Did you know you can cook frozen chicken breasts, thighs, and even a whole chicken in the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker? Use these instructions and top tips to cook perfectly moist chicken in the Instant Pot, even from frozen.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Instant Pot and use it almost daily, even to reheat food. I find it’s one of the best ways to save time in the kitchen as well as cook easy, flavorful meals for my family.
While I share many Instant Pot tips and tricks, one of my most commonly asked questions is,
“Can you cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot?”
The answer is yes! With the right guidance and by following these instructions, you can safely cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. In fact, it has been a game changer for meal times in my house as it means family meal times can be a whole lot quicker and more convenient thanks to this time-saving appliance.
Benefits of Cooking Instant Pot Frozen Chicken
Are you still feeling a little unsure whether to try cooking frozen chicken in the Instant Pot? There are several benefits to this cooking method that may persuade you. These include:
- Saves Time – One of the biggest benefits of cooking frozen chicken in an Instant Pot is that it saves time. More time is probably the number one thing we all need, so thanks to this method, you’ll have exactly that.
- Convenience – As well as being quick, it’s convenient as it means you can start cooking dinner even if you forgot to thaw the chicken ahead of time. Perfect for busy weeknights or when you need to put together a meal quickly.
- Flavorful – As the frozen chicken is cooked in a sealed environment with liquid, it retains moisture and flavor. This means you have flavorful, juicy chicken, which isn’t always the case with other cooking methods.
- Healthier – When cooking frozen chicken in an Instant Pot, you won’t need to add oil or fat in the same way you’d maybe need to when frying or baking. Additionally, pressure cooking can help to retain more of the nutrients in the chicken.
Cooking Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot Step by Step
Some people prefer to cook the chicken directly in the liquid on the bottom of the Instant Pot inner pot, while others prefer to use a trivet – one of my most used Instant Pot accessories. A trivet is essentially a wire shelf that sits within the Instant Pot with the liquid below, and food (in this case, chicken) on top. The steam from the liquid helps to cook the chicken gently. Both ways will result in tender, moist chicken, so use whichever you prefer.
- Add the frozen chicken to the Instant Pot and arrange it in a single layer. No need to thaw it, you can add it straight from the freezer.
- Next, add 1 cup of liquid. I prefer to use a cup of water or chicken broth (or even better a homemade broth), ensuring there is enough to cover the bottom of the pot.
- Depending on your chicken recipe, you may also want to season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder You could also add other spices or herb blends, such as my homemade Italian seasoning or dry ranch seasoning mix.
- Now close & lock the Instant Pot lid, making sure the valve is set to “sealing”.
- Select the High-Pressure cook setting and set the timer according to the size of the chicken and the recipe you are following.
- Once the cooking time is up, all for a natural release for 5-10 minutes. The time depends on the amount of chicken and the thickness of the meat. For thinner chicken tenderloins, cook for 5 minutes. For thicker chicken breasts or thighs, cook for 8-10 minutes.
- Then use the quick release to let go any remaining pressure. It may take a little trial and error to find your sweet spot, but I find that because chicken cooks so quickly, it is easy to overcook if you use a longer natural pressure release.
- Check the internal temperature of the thickest part of your chicken using a meat thermometer. It needs to have reached 165°F. If you find the meat hasn’t reached the recommended temperature, lock the lid and cook at High Pressure for a further few minutes, finishing with a quick pressure release.
- Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing or shredding.
Is it safe to cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot?
Yes, cooking frozen chicken in the Instant Pot is safe, but I understand why it may seem too good to be true. You can safely cook frozen meat using the Instant Pot because it pressure cooks food quickly. This means it will bring the frozen chicken to a safe temperature in just minutes, unlike a slow cooker.
While there are many slow cooker benefits, I recommend avoiding adding frozen meat to your slow cooker. This is because the meat may stay too long in the “danger zone” temperature and so risks being unsafe.
What cuts of frozen chicken can I use?
You can use frozen chicken breasts, frozen chicken thighs, frozen chicken tenderloins (also known as chicken tenders), frozen chicken wings, or even a frozen whole chicken. I do find this works best for chicken thighs, breasts, tenderloins (slender cuts of chicken to make chicken strips), or a whole chicken.
I personally find that frozen chicken wings cook relatively fast and usually don’t need to be pre-cooked. I usually toss them with cooking spray, salt and pepper, and then cook in an air fryer for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F.
