Did you forget to thaw out your chicken breasts before leaving for work? Don’t worry about it, dinner can still be on the table in time. We have you covered with a recipe for Instant Pot frozen chicken breast.
You can stick the frozen chicken breast right into the Instant Pot and in about 20 to 25 minutes it will be ready to serve. It actually only takes about 8 to 10 minutes of cooking at high pressure for most chicken breasts. The extra time takes into account how long it will take to build up and release pressure.
The best part about this recipe for Instant Pot frozen chicken breast is the time savings but just because it is fast doesn’t mean it will be bland or dry. If you follow our tips, you will have tender juicy chicken breasts that taste delicious.
How are the chicken breasts frozen?
Are your chicken breasts frozen individually like this or in one large clump? Depending on how they are frozen, it will make a difference in the cooking time.
If you have individually frozen chicken breasts, the cooking time will be the same no matter if you stack 2 or 6 breasts in the Instant Pot. The time you program the Instant Pot for will be based on the size and weight of the INDIVIDUAL chicken breasts and not the total weight of all the breasts.
However, if the chicken breasts have been frozen in one solid block, the cooking time will depend on the weight of the frozen block of chicken.
For instance, let’s say you have 4 chicken breasts that weigh 10 ounces each. If they were frozen in a solid block then you will need to cook them based on the total weight of 40 ounces or 2-1/2 pounds.
Chicken breasts that are frozen in a solid clump like this need to cook on high pressure for 12 minutes per pound. So in this scenario, the chicken will need to cook for 30 minutes on high pressure.
If instead, those same 4 chicken breasts were individually frozen, you can cook all four of them based on the individual weight of 10 ounces. In this scenario, the chicken breasts only need to cook for 10 minutes.
If that sounds curious to you it is because air can circulate around the individually frozen chicken breasts and cook all of them evenly. But a solid block of chicken is much denser and needs more time for the center to cook completely.
How to select chicken breasts:
You should try to select chicken breasts that are approximately the same size. If you cook a large chicken breast with a smaller one, one of them will either be overcooked and dry or undercooked.
Make sure that the individually frozen chicken breasts are not stuck together in a clump. That can happen if your freezer lost power and the chicken started to thaw and then re-froze.
If they are stuck together, you should either pry them apart or cook them as recommended above for a solid block of chicken.
How long does it take to pressure cook frozen chicken breasts?
The time it takes to cook frozen chicken breasts depends primarily on the thickness of the breast. In general, most standard sized chicken breasts take 1 minute per ounce. However, I have bought some pretty thin chicken breasts that only needed 30 seconds per ounce.
Frozen chicken breasts that are thicker than 1 inch will need 1 minute per ounce. If your chicken breasts are thinner than an inch at the thickest part of the breast, you will want to reduce the cooking time to only 30 seconds per ounce.
Remember that chicken breasts are very lean and they can dry out easily if you over-cook them. So even though they will be cooked completely, they could be over-cooked and dry if you don’t take into account how thick the breast is.
The times given in the printable recipe card are based on the weight of the chicken breasts. However, if you have an exceptionally thin chicken breast (1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick), decrease the cooking time if you want tender, juicy chicken breasts.
What about shredded chicken?
If you want to shred the chicken breasts, you will need to add some cooking time to break down the fibers and make them fall apart easily. When you cook chicken breasts long enough for them to become shreddable, they will loose some of their moisture. That isn’t usually a problem because you can stir in sauce or the juices that the chicken was cooked in.
Ideas for shredded chicken:
- Barbecue sandwiches
- Add to rice pilaf
- Put in salads
- Lettuce wraps
Check the internal temperature:
The USDA has guidelines for the recommended cooking temperature of meats. They recommend that chicken gets cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
It is easy to know the internal temperature of the chicken if you have an instant-read thermometer. https://amzn.to/2Xmj8im
As soon as all the pressure is released from the Instant Pot, open the lid and stick an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken breast.
If the chicken is at least 165°F then you’re all set to eat. If however, the chicken is less than 165°F then put the lid back on the Instant Pot and cook it for another minute or two.
How to get brown chicken breasts:
The Instant Pot pressure mode will not brown the chicken breasts. If you want the chicken browned then you can do that after they finish cooking in the IP.
To brown the chicken, you will want to put some oil in a skillet and heat the skillet over high heat. Once the skillet is hot, place the chicken breasts in it and sear for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
Of course, this will give the chicken breasts some additional cook time and could dry them out if they get over-cooked. You could always reduce the cooking time in the Instant Pot by 1 minute if you plan to sear the chicken in a skillet for a beautiful brown color.
ADJUSTMENTS FOR HIGH ALTITUDE:
If you live above 3,000 feet you will need to adjust the cooking time.
- At 3000 feet add 1 minute to the high-pressure cooking time.
- Between 4000 to 5000 feet add 2 minutes to the cooking time.
SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:
Cook up some shredded chicken to put in this Saigon Chicken Salad. We loaded it with crisp vegetables and sweet mango slices then tossed with a tangy lime vinaigrette dressing. It is a full meal salad.
You can use plump, juicy chicken breasts or shredded chicken in this Kamut grain bowl with curry sauce. It is a delightful combination of textures and flavors.
Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving. Eat this healthy, lean meat all year long. Buy several turkey breasts at the end of the year when it is on sale then store it in the freezer for up to 12 months. This recipe for Instant Pot frozen turkey breast is another life-saver for dinner time.
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- 4 frozen chicken breasts, 8 ounces each (1 to 1-1/2 inches thick)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 5 to garlic cloves
- 1 sprig of fresh sage or rosemary
- 3 bay leaves
- Place the trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot and add the frozen chicken breasts on top. It is ok if they are stacked on each other (air will still flow around them if they are individually frozen). See the notes below if your chicken breasts are frozen in a solid clump.
- Pour the chicken broth into the pot then add the rest of the ingredients.
- Put the lid on the instant pot and select high pressure for 8 minutes.
For Shredded chicken:
- If you want to shred the chicken add 3 to 4 minutes to the high pressure cooking time.
Do a natural pressure release:
- When it is done cooking, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 5 minutes then manually release the rest of the pressure.
- Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken breasts. If they are not at least 165°F, place the lid back on and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing or shredding.
- Choose chicken breasts that are approximately the same size and individually frozen.
- If the chicken breasts do not weigh 8 ounces, cook them based on their individual weight at 1 minute per ounce.
- If your chicken breasts are frozen in one large clump, the cooking time will be different and you will need to weigh the solid block of chicken breasts then cook on high pressure for 12 minutes per pound. (For example, if a solid block of frozen chicken breasts weighs 2-1/2 pounds, set the IP for 30 minutes).
- When the pressure is released from the instant pot, check the internal temperature of the chicken with a meat thermometer. It should read at least 165°F. If it is lower than that, replace the lid and cook under high pressure for another minute or two.
- It is important to let the IP do at least 5 minutes of a natural release before letting out the rest of the pressure manually. The 5 minutes of natural release counts toward the total cooking time.
- It will take 8 to 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to get up to temperature then another 8 to 10 minutes to cook at high pressure and another 5 minutes to let some of the pressure naturally release.
For high altitudes add additional cook time based on the following:
- At 2000 to 3000 feet add 1 minute to the high pressure cooking time.
- At 4000 to 5000 feet add 2 minutes to the high pressure cooking time.
- Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer
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Amount Per ServingCalories 206 Total Fat 4g Saturated Fat 1g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 2g Cholesterol 103mg Sodium 596mg Carbohydrates 1g Fiber 0g Sugar 0g Protein 38g