Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is a delicious, juicy, and flavorful shredded chicken for BBQ sandwiches! With only 3 ingredients, this pulled barbeque chicken is an easy one-pot meal!
Two things I almost always have in my house are chicken breasts and BBQ sauce. When I’ve forgotten to plan dinner, the Instant Pot can save the day and create perfectly tender BBQ pulled chicken in under 30 minutes.
Whether you eat it on a bun, in a wrap, on a salad, or on nachos, this Instant Pot shredded BBQ chicken is delicious! Barbeque chicken is a healthy dinner option, with less fat and fewer calories than the usual BBQ pork. The entire family will love this quick and easy dinner!
To make Instant Pot barbeque chicken, you will need:
- 2 pounds chicken breasts
- 1 cup BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon dry minced onion
Chicken breasts – you can use any cut of chicken, but the cooking time will need to change based on how large the pieces are. The recipe card provides cooking times for fresh or frozen chicken breasts or chicken tenderloin.
Dry minced onion – instead of dry minced onion, you could also use about 1 teaspoon of onion powder or one small onion, diced.
BBQ sauce - use your favorite barbeque sauce, or make your own. My favorite is Sweet Baby Ray's (I like a sweeter sauce). You can also use sugar-free BBQ sauce to make this keto-friendly.
Of course, you’ll need an Instant Pot for this recipe. A 6 quart or 8 quart model will work for this recipe.
You may also want a tool for easily shredding chicken. I love my bear claw shredders! If you want to try a powered tool, a hand mixer also makes quick work of shredding chicken.
Step 1: Weigh Largest Chicken Breast
For best results, weigh your largest chicken breast to determine the cook time you’ll need. Because breasts can vary so much in size, it’s important to adjust the cooking time to how larger your breasts are.
I use a digital food scale to weigh my breasts. The cook time will depend on the size of the largest breast because that one will take the longest to cook. If possible, use chicken breasts that are evenly sized.
Step 2: Layer Ingredients
Add ½ cup water to the Instant Pot. Add chicken breasts in a single layer. On top of the chicken, add the dry minced onion. Finally, pour the barbeque sauce on top of the chicken. Try to get all of the sauce on the chicken and not falling off the sides.
Do not stir! The BBQ sauce can easily burn if it touches the bottom of the Instant Pot liner, so you want to leave the sauce on top of the chicken.
Step 3: Pressure Cook
Put the lid on top of the Instant Pot and set to high pressure. Set your cook time according to the size of the largest breast. For all sizes, you will do a 5-minute natural release after the cook time is up.
For Fresh Breasts:
- 6-8 oz: 8 minutes high pressure + 5 minutes natural release
- 9-10 oz: 10 minutes high pressure + 5 minutes natural release
- 11-12 oz: 12 minutes high pressure + 5 minutes natural release
For Frozen Breasts:
- 6-8 oz: 10 minutes high pressure + 5 minutes natural release
- 9-10 oz: 12 minutes high pressure + 5 minutes natural release
- 11-12 oz: 14 minutes high pressure + 5 minutes natural release
Step 4: Simmer Sauce and Shred Chicken
After the 5 minute natural release, release the remaining pressure and open the lid. Use a meat thermometer to verify that the chicken has reached at least 165 degrees F. If chicken is undercooked, put the lid back on top of the Instant Pot and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. The remaining heat will continue cooking the chicken.
Remove the cooked chicken breasts and set aside. Set the Instant Pot to saute, medium heat. Simmer the remaining liquid in the Instant Pot until it thickens slightly.
Meanwhile, shred chicken. I like using my bear claw shredders to make quick work of this! You can also use two forks to gently pull apart the chicken. If you're making a large batch, another method is to use a hand mixer to shred it up quickly.
Once the sauce has thickened slightly, turn off the Instant Pot and return the shredded chicken back to the pot. Stir the chicken in with the sauce, and you're ready to serve up some BBQ sandwiches!
Weigh chicken breasts to determine cook time – because chicken breasts can vary so much in size, the cook time will need to be adjusted depending on how large your breasts are. Follow the cooking time table suggested in the recipe card.
Use a meat thermometer to make sure chicken is fully cooked – it’s important to make sure that your chicken reaches at least 165 degrees F inside. If chicken is undercooked, put the lid back on and let it sit for another 2-3 minutes.
Use your favorite barbeque sauce – my favorite is Sweet Baby Ray’s, but you can use your favorite sauce. I like a sweeter sauce, but you can adjust to however you like your barbeque.
How to Serve
This Instant Pot BBQ chicken can be used in lots of different ways. Here are some ideas for how to serve it:
- On a sandwich or sliders
- Wrap in a tortilla or lettuce wrap for a low-carb option
- Serve on a bed of lettuce to make a BBQ chicken salad
- Load it up on tortilla chips with cheese to make BBQ chicken nachos
- Use as a filling for tacos or quesadillas
If you’re making sandwiches, sliders, tacos, or wraps, this chicken can be dressed up with different toppings:
- BBQ sauce
- Cheese (I like provolone or mozzarella)
- Pickles or relish (great low-cal topping!)
- Shredded lettuce
How to Double the Recipe
If you want to add more chicken to this recipe, you do not need to change the cooking time. For making a 3-pound batch of chicken, I would increase the amount of barbeque sauce to 1.5 cups instead of 1 cup. Still use ½ cup of water.
How to Make it Keto
As written, this recipe has about 15 carbs. To make it lower in carbs, use a sugar-free bbq sauce such as G Hughes Original Sugar Free BBQ Sauce. The nutrition information for this recipe was calculated using Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce, which has a decent amount of sugar in it.
For a keto diet, you can serve it on a lettuce wrap or salad instead of using a bun. Or, serve it on low-carb bread or buns.
Calories Per Serving
One serving of 4 ounces has about 200 calories. This calorie count was calculated using Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce. If you use a lower-calorie or sugar-free barbeque sauce you could lower the calorie count even more.
For low-cal serving options, try out a lettuce wrap or making it a salad! Or, if you just use a plain small white hamburger bun, those normally have only about 120 calories.
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