This recipe for Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is juicy, tender, and perfectly flavored. It is perfect for BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Chicken Quesadillas, and more!
My basic recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Breast is a recipe I, like millions of others, turn to again and again, as it is a great basic recipe for chicken.
But when I am craving barbecue and don't want to fire up the grill to make Grilled BBQ Chicken, I absolutely love making Instant Pot BBQ Chicken.
Just like my original recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Breasts, this recipe for Instant Pot BBQ Chicken results in super tender, super juicy, super flavorful chicken that makes the best shredded chicken.
What makes it stand out from my original recipe is the fact that it is seasoned with a ridiculously delicious dry rub that adds sweet and smokey undertones and that pairs beautifully with barbecue sauce.
What We Love About This Recipe
- Fast. From start to finish this Instant Pot recipe takes about 30 minutes--even if you start with frozen chicken! That makes this a 30-minute meal perfect for any night of the week.
- Flavorful. From the dry rub to the pineapple juice to the BBQ sauce, this chicken is filled with extraordinary flavor.
- Relatively Healthy. This recipe for BBQ Chicken is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and low in fat and calories.
- Versatile. Not only can this recipe for Instant Pot BBQ Chicken be made with chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and fresh or frozen chicken, but it can be served in endless ways!
Notes on Ingredients
- Chicken: This Instant Pot chicken recipe can be made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. And because we are using the Instant Pot, you can even use frozen chicken.
- Dry Rub: I use my dry rub seasoning to add the perfect sweet and smokey flavor to the chicken. It is a super simple blend made with kosher salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and brown sugar.
- Pineapple Juice: Instead of using chicken broth as the cooking liquid, use 100% canned pineapple juice. The pineapple juice pairs really well with the flavors of the BBQ sauce and dry rub and it helps to tenderize the chicken.
- BBQ Sauce: Use any barbecue sauce you like. I love using my homemade BBQ sauce. It is sweet and tangy and I simply love it.
How to Make Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
While this is an incredibly simple recipe, if you are unfamiliar with cooking in an Instant Pot or the functions of your Instant Pot, be sure to start with How to Use an Instant Pot for the best results on this and future recipes.
Step One: Season Chicken. Mix together the dry spices with the kosher salt and brown sugar until evenly combined. Pat the chicken breasts or chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and sprinkle the rub evenly over the chicken on both sides.
Note: If your chicken is frozen, just sprinkle this dry rub over the chicken and pineapple juice inside the inner pot before pressure cooking.
Step Two: Layer Chicken and Juice in Inner Pot. Pour the pineapple juice and water into the inner pot. Add the chicken to the inner pot. It is okay if your chicken is overlapping slightly. If needed, sprinkle the dry rub mixture over the chicken inside the inner pot.
Step Three: Pressure Cook. Place the lid on the inner, secure shut, and set it to cook on High Pressure using the manual or pressure cook button. After the cooking time has elapsed, allow for the pressure to release for at least 10 minutes prior to releasing any remaining pressure.
Step Four: Shred the Chicken. Remove the cooked chicken from the inner pot and place it into a large mixing bowl, along with ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Use two forks to shred the chicken, adding more liquid as needed to keep the meat nice and moist.
Step Five: Add BBQ Sauce. Drizzle the shredded chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce and then stir to combine and evenly coat the chicken with the sauce.
How to Serve Instant Pot Barbecue Chicken
One of my favorite things about this recipe is the endless ways that Instant Pot BBQ chicken can be served. This makes this simple recipe a meal my family never tires of! Below find some of my favorite serving suggestions.
- BBQ Chicken Sandwich: Pile shredded BBQ chicken onto a bun of your choice and drizzle with additional BBQ sauce if desired. If I have it on hand, I love adding a scoop of homemade coleslaw to the sandwich for a nice creamy element.
- BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potato: Top an Instant Pot Baked Potato or Instant Pot Sweet Potato with a scoop of this Instant Pot BBQ chicken. Top with shredded cheese and green onions and serve a hearty all-in-one meal.
- BBQ Chicken Quesadilla: Top a flour tortilla with a layer of shredded cheddar, add a thin layer of shredded chicken, sprinkle with another layer of shredded cheddar, and top with another tortilla. Toast in a dry skillet over medium heat until the tortillas are golden and the cheese has melted. Serve with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.
- BBQ Chicken Salad: Replace the grilled chicken with this shredded chicken in my recipe for BBQ Chicken Salad, for a delicious, quick dinner or lunch.
