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.
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?
- Tasty - This meat is tender and lip smacking delicious. It is so good that my kids simply snack on it before dinner time.
- Versatile – Use it from tacos, on salads, in sandwiches, with rice, potatoes or make into nachos.
- Great for meal prep – Perfect for making ahead, since it can be served in a number of ways for lunch, dinner or snack.
- 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!
- One Pot: Everything is cooked right in the pressure cooker, so clean up is a breeze.
- Adaptable: Can make with so many different barbecue sauces, such as sweet and smoky, hot and spicy, or vinegary and tangy.
WHAT KIND OF CHICKEN TO USE?
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.
CAN I USE FROZEN CHICKEN?
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.
WHAT KIND OF BARBECUE SAUCE TO USE?
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 ¼ cup. Adding more liquid will ensure you won’t receive a burn error.
HOW DO I SHRED?
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.
- Chicken - Use boneless, skinless thighs or a combination of breasts and thighs.
- Bbq sauce - We like to use Kinder's brand from Costco.
- Onion - Sliced red onion.
- Garlic - Or use garlic powder
- Jalapeños - This is optional, but the hint of heat balances the sweetness.
(Salt, pepper and cooking oil are not counted as ingredients)
PRO TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- 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?
- 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.
- Cook - Cover and cook for 5 minutes and then 6 minutes on warm.
- Shred - Remove cooked meat onto a plate and shred using two forks.
- 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.
HOW TO SERVE?
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!
- BBQ Sandwiches on brioche buns
- BBQ Bowls – Top over a bowl of mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.
- As is – honestly, I love this as is with some veggies and carbs for a complete meal.
- 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.
- Into tacos – add in some lettuce, tomatoes, and onions or a quick slaw.
- Salad – toss it with some crisp lettuce and your favorite veggies for an easy on the go meal.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVERS?
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).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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.
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).
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:
Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 and ¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs ( 3 to 4)
- ½ small onion preferably red, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 3-4 slices jalapeños pepper about ¼ small, increase or decrease based on your preference
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- ¼ to ½ cup water
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt depends on the bbq sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3- quart Instant Pot
- Set instant pot to saute mode. Once hot, add vegetable oil. Place chicken in a single layer and let cook for about 2 minutes.
- Press cancel, turn chicken over and top with sliced onions, garlic, jalapeños, bbq sauce, water ( use ¼ cup water for a 3 quart and ½ cup water for 8 quart instant pots respectively), salt and pepper.
- Close Instant pot (making sure valve is set to seal) and cook for 5 minutes on manual.
- When cooking is done, let it continue in warm mode for 6 minutes. Release pressure and open lid.
- Using tongs, remove the chicken to a plate.
- 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)
- 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).
- Press cancel and let chicken cool for a few minutes before serving.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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