How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot
See my guide on how to use an 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.
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.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot
- 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.
- Place the frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the Instant Pot inner pot.
- Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth. You can use water, but using chicken broth produces more flavorful cooked chicken.
- 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.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and close it. Turn the steam release valve to the “sealing” position.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- Honey Garlic Instant Pot Chicken Breasts
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- Easy Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Just FYI, it IS safe to freeze previously frozen meat after it has been cooked.
You’re right, it is safe, but I don’t feel that the texture/quality of the meat is as good if you freeze and then thaw it a second time.
Thank you so much for this thorough post for something that seems so simple. I will continue to use this as reference until it stick in my head! 🙂
I’m glad it is helpful!
Thank you! This was so easy and your instructions were very helpful. The chicken came out perfectly cooked and delicious.
I’m glad this worked well for you!
This is by far the BEST instantpot recipe I’ve ever seen. It’s not just that the chicken came out juicy and flavorful, but it’s the fact that your detailed instructions on how to use the instantpot are PERFECT! It irks me how other instant pot recipes never account for the time it takes the pot to come to pressure or explain the quick vs. natural release.
This is the best compliment!! Thank you and I’m so glad that you found this recipe helpful. 🙂
Can I put in several layers of chicken breast or keep it to a single layer?
You can put in several layers of chicken breasts, so long as the individual pieces of chicken aren’t frozen together.
Awesome! Thank you so much. This will be a real game changer for meal prep!
It really is! Enjoy!
I am loving my Instant Pot & all the great internet resources there are out there to make easy, nutritious, interesting recipes. RE: cooking frozen chicken. What about cooking frozen chicken in a recipe that calls for fresh?? Is that just as possible as cooking frozen chicken on its own? Do you suggest a guideline for time to add to the original cook time?? The example is a chile where the chicken breasts are whole boneless – pressure cook & then shred & add back to pot with the rest of the ingredients. Any advice appreciated!
That is a great question! You can definitely use frozen chicken in recipes. Depending on the recipe, you may or may not need to adjust the amount of cook time. If you’re making a soup or chili, those often take extra time to come to pressure due to the large volume in the pot, so using frozen chicken may just extend that pressurizing time and allow the chicken to defrost. I would use the cook times in this post as a guide for how long frozen chicken will need to cook. Assuming your recipe calls for a 10 minute natural release, I would try adding 3 minutes to the cook time if your chicken is frozen. You’ll need to take into account that if there are veggies in your dish you might overcook them if you increase the cook time too much.
Can I use Italian dressing in place of the water/ chicken broth?
I haven’t tried that, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
Is that several 12 oz chicken breasts cook for 16 minutes or 12 ounces of chicken total?
Several 12 oz. chicken breasts will cook for 16 minutes. It’s the size of each individual chicken breast that matters, so whether you have one or four 12 oz. breasts, the cook time will still be 16 minutes.
I had the same question so thx for asking ?
My recipe is for cut chicken breast, like small slices, maybe nugget sized. They original recipe is 4 minutes and quick release. If using frozen chicken, what timing would you suggest? Thanks!
Since the chicken pieces will be so small, I don’t think you need to do much adjusting. I’d either add on a 5-10 minute natural release, or add just a minute to the cook time with quick release.
Can you leave skin on chicken when useing the instapot??
Yes, you can. The skin won’t crisp up in the instant pot, though. If your chicken is bone in you will need to add a few minutes to the cook time. Good luck!
My chicken broth burned at the bottom of my instant pot. My pot alerted me that it was burning so I was able to shut it off. My chicken was okay. What did I do wrong? I used 1 cup of broth and 2 small boneless chicken breasts for 11 minutes.
I’m really surprised that happened. Did you remember to turn the steam release valve to the sealing position? If it was left on venting then that could allow most of the broth to evaporate as steam through the vent.
If you put in several layers of chicken breasts, do you need to adjust the amount of chicken broth?
You can increase the amount of chicken and still keep the broth to 1 cup. You need the 1 cup of liquid to allow the Instant Pot to pressurize, and more broth is not needed for more chicken.
Thank you for including seasoning ideas
I never learned how to spice up my food
I tried this just this afternoon with 2 large chicken breast in my 3 quart mini! They came out PERFECT!! Juicy, tender and exactly the right temperature. I used my meat thermometer as soon as all the pressure was released, while the chicken was still in the pot. And it read between 160 and 165 degrees. Thanks for sharing such a perfect method!!❤
I’m so happy that this worked so well for you! Thank you for taking the time to let me know. 🙂
Thank you for listing the different cooking times for different weights. I looked at many recipes that just have 10 minutes as the cooking time.
You’re welcome! The size of the chicken breasts really does matter. Enjoy. 🙂
Like other posters said — your thorough recipe and directions were super helpful. Thank you!!
