This Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is saucy, tender, and so easy to make. It makes the best BBQ chicken sandwiches and is perfect for feeding a crowd!
I love making shredded chicken in the Instant Pot because the chicken stays tender and juicy, especially when it’s cooked in sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. My other favorite pulled chicken recipes include these Instant Pot Chicken Tacos. And if you like this BBQ chicken recipe, you’ll love my Instant Pot Pulled Pork!
This Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is one of my go-to recipes when I need a quick and easy meal for my family. It’s super fast to prep and it’s one of those crowd-pleasing dinners that everyone likes. For a make ahead version, try my Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken.
This BBQ pulled chicken makes the best BBQ chicken sandwiches, especially served on brioche buns with homemade coleslaw. Add in some sweet potato fries and dinner is done! See more favorite Instant Pot chicken recipes.
Ingredients for Instant Pot Pulled Chicken
- Chicken Broth: Chicken broth is needed to thin the BBQ sauce so that you don’t get the Instant Pot burn message. I recommend using low sodium chicken broth so that you can better control the amount of salt in the dish.
- BBQ Sauce: Use your favorite store bought brand or try my homemade barbecue sauce.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds a little extra tangy flavor.
- Seasonings: Garlic powder, chili powder, salt and black pepper add flavor. If you like a bit of a smoky flavor, you can also add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.
- Chicken Breasts or Chicken Thighs: You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe. Or, use a combination of breasts and thighs for a delicious mix of white and dark meat.
How to Make Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
Here’s an overview of how to make BBQ chicken in the Instant Pot. Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions below.
- Stir together chicken broth, 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar and the seasonings in the Instant Pot.
- Add the chicken to the pot.
- Pressure cook for 16 minutes at high pressure.
- Let the pot naturally release for 10 minutes. Then quick release any remaining pressure.
- Remove chicken to a clean bowl and let it rest for a few minutes. Then shred the chicken.
- Stir the remaining BBQ sauce into the sauce in the Instant Pot. If you want the sauce thicker, simmer it for a few minutes using the sauté function.
- Stir the sauce into the shredded chicken. Serve on burger buns, or as desired.
Can I Use Frozen Chicken?
Yes! It is safe and easy to cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot. You can use frozen chicken breasts in this recipe, keeping the cook time the same. The Instant Pot will take a few extra minutes to reach pressure if your chicken is frozen. However, if your chicken breasts are frozen AND very large, you should increase the cook time to 18 minutes plus a 10 minute natural release.
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Recipe Tips
- The cook time is the same for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- If you prefer a sweeter BBQ chicken, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of brown sugar before cooking.
- Cooking BBQ sauce in the Instant Pot can sometimes give you a burn warning if you aren’t careful. To prevent this, the recipe calls for adding only part of the BBQ sauce before cooking and the rest after cooking. We’re also thinning the BBQ sauce out with chicken broth before cooking. Since the 8 quart pot is often more prone to the burn message, I tested the recipe in both my 8 quart and 6 quart pots and it worked well in both.
- This recipe is perfect for feeding a crowd. You can 1.5x or double the recipe in a 6 quart or 8 quart Instant Pot, keeping the cook time the same. Just don’t exceed the max fill line on your Instant Pot. The pulled chicken and sauce can be kept warm using the Instant Pot’s warm function. Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours of cooking for food safety.
What to Serve with BBQ Chicken
Besides the classic sandwich, there are many ways to enjoy this Instant Pot BBQ chicken:
- Make a BBQ Chicken Salad.
- Serve it in tortillas as a wrap or taco.
- Add it to nachos or quesadillas.
- Make BBQ Chicken Sliders.
- Enjoy it on BBQ Chicken Pizza.
Side dishes that go well with a BBQ chicken sandwich include Instant Pot Potato Salad, Sweet Potato Fries, French fries and Fruit Salad. Or try one of these Healthy Side Dishes.
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 ¼ cups BBQ sauce (divided)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt (use ½ teaspoon if using water instead of broth)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or boneless skinless chicken thighs)
- burger buns (if desired, for serving)
Combine the chicken broth, ½ cup of the BBQ sauce (reserve the remaining BBQ sauce for after cooking), apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper in the Instant Pot. Whisk until well combined.
Nestle the chicken into the sauce.
Close the Instant Pot lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position. Set the cook time to 16 minutes at high pressure. (The cook time is the same for fresh and frozen chicken.) See the note at the end of the recipe for more cook time information.)
The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will begin counting down. When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes by leaving the Instant Pot alone (no need to press anything).
After 10 minutes, carefully move the steam release valve to the venting position. Once all of the steam has escaped and the pin drops down, carefully open the Instant Pot lid. Check that the chicken has cooked to at least 165° F using an instant read thermometer.
Remove the chicken to a clean bowl or cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes.
Stir the remaining ¾ cup of BBQ sauce into the sauce in the Instant Pot. If the sauce is not hot enough after stirring in the reserved BBQ sauce, you can heat it briefly using the saute function, stirring often. You can also simmer the sauce on saute to thicken it a bit, if desired.
Shred the chicken using two forks, your fingers, or a stand mixer. Stir some of the sauce from the pot into the shredded chicken. Serve BBQ chicken on burger buns, with extra BBQ sauce, or as desired.
- If your chicken breasts are very large AND frozen, increase the pressure cook time to 18 minutes at high pressure, plus a 10 minute natural release.
- If your chicken breasts are very small and not frozen, reduce the pressure cook time to 12 minutes at high pressure, plus a 10 minute natural release.
- Nutrition information estimate is for BBQ chicken only (not burger buns), and assumes that all of the sauce will be consumed, which it may not be.