Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken provides the perfect blend of convenience and flavor. Enjoy tender and succulent chicken cooked to perfection in an Instant Pot and smothered in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Try this chicken on its own or on a bun for a quick and delicious dinner.
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If you're looking for a quick, convenient, and flavor-packed dish, you've come to the right place. This recipe takes all the hassle out of slow cooking and delivers mouthwatering results in a fraction of the time making it perfect for weeknight dinners and casual parties.
What you'll need
In order to cook this chicken in the instant pot, you will need to add additional cooking liquid. Adding only barbecue sauce will cause your instant pot to give you a 'burn' warning and won't allow it to pressurize.
- Chicken - I prefer to use chicken breast, but you can use thighs as well. You can also swap the chicken for pork loin, but you will need to adjust the cooking time.
- Barbecue Sauce - To create the perfect instant pot ready barbecue sauce you will need your favorite store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce, yellow onion, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and pineapple or apple juice.
See the recipe card for quantities.
To make instant pot barbecue chicken, start out by placing a quartered onion in the bottom of the instant pot. Then, set your chicken breast on top of the onion.
There are slight variations between different Instant Pot models. I have included instructions for the most common model, but if you are unsure how to operate your Instant Pot, then you can find your owner's manual here!
Next, in a medium bowl combine all the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, smoked paprika, and pineapple juice.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in the instant pot. Place the lid on the instant pot and set the valve to 'sealing'. Cook on manual high pressure for 13 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
When the pin drops, remove the lid. Carefully remove the chicken from the instant pot and set it aside.
Set the instant pot to saute on high heat. Allow the sauce to come to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue boiling for 5-8 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, then turn off the instant pot.
Return the chicken to the instant pot. Use two forks to pull the chicken into shreds. Then stir it gently to ensure that all the chicken is fully coated in sauce.
Here are some of my favorite ways to change up this recipe:
- Low-Carb/Sugar-Free Pulled BBQ Chicken- Use a sugar-free barbecue sauce and brown sugar substitute. Swap the pineapple juice for water plus 1 additional teaspoon of sugar substitute.
- Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken - Add all of the ingredients to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
- Spicy Pulled BBQ Chicken - Add a kick to your pulled barbecue chicken by incorporating spicy elements like cayenne pepper, chili flakes, or hot sauce. Adjust the level of heat according to your preference.
Check out this recipe for an easy homemade barbecue sauce!
Store leftover barbecue chicken in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze leftovers for up to 6 months.
Reheat in the microwave or covered with foil in the oven. It is best to thaw the chicken before reheating.
Absolutely! Pulled barbecue chicken can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months. Reheat it in the microwave, stovetop, or oven before serving.
To prepare it a few hours in advance, skip step 4 and keep the instant pot on the 'keep warm' setting until you are ready to serve.
Pulled barbecue chicken is versatile and can be served in various ways. You can pile it on burger buns for delicious BBQ chicken sandwiches, serve it over rice, mashed potatoes, or baked sweet potatoes or use it as a filling for tacos or quesadillas. It also pairs well with coleslaw, pickles, or a side of cornbread
Most barbecue sauces will burn if they are added to an instant pot without any additional cooking liquid. Vinegar, pineapple juice, and the natural juices released from the chicken as it cooks should prevent the sauce from burning.
Yes, you can use frozen chicken. However, keep in mind that it will take longer for the Instant Pot to come to pressure. You will also need to increase the cooking time slightly, to 20 minutes.
Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken
- Instant pot
- 1 Yellow Onion
- 2 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
- 1 ½ cups Barbecue Sauce
- ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ½ cup Pineapple Juice or apple juice
- Peel, trim, and quarter the onion. Place it in the bottom of your instant pot. Sit the chicken on top of the onion.2 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, 1 Yellow Onion
- In a small bowl, combine the barbecue sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, pineapple juice, and smoked paprika.
- Pour this mixture over the chicken. Place the lid on your instant pot and set the valve to sealing. Pressure cook the chicken using the manual setting with high pressure for 13 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Remove the chicken from the instant pot. Set the instant pot to saute on high to bring the sauce to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly for 5-8 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Return the chicken to the instant pot and use two forks to pull the chicken into shredded pieces.
- Serve the chicken as is, or on a bun for a delicious sandwich.
Be sure to read the entire post for tips, tricks, and help troubleshooting.
The nutrition information listed here is only an estimate and is simply provided as a courtesy. It nor any other information within this post should constitute medical or nutritional advice. Be sure to read all packaging and ingredient labels for potential allergens. Optional ingredients are not included unless otherwise specified.