Learn how to cook frozen chicken in your instant pot. You can take chicken breasts straight from the freezer and cook them in just 12 minutes. The cooked chicken breasts can be seasoned and served, shredded, or used in a favorite recipe.
The Instant Pot has been a trendy kitchen tool for the last few years. We are big fans of how quickly foods cook in the instant pot and really like using it to cook foods from frozen and recipes that usually take hours and can be cut way back like our favorite Pulled Pork.
In under 15 minutes, you’ll have chicken that can be used for a dish that night or stored in the freezer for later use. Plus, you’ll have the option to use the whole chicken breast and serve with Cheesy Green Bean Casserole or shred and serve in our favorite Chicken Pot Pie.
Table of Contents
How To Make
- Place the frozen chicken breasts and water into the Instant Pot.
- Insert the wire rack into the Instant Pot. The wire rack is used to elevate the chicken slightly above the water, which helps in even cooking.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper according to your taste preferences.
- Put the cover (lid) on the Instant Pot.
- Make sure the Instant Pot is set to the “Sealing” position. This is important to build up pressure during cooking.
- Cooking Time:
- Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes if the chicken is frozen.
- If you’re using thawed chicken, reduce the cooking time to 8 minutes. This shorter cooking time is because thawed chicken cooks faster than frozen chicken.
- Pressure Release:
- Once the cooking time is complete, perform a “quick release.” This involves carefully turning the steam release valve from the “Sealing” position to the “Venting” position. Be cautious as hot steam will be released.
- Final Steps:
- After the pressure has been fully released and the float valve drops down, it’s safe to open the Instant Pot lid.
- At this point, you can use the cooked chicken as is, or you can choose to shred it for various dishes like tacos, sandwiches, salads, etc.
It’s important to note that cooking times and methods can vary based on factors such as the size and thickness of the chicken breasts, the specific Instant Pot model, and personal preferences for cooking doneness. Always follow safety guidelines provided by the Instant Pot’s manufacturer and consider using a food thermometer to ensure that the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature (165°F or 74°C) to prevent any foodborne illnesses.
PRO TIP: Save the broth at the bottom of the Instant Pot once your chicken is done cooking! You can store in the fridge to use within 2-3 days for another recipe or freeze in a freezer storage container.
Cooking Times for Different-Sized Chicken Breasts
Cooking times for chicken breasts in an Instant Pot can vary based on their thickness and size. Here are general guidelines for cooking frozen and thawed chicken breasts of different sizes:
Frozen Chicken Breasts:
- Small (4-6 oz): About 10-12 minutes on high pressure.
- Medium (6-8 oz): About 12-14 minutes on high pressure.
- Large (8-10 oz): About 14-16 minutes on high pressure.
Thawed Chicken Breasts:
- Small (4-6 oz): About 6-8 minutes on high pressure.
- Medium (6-8 oz): About 8-10 minutes on high pressure.
- Large (8-10 oz): About 10-12 minutes on high pressure.
Please note that these are approximate cooking times and can vary based on factors such as the specific Instant Pot model, altitude, and personal preferences for doneness. It’s crucial to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure it reaches at least 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.
If cooking a mixture of chicken breast sizes, you might choose an average cooking time that suits the largest piece, as smaller pieces will generally cook a bit faster.
Remember, practicing with your Instant Pot and adjusting cooking times based on your preferences will help you achieve the perfect results for your desired level of done.
If you’re looking to cook chicken on the stovetop, check out how long to boil chicken breasts for another quick and easy way to cook chicken.
Tips and Tricks
Properly Season the Chicken: Seasoning the chicken breasts with salt and pepper enhances their flavor. You can also add other seasonings or herbs to suit your taste preferences.
Use a Cooking Liquid: The recipe calls for 1 cup of water, but you can use other liquids like chicken broth or even a mixture of broth and water for added flavor.
Thawing Chicken: If using frozen chicken, you can get better results by thawing the chicken breasts before cooking. Thawing ensures more even cooking and reduces the risk of undercooked portions. You can thaw the chicken in the refrigerator or using a quick thawing method.
Layering Ingredients: To prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot, you can place a layer of sliced onions, garlic, or other aromatics at the bottom before adding the chicken rather than using the wire rack.
Customize Seasonings: Feel free to customize the seasonings to your liking. You can use different spice blends, herbs, marinades, or sauces to create various flavor profiles.
Quick Release vs. Natural Release: The recipe suggests a quick release of pressure. However, for meats, including chicken, you might consider using a short “natural release” (waiting 5-10 minutes before releasing pressure) to help retain the chicken’s moisture.
Checking Doneness: While the recipe provides general cooking times, it’s essential to ensure that the chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Use a meat thermometer to check the thickest part of the chicken breasts.
Resting Period: Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes after cooking. This helps the juices redistribute within the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful end product.
Variations: Once the chicken is cooked and shredded, you can use it in various dishes like salads, wraps, sandwiches, pasta, soups, and more. The cooked chicken can also be seasoned further with your favorite sauces or spices.
Experiment and Learn: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different cooking times, liquids, and seasonings. Over time, you’ll get a better feel for your Instant Pot’s cooking tendencies and your own preferences.
Remember that while the Instant Pot is convenient, it might take a little practice to find the perfect settings and methods that work best for you. Always prioritize safety and proper cooking techniques when using any kitchen appliance.
Wondering how long to cook frozen chicken in the instant pot? It’s super quick – simply cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. If you’re using thawed chicken, reduce the cooking time to 8 minutes. This shorter cooking time is because thawed chicken cooks faster than frozen chicken.
Yes, you can use fresh chicken breasts in the Instant Pot. Adjust the cooking time to be shorter than what’s recommended for frozen chicken. Thawed chicken generally cooks faster than frozen chicken.
Absolutely! Chicken thighs can be used in place of chicken breasts. Keep in mind that cooking times might need to be adjusted since chicken thighs have a slightly different texture and thickness.
The wire rack is optional but can be useful to keep the chicken slightly elevated from the cooking liquid. It can help prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom and allow for more even cooking.
Tough chicken can result from overcooking. Make sure to follow the recommended cooking times and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Also, consider using the natural release method to retain moisture.
Yes, it’s safe to cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot, but ensure that it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to avoid any risk of foodborne illness.
More Instant Pot Recipes:
- Instant Pot Minestrone Soup
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos
- Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Spaghetti
- Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches
CKC Features both Gluten-Free Guidance and Kids Cooking Instructions: If you’re new to eating gluten-free we understand it’s overwhelming trying to figure out which foods may contain gluten and which ones don’t. All of our gluten-free recipes marked with this symbol ✅ represent foods that need to be checked for gluten or cross-contamination.
The ⭐️ symbol in the recipe below denotes the steps in which kid cooks may need a helper (depending on age). If there is no ⭐️ symbol, that step (or recipe) doesn’t require a helper.
How To Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot
- 1 pound frozen chicken breasts ✅
- 1 cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the chicken and water into the instant pot. Place wire rack into instant pot. Place frozen chicken into instant pot. Add water. Season with salt and pepper. Place cover on instant pot and turn to sealing.1 pound frozen chicken breasts, 1 cup water, salt and pepper to taste
- ⭐️Cook. Cook high pressure for 12 minutes (8 minutes if using thawed chicken). Do a quick release and use as is, or shred.