By cooking frozen chicken breast in Instant Pot, you will never be stuck wondering what is for dinner because you forgot to thaw chicken in the morning! Easy, healthy and juicy chicken breast in 25 minutes. Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Breast is one of the best features of an electric pressure cooker. The result is always amazing juicy, tender and flavorful chicken that can be used for a variety of dishes.
Every Instant Pot owner needs to have this frozen chicken breast recipe in their back pocket. Got fresh ones? See our Instant Pot fresh chicken breast recipe or if you have a whole frozen chicken, follow the recipe for Instant Pot frozen whole chicken.
Table of contents
- Why Recipe for Frozen Chicken Breast in Instant Pot Works?
- Ingredients you Will Need
- How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breast in Instant Pot
- Some Tips and Tricks for Cooking Frozen Chicken Breasts in Instant Pot
- Common FAQs
- Serving Recommendations
- Cooking Chicken Breast in Advance
- More Instant Pot Resources
- More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
Once you learn how to cook frozen chicken breasts in Instant Pot with our easy step-by-step tutorial, it will change your weeknights! The chicken breast comes out moist, juicy, tender and it simply melts in your mouth. I am 100% honest!
I hate to sound like a broken record but if you have been cooking my recipes for a while, you know I am obsessed with my Instant Pot. And Instant Pot frozen whole chicken tops the list.
Heck, I even thaw ground meat in Instant Pot. And who am I kidding – I cook with frozen ground turkey – just see my Instant Pot taco soup. Cooking meat from frozen is the best feature of this magic machine. It just works!
Why Recipe for Frozen Chicken Breast in Instant Pot Works?
- No thawing required: Yes that is correct, cook from frozen! You will never be stuck wondering what is for dinner because you forgot to thaw chicken in the morning!
- Quick: Ready to use as is for dinner or in a recipe – in less than 25 minutes.
- 2 ingredients: Only the frozen chicken and water, so easy.
- Juicy breasts: All the steam and moisture is locked in in the pressure cooker resulting in the most juicy chicken breast ever. If you follow the recipe of course, I promise!
- Perfect for meal prep: Use all week in a variety of healthy dishes! If you are meal prepping, shredded chicken will be where you need to go!
Ingredients you Will Need
- Frozen chicken breasts: Up to 3 lbs boneless chicken breasts.
- Water: 1 cup cold water. You can use chicken broth, pineapple juice or apple cider but it will mostly flavor the broth not the meat.
You can sprinkle chicken breasts with garlic powder, dried oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper etc. But seasonings will not stick to frozen meat well and will end up at the bottom of the pot, making a flavorful broth which then could be made into stock or use in soups.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breast in Instant Pot
1. Make Sure Frozen Breasts Are Separated
I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure your frozen chicken breasts are separated. Just like pictured below.
If you add a blob of frozen breasts stuck together, they will not cook inside and overcook outside.
- Tray with fresh breasts: Do not stick entire tray with fresh chicken breasts from the store in the freezer. Take a few minutes and line each breast with parchment paper and then freeze in a bag. To quickly remove paper, run under hot water before cooking.
- Freeze on a baking sheet: If you have room in the freezer, lay chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Once frozen, add to a Ziploc bag.
- Buy frozen: Frozen chicken breasts are already separated and are cheaper than fresh.
2. Assemble in Instant Pot
- Add cup of liquid and trivet: Make sure to place meat on a trivet, it just comes out better this way. However, you can still cook frozen chicken breasts in Instant Pot without a rack. Meat will come out more boiled.
- Add frozen chicken breasts: You can fit as many chicken breasts as you can in a single layer. Do not double stack them. Usually it is 2-4 lbs depending on your pot’s size. Close the lid, move pressure release valve to Sealing position.
It is OK to see a bit of steam coming out from pressure valve in the beginning. It might have moved from Sealing a bit. Move it slightly back with a long spoon.
3. How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken Breast?
I would say frozen chicken breasts under 2.5″ thick in the thickest part need 15 minutes of cook time on High Pressure. Over 2.5″ thick – add 3 minutes totalling 18 minutes of cooking time.
Contrary to popular belief, cooking frozen meat in Instant Pot does not need longer cooking time. Electric pressure cooker just takes longer to come to pressure because inside inner pot temperature is lower.
How long to cook 1 lb, 2 lbs, or 3 lbs for? The same amount of time! With 99% of all Instant Pot recipes it is not about the amount of food but rather its thickness.
Some Tips and Tricks for Cooking Frozen Chicken Breasts in Instant Pot
- Instant Pot size matters: I have tested these cook times in 6 and 8 quart Instant Pot. I recommend to add 3 minutes cook time to 3 quart models because it comes to pressure faster.
- Turn into Instant Pot shredded chicken: Save a bit of cooking liquid to rehydrate when shredding. You can shred with forks or in a bowl of stand mixer.
