This post may contain affiliate links. Please see disclosure form more information.

This Instant Pot BBQ Chicken recipe makes easy pulled chicken in the pressure cooker in about 30 minutes. A quick dinner for busy weeknights! Your whole family will love this easy recipe, and it’s also perfect for meal prep!

instant pot pulled bbq chicken sandwich on brioche bun on the table

This easy Instant Pot BBQ chicken is one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes for a busy day. Seriously, this recipe is incredibly simple and makes the best pulled chicken in just 30 minutes.

If you’re looking for quick and easy dinner recipes, especially easy chicken recipes, this one’s for you! Barbecue pulled chicken is also a big hit with the kids. Even my picky eater likes this easy dinner recipe!

I have an awesome recipe for pulled BBQ chicken in the Crock-Pot , but making BBQ chicken in the pressure cooker is so much faster. And since I don’t always plan ahead, this is why I love Instant Pot dinner recipes.

Plus, it’s a very versatile recipe. You can use it to make chicken sandwiches, sliders, wraps or quesadillas. You can even use the shredded meat to top nachos, baked potatoes or salads.

If you love pulled chicken, try our Instant Pot salsa verde chicken and salsa chicken — to make Instant Pot chicken tacos (delicious tacos) — and our Instant Pot Buffalo chicken and Instant Pot Buffalo chicken dip! Be sure to check out all of my Instant Pot recipes.


You only need a handful of simple ingredients for this Instant Pot barbecue chicken recipe. If you don’t already have them at home, you can find them in your grocery store:

  • Olive oil — or non stick cooking spray to prevent the BBQ sauce from sticking
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Sea salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce — Use 1 cup BBQ sauce plus more after cooking, if desired
  • Water or chicken broth — to help the pressure cooker reach pressure
chicken breasts, seasoning, sweet baby ray's bbq sauce and water on the counter

How to make BBQ chicken in Instant Pot

This Instant Pot shredded chicken is pretty much a dump and go dinner. First, add a little olive oil or non stick spray to the bottom of the pot.

Next, add water or broth to your electric pressure cooker. You can also add the water first, if you prefer.

Then, all you do is add the boneless skinless chicken breasts to the pressure cooker, season them and top them with your favorite BBQ sauce.

Do not stir the sauce–leave it on top of the chicken breasts. Otherwise, the sugars in the BBQ sauce could burn at the bottom of the pot.

You have to add water or chicken broth, since BBQ sauce is so thick. I tried to get away with using only a quarter cup water the first time, but I got the dreaded burn notice and had a messy pot to clean afterwards.

Half cup water works much better! If you are using an 8 quart Instant Pot, add 1 cup of water.

I have made this chicken recipe hundreds of times now, and I have never gotten another burn notice!

chicken breasts and bbq sauce in instant pot electric pressure cooker

You can always drain the extra liquid out of the pot after pressure cooking, but if you don’t add enough liquid, the pot won’t come to pressure.

Cooking Time

Pressure cook the chicken for 10 minutes on high pressure followed by a 10 minute natural pressure release.

You can do a quick release for the remaining pressure after that or allow a full natural release.

If your chicken breasts are very thin, you can cook the chicken for 8 minutes with an 8 minute release.

shred bbq chicken with mixer in Instant Pot

When the chicken is done, I usually shred it with an electric hand mixer. You can do it with two forks, but the mixer is much faster. It’s my favorite way to shred chicken!

My kids have fun helping with this part!

You can add more BBQ sauce if you need to. I usually serve BBQ sauce on the side in case people want to add more.

instant pot bbq pulled chicken in tongs

And that’s all there is to it! Serve BBQ pulled chicken with Instant Pot potato salad or corn on the cob for a delicious meal.

You guys, this easy Instant Pot BBQ chicken recipe is a lifesaver, especially on crazy busy days!

Recipe Variations

You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of boneless chicken breasts, if you prefer. The cook time for boneless thighs remains the same.

Make Instant Pot BBQ chicken breasts instead of pulled chicken. Just serve the pieces whole instead of shredding them.

You can also vary the seasonings. Sometimes, I add minced onions or onion powder, brown sugar or smoked paprika or chili powder.

Use Frozen Chicken

You can also make tender Instant Pot BBQ chicken using frozen chicken breasts or frozen chicken thighs. Frozen chicken in the Instant Pot works best if it is in a single layer and not a large clump.

Pressure cook frozen chicken for 15 minutes. If you do have frozen chicken stuck together, cook it for to 20 minutes.

Be sure that the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees. If not, you can add another 5 minutes to the cooking time.

pulled instant pot bbq chicken slider on plate

How to Store

Store any leftover BBQ chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it’ll last for about 4 days. For longer storage, freeze it an a freezer safe container.

Reheat individual portions of pressure cooker BBQ chicken in the microwave. Leftover shredded chicken tastes great sandwiched between brioche buns, as part of a BBQ chicken salad, or enjoyed on its own!

