How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot

How to cook frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot: This is the best way to cook frozen chicken! Read on for all of the tips and tricks you need to make perfectly juicy chicken breasts in your pressure cooker, every time.

Chicken cooked from frozen in an Instant Pot

Even the most organized person can forget to plan ahead. If you need to get dinner on the table fast but forgot to take your chicken out of the freezer, your Instant Pot is going to be your best friend.

You can safely cook frozen meat in an Instant Pot because pressure cooking cooks foods quickly. Unlike a slow cooker, in which frozen food may stay in a dangerous temperature range for too long, the Instant Pot can quickly bring frozen food to a safe temperature.

Before getting started, read my Instant Pot Guide for my tips on how to use an Instant Pot.

Why Instant Pot Frozen Chicken?

You won’t believe how perfectly moist and delicious frozen chicken turns out when you cook it in your Instant Pot!

When you know how to cook frozen chicken in an Instant Pot, you can stock up on chicken breasts when they are on sale and freeze them for later. When you’re ready, you can cook the chicken from frozen, without defrosting it first. It is so quick and easy!

Instant Pot chicken breasts are one of my favorite foods to meal prep for the week. I cook a batch of chicken breasts in my Instant Pot to use for quick lunches and dinners throughout the week. This way I can put together healthy meals when I’m short on time.

I’ve rounded up 28 Instant Pot Chicken Recipes to give you even more ideas of what to cook for dinner!

You might also like to try these easy recipes that are perfect for make ahead food prep: Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs, Instant Pot Black Beans and Instant Pot Quinoa.

How to Serve Instant Pot Chicken Breasts

  • Slice cooked chicken breasts and serve them with rice or potatoes and vegetables.
  • Cooked chicken breast is also a great way to add lean protein to salads.
  • Shred cooked chicken and use it to make tacos, enchiladas, chicken salad and more. See my Instant Pot Shredded Chicken recipe.

Frozen chicken in an Instant Pot.

How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot

  1. Make sure that your chicken breasts are not frozen together in one large mass. If they are, they will not cook evenly and you will end up with overcooked chicken on the edges and raw chicken in the center. To separate chicken breasts that are frozen together, place them in cool water until the chicken is thawed enough to separate the individual breasts. I always try to freeze my chicken flat in a zip-top bag so that the breasts do not stick together as they freeze.
  2. Place the frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the Instant Pot inner pot.
  3. Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth. You can use water, but using chicken broth produces more flavorful cooked chicken.
  4. Season the chicken as desired. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, dried oregano and paprika are all good choices for seasoning. Sprinkle the seasoning over the top of the chicken.
  5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and close it. Turn the steam release valve to the “sealing” position.
  6. Press the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button and cook at high pressure. Use the +/- buttons to set the cook time. See below for my guide on how long to cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot. The cook time will vary based on the size of the individual pieces of chicken.
  7. After 10 seconds the Instant Pot will start automatically. It will take about 10 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will begin counting down.
  8. When the cook time is finished, the Instant Pot will beep a few times. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, by leaving the Instant Pot alone. When the display reads L0:10 it has been 10 minutes since the cook cycle ended. Carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position to release any remaining steam and pressure. Check that the float valve (pin) has dropped down and then carefully open the Instant Pot lid.
  9. Use an instant read thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 degrees F. If it is not, see the section below: What to do if chicken is not cooked.
  10. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing or shredding. The rest time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the chicken so that your chicken is moist.

Size Matters with Pressure Cooking

People often want to know if you have to double the cook time when you double a recipe in the Instant Pot. The answer is no.

However, the size of each individual chicken breast does matter. Larger chicken breasts will require a longer cook time than smaller chicken breasts because the thicker pieces take longer to cook through.

You can use a kitchen scale to find out the weight of your chicken breasts. Or, take the total weight of your package of chicken and divide it by the number of chicken breasts. For example, if your package of chicken weighs 1.5 pounds (24 ounces) and contains 3 similarly sized chicken breasts, each breast weighs about 8 ounces.

How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot

The cook time for boneless, skinless chicken breasts depends on the weight and thickness of the chicken breasts. Bone-in chicken will take longer to cook. Always cook chicken at high pressure.