With the times shown for the weight of the chicken breasts is that the time for 1 breast or is that for several?
EXAMPLE: If I had three 6-8 oz. breasts do you cook them 11-12 minutes for the 3 or 33-36 minutes since there is 3 in the pot?
Thanks in advance for the help!
That is the time for each chicken breast. So if you have three 6-8 oz. breasts you would cook them 11-12 minutes total.
These literally came out perfect! Thank you so much.
Thank you for the recipe. I am bumbling along starting to use my new Instant Pot, but this worked wonderfully the first time. Yeah!
I love your website and have been cooking frozen chicken breasts per your instructions.
They come out perfect every time!! I wanted to share with you how I hard boil my eggs in the instant pot. I cook them for 8 minutes on low. Yours probably come out just as well. I can’t believe how easy they are to peel!! I do them like this in my 6 quart and 3 quart and have never been disappointed!! Thanks for all of your help..
Do you turn on or turn off the keep warm option on instant pot when cooking frozen chicken? My instant pot automatically turns on the keep warm option. Will I be able to get the natural steam release after 10 minutes with that turned on?
It doesn’t matter if the keep warm option is turned on or off. Either way, the pot will naturally release as it rests and then you can quick release any remaining pressure after the 10 minutes.
Thanks for the super easy instructions! These worked perfectly! And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one wondering about that ‘keep warm’ function. My IP automatically turns it on and I’m always on the fence about whether I should leave it if I’m doing a NPR. Is there any specific “rule of thumb” you follow with this, or do you just kinda wing it? Just curious. Maybe I’m over-thinking it?
Also, a note on the spices/herbs to add to your chicken breasts—I’ve experimented a little with this and have found that my family absolutely loves it when I season with garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, dried rosemary (generously), and pepper. The rosemary makes it so fragrant and flavorful—it’s amazing!!
It truly does not matter if you leave the ‘keep warm’ function enabled or not because it will not come into play until the temperature drops below 145 degrees. After 10 minutes of natural release the temperature inside the Instant Pot is still much higher (much closer to 240 degrees than 145 degrees). Even when the plunger finally drops on its own if you allowed an extended natural release, the temperature inside the Instant Pot is much closer to 200 degrees than 145 degrees, so again the keep warm function does not matter. Only much later will the temperature drop below 145 degrees and the ‘keep warm’ function finally get a chance to act and keep the contents at a safe temperature for an extended period of time (such as when you get distracted and forget to empty the pot long after you planned to).
Do you need more than 1 cup of broth if you have an 8 qt instapot?
1 cup should work, because the chicken will release a lot of moisture as it cooks. You can increase it to 1 1/2 cups if you want and keep everything else about the recipe the same.
I am new to cooking with the Instant Pot. I have tried boneless, skinless chicken breasts twice now, once frozen and once thawed. Both times the meat was somewhat rubbery and not all that moist. For the thawed breasts, I released the pressure valve as soon as the cook time was over. The 2 thawed breasts were 10 ounces each so I cooked on the high pressure setting for 14 minutes. The cooked meat temp was 163 degrees. Any idea what is making the meat “chewy”?
It is difficult to say. Frozen chicken can get tougher depending on how it was frozen and how long it was frozen. If it isn’t sealed well, frozen chicken can lose a lot of its moisture.
How long do I cook froz chix leg quarters? I want to make like a stew, or carnitas or something like that…
I haven’t tested cooking frozen chicken leg quarters in the Instant Pot, so I can’t say from experience. I would recommend doing a web search for a recipe for what you hope to make (chicken stew, etc).
This is a sure-fire guide to cooking frozen chicken breasts. I just used chicken broth for my liquid, and they turned out perfectly. Your chart for cooktime differences based on chicken breast weight was a treasure. Thank you for taking the time to develop such thorough, straight-forward instructions, Kristine!
This is the clearest instruction on how to cook chicken breast in the Instantpot I have found on the Internet. I never remember so I have to keep looking it up and this is the first time I have thought it was so thorough and easy to understand. Thank you for not leaving anything out!
I’m so glad that this was helpful to you!
I’ve got chicken breasts in the freezer that haven’t been deboned or skinned. You mentioned above adding a few minutes for cooking breasts like that. Do you have any more specific numbers for how many minutes to add by weight? Thanks!
I haven’t tested cooking frozen bone-in chicken breasts in my Instant Pot, but I would recommend trying 25 minutes plus a 10 minute natural release. Good luck!
Do I need to place the chicken on the trivet or right in the instant pot is ok? (with the appropriate broth/water of course)
You can put the chicken right in the Instant Pot, along with the broth/water.
As my first Instant Pot use, I cooked three frozen bone-in, skin-on breasts each weighing between 18 and 20 ounces. As you can imagine, they were big and thick! Extrapolating from the various weights and times you gave, I programmed in 40 minutes with no keep-warm and manually released the pressure when time was up. Internal temp was 165° on the nose!