Cooking Tips

Never stir the BBQ sauce and water together before pressure cooking. This will prevent the burn notice.

If there is a lot of liquid in the pot after pressure cooking, remove some of the liquid before making pulled BBQ chicken in Instant Pot. You can add it back in while shredding if needed.

Add more BBQ sauce after you shred chicken if needed.

Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to shred chicken. It’s the easiest way!


Does BBQ sauce count as liquid in Instant Pot?

Not really. You need a thin liquid like water or broth along with the BBQ sauce to help the pot build pressure.

Do you put BBQ sauce on chicken before cooking?

You add a little bit of BBQ sauce before cooking. You can add more BBQ sauce after pressure cooking. This is the best way to prevent the burn notice.

5 from 68 votes

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

By: Dee
This Instant Pot BBQ Chicken recipe makes easy pulled chicken in the pressure cooker in about 30 minutes. A quick dinner for busy weeknights! Your whole family will love this easy recipe, and it's also perfect for meal prep!
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
pressure release: 10 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts about 2 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • ½ cup water
Save this recipe!
Enter your email and get this recipe sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


  • Add olive oil to inner pot of pressure cooker, and place chicken in pot 
  • Add water, and sprinkle sea salt, garlic powder and pepper over chicken, then pour BBQ sauce over chicken. Do not stir!
  • Place lid on pot, turn vent to Sealing position, and hit PRESSURE COOK for 10 minutes. Pot will take a few minutes to pressurize, and chicken will cook for 10 minutes
  • After pot beeps, allow a 10 minute natural release, then do a quick release to release remaining pressure. When pin drops, remove lid, and use hand mixer or 2 forks to shred chicken before serving



Recipe was made in 6-quart Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. For an 8 quart, add 1 cup water, but keep other ingredients and cook time the same.
Chicken may need a longer cook time at higher elevations. Try 12 minutes with 10 minute release, and check that internal temperature is 165 before serving.
Cook frozen chicken breasts for 15 minutes or 20 if extra thick or stuck together.


Calories: 127kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 708mg, Potassium: 246mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 93IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Like this? Leave a comment below!

Recipe first published in 2018 and updated in 2023 with more information and tips.

instant pot bbq chicken sandwich with pickle on plate

I hope you enjoy easy Instant Pot barbecue chicken as much as we do! This easy weeknight meal is a family favorite chicken dish–it’s a super simple recipe that packs a tasty barbecue flavor and makes the best BBQ chicken sandwiches.

If you do try this delicious recipe, please leave a star rating and/or comment.

For more quick, delicious meal ideas, easy dinner ideas and some of the easiest recipes out there, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter!

dee signature

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Jen says:

    Delicious and fast! Thank you! Will be using for quick weekday meals going forward.5 stars

  2. Josh says:

    Very water downed, and I used a thick bbq sauce. Why add so much water????

    1. Dee says:

      You need water for the pressure cooker to build pressure. That’s why I say to add more BBQ sauce after pressure cooking.

  3. Rocci says:

    Oh I forgot to check the stars when I left my last comment about how to not get the burn notice with this. Also you can just put it in the steamer pan right in the bottom of the cooker and then that way it won’t burn either and it’ll still have the water with it but it was absolutely delicious.5 stars

  4. Rocci says:

    To prevent getting the burn signal put your water in the bottom, adding your trivet and then use the steamer dish set it on top of the trivet then put your chicken in all your sauces in that. Up off the bottom of the pot the chicken will cook really really good and you’ll never get that burn notice pretty much. Once it releases then just dump your chicken and everything right in the bottom and heat it and eat it it is delicious.

  5. Cathy says:

    When freezing the BBQ chicken, do you put any extra sauce in the chicken? Thanks! (BTW, this recipe is our go to for whenever we have stay-in movie weekends for our family. Sooooo easy, and soooooo yummy!)

    1. Dee says:

      I usually add extra sauce when I reheat the chicken, but you can add it before freezing, if you like. Thank you so much for the wonderful compliment!

  6. Derek says:

    This is great! Tried it out last week and making it again this weekend. Left overs worked great too!5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for the review!

  7. Elzbieta Todd says:

    My chicken turned out very tough and chewy, not tender at all.

    1. Dee says:

      I’ve never had that happen. Did you do a natural release?

  8. Patricia L Stevens says:

    Love this recipe but I get frustrated… Any tips for it not saying “BURN FOOD”? It does it everytime and I have to release it, mix it and then start all over again… It’s fine after that but it’s super frustrating to have it burn at first every time

    1. Dee says:

      That is so frustrating. I can’t say exactly what happened, but some reasons for the burn notice may be not enough thin liquid or stirring the BBQ sauce and water prior to cooking. I find spraying the pot with non stick spray helps, too. I’m not sure what model you have, but I have heard the newer models are more sensitive and burn easier than the old ones. Hope this helps. 🙂