Easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is a meal prep staple and this simple, no-fail recipe is super versatile, too. Shredded Chicken is an easy, healthy protein that you can add to salads and veggie bowls, burritos, enchiladas, tacos, wraps, sandwiches, omelettes or scrambles. Add your shredded chicken to your favorite soup, stew or stir fry. It’s a great addition to cauliflower fried rice or breakfast egg bites. Serve over rice (or cauli-rice) or pasta (or zoodles), or simply add your favorite mayo and make a quick chicken salad for lunches or quick meals.
Like my shredded beef recipe, this Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is a meal prep and meal planning super-star staple in our house and for so many of my clients. Of course if you don’t have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, you can also easily make this in the slow cooker, I included those directions below. I personally find the Instant Pot brings the best results, the meat is always moist (yuck, I hate that word) and ready in a jiffy. You can even make your Instant Pot Shredded Chicken from chicken thighs, or a mix of chicken thighs and chicken breasts.
See all my tips and recipe suggestions below, to make this a weekly staple food you can always have on hand. Cook once and eat LOTS – a great way to stay planned out, to feel less overwhelmed at mealtime and ultimately successful with your health goals.
Breasts or Thighs. Or Both.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I personally prefer high-quality organic and free range, local when possible) are perfect using this method. Since I prefer darker meat to white meat, often we will use boneless skinless chicken thighs, too. You can also use a combination of the two cuts, whatever you prefer.
If you are stuck in that bind where you forgot to defrost a protein and you need something quick and simple, toss the frozen chicken into your Instant Pot, breaking apart the breasts (or thighs) as best you can if they are grouped together, to ensure even cooking, and set the cook time for 20-25 minutes for 4-5lbs. You’ll have to adjust the cook time for less meat, 2-3 lbs will be more like 15-20 minutes.
Forget the Forks. For Easy Shredding – Your Hand Mixer or Stand Up Mixer work GREAT!
If you don’t want to futz with the two forks method, cut the chicken breasts into slightly smaller pieces, add the chicken and a little of the cooking liquid to the bowl of your stand up mixer, or a large mixing bowl. Using the flat beater attachment, start at a low mixing speed, then gradually increase the speed up to a low-medium setting (usually on speed 2 or 3). Keep the mixer running for about 30 seconds to a minute and ta da, you’re done! If you don’t have access to a standing mixer, you can use a hand mixer to shred chicken in a similar way.
NOTE: Whether you are shredding with two forks or a mixer, shred while the chicken is still hot. As the chicken cools, the muscle fibers will begin to tighten up and this will make it a bit more challenging to shred. You can shred cooled chicken, but it will take extra effort and the meat tends to pull apart in larger chunks rather than thin, wispy shreds.
No Instant Pot? No Problem. Here’s Your Slow Cooker Instructions:
For the slow cooker, I suggest that you include 1/2 cup stock or water for every pound of chicken. Add all of the ingredients to your 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Place the lid on. Set on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-4 hours. Chicken is done when it reads an internal temperature of 165°F. Shred chicken and enjoy!
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Recipe Variations
Shredded Salsa Chicken – great for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, taco salads and bowls, nachos, wraps, etc.
Replace the water or broth with 1 cup of your favorite salsa, standard spicy tomato, salsa verde, roasted chipotle, pico de gallo, etc. Once you remove the chicken, if the liquid is too watery, you can reduce the salsa by setting the Instant Pot to “saute” then press “adjust” until the light over “less” is lit. Cook until the sauce is thickened, a few minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the sauce from burning or sticking. Remove the pot from the pressure cooker and set aside on a hot pad or trivet. Add back the shredded chicken.
BBQ Pulled Chicken – great on your favorite salad, sandwich or wrap.
Swap the water for 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce plus 2 tablespoons of water or broth. Add 2 minced garlic cloves or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. At the end, remove the chicken and on the Instant Pot, hit “saute” then press “adjust” until the light over “less” is lit.) Cook until the BBQ sauce thickens, a few minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the sauce from burning or sticking. Remove the pot from the pressure cooker and set aside on a hot pad or trivet. Add back the shredded chicken.
Buffalo-Style Shredded Chicken – great on your favorite salad, sandwich or wrap.
Swap the water or broth for 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Original Hot Sauce (more or less to taste, just add water or broth to get to 1/2 cup), add 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or two cloves finely minced garlic and little pat of butter or ghee (if you can tolerate dairy), if you’d like. Once shredded add the chicken back to the liquid. Blue cheese optional, paleo ranch dressing is great with the Buffalo Chicken.
Hawaiian Kalua Chicken – delicious with shredded cabbage, over cauliflower rice, a salad or veggies
To the Instant Pot add 1 tablespoon liquid smoke and use Hawaiian Salt instead of standard sea salt.
Options for Serving your Instant Pot Shredded Chicken:
Add shredded chicken to your favorite salads topped with your choice of easy homemade dressing to change up the flavors often. Add to tacos, wraps or burritos, veggie bowls, stir fries, soups, stews, sandwiches, omelettes or scrambles, etc. An endless list of possibilities.
You can also make a simple, classic chicken salad by adding homemade mayo, paleo ranch dressing, green goddess dressing or green tahini to your chilled shredded chicken. Add in veggies or fruit, herbs and spices as you’d like to mix it up.
Your Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Would Also be a Great Addition to Any of the Following Recipes:
Topping on a Cauliflower Pizza Crust (The Buffalo-stye and BBQ Pulled Chicken especially)
- 4 lbs boneless skinless organic, free range chicken breasts (and/or thighs)
- ½ cup water or broth
- any other spices, flavors, sauces or salsas you want to add (see above for diff options)
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Add all of your ingredients to your Instant Pot.
- Secure the lid, and be sure to close the pressure valve. Set for 15 minutes at high pressure.
- When done, let the pressure naturally release for at least 5 minutes. After that, you can turn the valve to "vent" for quick release if you're in a hurry, or continue natural release for the most tender texture. You can also do a quick release right away, if you are in a rush.
- Be careful not to overcook your chicken, it can get tough, if overcooked in the Instant Pot.
- Shred with two forks or using a mixer (see above instructions).
- Store the shredded chicken in the fridge in an air-tight container with the liquid to help keep the meat moist. You can also freeze the shredded chicken.
5 lbs 17 minutes
4 lbs 15 mins
3 lbs 12 mins
2 lbs 10 mins
NOTE: Cook times can vary slightly based on chicken breast size, for larger breasts add a minute or two
– If only making 2 lbs of chicken, use half as much liquid.
– If using frozen chicken, see above notes on extra cook time.
– Chicken should reach an internal temperature 165ºF.
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Instructions:
- Add all of the ingredients to your 4-quart or larger slow cooker. (I suggest 1/2 cup liquid for every 1 pound of chicken) Place the lid on.
- Set on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-4 hours.
- Chicken is done when it reads an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Shred chicken and enjoy!