Instant Pot Shredded Mexican Chicken: A simple mix of onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, and taco seasoning in the Instant Pot elevates plain chicken to another level. Use this shredded chicken for everything from enchilada filling to tacos to hot Tex-Mex dips!
Hey hey lookie here! I finally bought an Instant Pot!
As I mentioned when I was writing about no churn ice cream recently, I’m kind of a late adopter. I don’t know what it is about me and why I’m so averse to change but I thought it might be time to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon after all.
I gave my cousin one for Christmas last year and after she raved about it, I’d like to say that I immediately jumped on Amazon and gifted myself with one but that would be a lie.
No, I hemmed and hawed about buying one for almost another 8 months; until Amazon Prime Day arrived in July and Amazon all but forced me to buy it with a 40% off sale. How could I turn that down?
And I’d also like to say that I tore that box open the minute Alexa alerted me that my package had arrived but that would be a lie too. Nope. The box sat in the garage for another month. What can I say?
At the end of a super busy summer that I spent re-energizing this site with 24 new recipes since June (that’s more than all of 2018 in total!), I finally gave myself a few minutes to sit down and learn how to use that Instant Pot.
I won’t go into the nitty gritty of that process here – there are loads of You Tube videos that can show you how.
But I’m incredibly pleased with how my first recipe turned out! It was this shredded chicken, actually!
I’ve been making a crock pot Mexican shredded chicken recipe for a couple of years and since I’ve used that chicken in enchiladas and burritos in the past many many times, I decided to update it for the Instant Pot.
How to Make Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
From start to finish, this recipe will take you around 45 minutes. That includes the time to chop and saute the onions and garlic to the time it takes to pressure cook the chicken.
All in all, that’s QUICK compared to the time it takes to cook chicken in the crock pot.
To make this shredded chicken, you’ll quickly sauté onions in the Instant Pot and then add garlic and taco seasoning. Once you start to smell the garlic and spices, you’ll add diced tomatoes and the chicken.
Then you’ll turn the Instant Pot to the Pressure setting and cook the chicken for 20 minutes. THAT’S IT. This recipe is so easy to make!!
How Long to Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot?
On the Pressure ‘High’ setting, it will take 20 minutes to cook the chicken. The Instant Pot will need to pressurize for approximately 12 minutes before it starts pressure cooking.
How to Shred Chicken
Once you pull the chicken out of the Instant Pot, place it in a wide, shallow bowl and let it rest for 5 minutes.
To shred the chicken, take 2 forks, place them with the tines facing each other in the chicken, and pull them away from each other. This will shred the chicken into pieces.
You can shred the chicken as chunky or as thin as you want, depending on what you’re going to make with it. I recommend keeping it a little chunkier because if you plan to mix the shredded chicken into another mixture, like for an enchilada filling or a hot dip, the chicken will break down and become more finely shredded.
If it’s too finely shredded before you mix it in to a filling, it will become stringy.
Once you’ve shredded all of the chicken, pour some of the cooking juice and tomatoes over it. This will prevent the chicken from drying out and give it some extra flavor.
Is it easier to shred chicken with it’s hot or cold?
It’s definitely easier to shred chicken when it is still hot because this is when the chicken is the most tender. Be sure you’ve let the chicken cool for a few minutes before you shred it. As with any meat, if you cut into it without giving it some time to rest, the juices will run out of the meat. This will cause the chicken to dry out and lose all of that delicious flavor!
How to Freeze Shredded Chicken
And because it’s a fantastic freezer-friendly recipe, I don’t feel pressured to use all of the chicken within the few days that I make it. In a zip-top bag or airtight container, this chicken will freeze well for about 2 months.
When I’m ready to make another recipe with it, I can just thaw the frozen chicken in the fridge overnight or quickly thaw it in the microwave. Then it’s on to cooking dinner!
What I Love About This Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
In the next few weeks, I’ll be showcasing a few recipes I’ve made with this Mexican shredded chicken. I’ve got 2 brand new recipes and 1 revamped older recipe to show you how you can use this shredded chicken.
So what I love most about this shredded chicken is how incredibly versatile it is. The fact that I can make one big batch of chicken and use it for several different recipes makes my life so easy!
Aside from the versatility of this recipe, I love how fast it is to make. I wouldn’t consider this as one of my quick weeknight meal solutions since it takes around 50 minutes to make. But compared to making this recipe in the crock pot, I’ve shaved about 3 hours off the cooking time.
And no, it isn’t faster than poaching chicken on the stove top but I maintain that the results are better: more flavorful and more tender than poached chicken. This Mexican shredded chicken is just loaded with flavor!
I simply added a few tablespoons my homemade taco seasoning to the pot with a can of petite diced tomatoes and the results (over and over again – I’ve made this recipe 4 times already!) are just outstanding!
Lastly, I love that this recipe gives an excuse to actually use my Instant Pot. I’ve loved using my crock pot for years but I really only use it for recipes in the fall and winter months. This is the type of recipe I like to make year-round for various meals and other recipes.
What to Serve with this Chicken
I’ve already given you a few ideas for recipes that use this chicken but maybe you’re REALLY short on time or have picky eaters in your house that make eating this chicken on its own a little more appealing.
If that’s the case, you can certainly serve the chicken with some cilantro lime rice and a steamed vegetable like corn or broccoli. A corn and black bean salad would be good too – it’s quick to make! And refried black beans or pinto beans would be fantastic as well.
I hope you guys love this recipe as much as we do! Please come back to leave a review after you’ve made it and let me know how you’ve used it!
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup (2 packets) store-bought or homemade taco seasoning
- 14 oz petite diced tomatoes
- 1 ¼ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (see note below)
- 1 ¼ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (see note below)
- Heat the Instant Pot (see note below) on Saute setting with the time set to 8 minutes. Add oil, onions, and good pinch of salt and a few cranks of pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally for 5 to 6 minutes, until the onions have softened. Stir in the garlic and taco seasoning, and cook for about 1 minute, until they become fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, and ½ teaspoon of salt, and a few cranks of black pepper. Turn the cooker off. Nestle the chicken into the sauce.
- Close the Instant Pot, ensuring the valve is set to "Sealing," and turn the Pressure setting on. Set the Pressure setting to High and set the time to 20 minutes.
- Once the Instant Pot has timed out and has started on the Warm setting, allow the pot to natural release (this will take about 40 minutes) or carefully quick release the pressure manually according to your cooker's instruction manual.
- Once the pot has fully depressurized and there is no more steam releasing from the Venting valve, open the lid, and transfer the chicken to a bowl and let it rest for 5 minutes. Shred with two forks. Add some of the liquid from the pot to the chicken to keep it moist. Use the chicken immediately or cool for a few minutes then transfer it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
- You can use a mix of thighs and breasts or either of them on their own. This recipe will work for 2 ½ pounds of whatever boneless chicken you have!
- I made this chicken using a 6-quart Instant Pot. Different pressure cookers have different settings so please familiarize yourself with your cooker's settings before starting this recipe.
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