Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

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This easy recipe makes perfectly shredded Instant Pot BBQ chicken in your pressure cooker. With four basic ingredients and only 30 minutes you can have summer barbecue flavor even in the dead of winter or on a grey and rainy day. Perfect for sandwiches, sliders, potatoes or weekly meal prep.

Using the Instant Pot makes it quick and easy to make a big batch of BBQ chicken, perfect for feeding a crowd. You can use the meat on sliders or sandwiches or to top off potatoes. Pressure cooking the chicken with barbecue sauce is an easy way to get smoky flavor without using a grill. Maybe you live in an apartment or there is an inch of snow on the ground – that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy BBQ Chicken!

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This is a recipe that I used to make in the crock pot, but now make in a pressure cooker. The main reason is time – with my Instant Pot I can have this chicken cooked and on the table in about 30 minutes. And if I forget to thaw the chicken (which happens far too frequently) I can still have the meal ready in about 45 minutes. You can’t beat the convenience of pressure cooking for quick family meals.

Slider made from Instant Pot shredded chicken

And this recipe is also excellent for using for easy meal prep. You can make a big batch of chicken on Sunday and enjoy smoky BBQ chicken cold on salads during the week.

Should I use Chicken Breast or Chicken Legs?

This is something I feel strongly about – I never use chicken breasts in the Instant Pot. Chicken breasts are temperamental and it is very easy to overcook them which makes dry and tough. My family and I hate dry chicken!

I know some people like chicken breast cooked in the pressure cooker but it just doesn’t work for me. Experience has taught me that even when I do everything exactly as I am supposed to I still sometimes end up with tough, inedible chicken. One extra minute of cooking at high pressure can turn a chicken breast from delicious to stringy.

So when I want chicken breast I saute them on the stove or roast them like this recipe for chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto. Unlike chicken breasts chicken legs and thighs are not temperamental and take well to pressure cooking. When I use chicken legs or thighs in the Instant Pot I  know I will get a tasty outcome that I that my family will eat.

How to Make Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

This recipe is very straightforward and requires minimal prep. Start out by putting chicken broth in the Instant Pot. The broth helps provide the liquid the Instant Pot needs to reach pressure. BBQ sauce by itself will not have enough liquid to allow Instant Pot to achieve high pressure.

Chicken drumsticks in the Instant Pot

Then put the pieces of chicken into the Instant Pot, stacking as needed. I used chicken drumsticks for this post, but chicken thighs work just as well. You can use boneless or bone in pieces of chicken. Obviously if you use bone in, as I usually do, it will take you a little longer to shred the chicken. I don’t bother taking the skin off the chicken, since it will easily come off once the chicken is cooked.

BBQ sauce on top of chicken in the Instant Pot

After the chicken add in a little bit of salt and garlic powder and then 2 cups of BBQ sauce. A honey based BBQ sauce is not a good choice, because the higher sugar content in the sauce can cause an Instant Pot Burn error. But other than that just pick your favorite sauce. I like to use one with a nice smoky flavor so the chicken tastes like it cooked outside over a wood fired grill.

That is all the ingredients necessary for this simple recipe. The chicken needs to cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Then let the pressure release naturally for another 10 minutes and your chicken will be done. Using natural release keeps the chicken from drying out, so don’t try to speed things up and manually release the pressure before the 10 minutes are up!

Shredding the chicken for Instant Pot BBQ chicken

Take the chicken out of the Instant Pot and de-bone and shred it with two forks. The chicken will be so tender it will fall right off the bone. If you want more BBQ flavor you can mix in some more BBQ sauce once the chicken is shredded.

top view of shredded Instant Pot BBQ chicken

Can I use Frozen Chicken?

Frozen chicken works fine in a pressure cooker. You need to add 10 minutes to the cooking time if the chicken pieces are frozen. It will also take a little longer for the pressure cooker to reach pressure, so dinner won’t be ready quite as quickly, but it will taste just as good.

My Favorite BBQ Sauce
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que BBQ Sauce
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How do I Reheat this BBQ Chicken?

This recipe makes a lot of chicken – so there is a good chance you will have leftovers. You can reheat the leftovers in almost any way – microwave, stove top or even putting back in the Instant Pot for a few minutes. Since the recipe is made with juicier dark meat chicken you don’t have to worry about it drying out when it is reheated. And the chicken is also excellent cold, so you don’t need to reheat it unless you want to.

Chicken slider made from Instant Pot BBQ chicken

What to serve with Shredded Chicken

I like to serve this on sliders or rolls for an easy no grill BBQ dinner. The chicken is juicy and drizzled with extra BBQ sauce making it a perfect sandwich filling. Adding a salad or some fresh corn makes a quick and healthy dinner. It is also delicious served alongside burgers or hot dogs as part of cookout or on top of baked potatoes. This dinner is a great way to achieve summer BBQ flavor without actually grilling!

5 from 1 vote

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

Published By Anne
This easy recipe makes perfectly shredded Instant Pot BBQ chicken in your pressure cooker. With four basic ingredients and only 30 minutes to make.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Additional Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings: 10
Print Save Rate Pin


  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 10 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup BBQ sauce or to taste


  • Pour the chicken broth into the Instant Pot.
  • Add the chicken drumsticks to the pressure cooker, stacking them up as necessary.
  • Sprinkle the garlic powder and salt onto the chicken.
  • Pour the barbecue sauce over everything.
  • Put the lid on the Instant Pot and close the valve. Set it for Manual, high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • When the Instant Pot is done let the pressure release naturally for 5-10 minutes, then release the rest of the pressure manually.
  • Take the chicken, remove the skin from the chicken and take the meat off the bone. It should basically fall right off the bone. Use two forks to shred the chicken.
  • Add more BBQ sauce if desired.


I make and test my recipes in a 6 quart Instant Pot. If you use a different brand or size pressure cooker you might need to make adjustments. I would suggest increasing the amount of chicken broth if you have an 8 quart model, because 1 cup might not be enough liquid to achieve pressure.
If you have frozen chicken add 10 minutes to the cooking time.

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Nutrition Information

Serving: 1g | Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 974mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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This easy recipe makes perfectly shredded Instant Pot BBQ chicken in your pressure cooker. With four basic ingredients and only 30 minutes you can have summer BBQ flavor anytime! Perfect for sandwiches, sliders or weekly meal prep. #InstantPot #BBQ #chickenFind More Instant Pot Recipes


Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

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