The Instant Pot continues to amaze! Today, I’ll teach you how to cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot in minutes, compared to hours. You will not believe how simple it is to cook chicken that is moist and fork tender in the Instant Pot in just a few minutes.
How many recipes do you use regularly that require chicken? The beauty (one of many) of the Instant Pot is the time saver aspect! I love being able to cook frozen chicken in just a few minutes, and get a fork-tender result.
Before I owned the Instant Pot, I had to plan ahead to cook chicken for hours if I wanted it to shred easily, now it’s about a 30 minutes process. All you need is chicken (fresh or frozen) liquid, seasoning and the Instant Pot!
Experiments with time…
The first few times I cooked frozen chicken in the Instant Pot, I was concerned the chicken would not cook completely, as a result, I overcooked it. Whenever I cook chicken in the oven and start out with frozen chicken, it takes about 45-60 minutes (covered) at 350 degrees depending on the thickness of the frozen chicken breast.
Knowing the Instant Pot usually cooks in a fraction of the time of traditional cooking methods (oven, slow cooker, stove) I guessed 20-30 minutes would be the perfect amount of cook time. Wrong! The chicken was almost dried out (which is very difficult to do in the Instant Pot!) when cooked for 30 minutes. The next time, I tried 10 minutes.
The chicken was cooked, but seemed a bit on the fleshy side. Not raw, just not quite firm enough for my liking and more difficult to shred. Does this sound a little like Goldilocks sampling the porridge?! I finally settled on cooking frozen chicken on the MANUAL setting for 12 minutes. The result was perfectly cooked chicken.
I like to allow the pressure to release naturally, instead of manually (turning the venting dial by hand) if possible. I think the extra time in the Instant Pot with the liquid helps lock the moisture into the meat. That said, if you are in a hurry, it is fine to release the pressure manually using the pressure release (venting) valve after the cooking process is finished and the timer has gone off.
For purposes of uniformity, I weighed the chicken for this recipe at 2 lbs total before cooking, about 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves. Two pounds of meat is about 6 servings, or 8 servings if you have a several side dishes or are feeding littles. Two pounds of frozen chicken will yield about 6-8 cups of cooked, shredded chicken to be used in salads, soups or other dishes.
I used chicken breasts of a medium to thick size, anywhere from 9-12 oz each (weight before cooking). I buy chicken at the grocery and also from Costco.
For convenience sake (so I always have chicken on hand) I purchase 10 lb bags of Foster Farms chicken at Costco. This is what I use most often, especially when cooking in bulk. The chicken breasts in the 10 lb packages tend to be quite thick, but work in this recipe for How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot.
Big crowd cooking
If you’re cooking for a crowd, or just want to cook a large amount of chicken at one time I have had success cooking 5 lbs of chicken, frozen, in the Instant Pot. I simply place the chicken in the pot add the liquid and then turn the pot on for 15 minutes. Same result as when the chicken is cooked in a smaller size batch.
I have the 6 quart Instant Pot, and can comfortably cook 5-6 lbs of chicken at a time. I also own the 8 quart Instant Pot, which I use a little less than my 6 quart IP, but have used it to cook frozen chicken with same results as using the 6 quart model. When cooking a large batch of chicken, remember the chicken will shrink while cooking so even though you fill the pot with chicken if you’re cooking a 5lb batch, after the chicken is cooked and the lid is opened, the volume of the chicken in the pot will be reduced by about 1/4 to 1/3.
After cooling the cooked meat, chop or shred and place in containers to be used immediately or frozen for later use. I use my Quisinart Food Processor to shred the chicken while still warm by pulsing a few times. A reader told me she places her hand held mixer into the bowl with the cooked chicken and turns on to shred the chicken. I tried this method in my stand mixer and it is like magic! Shredded chicken without using forks to pull apart! Perfect for salads (below) like this Chicken and Kale Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette!
Instant Pot love
I you haven’t read the basics of using the Instant Pot, take a look at Instant Pot, Now What? It will help you be more familiar with the IP and taking the plunge into cooking in the IP. I promise, once you start using the Instant Pot, there’s no going back! If I used the Instant Pot for nothing more than cooking frozen chicken, it would be worth the price.
Of course, the Instant Pot can do so much more than cook frozen chicken, and has become my favorite kitchen appliance. Hope this recipe on How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot is helpful to you! Let us know in the comments your experiences with cooking frozen chicken in the Instant Pot. I welcome feedback and love to hear your thoughts.
This post has beed updated with additional information about the Instant Pot and cooking instructions since the original post in 2017.
Here are a few of our favorite chicken dishes: Family Favorite Enchiladas, Grilled Chicken and Kale Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette, Chicken Lasagne (pictured above), Tarragon Chicken Salad, and Mini Chicken Pot Pies.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot
- 2 lbs frozen chicken
- 1/2 cup water
- salt pepper, other seasonings as desired*
Spray the Instant Pot insert with cooking oil.
Place the chicken in the pot, season generously with salt and pepper and any other seasonings desired. .
Pour 1/2 cup water around the sides of the chicken in the pot.
Make sure the sealing ring (inside the lid) is in the proper position.
Place the lid on the pot and set to the lock or SEAL position.
Turn the Instant Pot to the MANUAL setting for 12 minutes. If the chicken is not frozen, 8 minutes will work.
Press the MANUAL button to start the cooking process.
When the timer goes off and the chicken is cooked, the pressure may be released manually by carefully turning the valve on top of the Instant Pot to the VENTING position (be careful to not position your face over the pot while steam is releasing), or simply allow the pressure to naturally release for about 10-15 minutes before removing lid.
Remove chicken from the pot, shred or chop and use as needed.
-Seasoning will depend on how you use the chicken. I usually season generously with salt and pepper. If I am using the chicken for a mexican dish, I season with chili powder, coriander and garlic. You can also use salsa instead of water when cooking. Use the same amount of salsa to liquid.-I like to let the chicken sit in the juice (broth) for a few minutes before shredding, and then spoon a small amount of the liquid remaining over the chicken after shredding. -You can pour the remaining broth over a strainer and freeze or use the chicken broth within 5 days. Use in any recipe calling for chicken broth or stock.-I have a 6 quart pot and have cooked up to 5 lbs of frozen chicken at one time. cook with 1 cups of water for 15 minutes. Follow same directions for cooking as with 2 lbs of chicken.