Juicy, flavorful and tender Instant Pot Chicken Breast from fresh or frozen. 25 minutes from start to finish, simple ingredients and no searing required. Cooking chicken breast in the Instant Pot is so easy!
Instant Pot Italian chicken breast and Instant Pot BBQ chicken breast are my other go-to on a busy weeknight or a weekend (who am I kidding?!).
Table of contents
- Why This Recipe Works?
- Ingredients You Will Need
- Can I Cook Bone-In Skin-On Chicken Breasts?
- How to Cook Fresh Chicken Breast in Instant Pot
- How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breast in Instant Pot
- How Long to Cook Chicken Breast in Instant Pot?
- How to Make Gravy
- What Size of Instant Pot Can I Use?
- Serving Recommendations
- How to Store Leftovers
- More FAQs
- More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
This Instant Pot chicken breast recipe is easy, simple and forgiving.
Don’t you always have a pack of chicken breasts in your freezer?! Now you can make juicy chicken breast in Instant Pot from fresh or frozen in just 30 minutes.
I have been making slow cooker chicken breast for years. It’s a great recipe, the only downside is that you have to remove cooked chicken right away to avoid it being dry.
So, this easy recipe solves the problem because chicken breast is done in 25 minutes or so. I just love Instant Pot! It makes the best Instant Pot rice and beans without soaking the beans, and Instant Pot lasagna with no need for a springform pan.
If you are not a blessed electric pressure cooker owner just yet, check out my baked chicken breast or chicken breast in air fryer recipes.
Why This Recipe Works?
- Quick and easy: All you have to do is rub chicken breasts with spices and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. With pressure build up and bringing it down, you are in for a maximum of 30 minutes cooking time. You don’t even have to saute your meat but you can, if you wish.
- Cook from fresh or frozen: Forgot to thaw your chicken breasts this morning before going to work? No problem. Even frozen chicken breasts are ready in 30 minutes!
- Tender, juicy and flavorful chicken breast: I can guarantee you will end up with the best chicken breasts you have ever tried! Pressure cooker locks in all the moisture inside the meat resulting in mouthwatering tender chicken breast every time.
Ingredients You Will Need
To make Instant Pot chicken breasts you really need only chicken breasts and water. Everything else is up to your taste and what you are planning to serve it with.
If you are adding cooked chicken breast to salads, quesadillas or tostadas, I would not worry about seasonings much. If you are planning to eat it alongside grains and veggies, I would pay attention to spices.
- Chicken breasts: You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts, fresh or frozen.
- Salt and pepper: Simple seasonings so your chicken is a ‘blank slate’ for recipes.
- Garlic powder: If you wish, but not required.
Of course, you can add more seasonings to taste. It will depend on how you plan to use the chicken once it is ready. Rub chicken breasts with some dried oregano, Italian seasoning, chili powder, smoked paprika, all purpose seasoning or taco seasoning. Or this turkey breast rub would be delicious on chicken as well!
Can I Cook Bone-In Skin-On Chicken Breasts?
Yes, absolutely. You can cook with skin on and bone-in chicken breasts if that’s what you have. Cooking time remains the same.
You do not need to cook them longer because 10-15 minutes of cook time along with about 10 minutes of pressure build up time, is enough to cook through thin chicken bones.
How to Cook Fresh Chicken Breast in Instant Pot
- Add water: Add 1 cup cold tap water and place trivet on top. You want to use cold water so warm water doesn’t reduce the cook time. If you don’t have trivet, just place breasts on the bottom of Instant Pot. Some readers like to use chicken stock or chicken broth instead, especially if cooking without trivet.
- Add chicken: Lay chicken breasts in a single layer, sprinkle with spices and rub onto each other right inside the pot. You can also do so on a separate plate but I find it isn’t necessary.
- Pressure cook the chicken: Depending on the model of your Instant Pot, you will have to press either Pressure Cook on High pressure or Manual button. Set timer for 10 minutes – for breasts under 2 inch thickness, 15 minutes – for over 2 inch thick breasts.
- Release the pressure: Now you want to wait 5 minutes aka do Natural Release for 5 minutes. Then turn the pressure valve to Venting position to release remaining pressure. Your chicken is ready. I find you do not have to rest the meat with chicken breasts cooked in Instant Pot.