Since these had been in the freezer for a while (though well-sealed in Ziploc freezer bags), I was pleased to feel that I’d salvaged meat that would have been tough and dry if cooked differently. Should mention that they were frozen into a block, so I had to soak in cold water till I could pry them apart; that may have added some moisture and sped up the cook time since they were no longer totally frozen. The 1 C. liquid was low-sodium broth, and I sprinkled the breasts with McCormick’s Bruschetta seasoning, which gave the resulting broth a nice zing. Freezing that for later use.
My family likes their chicken breast cooked in BBQ sauce. Would that work in place of the broth?
You cannot use only BBQ sauce because it will cause a burn warning by itself. You can add 1 cup of BBQ sauce to either the cup of broth or use a cup of water with the BBQ sauce instead of broth. Place the water/broth in first and put the BBQ sauce on top of the chicken.
Oddly, I’ve made some terrific recipes in my IP – including your spaghetti every week or two for well over a year! – but haven’t taken advantage of a few of the most useful basics – like your frozen chicken breasts – so thank you!
What would be the best way to add sliced, raw carrots? I was thinking of pulling out the chicken to cut it up, canceling Keep Warm and 1) tossing the carrots into the already hot water/broth, and doing a zero minute pressure cook. (My Duo Evo Plus IP actually doesn’t do zero minutes so it’s 1 minute but as soon as it comes to pressure and beeps, doing a quick release.) Or 2) Adding carrots and setting the IP on Sauté and checking that they don’t get squishy. Thoughts? And thank you in advance.
Hi Beth, I’m glad you are enjoying the spaghetti – that’s one of my favorites! Out of those two options for cooking the carrots, I would try option 1 and set the cook time to 2 minutes for carrots sliced into 3/4 or 1-inch pieces. Personally, I would roast carrots in the oven while the chicken cooks in the Instant Pot because I find roasted carrots have the best flavor. 🙂
Only about 100 times better than poached or simmered or baked. Thank you.
i basically bought my instant pot so I can save meal prep time and make chicken from frozen, but I’ve been trying to separate my 2 frozen chicken breasts for the past hour ?
I was taught to let the chicken sit in cold water for 20 min at a time to defrost it.
Anyway, I usually brown the outside of my chicken and then cook it on the stove top….Is there a way to brown the frozen chicken in the instant pot using the saute function before cooking it? I feel like im starting to feel disappointed with my instant pot ☹️
I usually don’t brown meat that is frozen because I find it doesn’t brown well. If you really wanted to, I suppose you could try browning it using the saute function.
Can you use more than 1 cup of liquid? I’m cooking almost 4lbs. of chicken.
Sure, you can increase the liquid if you want.
I really appreciate this idea of being able to cook the chicken breasts frozen. There are times when we want chicken and then we have to wait a day or two for the chicken to thaw out. Thanks so much.
Thanks for the detailed instructions. Often, folks make assumptions about what people know. Your instructions are complete and are well suited for novices like me. I’m going to try this today and them put them briefly on the grill.
These thorough directions helped me so much! All Insta pot recipes assume that you know how to use it and what to do, and being new to it I’ve always been confused until I read yours! Thanks again!
Excellent recipe! My chicken turned out well cooked and moist 🙂 great for a new instant pot user!
I used this method, but adjusted a little to make a “gravy” too. Basically, I did 1 cup of chicken broth then put 4 frozen 6oz chicken breasts into the instant pot. On top, I put one can of cream of chicken soup with roughly 1 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning + some salt and pepper. Cooked on high 12 min, then shredded chicken. Came out really good! Serves over egg noodles.
I’ve converted several favorite recipes from stove top pressure cooker favorites to Instant Pot.
Frozen chicken breasts changer it all — thank you for breaking down the times by weight of. Spot on, and I’ve been trying other more general responses for about six months with varied results.
Such a wonderfully detailed post. I had 4 frozen, large, chicken breasts. They were frozen separately on a pan and then placed in a freezer bag. After cooking, I temped them and they were a bit overcooked. I think I’ll take the time down to 15 minutes for large breasts. I then shredded them in the stand mixer and it couldn’t have been easier.
I came to the IP world reluctantly. There have been a few recipes that made me change my mind and chicken breasts certainly are one of those recipes that keep impressing me.
Thank you for sharing! I love your clear style of writing and explanations!!!!
I have an IP Max. Any suggestions on times for max pressure?
Since the Instant Pot Max Model cooks at a higher pressure, you could try reducing the cook times by 10-15% from the suggested time for each size of chicken breast. For food safety, use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken after cooking.
It’s brilliant!!! No planning necessary, perfectly cooked, juicy chicken breast ready in less than half an hour. I used Montreal chicken seasoning.
Chicken turned out great. Very juicy!