredded chicken as one of the ingredients. And while you could get shredded chicken fairly easily by buying a rotisserie chicken and shredding it, it’s much cheaper to do it yourself.
Plus, shredding chicken in your Instant Pot allows you to make a large quantity so you can freeze it for future meals!
How to Make Shredded Chicken in the Instant Pot
Making shredded meat is actually my favorite use for my pressure cooker. I know a lot of people come up with elaborate meals to make in them, but large quantities of shredded meat is the number one way I’ve been using it for two years now.
The meat just comes out so tender and moist without having to check on it constantly to see if it’s done. And it shreds so easily too!
To make shredded chicken you need 3 basic components:
For shredded chicken, I normally always use chicken breasts. You can use chicken thighs if you prefer, but that’s just a personal preference.
For the liquid, you can absolutely use water, but you’ll get a lot more flavor with chicken broth. I try to always use chicken broth because I’m a fan of flavor where ever I can get it!
For the seasonings, salt and pepper are the go to’s. Chicken can be a little bland on it’s own so even just adding a bit of salt and pepper helps give it that little extra kick of flavor. Beyond that, dress it up according to your tastes buds: garlic powder, Italian seasoning, lemon pepper, onion powder, paprika, etc.
How Long Do You Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot
One of the reasons this is a favorite “recipe” of mine is because I can make it with thawed chicken or frozen chicken. So even if I forgot to plan ahead and my chicken is still in the freezer at dinner time, we can still have tender, juicy chicken in no time to make our meal.
The times that I use below are assuming you are using thick chicken breasts and not thin cut. Those would be much lower cooking times and aren’t really recommended for shredding anyways.
Cooking Thawed Chicken in a Pressure Cooker
I use about 1 cup of chicken broth per 2 pounds of chicken. Just pour your chicken broth into the Instant Pot and place your chicken in. Sprinkle your seasonings and give it a slight stir to make sure they’re well distributed.
Then close and seal the lid and set the pressure cooker to manual high pressure for 10 minutes. It will take about about 10-15 minutes for it to come to pressure before it begins counting down the 10 minutes it needs to cook.
Once the time is up, I let it naturally release for about another 10 minutes before I manually release the pressure.
Cooking Frozen Chicken in a Pressure Cooker
If your chicken breasts are frozen, the only adjustment you need to make is to the cooking time. I usually add about 4-5 minutes onto my cooking time. So after adding ingredients and sealing the lid, set the cooking time to 15 minutes for frozen chicken breasts.
How Do You Shred Chicken Breasts?
Once the pressure is released and the lid is removed, it’s time to shred it! Your chicken should be so tender that it’s practically falling apart at this point.
There are two main methods for shredding chicken breasts: using 2 forks or using a stand mixer.
I’m lazy and don’t like dirtying extra dishes if I don’t have to, so I just use two forks to tear my chicken into shreds. It only takes a couple minutes and very little effort.
If you use a stand mixer, just make sure you keep it on low and you should only need to pulse it a few times. I would add a little of the liquid from the instant pot into your bowl to keep it moist. If you run the stand mixer for too long, it will quickly go from shredded to mush, which no one wants.
After your chicken is shredded, pour about 1/4 cup or so of the liquid in with the shredded chicken to keep it tender and juicy.
Can You Freeze Shredded Chicken?
You could come to my house on any random day, in any given year, and you will find bags of shredded chicken in my freezers. I use them frequently for dinners, appetizers, lunches… it’s honestly baffling to me that most people don’t always have shredded chicken in their freezers! It’s just so convenient!
To freezer your chicken, let it cool completely. Then divide among quart size freezer bags. I find filling a quart size freezer bag gives me the perfect amount to use for a recipe for dinner.
After you have your chicken divided between your bags, squeeze any extra air out before sealing. Then flatten the bags for better storage and stick in your freezer until ready to use.
How Can You Use Shredded Chicken?
I feel like this could be a post in itself! The possibilities are endless!
But I’ll condense it for you and share some of my favorite ways to use shredded chicken:
- Chicken Salad– in the summer we make this about twice a month for lunch sandwiches or sometimes just to eat on crackers as a snack
- Salads- it’s perfect to throw on a salad for a quick lunch or even an entree style salad. If we’re really having a busy day, I’ll even use it for a Cobb Salad in place of marinating and grilling meat that night.
- Soups- Mexican Chicken Soup, Chicken Enchilada Soup, Chicken Pot Pie… making a soup and being able to just throw a bag of shredded chicken from the freezer into it makes for a super simple meal!
- Appetizers- Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls are our favorite but you can throw this in a dip too for unexpected company.
- Nachos– we love using shredded chicken to make nachos and then drizzling barbecue sauce over
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- 1 cup Chicken Broth or Water
- 2 lbs Chicken Breasts
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Pepper
- Add all ingredients to the Instant Pot inner pot and stir to combine.
- Close and seal lid and set manual high pressure for 10 minutes. It should take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before it starts counting down.
- When the cook time is done, let it naturally release pressure for about 10 minutes. Then manually do a quick release of pressure.
- Remove about half of the liquid and then use two forks to shred chicken in remaining liquid.
- If freezing, let cool completely and then transfer to quart size freezer bags. Remove all air from freezer bags and seal.
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