If you would like to sear your seasoned chicken breasts, press Saute and wait until it says Hot. Swirl a bit of olive oil and sear chicken on all sides for about 2 minutes per side. You might have to do so in batches. After when you add water, make sure to scrape away all browned bits because they can trigger burn notice. Cook seared breasts less than 2″ thick – for 7 minutes, and over 2″ thick – for 10 minutes.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breast in Instant Pot
- Add water: You always want to start with 1 cup cold thin liquid like water or broth when cooking in Instant Pot. Don’t add warm water because it will skew the cook time and your chicken will come out undercooked.
- Add chicken: When cooking frozen chicken breasts, it is very important to make sure each breast is separated. If you add a blob of frozen breasts, you will end up with raw meat inside and overcooked chicken outside. Place chicken in a single layer.
- Season it: You won’t be able to rub spices or sear frozen chicken, so just sprinkle seasonings on top.
- Pressure cook: Press Pressure Cook on High (Duo model) or Manual (LUX) for 15-18 minutes. I would say chicken breasts under 2″ thick in the thickest part – cook for 15 minutes. Over 2″ – cook for 18 minutes.
Check out my Instant Pot frozen chicken breast recipe for detailed info. And if you have an air fryer, you can cook frozen chicken breasts in air fryer as well.
When you bring fresh chicken from the store, line each breast with small piece of parchment paper before adding to a bag and freezing. Thaw for 5 minutes or run under cold water for easy parchment paper removal.
How Long to Cook Chicken Breast in Instant Pot?
With all the different sizes and models of this electric pressure cooker, you might be wondering how long to cook chicken breast in the Instant Pot?! And it’s valid question.
You need to answer only 2 questions:
- Are you using fresh chicken breasts or frozen chicken breasts?
- How thick are they?
I have put together this cooking time chart for your quick reference:
- Fresh chicken breasts: 10 minutes – under 2″ thick, 15 minutes – for over 2″ thick breasts.
- Frozen chicken breasts: 15 minutes – under 2″ thick, 18 minutes – for over 2″ thick.
Always with 5 minutes of natural pressure release and then quick release remaining pressure.
How Do I Know It’s Ready?
As per USDA guidelines, your chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part reaches 165 degrees F. Check the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast.
How to Make Gravy
If you have seasoned your chicken breast with extra spices and seared it, then you will have flavorful cooking liquid sitting at the bottom of the pot. In this case, you can make delicious gravy that is full of flavor.
Press Saute button and in a small bowl, make a slurry with 2 tablespoons cold water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Pour it in, whisk and cook until gravy has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Easy!
What Size of Instant Pot Can I Use?
Any size of Instant Pot works for this recipe. It comes in 3 quart, 5 quart, 6 quart or 8 quart.
Same recipe. Same cooking time. Same water amount.
Just make sure chicken breasts fit in a single layer. If your Instant Pot is small and you want to cook large amount of breasts, do so in a few batches. Piling up chicken in a few layers will result in undercooked chicken.
Also note that larger Instant Pot, for example like my 8 quart, takes longer to come to pressure. About 8-10 minutes.
There are so many ways to answer the question on what to do with cooked chicken breast! It sure is a welcome addition to a variety of recipes like salads, enchiladas, casseroles and sandwiches.
Here are a few ways to turn it into a meal:
- Instant Pot shredded chicken: Shred meat with 2 forks, refrigerate and use to make chicken salad or healthy white chicken chili.
- Diced chicken breast: Chop it up to add protein to pasta, vegetable soup or borscht. Why not?!
- Low carb meal: Make one of these healthy zucchini recipes to have with chicken for a complete meal.
- With sauce: Combine shredded chicken with healthy barbecue sauce or teriyaki sauce.
How to Store Leftovers
Store: Refrigerate leftover chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Weekly meal prep: Refrigerate whole or cubed chicken breast and use throughout the week for lunches. Sub out your sandwich deli meat or use in salads.
Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container or resealable freezer bags for up to 3 months. Thaw in fridge or on a counter.
Many recipes online ask you to saute chicken breast before pressure cooking in an effort “to lock in most of juices”. I can assure you I have cooked chicken breast in Instant Pot over 20 times and it comes out juicy if you follow my recipe.
But you can saute it if you wish, of course. See notes above how to do so.
No. You can cook as many or as little instapot chicken breasts as you need, as long as they fit into a single layer. If you stack them, your chicken will end up with uncooked spots.
Because the Instant Pot steam provides a moist environment for your chicken breast, this is difficult to do. If you are worried, be sure to measure your chicken breast’s thickness at its widest point so you know exactly how long to cook chicken breast in Instant Pot.