- BBQ Chicken Pizza. Roll 1 pound of pizza dough into a 12-inch circle. Spread a thin layer of BBQ sauce over the dough, leaving a ½" border around the edge to form a crust. Top with shredded BBQ chicken and a generous layer of shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-18 minutes until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned.
- Add to Mac & Cheese: Make a delicious mac and cheese bowl by topping Stovetop Mac and Cheese or Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with some of this shredded BBQ chicken.
∗ Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Recipe Tips ∗
- Don't skip the dry rub. In order to give this shredded BBQ chicken the best flavor, we don't want to rely just on BBQ sauce to flavor the chicken. The dry rub will add such a great flavor to the chicken, making this the best BBQ Pulled Chicken.
- Pineapple Juice is Best. Pineapple juice may sound like an odd choice for the cooking liquid, but not only does it help to tenderize the meat, but it also adds incredible flavor to the chicken.
- NEVER, EVER Do a Quick Release of Pressure. Let me say it again; do not do a quick release of pressure! This will cause your chicken to be tough and rubbery! Natural pressure release is best any time you are cooking meat of any kind.
- Shred The Chicken. While you can simply dice the cooked chicken, I find that Instant Pot Barbecue Chicken is best served after shredding or pulling, as this allows for more surface area for the BBQ sauce. Plus shredded BBQ chicken is easier to enjoy in a sandwich or wrap.
- Make Fast Work of Shredding. While this recipe produces chicken so tender that it easily shreds using nothing more than two forks, you can opt to shred your chicken using a handheld kitchen mixer on low speed or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low.
- Use your favorite BBQ Sauce. Be sure to select a BBQ sauce that you and your family love, for the most enjoyable flavor. You can use a mustard base sauce, ketchup-based sauce, or homemade BBQ sauce. In fact, this shredded chicken is so good on its own, you can even skip the sauce!
Tips on Storing BBQ Chicken
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is great for meal prep as it can be served in a variety of ways, and it stores really well.
- To Refrigerate: Allow the shredded chicken to cool slightly and then transfer it to an airtight container, along with an additional ¼ cup of the cooking liquid, which will help keep the BBQ chicken from drying out. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Freeze: Allow the shredded chicken to cool slightly and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container, along with an additional ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Be sure to leave a bit of space for expansion. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To Reheat: Allow the chicken to thaw overnight in the refrigerator if needed. Heat the thawed chicken in a heat-safe bowl covered with a damp paper towel in the microwave and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until warmed through.
FAQs on Shredded Instant Pot Chicken
Technically, no. You can opt to use water in place of the pineapple juice or low-sodium chicken broth, but the pineapple juice helps to flavor and tenderize the chicken.
Yes! To double the recipe, double the chicken and the spice rub. There is no need to add additional liquid. The cooking time will remain the same.
Yes! Instant Pot Barbecue Chicken can safely be made using frozen chicken. However, be sure that your chicken pieces are are not frozen together in a solid lump, as this will result in uneven cooking. If your chicken is frozen together, run it under cold water to separate into individual pieces.
More Favorite Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas
- Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
If you enjoyed this recipe for Instant Pot Shredded BBQ Chicken, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
For the Dry Rub
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne together in a small bowl until everything is well combined.
For Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
- Pat the chicken breasts or chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and sprinkle the rub evenly over the chicken on both sides, rubbing the spice mixture into the chicken to coat. NOTE: If your chicken is frozen, skip this step and simply sprinkle the dry rub mixture over the chicken once it is in the Instant Pot.
- Add the pineapple juice and water to the inner pot. Add the seasoned chicken (or frozen chicken) to the inner pot. It is okay if your chicken is overlapping slightly. If needed, sprinkle the dry rub mixture over the chicken inside the inner pot.
- Place the lid on the inner pot and be sure the vent knob is sealed and/or the lid is locked. Set to cook on High Pressure by hitting the manual or pressure cook button and use the +/- buttons to adjust the cooking time. For Thawed/Fresh Chicken: 7 Minutes on High Pressure*For Frozen Chicken: 11 Minutes on High Pressure**If your chicken is really thick or large, increase the cooking time by 1 minute.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes before doing a quick release of any remaining pressure. Once pressure has been released, remove the lid from the pressure cooker.
- Remove the cooked chicken from the inner pot and place it into a large mixing bowl, along with ¼ cup of the cooking liquid from inside the inner pot. Use two forks or a handheld mixer on low speed to shred the chicken, adding more liquid as needed to keep the meat nice and moist.
- Once the chicken has been shredded, add ½ cup of prepared BBQ sauce into the bowl and stir to combine, adding additional sauce as desired.
- Serve the shredded BBQ chicken as desired.