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Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken is a quick and easy dinner idea made with store bought barbecue sauce. It is sweet, smoky with a hint of spice from jalapeños and delicious made into sandwiches, salads, quesadillas, tostadas or nachos.

If your family loves chicken dishes for dinner, then check out this Crispy Baked Cutlets, Ground Chicken Stir Fry, Air Fryer Tacos or Air Fryer Teriyaki Thighs.

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an oval platter with cooked instant pot bbq chicken

Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken

This easy dish is one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes for a busy day. Seriously, this is incredibly simple and makes the best pulled meat in just 30 minutes. I like serving it on buns for sandwiches or for a delicious meal over rice. It is also one of my favorite recipe for meal prep!

It’s also delicious in barbecue salad with romaine, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado and ranch dressing. Versatile, easy and delicious, it is a crowd pleasing, simple, and flavorful meal! An “almost” dump and go recipe.

Why Do I Love This Recipe?

  1. Tasty – This meat is tender and lip smacking delicious. It is so good that my kids simply snack on it before dinner time.
  2. Versatile – Use it from tacos, on salads, in sandwiches, with rice, potatoes or make into nachos.
  3. Great for meal prep – Perfect for making ahead, since it can be served in a number of ways for lunch, dinner or snack.
  4. Quick: It takes minutes to prep this recipe before cooking it in the Instant Pot. It’s ready to serve in less than 30 minutes!
  5. One Pot: Everything is cooked right in the pressure cooker, so clean up is a breeze.
  6. Adaptable: Can make with so many different barbecue sauces, such as sweet and smoky, hot and spicy, or vinegary and tangy.


Our favorite cut to use are used boneless, skinless thighs. They cook up tender, moist and juicy. However, if you want go for a leaner cut, then a combination of breasts and thighs can be used. The breast offers lean protein and the thighs will contribute texture and flavor.


Yes! It is safe and easy to cook frozen ones in the Instant Pot. Keep the cook time the same, when using frozen meat. The Instapot will automatically take a few extra minutes to reach pressure. However, if your chicken is frozen and stuck together, you should increase the cook time to 10 minutes plus a 10 minute natural release.


Whatever brand is your favorite! Different regions of the country have different styles of sauce. We love Kinders BBQ – It’s sweet, smoky, and tangy, all the flavors you’d want in a good tasting recipe. 

However, it is important to note that the thicker your sauce, the more necessary it is to add water to this recipe, to avoid a burn notice. 

What do I do if I get a burn notice?

To prevent this, the recipe calls for adding water which helps in thinning the liquid. The larger the instapot you use, then increase the liquid by 1/4 cup. Adding more liquid will ensure you won’t receive a burn error.


We like to use two forks, but some folks like to use a electric hand mixer to make the job faster. Transfer the cooked meat to large bowl (or use a stand mixer) and use the lowest setting, until shredded. This method helps when you are working with a larger batch. It might be harder to shred, if using all breasts.

an instant pot with shredded barbecue chicken along with 2 forks to serve


  1. Chicken – Use boneless, skinless thighs or a combination of breasts and thighs.
  2. Bbq sauce – We like to use Kinder’s brand from Costco.
  3. Onion – Sliced red onion.
  4. Garlic – Or use garlic powder
  5. Jalapeños – This is optional, but the hint of heat balances the sweetness.

(Salt, pepper and cooking oil are not counted as ingredients)


  • Choose a good BBQ sauce – The flavor of this dish depends on the type of barbecue sauce you use. My favorite is Kinder sauce (not a sponsored post).
  • Chicken – Our go-to cut is always, boneless skinless thighs. It is juicy, always tender and impossible to overcook (check out more easy recipes using chicken thighs). However, a combination of boneless, skinless breasts and thighs is preferred when compared to using all breasts (the end result is not as juicy).
  • Spiciness – Use as much or as less os jalapeños. The hint of spiciness when paired with the sweet, smokiness is just amazing.
  • Make Double Batch – To double the recipe, brown meat in 2 batches (step-1), add all the browned meat along with other ingredients (step-2), and proceed as per instructions.
  • Cook time is the same for breasts and thighs.

How to make?

  1. Saute – Heat instant pot in saute mode. Add vegetable oil and sear boneless, skinless thighs for couple of minutes and turn over. Top with sliced onions, garlic, jalapeños pepper, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over.
  2. Cook – Cover and cook for 5 minutes and then 6 minutes on warm.
  3. Shred – Remove cooked meat onto a plate and shred using two forks.
  4. Finish – Meanwhile, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil and continue cooking until it has reduced to a thick glaze. Add shredded meat and toss well.


