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We’re walking you through how to cook sliceable and shreddable chicken (from frozen) in your Instant Pot, so that dinner is a breeze (even if you forgot to set your chicken out ahead of time!)
Frozen Chicken In The Instant Pot
If you have an Instant Pot, then you probably already know that it is the little machine that can. It has literally transformed the way that so many of us cook (and the amount of time it takes to get a finished meal on the table), but I think that my favorite thing about the Instant Pot to date is the fact that it can cook meat (specifically chicken, for the sake of this post) from frozen.
Being able to cook a protein from frozen means that if I forget to move my frozen chicken from the freezer to the fridge to start thawing before I leave for work (or ideally, before bed the night before, but that’s a goal I’ve pretty much given up on), dinner doesn’t have to be completely scrapped for takeout! Instead, I can come home, pop that frozen chicken right into my Instant Pot, and continue on with my dinner plan.
What You Need
You’ll need a few things to make this happen. The first (and most important) is an Instant Pot. If you don’t already have one, and you’re looking for ways to make dinnertime easier, we highly recommend getting an Instant Pot. There are several different models available, and you can find all of our pros and cons for each in our Instant Pot Comparison guide.
You’ll also need frozen chicken (anywhere from 1-5 pounds – more on that below), and a cup of water!
How To Cook Frozen Chicken Breast In The Instant Pot
The process is super easy (as Instant Pot meals tend to be). Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to either end up with shreddable chicken or sliceable chicken from frozen in your Instant Pot.
For Shreddable Chicken Breast
Shreddable chicken is the easiest to achieve in the Instant Pot, and that’s because if you cook chicken for long enough in the Instant Pot, it *is* going to end up in a shreddable state (i.e. there isn’t necessarily anything special that you have to do in order to get shreddable chicken).
For shreddable chicken, you’ll simply add the chicken + water to the Instant Pot, and set it to cook on high pressure for an amount of time (to be determined by the amount of chicken you’re cooking). Shreddable chicken does take a little bit longer in the Instant Pot than sliceable chicken, but still significantly less time than it would to slow cook chicken (think: 45 minutes *max* vs. 4-8 hours).
For Sliceable Chicken Breast
We don’t recommend making more than 2 pounds of frozen chicken breast if you’d like your chicken breast to be sliceable. We found that over 2 pounds, the chicken cooks unevenly. You’ll wind up with raw chicken breast in the center and sliceable breast on the outside, and if you continue cooking the outside will shred while the inside is more of a sliceable consistency. So, if you have over 2 pounds of chicken, just cook it to a shreddable consistency, or defrost and bake it!
As with shreddable chicken, you’ll simply place the frozen chicken in the Instant Pot along with a cup of water, and set it to cook for a set amount of time. Easy peasy!
Size Matters With Pressure Cooking
Here’s the deal, while the Instant Pot can absolutely cook your frozen chicken, you do want to be slightly strategic on how you’re freezing it (if possible). Here’s what we mean:
If you’re freezing chicken in a freezer bag and you know you are going to cook it from frozen in the Instant Pot later, don’t lay the bag down and spread out the chicken – while this may feel like a freezer space-saver, that gallon Ziplock bag-sized block of frozen chicken won’t fit into the Instant Pot! Instead, you’ll be forced to thaw it first, and that totally defeats the purpose of this Instant Pot hack. We recommend placing your raw chicken in the bottom of the freezer-safe bag (creating more of a ball of chicken) and freezing it that way.
Also, while you can totally cook 4 pounds of frozen chicken at a time in the Instant Pot, we think that freezing no more than 2 pounds of chicken together in one bag is the best way to avoid having a large chunk of frozen chicken that just won’t fit into the Instant Pot. Plus, freezing in 2 pound increments means that it’s easier to pull out and cook exactly what you need – grab 1 bag if you only need 2 pounds of chicken or 2 bags if you need 4 pounds!
Lastly, we don’t recommend cooking more than 4 pounds of frozen chicken breast in a 6 quart Instant Pot or more than 6 pounds of frozen chicken in an 8 quart Instant Pot – if you go higher than this you likely won’t be able to close the lid and will need to defrost it first.
How Long To Cook Frozen Chicken In the Instant Pot
The time here definitely varies based on the amount of chicken you’re cooking! Below, you’ll find exact cooking times for different amounts of chicken:
For shreddable chicken breast
- 1 pound = 25 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 15 minutes
- 2 pounds = 30 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 15 minutes
- 3 pounds = 35 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 15 minutes
- 4 pounds = 40 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 15 minutes
- 5 pounds = 45 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 15 minutes
- 6 pounds = 45 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 15 minutes
For sliceable chicken breast
- 1 pound = 12 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 10 minutes
- 2 pounds = 15 minutes on high pressure, natural release for 10 minutes
Storage Instructions For Frozen Chicken Breast
While you can totally freeze your chicken in the packaging that it comes in from the store, we actually like freezing ours in a freezer-safe Ziplock bag instead. Here are our best tips for freezing and storing frozen chicken:
- Freeze in 2 pound increments – we recommend freezing your chicken in increments of 2 pounds per bag. This allows you to more easily pull exactly the amount of chicken you need from the freezer, and also keeps the chicken from freezing into a large frozen lump that won’t fit into the Instant Pot.
- Place the chicken at the bottom of the bag when freezing – instead of laying your freezer bag flat on the counter, filling it up with chicken, and freezing said chicken spread out and flat in the bag, we actually recommend standing your bag upright (open end facing up), and dropping your chicken into the bottom of the bag to freezer together in more of a ball-like shape rather than spread out. This will help the shape of the frozen chicken more easily fit into the belly of the Instant Pot.
- Label the bag – don’t forget to label the Ziplock bag with the date and contents of the bag (including the exact amount of chicken) before sticking it into the freezer!
- Place newer bags in the back of the freezer, and move older bags upfront – to minimize any possible food waste, make sure that you’re placing the newer bags of chicken toward the back of the freezer, and scooting older frozen chicken to the front. This will make it more likely that you eat the older stuff first rather than it being lost in the back of the freezer, and eventually going bad and being thrown away.
Just for You
Want more recipe ideas like this?
- Frozen chicken breast 1-6 pounds
- Place the frozen chicken breast in the Instant Pot along with 1 cup of water. You can leave the chicken breast plain, or add salt, pepper, or other seasonings if desired.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot and make sure that the pressure valve is fully sealed. Press the 'manual button' and set it to cook for one of the following times for a shreddable consistency*:1 pound = 25 minutes2 pounds = 30 minutes3 pounds = 35 minutes4 pounds = 40 minutes5 pounds = 45 minutes
- Once the timer on the pot goes off, let the pressure release naturally for at least 10-15 minutes, then turn the valve to ‘venting’ to let out any extra pressure.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and shred with two forks, then serve!
- If you’d prefer to make your chicken breast a sliceable consistency, I recommend cooking 1 pound for 12 minutes on high or 2 pounds for 15 minutes on high.