Cook juicy, tender chicken breasts from frozen in your instant pot with this super simple recipe. Perfect for quick meals, meal prep and more!
Don't you just hate it when you have planned a great dinner, and then forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer? Luckily, if you have an instant pot, your meal can still be saved!
I swear by this instant pot frozen chicken breast recipe, and use it regularly. You just can't beat how easy and convenient it is, especially when you only have frozen chicken available.
Why this recipe works
- It's really simple, all you need is chicken and water
- It's completely safe to cook the chicken from frozen in the instant pot
- You can add any seasoning, sauces and flavors you like
- The chicken is fall apart tender and really juicy
- Without anything else added, the meat is mild, plain and allergy friendly
- Suits most diets and dietary requirements, like whole 30, paleo and keto
- The result is really similar to poached chicken breasts - only made using frozen chicken in the instant pot!
If you've ever tried to season frozen chicken, you might have noticed that it doesn't really work well. As the chicken thaws and cooks, the seasoning simply slides right off the chicken breasts.
I therefore prefer to cook this chicken completely plain, and season it after it has been cooked. This is in my opinion the best way to get flavor from instant pot frozen chicken breasts.
As the chicken is poached in the instant pot with no seasoning added beforehand, the result will be really plain chicken. You can then add a variety of seasoning to suit your taste and preference.
Here are some of my favorite options:
- Buffalo chicken sauce - Perfect if you want to use the meat to make Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Zucchini or Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake.
- BBQ sauce - Shred the chicken and add some BBQ sauce for a simple but delicious entree.
- Salt and pepper - If you want to keep the chicken plain, to for example use in Cranberry Chicken Salad, simply add a little salt and pepper on top.
- Ranch seasoning - Use a teaspoon of dry ranch mix and a little olive oil. I love adding ranch chicken to a salad!
Pour a cup of water into your instant pot, and add the chicken breasts. It's okay if the pieces of chicken are touching each other, but they have to be broken up individually.
If you have several chicken breasts frozen into a large clump, you will have to break them apart before adding them to the instant pot, or they might not cook as expected. You can leave them to thaw ever so slightly for about an hour if you're struggling to break them apart.
💡 TIP! I always recommend freezing chicken breasts individually, as they are much easier to
Cover the instant pot with the lid, and set the valve to sealing position. Use the pressure cook, or manual setting, and set it to 10-15 minutes following the cooking time calculations above.
The instant pot takes about 10 minutes to reach the right pressure, and will then cook for the time you've set. Then, leave it to naturally release pressure for 10 more minutes, before turning the valve to do a quick release of the remaining pressure.
Remove the chicken from the instant pot and slice, cube or shred as you please.
The exact cooking time will vary depending on the size of the individual breasts. This time applies when you're cooking 1-4 breasts at the same time.
Small chicken breasts: 10 minutes
Medium chicken breasts: 12 minutes
Large chicken breasts: 15 minutes
After cooking, you should allow a natural release of the pressure for 10 minutes, before quick releasing the remaining steam. The natural release is an important part of the cooking process, as the chicken will continue to cook as the pressure is released.
If you're cooking several chicken breasts stacked on top of each other, you should add an extra 4 minutes to the total time.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken has cooked through. Chicken is safe to eat when the internal temperature has reached 165 F / 74 C.
Here's my best advice to help you succeed with this recipe:
- If you're not sure how long to cook the chicken, it's generally better to cook it a bit too much than too little. Undercooked chicken is dangerous to eat.
- If you like your chicken a little seared, you can sear it on the sauté setting after the chicken is cooked.
You can enjoy cooked instant pot frozen chicken breasts whole, cubed, shredded or sliced - with or without extra seasoning. I love to add this chicken to casseroles, soups, salads, sandwiches and other dishes, but you can also enjoy it as an entree for dinner.
Here are some of my favorite recipes that I love to pair with this chicken:
- Southern Style Chicken Salad - Cube the chicken and add it to this lovely sandwich salad.
- Cauliflower Rice and Chicken Casserole - A lean and low carb casserole with cubed cooked chicken.
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup - Add some sliced chicken to this amazing, flavorful soup.
- Shred the chicken and coat it in BBQ sauce. Perfect to make BBQ chicken sliders!
You can store leftover instant pot chicken breasts in a sealed container in a refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze it for up to 6 months.
Keep in mind that frozen cooked chicken tends to be a little dry, but it's great to use in casseroles, stews or soups.
Reheat the chicken in a microwave, and serve it warm, or enjoy it cold.
Frequently asked questions
10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
Yes, however the chilled chicken will cook faster than the frozen chicken and will therefore be quite dry.
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Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Breast
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 cup water (or chicken broth)
- Add water and chicken breasts to your instant pot. Make sure that the chicken breasts are separated, and not frozen into one large chunk.
- Cover the instant pot with the lid, and set the valve to sealing position. Use the pressure cook, or manual setting, and set it to 10-15 minutes following the cooking time calculations in the notes.
- The instant pot takes about 10 minutes to reach the right pressure, and will then cook for the time you’ve set. Then, leave it to naturally release pressure for 10 more minutes, before turning the valve to do a quick release of the remaining pressure.
- Remove the chicken from the instant pot, and slice, cube or shred as you please.