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Shredded chicken is one of the most versatile proteins out there and cooking it in the Instant Pot makes the process super fast and easy!
Shredded Chicken In The Instant Pot
Shredded chicken is one of our favorite proteins! It can be used in casseroles, soups, bowls, tacos, pizzas, and *so* much more. You name it, shredded chicken can do it.
While cooking shredded chicken in the slow cooker is a great option (and one that we definitely recommend, especially if you don’t have an Instant Pot), it isn’t a quick process, and because of that, definitely takes some planning ahead. This Instant Pot method, on the other hand, is super fast, meaning that it doesn’t require much planning in advance + can be done on a busy weeknight!
Ingredients for Shredded Chicken
To keep the shredded chicken as versatile as possible, this recipe calls only for the necessities:
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken – to start, you’ll want to grab either boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders. Any of the above will work great! We recommend grabbing 5 pounds of chicken if you’re looking to have enough shredded chicken for 12 adult servings (think: 3 (4-serving) meals). If you’re not looking to cook that much chicken, feel free to reduce the amount of chicken based on the amount you do need.
- Water or Broth – in order for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, you’ll need to add some kind of liquid to the pot (both water and broth work great here) to the pot before securing the lid! 1 cup of water is perfect regardless of the amount of chicken you’re using.
How To Make Shredded Chicken In Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is wonderful for many reasons, and chief among them is the amount of time that it saves. That, and the fact that *most* Instant Pot recipes (this one included) are, essentially, hands-off, saving even more of our time! Here’s how you’ll make simple shredded chicken in the Instant Pot:
- Add the chicken + water to the Instant Pot – place the chicken and water (or broth) in the Instant Pot, then secure the lid until you hear it beep.
- Seal the steam release valve + cook – make sure the steam release valve is sealed, and then set the pot to cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
- Let the pressure naturally release – once the 20 minutes is up, let the Instant Pot release the pressure naturally (meaning that you don’t need to turn the pressure seal valve at all). This should take about 10 minutes.
- Shred the chicken – remove the chicken from the liquid, and shred it with your stand mixer, a hand mixer, or two forks.
How to Shred Chicken
There are a couple different ways that you can go about shredding chicken, but ultimately, the way you choose to shred it is totally up to you and the equipment you have on hand! Here’s a breakdown of our two favorite shredding methods:
- Two forks shredding method: this method calls for dumping all of your cooked chicken into a bowl and using two forks (one in each hand) to shred it by hand. We recommend going this route when you have a small to moderate amount of chicken to shred. Shredding with two forks is really easy, but can be a little bit time-consuming (though still totally doable) if you’re shredding, say, 5 pounds of chicken at a time.
- Stand or hand mixer shredding method: this is definitely our preferred method, and is done by either transferring your cooked chicken to a large bowl or the bowl on your stand mixer, and letting the mixer do the work for you! We like to go this route no matter what, but it is especially helpful when you’re making enough chicken for several meals throughout the week and need an easy way to get it shredded QUICKLY! This method is a real life-saver for Cook Once-style meals!
How To Make Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Breast
Though making shredded chicken in the Instant Pot is super simple, if this is your first time (or you just don’t feel super comfortable with the method yet), you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:
- Don’t forget to add water – it’s really important to add water (or broth) to the Instant Pot before securing the lid and setting it to cook. The water is what actually causes the Instant Pot to pressurize, so if you forget to add it, you’ll likely get a “burn” notice from your Instant Pot, and will need to open it back up and add water/broth at that point.
- Account for the Instant Pot coming to pressure + the natural release – while this recipe calls for cooking the chicken for 20 minutes at high pressure, don’t forget to account for the 10-15 minutes that it’ll take to get the Instant Pot up to pressure (before the actual cooking starts) + the 10ish minutes it’ll take for the Instant Pot to release its pressure naturally. In other words, if you need dinner ready at 6:00, don’t put your chicken in at 5:40 and expect it to be totally done in time!
- Use fresh (or thawed) chicken – while you can absolutely cook chicken from frozen in the Instant Pot, this recipe is written for fresh (or already thawed) chicken. We have all kinds of really great instructions for cooking chicken in the Instant Pot from frozen here if you’d rather go that route!
- Keep it simple – we recommend keeping your Instant Pot shredded chicken really simple so that you can use it for a variety of meals and flavor profiles. If you season it with something really distinct while cooking, you may feel limited in what you can use it in.
What to use shredded chicken for?
The possibilities are truly endless, y’all. Shredded chicken can be used in *so* many different ways, and having pre-cooked shredded chicken on hand makes mealtime incredibly easy! We’ve listed several different recipes to make great use of your shredded chicken below, and in each of them, you’ll simply skip the step that calls for cooking the chicken, and sub in your already cooked chicken instead!
- Greek Chicken Salad Bowls
- Thai Chopped Chicken Salad
- Chicken Pesto Salad
- Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans
- Southwestern Chicken Salad
- Chicken Teriyaki Bowls
- BBQ Chicken Tacos with Black Bean and Corn Salsa
- Chicken Soup with Ginger and Turmeric
- Creamy White Chicken Chili
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Thai Curry Chicken Soup
- Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bowls
- Sonoma Chicken Stuffed Butternut Squash
- Chicken Enchiladas Verde
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Chicken in the Instant Pot Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you’re looking to cook enough chicken for 1 night of dinner or a larger amount for, say, 3-4 dinners (or to just stock up the freezer with an easy, ready-to-heat-and-eat protein option), we’ve kept the amount of time the same here. The short reason for this? We’ve found that 20 minutes is long enough to really tenderize and achieve a shreddable texture in anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds of chicken, and if we can keep things really simple by sticking to one time (with really great results), that’s what we’re going to do!
Though 20 minutes may seem slightly longer than other Instant Pot shredded chicken recipes that you see on the internet, we’ve found that giving the chicken a few extra minutes of pressure cooking actually yields a much more shreddable, tender chicken.
Interestingly enough, we actually find it really difficult to overcook shredded chicken in the Instant Pot. In fact, the more time that the chicken has to sit in its own juices and break down with pressure, the more tender and “shreddable” it becomes. Granted, you don’t want your chicken to pressure cook for double the time that we recommend in hopes of it becoming ultra-shreddable, but do know that overcooking it is actually more difficult than it may seem.
We’ve found that a lot of recipes for Instant Pot shredded chicken actually call for pressure cooking the chicken for less time than we do, but in our experimentation, the lower amount of time tends to yield more rubbery, hard-to-shred chicken, while the amount of time that we recommend (slightly longer than you may see elsewhere) really allows the protein to break down and become tender + very easily shreddable.
- 1-5 pounds chicken breast
- 1 cup chicken broth or water
- Place the chicken and broth or water in the Instant Pot, then secure the lid until you hear it beep.
- Close the lid and make sure the steam release valve is sealed, then set the pot to cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
- Let the pressure naturally release for at least 15 minutes, then turn the steam release valve to release any additional pressure. Once it is fully released, remove the lid and transfer the chicken to a bowl.
- Shred the chicken in your stand mixer using the paddle attachment, with an electric hand mixer, or with two forks, then serve or store for later!
Another perfect recipe y’all!!!! Thank you.
Brandi Schilhab says
So glad to hear that, Mallaree! Thanks so much for sharing this with us!
Kathy Sims says
Is the pounds of chicken vs. Liquid right? 1 to 5 # chicken breasts to 1 cup broth/water? Love this idea…
Melissa Guevara says
Hi Kathy! Yes, 1 cup of water is the perfect amount regardless of how much chicken you use (whether it’s 1 to 5 pounds). ~Melissa