This tasty recipe for Instant Pot Salsa Chicken is perfect for a busy night! Chicken is quickly cooked with salsa and shredded for using on tacos, bowls or salads. Your family will love this easy, versatile recipe with only 3 ingredients!
When I need to make dinner in a hurry my pressure cooker is always a great option! Food cooks quickly, even if it you forget to thaw the meat.
There are lots of ways you can use this salsa chicken to get dinner on the table. I like to use it in tacos, but you could also use it on top of a salad or to fill burritos or top off nachos or make a rice bowl.
Because this recipe can be used in so many different ways it means you can serve the leftovers without it seeming like you are serving the same dinner. Serve chicken tacos on Tuesday and Mexican chicken salad on Friday!
Why You Will Love Instant Pot Salsa Chicken
- This is a simple dump and go recipe, with no sauteing necessary and only three ingredients.
- The chicken has great flavor from the salsa.
- You can adjust the spiciness of the dish for your family by using hot, mild or medium salsa.
- This recipe freezes well so you can use it for doing food prep.
There are only three basic ingredients in this recipe – chicken, salsa and salt. You can add some pepper or garlic powder if you like, but you don’t need to. The salsa seasons the chicken and flavors it as it cooks.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Fill the Pressure Cooker
Put the salsa in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper if desired and place them on top of the salsa. Don’t overlap the chicken, keep it in a single layer on top of the salsa.
2. Cook the Chicken
Put the lid on the Instant Pot making sure the sealing ring is in place and the valve is closed. Set the Instant Pot to Manual, High pressure, for 10 minutes.
It will take 10-15 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure. Once it finished cooking let it naturally release pressure for 10 minutes.
3. Shred the Chicken
After the natural release time turn the valve to release any remaining pressure. Let the chicken cool with the lid off the pressure cooker for about 5 minutes.
To shred the chicken you can use two forks or a hand mixer. A hand mixer is the easier if you have one. As you shred the chicken leave it in the cooking liquid so it continues to absorb the salsa seasoning.
How to Serve
Serve the Instant Pot salsa chicken by itself or in your favorite taco shells. You can make hard shell tacos, soft shell tacos or low carb friendly lettuce wraps! Add a couple Mexican-inspired side dishes, like Mexican Corn Salad or Chile Relleno casserole.
Finish the chicken off with your favorite taco toppings. Here are some suggestions that work great whether the chicken is in a taco or in a salad.
- sour cream
- pickled onions
- pickled radishes
- lime juice
How to Store
This chicken keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. You can reheat it in the microwave or eat it cold.
It also freezes well. Put it in air tight containers and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Using Chicken Thighs
Either boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs will work well in this recipe. The cooking time will be slightly different, as is noted in the recipe card. But the process is the same.
Chicken thighs are a little more fatty, so if you use thighs trim off any globs of fat that you see. Salsa chicken made with chicken thighs will be more moist and a little less expensive to make.
Despite that I usually make this with chicken breasts because it makes the recipe healthier.
Using Frozen Chicken
It doesn’t matter if you use fresh or frozen chicken. As long as the chicken is frozen in individual pieces and not in a big clump the cooking time will be the same.
If you use frozen chicken it will take longer for the Instant Pot to reach pressure, but that extra time will thaw the chicken. So the actual cooking time will stay the same.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most kinds of salsa will work fine in this recipe, whether they are store bought or homemade. If you like spicy food use a spicy salsa, or change the flavor up and use a green salsa.
The salsa and any water released by the chicken are the only liquids in the pressure cooker though. So if you use a very thick salsa, like an avocado based one, there might not enough liquid for the Instant Pot to reach pressure. So steer away from extremely thick salsas.
How watery this dish ends up varies a lot, because it depends on the salsa you pick and the chicken you use. Some chicken is injected with water to make it plumper, and frozen chicken will release more water than thawed chicken.
So even if you use the exact same salsa every time you can still end up with differences in how watery the final dish is. If my salsa chicken is too watery I use tongs to put the chicken into the serving bowl and then pour some of the liquid over the top, leaving the excess liquid in the Instant Pot.
Find More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash
- Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
- 2 chicken breasts *see notes for instructions on using chicken thighs
- 1 cup of salsa
- 1/2 Tablespoon salt, or to taste
- Put the 1 cup of salsa into the bottom of your Instant Pot.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and lay them on top of the salsa. Try to keep the chicken in a single layer with little to no overlap.
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the sealing ring is in place and the valve is closed. Set it for Manual, high pressure, for 10 minutes.
- It will take about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure. Once it finished cooking let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes of natural release turn the valve to release any remaining pressure. Let the chicken cool briefly and then shred in the Instant Pot it with two forks or with a hand mixer.
- If your salsa chicken seems watery use tongs to put it in a serving bowl and pour some of the liquid over top of the chicken. Stir it to mix.
- Serve the chicken on tacos, salads, nachos, or on top of a rice bowl.
Use any kind of salsa as long as it isn't extremely thick. Or if you really love a salsa that is thick add 1/2 cup of water to the pressure cooker.
If you use large chicken breasts (over 10 ounces) increase the cooking time by four minutes.
Using chicken thighs - Boneless chicken thighs are thinner than chicken breasts, but need to cook to a higher temperature for food safety. So cooking for 10 minutes works fine for chicken thighs too.
You can use frozen chicken breasts or chicken thighs if you increase the cooking time to 14 minutes and if the chicken is frozen in individual portions. Don't try to make this recipe with a big clump of frozen chicken.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 1355mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 27g
Nutrition facts are estimates and only include chicken, not taco shells or taco toppings.