The Instant Pot will take longer to reach pressure when you are cooking frozen foods as compared to non-frozen foods. When the contents of the pot are cold (as they are with frozen chicken) it takes longer to heat up and pressurize. So frozen chicken gets a few extra minutes of cook time while the pot comes to pressure.

When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes. The chicken will continue to cook during this time.

Here are the estimated cook times for different sized pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Instant Pot Cooking Times for Frozen Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

  • small (6-8 ounce) frozen chicken breasts – cook 11-12 minutes at high pressure, plus 10 minutes natural release
  • medium (9-10 ounce) frozen chicken breasts – cook 13-14 minutes at high pressure, plus 10 minutes natural release
  • large (12 ounce) frozen chicken breasts – cook 16 minutes at high pressure, plus 10 minutes natural release

It is always good practice to use an instant read thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken has reached a safe 165 degrees F.

What to do if your Chicken is Not Cooked?

If your chicken is less than 165 degrees F when you check it after cooking, cook it for another 1-2 minutes at high pressure. The Instant Pot will come to pressure much more quickly the second time since it is already hot. Remember to close the lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position.

How do you cook fresh chicken breasts in the Instant Pot?

If your chicken is not frozen, you will use the same cook times and method described above. The only difference is that you will do a quick pressure release instead of a 10 minute natural release. The quick pressure release will stop the cooking process faster than a natural release.

To do a quick pressure release, as soon as the cook time ends, use the handle of a long spoon to carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position. Once steam stops coming out and the float valve drops down, open the Instant Pot lid. Use an instant read thermometer to check that the chicken is cooked through to a safe 165 degrees F.

Sliced cooked chicken that was cooked from frozen in an Instant Pot.

Cooking Tips for Instant Pot Frozen Chicken

  • Be sure to add the 1 cup of liquid to the Instant Pot. Pressure cooking requires liquid to create steam and pressure in the pot, which cooks your food.
  • If you plan to shred your cooked chicken, add some of the cooking liquid and follow my tips for how to shred chicken.
  • It is not recommended that you freeze food more than once, so if you cook chicken breasts from frozen you should not re-freeze the cooked chicken.
  • Cooked chicken will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Always be sure to turn the steam release valve to the “sealing” position when pressure cooking in your Instant Pot. Forgetting to do this is a common mistake.

More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes

Chicken cooked from frozen in an Instant Pot
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How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot

How to cook frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot: This is the best way to cook frozen chicken! Read on for all of the tips and tricks you need to make perfectly juicy chicken breasts in your pressure cooker, every time.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword frozen chicken breast instant pot, frozen chicken instant pot, instant pot frozen chicken, instant pot frozen chicken breast
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Total Time37 mins
Servings 6 servings
Calories 196kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts about three 8-ounce breasts
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
  • salt and pepper
  • other seasonings as desired, such as garlic powder, dried oregano or paprika

Instructions

  • Place the frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot inner pot. Pour in the broth. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and seasonings as desired.
  • Close the Instant Pot lid. Turn the steam release valve to the "sealing" position.
  • Press the "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" button and use the +/- buttons to set the cook time (cook at high pressure): 11-12 minutes for 6-8 ounce chicken breasts, 13-14 minutes for 9-10 ounce chicken breasts or 16 minutes for 12 ounce chicken breasts.
  • After 10 seconds the Instant Pot display will say "On" and the pot will begin to pressurize. Once it has reached pressure, it will beep once and the cook time will begin counting down.
  • When the cook time ends, the Instant Pot will beep a few times. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, by leaving the Instant Pot alone. When the display reads L0:10, carefully turn the steam release valve to the "venting" position. Wait for any remaining steam to escape (there may be none). Check that the float valve (pin) has dropped down and then carefully take off the lid.
  • Use an instant read thermometer to check that the temperature of the chicken has reached at least 165 degrees. (Read the post above for more information.)
  • Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing or shredding.

Notes

  • If your chicken breasts are frozen together in a large mass, they will not cook evenly. Place them in cool water until you are able to separate the chicken breasts.
  • To cook fresh (not frozen) chicken breasts, use the same cook times listed above but do a quick pressure release instead of a natural release.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 196kcal | Protein: 35g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 87mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
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