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5 from 20 votes

Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken

This Instant Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken is the easiest weeknight meal and a great alternative to traditional barbecue pulled pork. It is sweet, a little spicy, and the sliced onions add so much flavor. It is perfect in a taco, on a salad, or to make sliders or sandwiches with.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Release Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Author: Brianna May


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion sliced*
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts*
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce*
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  • Review all recipe notes and instructions before beginning.
  • Select Sauté mode on your Instant Pot.
  • Add the olive oil, onion, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, granulated garlic, and onion powder.
  • Sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes. Turn off Sauté mode.
  • Deglaze the pan with the water, scraping all of the browned bits. Then add the chicken, BBQ sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Place the lid on the pot and be sure the valve is switched to the sealing position.
  • Select Pressure Cook (manual) and High Pressure. Set to 15 minutes.
  • Let the pot release pressure naturally (valve still switched to sealing) for 10 minutes. Then, quick release (valve switched to venting). Remove the lid and shred the chicken.


Chili Powder: The chicken has a mild heat to it. For less heat, use half of a teaspoon or omit.
Red onion: Any onion you have on hand works.
BBQ Sauce: Use whatever your favorite BBQ sauce is. I like to use a sweeter sauce, like honey BBQ.
Chicken: You can use 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs instead.
The spices will brown and start to stick a bit to the bottom. This is created flavor by toasted the spices. Add the water immediately after so they do not burn.
Make sure you deglaze the pan. Deglazing is the process of adding liquid (in this case water or stock) to the pan to lift all of the brown bits off the bottom.
Make sure to add back lots of sauce to the chicken to keep it moist. You can also top sandwiches additional sauce.