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Pulled BBQ Chicken (Instant Pot)

This Pulled BBQ Chicken (Instant Pot recipe) requires just a few ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes. Perfect for busy weeknights or when you have a taste for BBQ, but don’t want to start up the grill. Use the meat to make BBQ chicken sliders. Or, serve it with these Black Cookout dishes to make a meal.

A delicious serving of juicy, pulled BBQ chicken on a large plate, with tender strands glazed in a rich, smoky barbecue sauce.

Why Make Pressure Cooked Pulled BBQ Chicken:

  • Quick Cook Time: this Instant Pot pulled BBQ chicken recipe takes 10 minutes of actual pressure cooking
  • Easy Recipe: you just need to add all the ingredients to the bottom of your pressure cooker to have tender BBQ chicken in minutes.
  • Perfect dinner starter: whether you want to make BBQ chicken sandwiches or have a soul food meal with slow cooker mac and cheese and collard greens with smoked turkey, the options are endless.

Ingredients Needed

Making Pulled barbecue chicken in an Instant Pot is easy. Here’s what you need to gather:

  • Chicken: I’m using raw, boneless skinless chicken thighs, with as much fat trimmed off the meat as possible. You can also use chicken breasts for this recipe, but chicken thighs have more flavor.
  • BBQ Rub: I prefer to use brown sugar BBQ seasoning for this recipe. It works perfectly with BBQ Seasoning or BBQ Chicken Rub, both include spices like cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. It would also pair well with this BBQ Spice Rub (AKA Magic Dust).
  • Chicken broth: I mix roasted chicken bouillon with water to make chicken broth (it has a lot more flavor). But, you can use regular chicken stock or broth if you prefer.
  • BBQ Sauce: I prefer to use Hickory or Kansas City-style BBQ sauce. You can also use Homemade BBQ Sauce or your favorite bbq sauce.
  • Sea salt: this is optional. You can always add this to taste at the end.

You can get the exact ingredient amounts and full instructions from the recipe card at the end of the post.

ingredients for pulled bbq chicken in separate bowls containing boneless, skinless chicken thighs, BBQ chicken rub, chicken broth, and hickory BBQ sauce.

How to Make Pulled BBQ Chicken in an Instant Pot

  1. Add the chicken to the bottom of the cooking pot with the BBQ seasoning, chicken broth, and barbecue sauce. Mix until all of the chicken is coated. Be sure to unroll the chicken thighs to get spices in the middle. 
  2. Pressure Cook: Add the pressure cooker lid, set the venting knob to seal, and cook the meat on high pressure for 10 minutes. Once the pressure cook time is over, use quick pressure release (turn the knob to vent) to open the lid. 
  3. Shred the chicken: Shred the bbq chicken with meat claws or use two forks. You can add the meat to a cutting board or shred the meat right in the cooking pot.
  4. Reduce the cooking liquid: use the sear/sauté function on medium to reduce the liquid by half. This takes about 5 minutes. Return the meat to the sauce.
A four-step photo collage showing the process of making Pulled BBQ Chicken in an Instant Pot, from seasoning the chicken to the final, savory dish.

Cooking Tips and Tricks

  • For burnt ends: to get some burnt ends, you can use your Instant Pot Duo air fryer lid to cook the meat at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or place chicken in a broiler-safe dish with the cooking liquid and extra sauce, then broil it on high for 5 minutes. 
  • Use quick pressure release: this helps keep your chicken juicy by stopping the cooking almost immediately.
  • Works in any electric pressure cooker: this recipe was tested in an Instant Pot as well as a Ninja Foodi. Both turned out great.

Storage and Leftovers

Store your leftover pulled BBQ chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days. This also freezes well. If frozen, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Simply, reheat it in the microwave.

A large plate overflowing with succulent, pulled BBQ chicken, glistening in barbecue sauce, ready to be served.

Recipes to Enjoy this with:

A delicious serving of juicy, pulled BBQ chicken on a large plate, with tender strands glazed in a rich, smoky barbecue sauce.
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5 from 1 vote

Pulled BBQ Chicken (Instant Pot)

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Pressure Build 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 303kcal

Equipment

  • 6-quart Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs raw, boneless and skinless, with as much fat trimmed off as possible
  • ¼ cup BBQ seasoning I use this homemade brown sugar BBQ seasoning
  • ½ cup chicken broth low sodium
  • ½ cup bbq sauce I prefer hickory BBQ sauce, but your favorite will work well too
  • sea salt optional to taste

Instructions

  • Add the chicken thighs to the bottom of the cooking pot with the BBQ seasoning, chicken broth, and BBQ sauce. Mix until all of the chicken is coated. Be sure to unroll the chicken thighs to get spices in the middle.
  • Add the pressure cooker lid, set the venting knob to seal, and cook the meat on high manual pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Use quick pressure release to stop the cooking, open the lid, and remove the meat.
  • Shred the meat with meat claws or two forks: You can add the meat to a cutting board or shred the meat right in the cooking pot.
  • Reduce the cooking liquid: use the sear/sauté function on medium to reduce the liquid by half. This takes about 5 minutes.
  • Return the shredded meat to the cooking pot.
  • Optional: to get some burnt ends, you can use your Instant Pot Duo air fryer lid to cook the meat at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or add the meat to a broiler-safe dish with the sauce and broil it on high for 5 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 328mg | Potassium: 327mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 323IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 3mg
Recipe Rating