- Jazz it up: After cooking frozen chicken breast in Instant Pot, your chicken is essentially a blank canvas for mixing with barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, creamy sauce, you name it! That’s why not much seasonings for cooking are necessary. Even adding salt and pepper on cooked plain poultry tastes different than adding it before – try it!
- Freeze for later: Cool completely then freeze in freezer safe bags for up to 3 months for easy meals again. I like to cube or shred before freezing. Perfect way to meal prep.
- Do not discard broth: Use it to make healthy soups, further cook in Instant Pot chicken stock or save for everyday cooking.
Sometimes it happens. Instant Pot is basically a computer. So, it is not perfect. Altitude, pressure cooker size and type could be the factors. The best way to check is to poke the thickest part of the breast with a fork or insert an instant read thermometer. If juices are a bit pink or internal temperature reads below 165 degrees F, cook 2 more minutes. This time Instant Pot will come to pressure much faster because its contents are hot. Also make sure valve is set to Sealing.
Yes. Cooking any poultry on high heat (or high pressure) for a long period of time will break down the proteins/collagen making the meat more tender; and at same time “remove” more water out of the meat, making it more dry.
No. In my experience, pressure cooking chicken breasts longer makes meat more tough because it is a lean cut of meat. Also skipping 5 minute wait time before releasing pressure makes meat more dry.
There are 2 possible reasons. They are either overcooked – for example, your chicken breasts are smaller and should have been cooked for shorter amount of time. Or it’s the brand of chicken – I buy organic chicken breasts in Costco and never had an issue with tough meat. I understand it’s not in everyone’s budget, then I recommend to buy fresh meat. I found previously frozen store-bought chicken breasts come out tough often.
Shred or cube it and place back in a cooking liquid. It will absorb the broth and rehydrate the meat within 5 minutes.
Just add a few minutes to the cooking time.
Yes, see Instant Pot chicken thighs for details.
Yes, but it won’t be crisp. You could cook in Instant Pot, transfer to oven safe pan and broil for a few minutes to get skin crispy (similar to how we do with pork carnitas).
Very often chicken breasts are used for meal prep and to be added to other dishes. For example, I use it for healthy chicken pot pie or healthy chicken alfredo. I know meat will get mixed with sauce and veggies, and absorb the flavors. See more serving recommendations below!
- In salads that call for cooked chicken: Thai chicken salad, chicken salad or even sub the grilled chicken in grilled chicken salad.
- As a protein to turn side dish salads into main dish meals: Spinach salad or asparagus salad.
- To use in casseroles: Chicken enchiladas.
- In one pot meals and pastas: Alfredo spaghetti squash boats and chicken burrito skillet.
- As the main protein for dinner with these sides: Black bean quinoa casserole, roasted asparagus or roasted cauliflower.
Alternately, browse these 65 chicken recipes and use in recipe that calls for cooked chicken!
Cooking Chicken Breast in Advance
Whether you are in a fitness industry or a busy mom who likes to be prepared, this Instant Pot frozen chicken breast recipe is perfect for meal prep. You can buy quite a few lbs of chicken breasts and cook them in 2-3 batches while prepping other ingredients or just relaxing.
The key is to let chicken cool first, then shred or slice, and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in portions for up to 3 months. I would not worry about any seasonings especially for a meal prep because you will use meat in other dishes.
More Instant Pot Resources
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot butter chicken
- Instant Pot chicken noodle soup
- Instant Pot chicken tacos
- Instant Pot chicken burritos
- Instant Pot BBQ chicken
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breast in Instant Pot
- 2-3 lbs boneless chicken breasts fresh or frozen*
- 1 cup water
- To the Instant Pot, add water and place trivet inside.
- Lay frozen chicken breasts in a single layer. Make sure they are separated.
- Sprinkle with spices if using any. Toss to coat evenly with tongs or hands.
- Close the lid, set pressure vent to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High (Duo model) or Manual (LUX) for 15-18 minutes. I would say chicken breasts under 2.5" thick in the thickest part – 15 minutes. Over 2.5" – 18 minutes. Display will say ON, Instant Pot will take about 10-15 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 15 minutes your chicken is ready, Instant Pot will beep and display will say OFF. Wait 5 minutes to allow chicken to rest.
- Then 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.
- Separate them: If you add a blob of frozen breasts stuck together, they will not cook inside and overcook outside.
- How long to cook 1 lb, 2 lbs, or 3 lbs for? The same amount of time! With 99% of all Instant Pot recipes it is not about the amount of food but rather its thickness.
- Seasonings are optional: You can sprinkle chicken breasts with garlic powder, dried oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper etc. But seasonings will not stick to frozen meat well and will end up at the bottom of the pot, making a flavorful broth which then could be made into stock or use in soups.
- Steam during cooking: It is OK to see a bit of steam coming out from pressure valve in the beginning. It might have moved from Sealing a bit. Move it slightly back with a long spoon.
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