Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is tender shredded chicken meat seasoned to perfection and lightly coated in homemade barbecue sauce. It's a quick and easy dinner that's on the table in less than 30 minutes!
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A deliciously easy Instant Pot BBQ chicken recipe
I'm still so in love with my Instant Pot because it can make a ridiculously easy dinner with flavorful boneless chicken, seasonings, and a homemade barbecue sauce.
This shredded BBQ chicken makes a healthy weekday or weekend meal the whole family will love!
You'll wonder why you didn't make it before now.
Quick weeknight family dinner in less than 30 minutes
Since getting this Instant Pot, preparing meals has definitely become easier.
I'm not trying to brag about my skills here, it's really just all about the pot because it makes cooking pretty much effortless.
Here's how to make this BBQ sauce chicken recipe:
- Add a little oil in the bottom of the Instant Pot and sauté some onion slices and fresh garlic.
- Rub boneless chicken thighs with the homemade spice mixture and place on top of the onion and garlic mixture.
- Pour homemade BBQ sauce on top of the chicken thighs, seal the lid, and select the "poultry" preset button or manual high pressure for 20 minutes.
- Once the pressure has been released, remove the lid and shred the chicken.
- SO EASY!!
The result is flavorful and tender shredded chicken meat that's lightly coated in barbecue sauce and seasoned to perfection.
AND in less than 30 minutes, dinner will be on the table!
Burn message on Instant Pot
This BBQ chicken recipe is one of the most popular ones on the blog, but a few people have told me about receiving a burn notice while cooking the chicken.
After researching and trying to figure out why some people get the burn and most of the people don't.
Here's a few possibilities:
- A thicker, sugary based BBQ sauce could burn in the pan. If you are using a super thick sauce, try adding up to 1 cup of water or stock to your pot to thin the sauce out so it doesn't burn.
- The BBQ sauce shouldn't be placed in the the Instant Pot first. The sauce can burn on the bottom, so put the meat in first, then top with the sauce.
- Some Instant Pots just simply seem to take more liquid than others, no matter what you are cooking. If yours is like that, then add up to 1 cup of water or stock (total) to the recipe.
- I use an Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 and NEVER have to put any additional liquid in when I'm cooking chicken. Seriously, sometimes I just throw the meat in it with some seasoning, seal it up, and press a button. Check out my video on this recipe and you can see how much liquid my chicken released during cooking. And that was with no water or stock and only ½ cup of BBQ sauce!
Grab your pot and make this easy, quick, and healthy Instant Pot BBQ Chicken in less than 30 minutes!
Leftovers make wonderful lunches for the rest of the week too.
Try my homemade BBQ sauce in this recipe and if you need a great side dish that can be made ahead of time, try this easy 7 layer salad.
Let me know if you've tried this Instant Pot BBQ Chicken in the comments below & hope you enjoy it!
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
- 3 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (can sub out boneless chicken breasts)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into ½" thick sliced half rounds
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Spice Mixture for Chicken:
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cups favorite bbq sauce (I used 1 cup)
optional: extra bbq sauce for serving
- Place all the trimmed chicken thighs in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together all the spices and use to evenly coat all the thighs. Set aside.
- Remove the lid from a 6 quart Instant Pot, push the sauté button and add the olive oil and sliced onion. Sauté for about 3 minutes, then add the minced garlic. Sauté together for another minute then turn off Instant Pot. Add the seasoned chicken thighs on top of the onion and garlic mixture, then pour 1 ½ cups of bbq sauce over the chicken. **All Instant Pots are NOT created equal. If using a thicker BBQ sauce or if your IP uses more liquid in recipes, add up to 1 cup of water or stock at this time.
- Cover with the Instant Pot lid; making sure it's locked and the steam value is in the closed position. Select the "poultry" preset button or manual high pressure for 20 minutes. (Use 15 minutes manual high pressure for boneless chicken breast.)
- When pot is finished, wait 10 minutes for it to cool down or release pressure manually by taking a hand towel and carefully opening up the steam value on the lid. It is safe to open once all steam has been released.
- If there is cooking liquid left in in the pot, remove the lid and turn on the sauté button on. As the liquid is evaporating, take two forks and shred the chicken thighs. Continue shredding and mixing until all the chicken is pulled apart and the liquid has evaporated.
- Can mix in extra bbq sauce, if desired, and heat through for another minute or two. Turn off the pot, serve immediately and enjoy!
Recipe Notes & Tips:
- Store leftovers in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Can freeze leftovers for up to 2 months.
This chicken was fabulous! I've been craving some BBQ and saw this recipe on pinterest. The seasonings were perfect and I had leftovers on a salad the next day.
Thank you so much Betty and so happy you liked it!
Very good will make again. Whole family loved it.
That's wonderful Aliyah and glad the family loved it! Thank you and appreciate you taking the time to review the recipe too!
Have you ever made this with frozen chicken?
Hi Heidi, I've never made this recipe with frozen chicken, but I've seen other recipes that have used frozen chicken in the IP and the everything is usually the same. Although, thinking it could release a little bit more water during cooking. If that happens, just evaporate it out with the sauté button.
Wasn't so sure on using thighs,but followed your recipe and glad I did! It was so flavorful and didn't have a problem at all with a burn notice as the chicken released a lot of liquid. Thanks for the recipe
Weird question but what if you don't own an Insta Pot? Would it work with a crockpot? Thanks.
Hi Becky, I haven't tested this recipe using a crockpot, but don't see why it wouldn't work. Use all the same ingredients and cook on low for about 5 hours, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 180F degrees. Please let me know how it turns out for you!
This may be a dumb question, but I just got myself an IP. Am I able to half the recipe or is that too little for a 6 quart pot?
It's perfectly fine to half the recipe. I actually made this last night for dinner in my 6 qt IP and used 1.7 pounds of chicken breast with 1 cup of BBQ sauce and it turned out great! Hope you enjoy it!
This was an easy recipe. I liked the idea of cooking the chicken in some BBQ sauce and then layering some more afterwards, if desired. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Marla and very happy you liked it!
If using breasts, would I still use 3lbs?
karrie @ Tasty Ever After
Hi GIna, yes you can still use the same quantity of chicken.
I rarely write reviews. Unless a product or service is either horrible or fantastic. THIS recipe is fantastic!! I am so very pleased with the whole thing. It was well received by my 5 year old grandson and my 65 year old hubby! The IP timing was perfect.
The seasonings were what drew me to this particular recipe. I was somewhat wary about using all those herbs and spices, in addition to the BBQ sauce. So, I reduced the onion powder and paprika to 1 tablespoon each, and full amounts for everything else (but no pepper flakes). Next time I'll use the proper amount of onion powder but keep the paprika to 1 tablespoon. It added just enough spice for my family. I'll also use my home-made BBQ sauce, although Baby Ray's was pretty good in a pinch. I really can't say enough good things about this recipe! Thank you for developing and sharing it. I can't wait to try this with pork and beef! Yum ! ! And I suppose I should check out your other recipes!
karrie @ Tasty Ever After
Glad this made the fantastic list Barbara! lol! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and SO HAPPY you and your family liked the recipe. You've made my week already with your kind words and I'm forever grateful for your support!
I am allergic to chicken but made this for my family. Since I can't do a taste test myself I was hoping that more of these comments would be from people who actually made the dish and could comment on it, but I made it anyway and the family seemed to like it. I had been a little concerned about the sage for barbecue chicken, but apparently it was fine. I had plenty of liquid, but I used boneless chicken thighs (no breast substituting) and have a fairly thin barbecue sauce. I think everyone wanted to add more sauce in the end, so unless the seasonings change the taste too much, I would think that as long as they liked the BBQ sauce they would like the chicken, and it seemed to be so at my house.
Since we have so much leftover I am thinking of freezing some for a quick, pull out the freezer sandwich meat. I guess I am assuming it could freeze well, especially if I add the extra BBQ sauce first so it has more liquid. I'll give it a try.
BTW, I find that the Instant Pot saute feature almost always has to be set on the lowest setting for me not to risk burning things while sauteing, especially since the pot bottom angles to the outside and the oil in the pan doesn't want to spread evenly. I have an older model so not sure if anything about that has changed.
Thanks for the recipe!
Thanks so much for reviewing this recipe Donna and very happy the family liked it! Yes, the leftovers freeze well and I've kept it for up to 2 months that way. Thank you on the advice on the IP too!
The whole family really enjoyed this and I loved it because it was so easy to make for dinner. Put it on potato rolls for sandwiches and made cole slaw with a preshredded package mix. This will always have a place on my weekday dinner list!
If I wanted to make this for around 16 adults (meat would theoretically be used on sandwich buns, not over rice), and to make it a day or two ahead of time, what suggestions do you have?
I would think you could just double the recipe, but I haven't tried cooking it with over 3 pounds of chicken. To be on the safe side, you could just do two batches, let the chicken cool completely, and store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for up to 2 days. You can reheat it in the instant pot with extra bbq sauce