With just two ingredients, you can cook up deliciously moist and tender Instant Pot BBQ Chicken to use over noodles or rice or in sandwiches. This chicken recipe for kids is so easy—and ready in about 20 minutes!

Instant pot bbq chicken sandwich on plate with sides.

I love my Instant Pot for making bulk batches of beans and for transforming plain chicken into a simple family meal that everyone at my table loves. This BBQ chicken recipe uses such an easy method—and you need only two ingredients.

This recipe can be scaled up to double or triple the amount of chicken. It can feed a crowd at a potluck or party. And since it’s tender and shreds so easily, it’s easy to chew for toddlers, which makes it a great family meal, too.

This iron-rich meal is perfect for any time of the year and can be paired with almost any easy side dishes your family enjoys.

(You may also like Easy Vacation Meals, Pasta Salad with Chicken, and Chicken Nuggets.)

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Ingredients You Need

Here’s a look at what you need to make this instant pot bbq chicken recipe so you know what to have on hand and ready to go.

Ingredients for instant pot bbq chicken.
  • Chicken: I like to make this recipe with boneless chicken thighs since they cook up the most tender and they are very easy to shred with two forks. But you can also use chicken breast meat or chicken tenders if you prefer. Know that those cuts of chicken don’t always shred as easily, but you can chop them.
  • BBQ Sauce: You can use any variety of barbecue sauce here that your family likes.
  • Optional for serving: You can serve the shredded chicken on rolls to make sandwiches, or you can serve it alongside rice, pasta salad, hidden veggie mac and cheese, coleslaw, salad, corn on the cob, or any other foods you like. Pickles are a nice garnish with it, too.

Ingredient Substitutions

You can use frozen chicken in the Instant Pot. Just see the suggested cooking time below in the recipe. (You can also use thawed chicken as both work.)

Use skinless chicken thighs for the most tender results, or skinless chicken breasts or tenders for this bbq pulled chicken.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To make this easy instant pot bbq chicken recipe in your pressure cooker, here’s a look at the process so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full amounts and timing.

chicken and barbecue sauce in instant pot bowl.
  1. Add water (or you can use chicken broth) to the bottom of the Instant Pot. Add the chicken and top with BBQ sauce. Seal the lid.
  2. Cook on high pressure according to the recipe.
  3. Manually release the pressure when the timer goes off. (It’s also okay if it naturally releases.)
  4. Shred instant pot barbecue chicken with two forks and serve warm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I double this instant pot chicken recipe to feed a crowd?

Yes, you can use the 2x or 3x option in the recipe at the bottom of the post to make a larger quantity. This also freezes well as a meal prep food, so you can make more and store future portions in the freezer until ready to use.


What’s the best barbecue sauce for kids?

You can use whichever variety your family likes. There are options with lower sugar and salt, so look at your store if that is important to you.

What should I do if I get a burn notice?

Add a little water, stir and continue cooking.

shredded bbq chicken in white plate with forks.

Easy BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

This instant pot bbq chicken is easy to cut up or shred and serve on rolls for simple sandwiches. (Try adding some pickles or relish along with them for a nice kick of acid!)

If you aren’t in the mood for a sandwich, you could also serve them with buttered noodles or rice or another favorite grain. Or serve them as instant pot chicken tacos.

How to Make Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

To make this instant pot bbq chicken in a crock pot, add the ingredients to the bowl and cover. Cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours.

shredded instant pot bbq chicken on plate with rolls and pickles.

Serving Suggestions

We typically have this as sandwiches with rolls and pickles, plus easy sides such as Roasted Frozen Broccoli, Boiled Beets, Pasta Salad, or Fruit Sticks.

How to Store Leftovers

Place leftover chicken in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Heat briefly in the microwave, stirring a few times to ensure it heats evenly throughout the chicken

Best Tips for Success

  • Place the chicken thighs in an even layer for even cooking.
  • If cooking from frozen, separate the chicken pieces if possible.
  • Use a BBQ sauce that you like the flavor of.
  • Use kitchen shears to easily shred or cut up the cooked instant pot bbq chicken.
  • Use a slotted spoon to serve the chicken on rolls, or side-by-side with other foods.

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Instant pot bbq chicken sandwich on plate with sides.

Easiest Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

With just two ingredients, you can cook up deliciously moist and tender Instant Pot BBQ Chicken to use over noodles or rice or in sandwiches. So easy—and ready in about 20 minutes!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
30 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 196kcal
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thawed or frozen skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce
  • buns optional
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Instructions

  • Place a metal or silicone rack into the Instant Pot. Add ½ cup water.
  • Place chicken on top of the rack, breaking up frozen pieces if needed. Top with BBQ sauce, spreading over the chicken evenly.
  • Cover and seal. Cook on high for 8 minutes for raw chicken and 10 minutes for frozen chicken. Manually release the pressure when the cooking time is done and the Instant Pot beeps.
  • Use a slotted spoon to serve the chicken with rolls for simple sandwiches, or with buttered noodles or a grain.

Equipment

Notes

  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or place into a freezer bag and seal. Freeze for up to 6 months.
  • Place the chicken in an even layer for even cooking.
  • If cooking from frozen, separate the chicken pieces if possible.
  • Use a BBQ sauce that you like the flavor of.
  • Use kitchen shears to easily shred or cut up the cooked chicken.
  • Use a slotted spoon to serve the chicken on rolls.
  • To make 2 pounds of chicken at once, use ¾ cup BBQ sauce and cook for 10 minutes from raw and 12 minutes from frozen.

Nutrition

Calories: 196kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 108mg, Sodium: 468mg, Potassium: 361mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 107IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published August 2020.

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Comments

  1. What do you suggest if I don’t have a rack for my instant pot? Should I put the chicken in the water?

    1. Yes, it should be fine with just the liquid. That’s how I did it the last time I made it and it was perfect.

  2. 5 stars
    Made today for Memorial Day. Super easy, fast, and cooked perfectly! Paired with the pasta salad recipe and supper was so yummy!

    1. sounds like your instant pot didn’t seal properly if your chicken didn’t cook thoroughly. I’ve had the same problem before.