Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken

6 Servings
50 min

Moist and tender, this Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken is easy to make and the Instant Pot does all the hard work! You’ll have tender and juicy chicken breasts in less than an hour!

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What’s in this Recipe?

Chicken Breast– I used three chicken breasts in this recipe, but they are all different sizes. Try to get 1.5-2 pounds worth of chicken breast for this recipe. Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Having the bone is them is a pain to get out when everything is done cooking.

Dry Rub- The dry rub that I provided in this recipe has been something we have been using for many years. It’s perfect for pulled pork, pulled chicken, and even to sprinkle on veggies before you grill them. It’s super versatile. If you have a favorite dry rub, feel free to use that!

Hard Cider- When using the Instant Pot, you need to make sure you have enough liquid in the Instant Pot, otherwise it will give you an error message. Hard Cider gives this chicken a delicious flavor that is tangy and has a subtle apple flavor.

Top with your favorite BBQ sauce– I’m providing a recipe for you here because it’s one that has been in my family for many years and I adore the flavor. Sweet Baby Ray’s is amazing, but feel free to use whatever BBQ sauce you want!

Let’s Make the Chicken!

You’ll need an Instant Pot for this recipe. To start, mix together all the ingredients for the dry rub. Rub the chicken with the dry rub and evenly coat the chicken.

Add the coated chicken to the Instant Pot. Open the hard cider and pour the cider on top of the chicken making sure the chicken is mostly covered. If a little of the chicken is still not covered, that’s ok. It’s important that at least half the chicken is covered.

Set the Instant Pot to “Meat/Stew” and pressure cook for 35 minutes. The Instant Pot will preheat for 10 minutes and then start cooking.

After the 35 minutes are up, carefully release the steam from the Instant Pot using the steam release valve on the lid. Open the Instant Pot and take the chicken out carefully. It will likely be boiling and super hot, so be really careful. With two forks, shred the chicken. It should shred perfectly. Hot tip! At this point, I like to add the chicken back to the liquid in the Instant Pot to soak up a little more flavor. Serve this chicken on a bun, in a quesadilla, over a salad, or over nachos! Top with the barbecue sauce below or your favorite one. There are so many delicious uses for this chicken.

Let’s Make the BBQ Sauce!

Cut the green pepper and onions into large chunks and add them to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse them until they are minced. Drain any extra liquid that is in the food processor. There will be quite a bit of excess liquid because of the juice in both the vegetables. I find the easiest way to drain it is to place the minced vegetables into a colander and then drain them.

In a small pot, add the butter and drained vegetables straight from the colander. Sauté them for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. The vegetables will begin to give off a delicious smell as well. Add the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Let that simmer for 10 minutes on low stirring every few minutes as to not burn the sauce. Allow the sauce to completely cool before serving. If you want to make the sauce completely smooth, use an immersion blender or a regular blender and blend up the sauce. I enjoy this sauce a little chunky, but if you want to smooth it out, feel free!

Questions about this Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken?

What can I use instead of hard cider?

If you don’t want to use hard cider, you could use beer, or simply chicken broth. You just need to make sure there is plenty of liquid in the Instant Pot, otherwise the chicken will not cook properly and the Instant Pot will give you an error message.

Can I use something besides chicken breasts?

Yes! Boneless skinless chicken thighs would be perfect. Use 1.5-2 pounds of chicken thighs. Chicken thighs tend to be smaller, so you want to make sure you have the same amount of chicken, not the same number. You could also use a pork loin or a pork butt. Depending on the size of your Instant Pot would depend how big of a pork loin or pork butt you could use. The dry rub and method would be exactly the same.

I don’t have an Instant Pot, can I make this recipe?

Yes! This recipe would work the same in a slow cooker. The only difference would be the time. Place everything in the slow cooker and cook it on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container. To reheat, either microwave it or put it in a saucepan and gently heat it back up. This would stay really nicely in a slow cooker as well. If you want to put it on a buffet, set up your slow cooker and place the meat in it to hold it while people make their own sandwiches.

Other Recipes to Try

Did you give this Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken a try? I’d love to hear from you! Give me a shout on Instagram or Facebook and let me know! And don’t forget to check out some other drool worthy recipes below! Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

  • Salsa Verde Chicken Bake
  • Whole Wheat Pasta Primavera
  • Easy Pepperoni Pizza Meatballs
  • Double Chocolate Oat Cookies
Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken
Recipe details
  • 6  Servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 40 Minutes Total time: 50 min
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  • 2 lb Chicken Breasts About 3 large breasts
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Sweet Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Garlic
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 12 Ounces Hard Cider 1 bottle
To Make The Barbecue Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Onion Minced
  • 1/2 cup Green Bell Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Yellow Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Mix together the brown sugar, sweet paprika, chili powder, salt, ground garlic, and black pepper for the dry rub.
Coat the chicken breasts in the dry rub. Add the chicken to Instant Pot. Top with the hard cider.
Turn the Instant Pot to "meat/stew" and pressure cook for 35 minutes.
When the chicken is cooked, carefully release the pressure by pressing the release valve on the Instant Pot lid.
Carefully take the chicken breasts out of the Instant Pot and shred them with two forks. Place the shredded chicken back into the Instant Pot and mix it around to get the flavor from the liquid left over.
Serve on a bulky roll, over nachos, or in a salad. Enjoy!
To Make the Barbecue Sauce
Clean and peel the onion and green bell pepper. Cut them both into large chunks.
Add the vegetables to a food processor and process until the vegetables are finely minced. Drain any excess liquid off.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the vegetables. Let that cook on medium for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and is fragrant.
Add the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Let that simmer for 10 minutes on low.
Allow the sauce to cool completely before using it. If you would like to make it smoother, use an immersion blender to smooth it, or place it in a blender once cooled.
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!