The first thing I suggest making in your brand new electric pressure cooker is hard-cooked eggs (seriously, so easy to peel). The second? Basic chicken breast! This dinner staple cooks up perfectly every time in the Instant Pot. You can aim for firm but juicy chicken for cubing, or let it cook a little bit longer for tender shredded chicken.
Instant Pot chicken breast is also as ingenious for meal prep (hello, more oven space!) as it is for weeknight dinners. You can even cook frozen chicken breast this way while you figure out the rest of dinner. Ready for the simple steamed chicken breast technique you'll use over and over again?
Basic, Not Boring, Chicken Breast in the Instant Pot
There are a lot of ways to cook chicken in the electric pressure cooker, but this method is specifically for plain chicken breast that you can use as meal prep for building salads and grain bowls or for using in recipes that call for cooked chicken. (This chicken salad comes to mind.)
Yes, this recipe below is just chicken, salt, and chicken broth or water, but you can totally add your own flavors before cooking with dry spice rubs or citrus, or dress up the cooked chicken with sauces or salsas. There's no need to adjust the cooking time when adding any of these for flavor.
It will take about 12 minutes for the Instant Pot to come up to temperature and then another 10 to 15 minutes of cook time. Depending on how you'd like your chicken cooked, you'd add up to five minutes of natural release time. Your total cook time, including prep? Thirty minutes. See? Better, faster meal prep awaits!
Can I cook frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot?
Yes! This method works with frozen chicken as well. Just plan for frozen breasts to take longer to come to temperature — about two to five minutes extra depending on the number of breasts. The cook time under pressure doesn't change, but it does extend the amount of time it takes the pot to come up to pressure to about 15 minutes.
Use the trivet or steamer basket.
We're not boiling these breasts, but rather pressure steaming them to ensure they're juicy, so you want the breasts to sit above the cooking liquid. I've used both the trivet that comes with the pot and a folding steamer basket with the same great results.
What is your chicken goal?
- I want my chicken to be firm, and easy to dice: For firm, chicken salad-ready breasts, you'll want to go for a 10-minute cook time but use a quick-release of pressure to keep the breasts juicy and not overcooked.
- I want tender, shredded chicken: For chicken that can be shredded with a fork, keep the pressure on a little longer by using natural release for five minutes after a 15-minute cook time.
Don't toss the broth! Whatever you do, don't dump the broth (or water) you used for steaming — it didn't lose any flavor, in fact it gained some, and you can use it to turn your chicken into soup or even to upgrade your lunch ramen.
Our Favorite Recipes for Basic Chicken Breast
Now you've got this juicy, tender chicken breast ready and you need some ideas for how to eat it. Cube it and top chopped salads, shred it for wraps and sandwiches, or work it into quick weeknight soups. These are just a few recipe ideas to get you started.
- White Chicken Chili Skillet Dip
- Chicken Caesar Pizza
- Weeknight White Chicken Chili
- Dutch Oven Chicken Pot Pie
- Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup
- Italian Chicken Salad Sandwiches
- The Best Pesto Chicken Salad
- BBQ Chicken Pizza
How To Cook Chicken Breast in the Instant Pot
Serves 4 to 6
What You Need
fresh or frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 large breasts)
low-sodium chicken broth or water
Electric pressure cooker
Pressure cooker rack or steamer basket
Measuring cups and spoons
Arrange the chicken, salt, and water in the electric pressure cooker. Set the Instant Pot’s trivet or a steamer basket inside the insert of a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. Season the chicken with the salt and set on the trivet. Pour the chicken broth or water over the chicken.
For perfectly juicy chicken breast: Cook the chicken on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes and quick release the pressure. Seal the cooker and make sure the pressure valve is closed. Set to MANUAL, HIGH, and dial the time down to 10 minutes. For fresh chicken, it will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. Expect frozen chicken to take 12 to 15 minutes to come up to pressure. When the 10-minute cook time is up, do a QUICK release of pressure.
For shredded chicken: Cook the chicken on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes and natural release for 5 minutes. For chicken that shreds easily with a fork, you’ll need just a few more minutes of cooking and natural release. Cover the electric pressure and set to MANUAL, HIGH, and dial the time down to 15 minutes. For fresh chicken, the cooker will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. Expect frozen chicken to take 12 to 15 minutes to come to pressure. When the 15 minute cook time is up, do a NATURAL release of pressure for 5 minutes before quick releasing any remaining pressure.
Release remaining pressure, remove and serve or use for future use. Immediately transfer the chicken to a cutting board. If reserving the cooked chicken for meals throughout the week, store the breasts whole to keep them moist. Chop or shred the chicken as desired for immediate use in other recipes. Reserve the broth for soups and cooking grains.
Frozen chicken: This method works well with frozen chicken as well, just keep in mind that frozen breasts cool the cooker’s insert and make for a longer cooker time, as the pressure cooker needs more time to come to pressure.
Storage: Cooked chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.