How To Cook Chicken Breast in the Instant Pot

updated Jun 28, 2024

This method is specifically for plain chicken breast that you can use as meal prep for building salads and grain bowls.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 25 minutes

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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. Ready for the simple steamed chicken breast technique you’ll use over and over again? Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s great for meal prepping. 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.
  • You can use fresh or frozen chicken breasts. Both work well here – 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.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Key Ingredients for Instant Pot Chicken Breasts

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.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How Long Does It Take to Cook Chicken Breasts in an Instant Pot?

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. Be sure to use medium chicken breasts (about 8 ounces) each. If you have larger or smaller, you may need to play around and adjust timing accordingly.

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 Instant Pot Trivet or Steamer Basket

We’re not boiling these breasts, but rather pressure steaming them to ensure they are 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.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Delicious Ways to Use Cooked Chicken Breasts

Now you’ve got juicy, tender chicken breasts ready and you need some ideas for how to eat it, we’ve got you covered. Cube it and top chopped salads, shred it for wraps and chicken salad sandwiches, or work it into soups. These are just a few recipe ideas to get you started.

Also, 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 in soups or even to upgrade your lunch ramen.

Editor’s Note

We’ve retested the recipe, focusing on medium-sized chicken breasts, which are about 8 ounces each, and the cook time is correct. If you have smaller or larger chicken breasts, we recommend reducing or increasing the cook time by a minute or two accordingly, it may take some trial and error. – June 2024

How To Cook Chicken Breast in the Instant Pot

This method is specifically for plain chicken breast that you can use as meal prep for building salads and grain bowls.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 medium

    fresh or frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each, do not thaw)

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    low-sodium chicken broth or water

Equipment

  • Electric pressure cooker

  • Pressure cooker rack or steamer basket

  • Measuring cups and spoons

Instructions

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  1. Arrange the chicken, salt, and liquid 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.

  2. Cook the chicken on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. Seal the cooker and make sure the pressure valve is closed. Set to HIGH pressure for 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.

  3. Quick release the pressure, remove, and serve or use for future use. Quick release the pressure. 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.

Recipe Notes

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 refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.