How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot

TipsPressure CookerChicken

Yes, you can take frozen chicken directly from the freezer and cook it in the pressure cooker! Just add some water, turn it on, and let it cook. Dinner is on the way.

Photography Credit: Coco Morante

Featured in 11 Recipes to Make with Freezer Ingredients

Pressure cooking is convenient for so many things, and one place where it really shines is with frozen chicken.

If you keep frozen chicken breasts or thighs on hand, you can always have some protein ready in a pinch, making dinner prep that much easier.

Boneless Skinless Chicken in the Pressure Cooker add the water

Water is Your Friend

I’ve found that frozen chicken cooks up best when it’s at least halfway submerged in liquid.

This can be either water or broth— just make sure you lay the pieces in the bottom of the pot in a single layer and add at least a cup of liquid.

You can cook the chicken on its own this way, or incorporate it into a recipe. I often make a straight-from-the freezer soup by layering in mixed frozen vegetables, a can of diced tomatoes, herbs and salt to taste, and water to cover. When the soup is done, I remove the chicken with tongs, shred it up with a pair of forks, then add it back to the pot.

How to Prep the Chicken for Freezing

Frozen boneless chicken breasts and thighs are commonly sold in the freezer aisle, found in bags, already individually frozen. This is ideal for pressure cooking.

If you’re freezing your own chicken parts, make sure you freeze the pieces individually, rather than in a thick, solid block. This way, the chicken cooks more quickly and evenly straight from the freezer.

My favorite way to do freeze my own chicken is to individually wrap breasts or thighs in plastic wrap, freeze them flat on a baking sheet for a few hours, then transfer them to gallon freezer bags. They don’t get stuck together, and you can cook as many or as few as you want at a time.

Boneless Skinless Chicken in the Instant Pot

How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

To cook frozen chicken breasts or thighs, use the times given here and follow the basic method for How To Cook Chicken in the Pressure Cooker. In short, you’ll add the chicken to the pot with some water and seasonings, then close up the pot and cook at high pressure. (Have an Instant Pot? Check out our post How To Use an Instant Pot: A First-Timer’s Guide.)

Since the chicken goes in the pot frozen, I tack on a few extra minutes to ensure that it’s cooked through. See the times below for cooking times for boneless and bone-in breasts and thighs.

For extra flavor and to speed up the time the pot takes to come up to pressure, you can also brown the frozen meat in a little bit of oil before adding the liquid, if you like!

How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

This chart details cooking times for different types of frozen chicken parts. For best results, use a maximum of two pounds of meat, frozen in individual pieces, place it in the pot in a single, even layer, and use at least one cup of liquid.

  • Boneless skinless breasts: 15 minutes on high, quick or natural release
  • Boneless skinless thighs: 20 minutes on high, quick or natural release
  • Bone-in skin-on breasts: 25 to 30 minutes on high, natural release (25 minutes for thinner/smaller pieces, 30 minutes for thicker/larger pieces)
  • Bone-in skin-on thighs: 25 to 30 minutes on high, natural release (25 minutes for thinner/smaller pieces, 30 minutes for thicker/larger pieces)
  • Wings: 20 minutes on high, natural release
  • Drumsticks: 25 minutes on high, natural release

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Coco Morante

Author of The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook and The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook. A self-taught cook and classically-trained soprano, Coco Morante writes and sings in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their beagle. For more recipes, visit her blog, Lefty Spoon.

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  1. Carole Oller

    I fill the pressure cooker with water and chicken bouillon in it . Add the frozen chicken thighs. Cook 30 to 40 minutes. Shut burner off and let cool till indicator goes down by it self. Chicken should fall of the bone making it easier to have chicken salad recipe or side dish. Since I read about the danger of prepared dog food, my dogs eat the same thing we eat and they love their dinner this way with veggies as well as us humans. And it sooo easy to debone!

  2. K

    This is a great quick fix to get dinner done in a flash. However, be careful with that leftover water if you plan on dumping it! I tried cooking my frozen chicken last night to speed up the dinner process, and wound up in the ER! Somehow I missed the sink, or lost my grip on my pot, and dropped it with the scalding hot water, and gave myself second degree burns all over my body. After that ordeal I will never move my hot pot liner while it’s still hot again! Do be careful!!

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Boneless Skinless Chicken in the Instant Pot cook the chickenHow to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot