Dinner is ready in 30 minutes! This Instant Pot BBQ chicken is deeelish on sandwiches, salads, BBQ plates, you name it. Super quick and easy to make, this dish is a staple for your backyard summer BBQs (or easy weeknight dinners!).BBQ chicken sandwich with pickles and a side of cole slawThe Instant Pot is my HERO. As someone who hasn’t had a grill in forever (city girl problems), I still want to be able to enjoy barbecue. And thanks to the Instant Pot, now I can! And you can too.

This BBQ chicken is ready in 30 minutes in the Instant Pot. And who doesn’t love a 30 minute dinner?! Plus, as a one pot meal, you don’t have to worry about dirtying multiple dishes.

I love this meal in the summer time when it’s full force BBQ season, but also year round, because easy weeknight dinners don’t have a season.

For this recipe you only need a handful of ingredients: chicken, BBQ sauce, broth, and spices like chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Most of these spices you’ll already have on hand so you likely will only need to add a few ingredients to your shopping list!

Ingredients You’ll Need

flat lay of ingredients including chicken breasts, a bottle of BBQ sauce, chicken broth, and seasonings

Ingredient Notes

Barbecue Sauce: I love Trader Joe’s Organic Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce.It’s sweet, smoky, and tangy, all the flavors you’d want in a BBQ sauce. What makes Kansas City barbecue sauce different than other regions’ BBQ sauce? According to Eater, Ketchup and molasses give it a sweeter, heavier consistency while additives like liquid smoke impart a barbecue flavor in lieu of coals, fire, or a smoker.

Chicken: I like using a combination of chicken thigh and breast here because thigh imparts more flavor and is easier to shred than breast.

How to Make this Recipe

This recipe is so easy to make in the Instant Pot. You just throw all your ingredients in together and give it a mix so that the broth is under the chicken to prevent a burn error. Throw the lid on top, set to high pressure for 15 minutes. Let natural pressure release for 10-15 minutes. And then quick release the rest of the pressure.

Now you can take the pieces of cooked chicken out as is and serve them up with a little extra BBQ sauce smothered over top (my personal preference). Or, if you want pulled BBQ chicken, you’ll take two forks and shred the chicken until it’s in thin strands. If you want to speed up the shredding process, try using a hand mixer. The chicken breast will require a little more muscle power to shred whereas the thigh falls apart very easily.

 
shredded BBQ chicken placed in an Instant Pot

BBQ Chicken FAQ’s

What type of chicken should I use?

I use a combination of breast and thigh because the thigh gives it a little more flavor while the breast is more lean so it balances out the texture and flavor. But you could use all thigh or all breast. Just know that if you’re going to make this into pulled chicken, the thigh is WAY more easier to shred.

What type of BBQ sauce should I use?

Whatever brand or style is your favorite! Different regions of the country have different styles of barbecue sauce. We love Trader Joe’s Organic Kansas City Style BBQ sauce. It’s sweet, smoky, and tangy, all the flavors you’d want in a BBQ sauce. The thicker your barbecue sauce, the more necessary it is to add chicken broth to this recipe. If your barbecue sauce is thick, you might get a burn error notice on the Instant Pot. If your barbecue sauce is thinner in consistency, you may not need to add the broth. If you’re feeling very ambitious, you can make your own homemade barbecue sauce!

What do I do if I get a burn notice?

I updated this recipe to include 1 cup of chicken broth after some readers commented they got a burn notice. This is likely because the BBQ sauce you used was too thick. Adding broth to this recipe will ensure you won’t receive a burn error. Make sure that you either add the chicken broth first or that you stir all the ingredients together before pressure cooking. You want to make sure some of the broth is underneath the chicken.

scoop of shredded BBQ chicken taken out of Instant Pot

How do I shred the chicken?

You can use two forks to shred the chicken or if you want it to be faster, use an electric hand mixer. Just be careful that you use a low setting and shield your skin so the hot liquid doesn’t splatter on you. The breast will be harder to shred and the thigh will fall apart easily.

What do I do with the leftover liquid?

Discard it if you’re making chicken breast or thigh. If you’re making pulled chicken, you’ll want to keep some of the liquid with the chicken for moisture and flavor but most of the liquid can be discarded. 

If you want more flavor, add more BBQ sauce at the end!

By adding broth to the recipe, you’re diluting the flavor of the BBQ sauce more. So after you’ve drained your liquid, feel free to add more barbecue sauce, to taste!

Is there a vegetarian or vegan option?

Jackfruit works well as substitute for pulled pork/chicken. And cooks well in the Instant Pot! Check out my Instant Pot Jackfruit Tacos for inspiration. Just add BBQ sauce and these spices instead!

