So you just got an Instant Pot. Now you want to do something instant (sort of) with it. I understand completely, as I love new kitchen toys. Being able to cook frozen chicken breasts in under a half hour with this thing makes it eminently valuable to me. Sure you can bake or grill chicken last minute, but this is literally throw the frozen pucks into the pot and come back later to magically cooked food. This means no more excuses for eating crappy on a busy weekday. In the 20+ minutes of hand-off passive cooking time this recipe requires you should be able to prepare the rest of a simple dinner, such as a nice spinach salad.
I’ve been cooking a lot of chicken in the Instant Pot over the last month or so, and taking detailed notes in my handy kitchen notebook. When I was new to cooking with the Instant Pot, I tried looking up directions for cooking chicken, both fresh and frozen. I found that the cooking times varied greatly for electric pressure cookers, especially the Instant Pot, which resulted in some failed cooking efforts in my kitchen. The good news is that chicken is relatively inexpensive, and my experimentation led to what I feel are accurate cooking times, as I hope you will find as well.
I’ve learned that the thickness of your chicken breasts will ultimately determine the necessary cooking time required to reach the proper internal temperature. Super-large breasts that range from 10 ounces to a pound, are your enemy when cooking frozen. They can require a full half hour cooking program, where as thinner (normal) breasts or tenderloins only require 20 minutes. Franken-breasts sort of weird me out anyways, steroid chickens are usually not healthy for you.
Basically to cook frozen chicken in your Instant Pot you need to follow these rules:
Start with 1 pound of boneless/skinless chicken breasts
Use a minimum of 1 cup of liquid. This recipe uses 3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of buffalo sauce.
Cook for either 20, 25, or 30 minutes. 20 for thin tenderloins, 25 for medium size, and 30 minutes for giants.
Perform a quick-release of the pressure when your cooking program has completed
Note: When cooking 2 pounds, add a second half cup to full cup of water, and try adding 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time. In the event your chicken comes out undercooked, simply switch your Instant Pot over to saute mode. I bought the Instant Pot glass lid for this reason. The ability to perform a quick simmer helps fix an undercooked piece of meat in new time, as you learn more about your Instant Pot.
In my video for this recipe below, I used a stopwatch timer to demonstrate how the overall cooking time of an Instant Pot works. After closing the lid and setting my manual 20 minute cooking program, the Instant Pot took almost 8 minutes to reach pressure and begin the cooking program. So add 8 minutes to the 20 minutes of cooking time, and another 2 minutes of time for the quick release to finish, and you have a 30 minute total recipe, or what I like to call “in 30 flat.”. You will find that some recipes will only list the cooking program time which can be deceiving, as knowing the total required cooking time sometimes makes the difference between cooking a last minute meal, and not. Always assume that your Instant Pot will take 5 to 10 minutes to reach pressure with small loads, and up to a half hour with larger meals. You’ll get the hang of this soon enough.
- 1 pound of frozen boneless chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup of water
- 1 tbsp of butter (optional)