There are so many ways you can serve this after it’s cooked. Try any one of these fast and easy ideas. One recipe – Endless possibilities!

  1. BBQ Sandwiches on brioche buns – serve with some carrot fries or asparagus fries.
  2. BBQ Bowls – Top over a bowl of mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.
  3. As is – honestly, I love this as is with some veggies and carbs for a complete meal.
  4. Stuffed in a potato – cook up some white or sweet potatoes, cut them in half, and stuff them with shredded meat. Top with some cheese.
  5. Into tacos – add in some lettuce, tomatoes, and onions or a quick slaw.
  6. Salad – toss it with some crisp lettuce and your favorite veggies for an easy on the go meal.
  7. Quesadillas or Nachos – need I say more?!
  8. With Rice – Top cooked rice with black beans, corn, avocado and shredded cheddar cheese.
  9. Tostada from Cupcakes and Kale Chips


Leftovers can be refrigerated, in an air tight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to a month and reheated in a microwave as required (thaw before microwaving, if frozen).

Have leftover bbq sauce? Try this 5-Ingredient Ramen Noodles, BBQ Chickpea Wonton Nachos or Baked Barbecue Meatballs with avocado

an instant pot with shredded barbecue chicken along with 2 forks to serve


Will bbq sauce burn in instant pot?

It might burn, if the sauce used is very thick and there is not much liquid. Adding additional liquid like water or stock, is essential in making sure that it does not burn.

How do I shred the chicken?

Transfer the cooked meat (trying to drain as much liquid as possible) onto a plate and let cool for about 5 minutes. Using two forks, shred into thin shreds (I preferred to leave it a touch chunky).

What type of chicken do I use?

Thighs cooks moist and tender in the instant pot. However, if you want take a leaner route, then we suggest using a combination of thighs and breasts.


Yes, but if it’s very thick then you need additional liquid to make sure that you don’t get the dreaded BURN notice.

More Chicken Recipes made in Instant Pot:

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Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Yield: 3 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes

Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken is a quick and easy dinner idea made with store bought barbecue sauce. It is sweet, smoky with a hint of spice from jalapeños and delicious made into sandwiches, salads, quesadillas, tostadas or nachos.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 and 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs ( 3 to 4)
  • 1/2 small onion (preferably red), sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3-4 slices jalapeños pepper (about 1/4 small), increase or decrease based on your preference
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, depends on the bbq sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper



    1. Set instant pot to saute mode. Once hot, add vegetable oil. Place chicken in a single layer and let cook for about 2 minutes.
    2. Press cancel, turn chicken over and top with sliced onions, garlic, jalapeños, bbq sauce, water ( use 1/4 cup water for a 3 quart and 1/2 cup water for 8 quart instant pots respectively), salt and pepper.
    3. Close Instant pot (making sure valve is set to seal) and cook for 5 minutes on manual.
    4. When cooking is done, let it continue in warm mode for 6 minutes. Release pressure and open lid.
    5. Using tongs, remove the chicken to a plate.
    6. Press saute again and let the sauce come to boil and continue cooking until it has reduced to a thick glaze, stirring occasionally. (In the mean time, shred chicken using two forks)
    7. Add shredded chicken back into the pot and toss well. Continue cooking until no liquid remains (stir occasionally, making sure that it does not burn in the bottom).
    8. Press cancel and let chicken cool for a few minutes before serving.


BBQ Sauce – Use your favorite bbq sauce, adjust seasoning accordingly.

Choose a good BBQ sauce – The flavor of this chicken depends on the type of bbq sauce you use. My favorite is Kinder BBQ sauce (not a sponsored post).

Spiciness – Use as much or as less os jalapeños. The hint of spiciness when paired with the sweet, smoky bbq sauce is just amazing.

Double the recipe – To double the bbq chicken thighs instant pot, brown chicken in 2 batches (step-1), add all the chicken along with other ingredients (step-2), and proceed as per instructions.

Chicken - I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs but a combination of breasts and thighs can be substituted.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 1021mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 10g

I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Everyone’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This information is provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is a product of online calculator such as Although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their nutrition fact sources and algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Could you please let me know the adjustments for a 6 quart IP?

Maria Doss

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

Hi, I recommend following the procedure as is except adding about 1/2 cup water along with the bbq sauce (in step-2). Enjoy and wishing you a very happy new year!

Katherine | Love In My Oven

Monday 15th of June 2020

This looks sooo good Maria! So flavorful. I need to use my Instant Pot more!

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