With the hectic pace of modern life, finding time to prepare a delicious, home-cooked meal can be a significant challenge. Fortunately, the Instant Pot has revolutionized the way we cook, offering a solution to those busy nights when you forgot to thaw the chicken. In this guide, I'll walk you through the simple steps to safely and efficiently cook frozen chicken in your Instant Pot, ensuring a juicy, flavorful dish every time.

Frozen Chicken Instant Pot

Step-by-Step Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Cooking

Step 1: Understand the Cut

Begin by understanding the cut of chicken you're working with. Different cuts might require slightly different cooking times to reach the perfect level of tenderness.

Step 2: Prepare the Instant Pot

Add 1 cup of cold water to the inner pot of your Instant Pot. Place the trivet inside. The trivet is essential to keep the chicken from sitting in the water, promoting even cooking.

Step 3: Add Seasoning and Flavor

Season your frozen chicken to taste. This is the perfect time to infuse your chicken with flavors. Whether it's a touch of salt, pepper, and garlic for a simple taste or a blend of your favorite herbs and spices, be generous. Seasoning the meat before cooking allows the flavors to penetrate the entire piece of chicken.

Step 4: Set Cooking Time

For boneless, skinless chicken breasts, set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 12 minutes, followed by a natural release. Use 15 minutes for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Adjust the time up or down by a few minutes based on the weight and cut of your chicken.

Step 5: Cooking in Batches

If you're cooking a large amount of chicken, it's best to do so in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, which can lead to uneven cooking.

Step 6: Test for Doneness

It's crucial to ensure that your chicken is fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F. If you don't have a thermometer, slice into the thickest part of the chicken; the juices should run clear without any hint of pink, and the meat should be opaque all the way through.

Instant Pot Settings

High or Low Pressure

The choice between high and low pressure usually comes down to the cut of the chicken. For tender and quick-cooking cuts like breasts, opt for high pressure. Low pressure is best for thicker cuts like roasts or whole chickens.

Natural versus Quick Release

A natural pressure release allows the Instant Pot to depressurize on its own, which can take some time but is ideal for meats to remain tender. Quick release, where you turn the venting knob to immediately release pressure, is suitable for cuts that don't need additional cooking once the timer goes off.

Saute Function

If you're looking to brown the chicken before or after pressure cooking, the saute function is your friend. This additional step can enhance the flavor and texture of the dish.

Ensuring Safety and Doneness

Use a Thermometer

The most reliable way to check that your chicken is cooked through is by using a meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat, making sure not to touch the bone if present.

Visual and Tactile Clues

While a meat thermometer is the best method for checking doneness, there are visual and tactile clues to look for. The chicken should be opaque all the way through with juices running clear. The meat should also feel firm and not rubbery.

Seasoning and Additional Ingredients

Season to Taste

Seasoning your chicken before cooking is critical for a flavorful dish. Salt, pepper, and garlic are basics, but don't stop there. Get creative with paprika, Italian seasoning, or a Mexican-inspired blend. Remember, the seasoning adds depth to your dish, so be bold!

Liquids for Flavor

Think beyond water; use chicken broth, wine, or citrus juice to add depth to your Instant Pot dish. These liquids not only infuse flavor into the chicken but can also be used after cooking as a base for a sauce or gravy.

Veggies and Aromatics

Carrots, onions, and celery are classic additions that can be cooked along with the chicken for a one-pot meal. Aromatics such as fresh herbs, ginger, or lemongrass can also enhance the flavor of the chicken.

Benefits of Using an Instant Pot


The Instant Pot's pressure cooking function reduces cooking times significantly, making it perfect for weeknight meals. You can have a meal that would take hours on the stove ready in a fraction of that time.


The Instant Pot is a true multitasker. It can saute, steam, slow cook, and more. Its versatility means that you can cook a wide variety of dishes without dirtying numerous pots and pans.

Flavor Retention

The sealed cooking environment of the Instant Pot retains moisture and flavors. This means that even when cooking from frozen, your chicken can still be juicy and tender.

Additional Suggestions

Make a Broth

After cooking the chicken, save the cooking liquid to use as a base for soups or stews. This broth will be rich in chicken flavor and can elevate many recipes.

Shredding for Recipes

Cooking the chicken from frozen is perfect for recipes that call for shredded chicken, like tacos or casseroles. The meat turns out incredibly tender and ready to be pulled apart with ease.

Final Thoughts

An Instant Pot is a game-changer for the modern kitchen, and cooking frozen chicken is just one of its many capabilities. With these tips and a bit of creativity, you can turn a seemingly impractical ingredient into a center-of-the-table masterpiece. Just remember to practice food safety, enjoy the process, and savor the taste of a home-cooked meal that takes you a fraction of the effort normally required.

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