How long does frozen chicken take to cook in the Instant Pot?
The times for cooking frozen chicken in the Instant Pot will vary depending on the weight and thickness of the chicken or whether you’re cooking breasts, thighs, or fillets for example.
It also depends on whether you’re just defrosting chicken in the Instant Pot ready to use in another recipe or whether you plan to slice or shred the finished chicken.
When cooking from frozen, I recommend you try and use chicken pieces that are of a similar size and thickness. This will help them to cook evenly and be ready at the same time. I recommend referring to my Instant Pot cooking times guide to avoid under or overcooking anything in your Instant Pot. It details everything you need to know about cooking times for the majority of Instant Pot friendly foods from rice to seafood.
Can I use any electric pressure cooker to cook frozen chicken?
The Instant Pot is one of the most well-known electric pressure cooker brands with a range of models, from the basic 6-in-1 model to the more advanced 10-in-1 models with additional features like sous vide and yogurt-making. It’s the brand I’m most familiar with so I tend to focus my recipes on the Instant Pot, but you can cook frozen chicken in any electric pressure cooker, such as the Ninja Foodi, Crock-Pot Express, Breville Fast Slow Pro, and COROSI. Just be sure to follow the brand’s instructions on how to cook frozen meat.
Tips for Cooking Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot
When cooking frozen chicken in the Instant Pot, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure the meat cooks evenly and safely. These include:
- Use a meat thermometer – It’s important to check the internal temperature to ensure that it has reached a safe temperature of 165°F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and check all pieces, not just just one.
- Add enough liquid – To avoid overcooked or dry chicken, make sure to add enough liquid. Although I recommend one cup, you may need more to cover the bottom of the pot. The liquid helps to create steam and ensure that the chicken cooks evenly.
- Follow the recipe – The cooking time will vary depending on the size and type of chicken, so it’s important to follow a recipe for guidance.
- Clean the Instant Pot – After cooking the chicken, don’t forget to clean the Instant Pot thoroughly to prevent any bacteria from growing. Don’t worry, I have an entire post that shareshow to Clean your Instant Pot if you’re unsure.
- Trial and Error – Like all new recipes or cooking techniques, it can take a few attempts to perfect. Once you learn how to use the Instant Pot buttons correctly, play around with timings and pressure release to find which combinations work best for you.
No need to abandon cooking and resort to unhealthy takeout, if you’ve forgotten to thaw the chicken. Now that you know how to cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot, the options are endless. Whether it’s tacos, sandwiches, or salads there are so many ways to create a delicious family meal with minimal effort.
If you’re searching for some inspiration, here are a few serving suggestions:
- Shred the chicken and pop it into tortillas with guacamole for some super quick tacos
- Shred it up and use it as a topping on pizza or in white chicken chili
- Serve alongside family faves such as mac and cheese, homemade tater tots or loaded baked potato salad
- Pair with cauliflower rice or my go-to gluten free fried rice
- Chop the chicken and layer it rice, beans, corn, avocado, salsa, and shredded cheese to make burrito bowls
- Shred or chop the chicken to make quesadillas with cheese, avocado, and salsa – perfect kid-friendly meal
- Add shredded or cooked chicken to your favorite salad
- Serve up with barbecue sauce and french fries
In addition, you could meal prep in advance to save time. Cook a big batch of frozen chicken thighs or breasts and store in the fridge in an airtight container to add to make quick meals during the week. Use cooked chicken for weeknight lunches by making salads, pasta, or steamed vegetables with chicken in glass containers or Mason jars.
Instant Pot Recipes Made Simple
Are you struggling to find the time to cook healthy meals for your family? Do you wish you could find one-pot meals that are simple and easy to make… and your family will love?
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With this book, you’ll get:
- Tried-and-true recipes the whole family will love – including pot roast, spaghetti, tacos, carnitas, soups, and easy breakfast meals
- Instant Pot starter guide on how to use the buttons, tips and tricks, and more
- Printable shopping lists for ingredients
- Step-by-step video lesson on how to use your Instant Pot, pressure cooker safety, and some of my favorite tips and tricks
- Two-week meal plan that you can put into action for no-stress weeknight dinners
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More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Pesto Chicken
- Gluten Free Chicken Strips
- Instant Pot Creamy Lemon Chicken
- Instant Pot Whole Chicken
Have you tried cooking frozen chicken in the instant pot? Don’t forget to comment below to let me know how it went. You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
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