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Dinner can’t get easier than this tender, flavorful Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken! Made with a simple spice blend, shredded, and mixed with your favorite BBQ sauce. Serve on a bun, over potatoes, or even cold with a salad. Now, this is a winner-winner chicken dinner!
BBQ Pulled Chicken the easy way!
I love to use my Instant Pot to throw together dinners grand or simple. I’ll often toss a few chicken breasts straight from the freezer into the Instant Pot with my favorite seasonings! They come out perfectly cooked, super tender and so delicious. All that without having to stress about thawing!
This process got me thinking. These chicken breasts always come out fantastic and fork-tender I pictured shredding them up with my favorite sauce, piling the meat up high on a bun, and finally sinking my teeth into the glorious sandwich. Well, you know me. I, of course, had to include a crunchy slaw with my sandwich.
For the juiciest and most flavorful Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken, make sure to sear the chicken well on both sides before pressure cooking. This locks in the flavors and gives the chicken a more authentic barbecue taste.
- Salt and Pepper: Used for seasoning; adjust according to your taste preference. If desired, you can use other seasoning blends.
- Garlic Powder: Adds a subtle garlic flavor; fresh minced garlic can be a substitute.
- Chili Powder: Gives a spicy kick; can be replaced with cayenne pepper for more heat or paprika for less.
- Chicken Breast: Boneless and skinless are used here; thighs can also be used for a more tender result.
- Olive Oil: Used for searing the chicken; can be substituted with other cooking oils like canola or vegetable oil.
- Water: Helps in building pressure inside the Instant Pot; no substitute.
- BBQ sauce – Homemade or your favorite brand. Feel free to experiment with different flavors!
Let’s whip up this delicious Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken! Trust me, it’s so easy, and the flavors are just incredible. Here’s what we’ll do:
First things first, we’ll mix together the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder. Then we’ll rub this blend all over the chicken breasts. At the same time, we’ll mix the water with a bit of the BBQ sauce to use later.
Now, let’s turn on the Instant Pot to the sauté setting. Once it’s hot, we’ll add the oil, and then the chicken breasts. We’ll sear them on both sides for about 3 minutes each, so they get a nice golden color. After that, we’ll pour the water and BBQ sauce mixture over the chicken.
Next, we’ll close the lid and set the Instant Pot to Manual on high, and the timer to 8 minutes. When the time’s up, we’ll use the quick release to relieve the pressure. It’s starting to smell good, right?
We’ll take the chicken out of the Instant Pot and discard the liquid. Using two forks, we’ll shred the chicken, then pour the remaining BBQ sauce over it. Toss it around so the chicken soaks up all that tasty sauce.
And now for the best part – serving! You can put the pulled chicken on buns and top it with coleslaw, or however you like it. Enjoy the meal, and don’t forget to tell me how it tastes!
The Instant Pot I Used
Instant Pot 6qt Duo Pressure Cooker
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for this recipe?
Absolutely! Chicken thighs can be a juicier and more flavorful option. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time as needed since thighs might cook a bit faster than breasts.
Can I make this BBQ Pulled Chicken ahead of time?
Yes, this dish reheats well. You can make it a day or two in advance and store it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, just heat it up on the stove or in the microwave.
Can I cook this dish without an Instant Pot?
Certainly! You can sear the chicken in a skillet and then simmer it with the water and BBQ sauce mixture in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. The cooking time will vary, so keep an eye on it.
- Choose the Right BBQ Sauce: The flavor of the BBQ sauce you choose will greatly impact the overall taste of the dish. If you’re uncertain, buy a couple of different small bottles and do a taste test to find your favorite.
- Searing the Chicken: Don’t skip the searing step, as it locks in the flavors and gives the chicken a nice texture. Make sure your Instant Pot is hot enough before placing the chicken inside for optimal searing.
- Shredding the Chicken: For the best texture, use two forks to shred the chicken. If you prefer, you can also use a hand mixer to shred it quickly, but be careful not to overdo it, or the chicken might become mushy.
- Adjusting Spice Level: Feel free to adjust the chili powder according to your taste preference. If you like it spicy, you can add a bit more, or if you prefer a milder flavor, you can reduce the amount or even substitute with paprika for a milder, smoky flavor.
Leftover pulled chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for longer storage; just be sure to reheat it gently to maintain the texture and flavor.
Let the chicken fully cool down to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container or a large sealable freezer bag. Your chicken will last 2-6 months frozen.
Let the chicken thaw fully overnight in the fridge before reheating. if absolutely needed, you can thaw straight from the freezer in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat with ½ cup water. Stir often.
Discover More Recipes
- Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma
- Instant Pot Chicken Breast
- Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala
- Sloppy Joes
- Chicken Salad
- Instant Pot Creamy Ranch Chicken
- BBQ Chicken
- Marry Me Chicken
- Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder together, then rub all over the chicken breasts. Combine the water with ¼ cup of the bbq sauce in a bowl or cup.
- Turn the Instant Pot to the saute setting. (See your manufacturer's guide for detailed instructions on how to use your instant pot). Add the oil and once your instant pot reaches the desired temperature (the timer will start to count down) add the chicken breasts. Sear the chicken on both sides, for about 3 minutes per side. Press the keep warm/cancel button on your Instant pot. Pour the water mixture over the chicken.
- Close the lid (follow the manufacturer's guide for instructions on how to close the instant pot lid). Set the Instant Pot to the Manual setting on high and set the timer to 8 minutes. Use quick / manual release to release the pressure.
- Remove the chicken from the Instant pot, and discard the liquid. Shred the chicken with two forks then pour the remaining 1 cup of BBQ sauce, toss and let it rest for a couple minutes for the chicken to soak up the sauce.
- Serve on buns with coleslaw.
- BBQ Sauce Options: Feel free to experiment with different BBQ sauce flavors to find your favorite. A smoky or spicy sauce can add a unique twist.
- Chicken Choices: While the recipe calls for chicken breasts, you can substitute with chicken thighs for a juicier result. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- Make Ahead: You can prep the chicken with the dry rub a day in advance and store it in the fridge. This allows the flavors to marinate further, enhancing the taste.
- Serving Suggestions: This pulled chicken is excellent in sandwiches, salads, or even tacos. Pair it with coleslaw or your favorite side dish for a complete meal.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.