Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken is sweet and tangy and so easy to make. You need four ingredients and about 30 minutes. That’s it!
Making instant pot ribs is a nice treat but when you want a quick dinner with the same flavors, try pulled chicken. (Yes! Chicken!) This chicken is great served on buns and topped with dill relish or pickled jalapenos.
- Easy: You only need four ingredients to make this recipe.
- Taste: Bold and flavorful thanks to the barbecue sauce and sauteed onions.
- Time: Takes about 30 minutes
- Perfect for: Quick weeknight meals.
Ingredients for Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken
Chicken: Use either boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts. They’re tender and flavorful and shred easily.
Seasoning: Before cooking the chicken, season it with a dry BBQ spice blend, like Penzey’s Northwoods. If you don’t keep that on hand, season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a little smoked paprika.
Onion: Adding a sauteed onion to the premade barbecue sauce boosts the flavor.
Barbecue Sauce. Use whatever barbecue sauce you love.
How to Make BBQ Shredded Chicken with the Instant Pot
Note: The original version of this recipe cooked the chicken in the barbecue sauce. I’ve updated it to add the chicken to the barbecue sauce after cooking. This ensures that the Instant Pot can easily reach pressure and it allows for flexibility. You don’t have to add all the shredded chicken to the sauce. You can save some for other uses.
- Cook the chicken. Season the chicken and cook it under high pressure in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker. When the cooking time completes, release the pressure. (This is called a “quick release.”) If the pressure releases naturally, the chicken can overcook.
- Make the barbecue sauce. While the chicken cooks, saute an onion and add the barbecue sauce. Allow this to simmer for the best flavor.
- Shred the chicken. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Add about a half cup of the cooking liquid and shred the chicken. (To do this quickly, use a handheld mixer.)
- Sauce the chicken. Add the chicken to the skillet with the barbecue sauce and stir to combine. At first, it won’t seem like enough sauce. It is.
Serving Suggestion: BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches
Serve the bbq shredded chicken on toasted buns. Top the shredded chicken with additional barbecue sauce and dill relish. You can also top it with pickled jalapenos or coleslaw.
What to Serve with BBQ Shredded Chicken
- Pasta salad.
- Corn. You can serve this with fresh or frozen corn.
Instant Pot Easy BBQ Pulled Chicken
Pressure Cooker Pulled Chicken is quick and easy way to enjoy the flavor of BBQ all year round. Serve on toasted hamburger buns topped with dill relish or pickled jalapenos.
- ¾ cup water
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 1 teaspoon dry BBQ seasoning, like Penzey's Northwoods*
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- ¾ cup barbecue sauce, plus more for serving
Place a rack into the Instant Pot cooking insert. Add the water. Place the chicken breasts onto the rack and sprinkle the BBQ seasoning onto each chicken breast.
Lock the lid into place. Set the pressure valve to the "sealing" position. Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.
Prepare the sauce. While the chicken cooks, prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the diced onion. Cook until soft and lightly brown. Add the barbecue sauce. Stir. Reduce heat to low.
When the cooking time completes, quickly release the pressure by turning the pressure valve to "venting." Open the lid away from your face and remove the chicken from the pot with a pair of tongs. Place the chicken into a large bowl and add one cup of the cooking liquid.
Shred the chicken, using either an electric mixer or two forks. Add the chicken to the barbecue sauce and stir to combine. Cook for about two minutes. Serve.
Ingredient Note: Dry BBQ Seasoning
Use a dry BBQ seasoning like Penzey's Northwoods to coat the chicken. If your BBQ blend does not contain salt, salt the chicken breasts with 1/4 teaspoon of salt before cooking.
Megan @ MegUnprocessed says
Pressure cooker is great, it helps food cook faster.
I used Stubbs original BBQ sauce. Its thinner so worked great. I still added 1-2 T of water because I wasn’t sure if pressure would stay up but no worries. I also used a stovetop pressure cooker with delicious results.
I’ll have to try that sauce! Glad you liked it!
How would you adjust the cooking time and ingredients for 5lbs of breast? Would you be concerned about the meat getting dry with that much in the pot? This is for a party and I don’t want to mess it up!
I recommend filling the pot no more than halfway full. So you might want to do two batches of 2.5 pounds if you have a smaller Instant Pot. Other than that, everything else should work great! Just remember to increase the other ingredients so you have enough sauce.
Hi! I’m wondering, in the body of your text it says “the chicken cooks in ten minutes under pressure,” but the instructions say 15 minutes. I’m worried about undercooking, and overcooking, lol. The breasts I usually buy are fresh, not frozen, but pretty large, if that matters. How long do you recommend? Thanks so much!
Thanks for catching this. I updated the recipe because I found that I preferred the texture of a 15-minute cook time. I’ve updated the box. Sorry for causing this confusion.
Donna Dale says
After cooking for 15 min, my frozen breasts were still frozen. What’s going on?
Were the breasts cut into pieces or were they whole? And, did your pot reach pressure for 15 minutes?
My chicken is frozen.. how much time would you suggest adding?
Hi Cassi! Believe it or not, you don’t need to add extra time. The machine takes longer to come to pressure and will take longer to cook overall but you don’t need to add on extra time.
Cooking from frozen is great to know! Always forgetting to get something out of the freezer. Just checking, I am using the pressure cooker button on high, not poultry button, correct?
Yes! Pressure cooker button, not poultry.
BUT we can use poultry button, correct? All presets, except for rice, default to HIGH pressure and poultry button is 15 minutes.
Thanks for the recipe!
Yes, that should work! I don’t test recipes using presets since different brands behave differently. Hope that helps!
This turned out well for me but after 15 minutes the chicken was still a bit pink (I started with frozen breasts). After another 5 minute cycle they were perfect. I also used homemade bbq sauce which was delish!
Yum! I used Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce, added 1 T of water and 1 T of Worcestershire sauce and a little black pepper. I didn’t have onion or garlic on hand, so I omitted that step. Turned out great!
Glad you enjoyed it!
Gary G says
Unfortunately, I had already bought my ingredients before reading the recipe, and my BBQ sauce had the corn syrup. So I compensated by adding about a cup of chicken broth. It took a while, but it pressured up, and with the 15 minute cooking time, the chicken turned out perfect. However, since the sauce was a little thin, I added some of the uncooked sauce from the bottle. Fabulous!
Zee m says
Anybody brown the chicken before pressure cooking it? How did it come out for flavor?
Hi there, I run a food truck and am working out my recipes for a pressure canner. Basically I can cook about 30lbs of chicken in one fell swoop. My understanding is that that it make longer to come to pressure, but once it does chicken should be shreddable in 15 minutes? Should the chicken be covered with water?
I make Carnitas in my pressure canner, just carve up 3 boneless pork shoulder roasts into country style rib sized pieces, season them and toss them in, but I cook that at 15 lbs pressure for at least an hour and get amazingly tender fall apart meat that people go nuts for.
Good question. Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for you. I haven’t tested the recipe in that quantity. Sorry!