If your Instant Pot chicken breast came out tough it could be due to the breast itself. Find the brand you like and use it. To fix tough chicken, shred it with two forks and mix with some cooking liquid from the bottom of the pot.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot chicken and rice that we make every month!
- Instant Pot chicken and potatoes everyone will love, trust me!
- Instant Pot white chicken chili is creamy and made healthier.
- Instant Pot frozen whole chicken – rotisserie style whole chicken.
- Instant Pot whole chicken – any mom’s best friend.
- Butter chicken in the Instant Pot comes out just like the restaurant’s!
- Instant Pot shredded chicken tacos with only 3 ingredients.
Also be sure to check out these 20 healthy freezer meals you can cook from frozen in your Instant Pot. And here you can browse 45 other healthy Instant Pot recipes.
Instant Pot Chicken Breast Recipe
- 3 lbs boneless chicken breasts fresh or frozen*
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- To the Instant Pot, add water and place trivet inside.
- Lay chicken breasts in a single layer (if using frozen make sure they are separated) and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly with tongs or hands.
- Close the lid and set pressure vent to Sealing. Press Pressure Cook on High or Manual for 10 minutes (under 2" thickness) for fresh, or 15 minutes (over 2" thick) for fresh and frozen chicken breasts (any size).
- Display will say ON, Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure, you will see a bit of steam coming out from a valve, then float valve will rise and countdown will begin.
- After 10-15 minutes your chicken is ready, Instant Pot will beep and display will say OFF. Wait 5 minutes and do Quick Release by turning sealing valve to Venting position.
- Open the lid and your chicken breasts are ready for meal prep, casseroles, salads etc. Shred or cube, and save the stock at the bottom for soup.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container or resealable freezer bags for up to 3 months. Thaw in a fridge or on a counter.
- *If using frozen chicken breasts make sure they are separated. Think about it before freezing a whole tray, separate them with parchment paper.
- Feel free to use chicken broth instead of water.
Shred chicken by chucking the whole thing in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Set it to low and be amazed.
Delicious! My whole family loved it.
So glad to hear you enjoyed it!
I had three large — almost industrial size — frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts that wouldn’t lay flat without piling one on top of another and I saw your caution against that. Then I remembered a recipe for baby back ribs and they were placed on edge around the circumference of the Instant Pot. I figured if it worked for ribs, it might work for chicken. They came out great! Every time I use my Instant Pot I like it more. I sorta wish I had the eight quart instead of the six, but it’s working okay.
So glad to hear it worked out!
Hello! I wanted to thank you for this method, because not only am I new to instant pot (life changer!), I also have just started eating meat after 20 years, and this was the first (and so far only way) I cooked it. I love how clear you were with the instructions and I learned a lot! This is my fourth time cooking it, and this time it was actually for my cat Charlie, so I didn’t season it at all. I put in a boneless chicken breast and two drumsticks with skin on, and cooked it for 15 min, and the meat fell right off the bone, while the breast is still tender. We’ll be sharing the chicken for a week, me adding it to my soup, and Charlie snacking on it while sipping his bone broth I’ve made before. Thank you!
So glad you found it helpful and are enjoying the recipe! (Charlie too 🙂 )
How about chicken tenderloins from frozen? Does anything change?
You will need a shorter cook time (6-8 minutes) unless they are thick, then refer to the frozen chicken breast information. Still wait for 5 minutes, then release pressure.
I make this chicken all the time…it’s my go to receipe. Thank you, Joyce
So happy you enjoy it Joyce!
Did my own seasoning but the instructions were perfectly clear and easy to follow! My chicken came out so moist and delicious. The stock was amazing and I decided to freeze it. Used the chicken in a chicken philly casserole dish. Very easy to shred too. So good I pinned it on Pinterest so I could come back to it.
So glad you it came out so great Kita! It’s so great for meal prep, agreed!
Thank you! I had frozen breasts I needed to shred for my sick pup. Your instructions are so easy. Дякую From Vienna, Austria.
So glad you found it helpful and hope the sick pup is feeling better soon!
Just perfect! Love how easy and thorough your recipe is. Thank you so much! I’m totally loving my instant pot and I look forward to trying out more of your instant pot recipes.
So glad to hear Diana!
So easy and it came out perfect. Thank you!!
So happy to hear Corinna!