If you’ve got a recipe that calls for shredded chicken, then this tender, juicy, and flavorful Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is absolutely going to convert you. Lightly-seasoned, bone-in chicken breasts develop into a beautiful base for any meal in almost no time at all in your Instant Pot. It costs less than store-bought rotisserie chicken; it’s far faster and easier than other methods of cooking; and clean up is a snap! Why would you ever go back?
The history of food trends fascinates me. Even something as simple as a grocery store rotisserie chicken has a backstory. One I recently learned while pondering recipes. You see, I knew I needed shredded chicken for a recipe and reflexively made a mental note that “I can always grab a rotisserie chicken if I’m busy…” And I wondered why that was a default decision.
I know you want to know too. Let’s nerd.
Rotisserie chicken has it’s own Wikipedia page (of course) and it is a treasure trove of articles about how they came to be ubiquitous in places that traditionally only sold uncooked meat. In a nutshell, it was a response from grocery stores to combat the advent of fast casual dining (the cited culprit in every article: Boston Market) that started offering healthy takeout options for families in the 90s.
And if you actually read these articles, it is shocking to see (a) how big the market for rotisserie chickens is in the U.S. and (b) how much grocery stores have strategized to use them to grow their market shares.
Well, maybe not so shocking. Because American ingenuity is no joke…
Anyway, not only did people realize they could serve rotisseries chicken as-is, but then we started figuring out we could take those five dollar chickens (still $4.99 at Costco!) and efficiently turn them into soup, tacos, casseroles…you name it! I have half a dozen recipes on this site that mention using it as a base for such a recipe.
But here’s the thing – does a store-bought rotisserie chicken need to be the end-all be-all of ease and convenience?
Unless you’re some sort of poultry surgeon, the wings and legs are really only ever for eating (if you can even get anything off those wing flats). The thighs are usually soaked in grease (and god help you if you let that coagulate), though decent meat providers. The stars of the show are the breasts, but you’re still only getting two off a roaster, maybe yielding two cups of meat?
And then there’s the time it takes to clean a whole chicken, dispose of the grease, then deal with the chicken carcass and an absurdly inconvenient thunderdome of plastic. Big picture – it kind of feels not worth it unless you already have it on hand.
Fear not grocery stores, you’ll still get my money. I’m just spending it on bone-in chicken breasts from now on, thanks to another “food trend.” Friends, meet Instant Pot Shredded Chicken.
Why use an instant pot for shredded chicken?
So many reasons, but first and foremost, it’s the quality of the Instant Pot Shredded Chicken itself. I wouldn’t recommend an Instant Pot if you weren’t going to get the absolute best result in terms of flavor, texture, and moisture if all it did was save you time and cleanup. But coincidentally, it does that too. Win-win-win.
Pro Tip: if you’re one of those people who forgets to defrost your meat in a timely fashion (certainly not me, no, never…) you can still toss frozen breasts in your Instant Pot, add the seasonings to the broth, and with a slightly longer cook time you’ll get the same results.
Instant Pot shredded chicken ingredients
- Bone-in Skin-on Chicken Breasts: aka “airplane chicken”. Bone-in chicken breasts will yield incredibly tender, juicy chicken and BONUS they’re often much cheaper than boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- Poultry Seasoning: poultry seasoning is a tried and true flavor enhancer for chicken. Yes, it contains a ton of spices that you may already have on hand, but these are already perfectly balanced and ground powder-fine so that you’re not overwhelmed by a flavor competition. Definitely worth having in your spice rack, and though it’s optional in the recipe, definitely worth using.
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder
- Salt and Pepper
How to make shredded chicken in the instant pot
Apologies to Jacques Pepin, but we are not deboning these babies. Bone-in breasts (with a few perfect pinches of seasoning) are going to yield the moistest, most flavorful shredded chicken you’ve ever made or had. Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is so good, you might need to lock it up so you don’t eat it all before it makes it into your recipe. Simply season your breasts and pop them in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes with some broth. The meat practically begs to be shredded after that. It’s so easy you’re going to wonder why you ever shied away from doing it at home.
- SEASON: Combine the poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Season the chicken on all sides.
- LAYER: Pour 1 cup chicken broth into the instant pot. Layer the chicken breasts inside the pot, overlapping the chicken breasts for good circulation (so they cook evenly).
- COOK: Seal the pot and cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
- COOL: Remove the chicken from the instant pot and set aside until cool enough to handle (about 15 minutes) but not cold.
- SHRED: Discard the skins, shred the chicken, add a splash of cooking liquid, and then use or store.
- Don’t forget to strain and store the remaining cooking liquid!
Three ways to shred chicken
First things first – shred your chicken while it’s still warm! Completely cold chicken doesn’t shred nearly as well as warm chicken.
Remove and discard the skin, then shred the chicken from the bones using one of these three methods:
- Your Hands: my favorite kitchen tool! Shred with your (clean) hands for nice chunks of juicy chicken.
- Two Forks: for a finer shred, use two forks to shred the chicken.
- An Electric Mixer: to do so, remove large chunks from the bone, then place into a bowl. If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on low speed for 10-20 seconds. If you have a hand mixer, set the speed to low so you have more control over the size of the shreds, and process for 15-30 seconds.
How to store shredded chicken
To REFRIGERATE: place in a sealed container, add a quarter cup of cooking liquid for every 4 cups of shredded chicken, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To FREEZE: place into gallon ziplock freeze bags, add cooking liquid, press all remaining air out of the bag, and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
How much shredded chicken does this make?
The recipe as written will yield approximately 2 pounds of shredded chicken, or about 8 cups. That’s enough for one or two recipes, plus a freezer stash.
Can I use the leftover cooking liquid?
Heck yes! You’ll have about 2 cups of what ends up being very concentrated chicken stock. Add a splash or two to the chicken if refrigerating or freezing leftovers to keep the chicken super juicy. Use the rest in your next batch of chicken soup.
Recipes for using shredded chicken
- Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Healthy Apple Chicken Salad
- Pumpkin Chicken Chili
- Healthy Chicken Salad with Almond Butter Dressing
Did you make this instant pot shredded chicken? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below
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Instant Pot Shredded Chicken (Rotisserie Style)Print Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Pour the broth into the instant pot.
- Combine the onion powder, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; mix until well combined, then season the chicken on all sides.
- Place the chicken into the instant pot; some overlap is okay, but make sure there is good circulation around the chicken breasts.
- Seal the pot, ensure the pressure valve is set to sealing, then program to High Pressure for 10 minutes; once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Remove the chicken using tongs and transfer to a plate. Rest until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin, shred (see notes), then add half a cup of cooking liquid. Toss, then use immediately or store.
- To Refrigerate: place in a sealed container, add a quarter cup of cooking liquid for every 4 cups of shredded chicken, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To Freeze: place into gallon ziplock freeze bags, add cooking liquid, press all remaining air out of the bag, and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
- Your Hands: shred with your (clean) hands for nice chunks of juicy chicken.
- Two Forks: for a finer shred, use two forks to shred the chicken.
- An Electric Mixer: remove large chunks from the bone with your hands, then place into a bowl. For a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on low speed for 10-20 seconds. For a hand mixer, set the speed to low for best control and process for 15-30 seconds.