Two plates of BBQ chicken sandwiches with a side of cole slaw and pickles

Serve these babies up on sliders for a Memorial Day weekend partay or on sandwiches for a family din. Delicious served with coleslaw on the side (or right on top bc you live on the wild side) and ALL THE PICKLES.

This BBQ pulled chicken would also be awesome on top of salad for a protein or alongside some mac n’ cheese and collard greens for a BBQ plate. You do what calls to you.

a bite taken out of a BBQ chicken sandwich

For more Instant Pot recipes, check out these:

Be sure to save this recipe on Pinterest for later! If you liked this recipe, let me know in the comments below or give it a star rating! Or share it on Instagram and tag me, and I’ll re-share it.

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Easy Instant Pot BBQ Chicken


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  • Author: Kara @ The Foodie Dietitian
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Dinner is ready in 30 minutes! This Instant Pot BBQ chicken is deeelish on sandwiches, salads, BBQ plates, you name it. Super quick and easy to make, this dish is a staple for your backyard summer BBQs (or easy weeknight dinners!).


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thigh
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Optional for serving: buns, coleslaw, pickles

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to the Instant Pot and stir to combine.
  2. Secure lid onto Instant Pot. Close the steam vent (should be on sealing). Set to high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow natural pressure release for 10-15 minutes.
  3. After 10-15 minutes, use quick release valve to release steam.
  4. Once pressure is released, open lid and stir chicken.
  5. Using two forks or a hand mixer, shred chicken.
  6. For sandwiches, serve on top of buns with coleslaw and pickles.

Notes

  1. You can skip shredding the chicken if you don’t want it pulled. This recipe also works well for regular BBQ chicken.
  2. I use a combination of breast and thigh because the thigh gives it a little more flavor while the breast is more lean so it balances out the texture and flavor. But you could use all thigh or all breast. If you’re going to make this into pulled chicken, the thigh is WAY more easier to shred.
  3. Use whichever brand or style of barbecue sauce is your favorite! We love Trader Joe’s Organic Kansas City Style BBQ sauce.
  4. To prevent a burn error, make sure that you either add the chicken broth first or that you stir all the ingredients together before pressure cooking. You want to make sure some of the broth is underneath the chicken.
  5. if you want to shred the chicken faster, use an electric hand mixer. Just be careful that you use a low setting and shield your skin so the hot liquid doesn’t splatter on you.
  6. If you’re making pulled chicken, you’ll want to keep some of the liquid with the chicken for moisture and flavor but most of the liquid can be discarded.
  7. Feel free to add more barbecue sauce once the liquid has been discarded to give it more flavor and moisture.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Barbecue

Keywords: Instant Pot BBQ, BBQ sliders, Instant Pot BBQ chicken, Instant Pot Chicken

This post was updated and republished to help prevent a burn error and give you more notes on how to make this recipe fabulous! This recipe was originally published in May 2019.

 
 

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18 Comments

  1. Jay

    This was great but be sure to either use a “liquidy” BBQ sauce or add some chicken broth. Otherwise you run the risk of burning.

  2. Laura Claybrook

    Hey! Just wondering how you mean this to be an instant pot recipe, because there is not enough liquid. Only chicken and bbq sauce always produces the burn notice in the instant pot. I wasted 10$ in ingredients…

    • Hey Laura – I am so sorry that you wasted your money. When I tested the recipe multiple times, I didn’t get a burn notice but I’m realizing that may be because my BBQ sauce was thinner. I am going to update the directions now to include chicken stock/broth because many people have reported getting a burn error.

  3. Bre

    My instapot gave the warning that the BBQ was burning (due to the lack of liquid) shortly after starting. Maybe my BBQ sauce was thicker than the one used for this recipe? next time I think it would be better to cook the chicken then add the sauce once it’s pulled apart.

    • When I tested the recipe multiple times, I didn’t get a burn notice but I’m realizing that may be because my BBQ sauce was thinner. I am going to update the directions now to include chicken stock/broth because many people have reported getting a burn error. Sorry, Bre!

  4. Jodi

    These are so delicious!!

  5. Jennifer

    Why did mine get a burn notice? The sauce must be too thick. I followed your recipe exactly as it says.

    • Hey Jennifer, when I tested the recipe multiple times, I didn’t get a burn notice but I’m realizing that may be because my BBQ sauce was thinner. I am going to update the directions now to include chicken stock/broth because many people have reported getting a burn error.

  6. Kelly

    How do you keep it from burning? I got the burn message a few times 🙁

    • So sorry, Kelly! When I tested the recipe multiple times, I didn’t get a burn notice but I’m realizing that may be because my BBQ sauce was thinner. I am going to update the directions now to include chicken stock/broth because many people have reported getting a burn error.

  7. Fresh

    Does the chicken need to be thawed prior to cooking?

  8. Joby

    What brand BBQ sauce do you use?

  9. I absolutely love bbq chicken sandwiches and this one is mouth watering!