Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

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There are so many different ways to enjoy BBQ Chicken, but no matter how you wish to eat it you can make it quickly in the Instant Pot.

»Looking for more low-carb instant pot recipes? You might like Cuban Ropa Vieja, Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs or Pulled Pork Shoulder.

Low Carb Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

I have a bit of a love affair with shredded chicken with BBQ sauce. It’s one of my favorite ways to eat chicken. BBQ sauce adds so much flavor to boring chicken breasts that can otherwise be quite dry, and it makes a great main dish for any low-carb meal.

If you don’t often use the Instant Pot, you might be surprised how simple it is to make chicken. You can cook it from frozen too, which can cut down not only on the amount of time it takes to defrost chicken, but also the space and mess of dethawing chicken in the refrigerator or microwave.

How to Make BBQ Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

Skip the extra step of defrosting frozen chicken and put it right into the Instant Pot. All it needs is enough water in the bottom to bring it up to pressure without burning.

That means you can’t add the bbq sauce to the pot as it’s cooking. I’ve seen this mistake in many recipes and it makes me cringe. The Instant Pot requires at least 3/4 cup of liquid in the pot to build pressure. If you add the sauce to the pot, it will just mix with the water and make a pretty soupy chicken.

chicken in the instant pot

Here’s what I do. Add the water to the pot. Sprinkle the tops of the chicken with a smoky and flavorful rub then put it in on top of the water. Then I add some liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce and onions.

These ingredients flavor the water, which really impacts the flavor of the chicken as it cooks.

It takes 12 minutes to cook fresh chicken breasts, and 15 minutes to cook frozen chicken. When the time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 10-15 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure.

There will be quite a bit of liquid in the pot. Remove that liquid so all that’s left is the chicken and onions. I reserve the liquid because it’s a super flavorful broth that can be used for soup.

How to Serve BBQ Chicken

Whether you plan to serve the chicken shredded or whole, you can make it in the Instant Pot and then determine your serving method once it’s done.

adding bbq sauce to chicken

My favorite method is to shred the chicken. To do this, just shred the chicken with a pair of tongs, then add the BBQ sauce and stir. The ‘keep warm’ function on the Instant Pot will warm the chicken and sauce to a good serving temperature in a few minutes.

Shredded chicken can be served with a side salad or coleslaw. It can be served on keto cloud bread or low-carb bread. So many uses for shredded chicken.

You can also keep the chicken breasts whole rather than shredding them. Brush the BBQ sauce onto the tops of the chicken and broil it for 3 minutes to make the sauce bubbly and char it slightly.

shredded bbq chicken

Make Leftovers!

I always make a large amount of shredded chicken. It’s one of the simplest meals you can make in the Instant Pot and it’ll make everyone happy. Leftovers make lunch the next day even easier.

If there are members of your family who are not keen on low-carb, you can make this Instant Pot BBQ Chicken for everyone. I use sugar-free BBQ sauce on mine, but you can easily divide the chicken and use regular BBQ sauce on the other half.

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instant pot bbq chicken

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken makes perfect shredded chicken or chicken breasts (even from frozen) in just 15 minutes.
4 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ, Chicken, Instant Pot
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 12 mins
Pressure Build/Release: 30 mins
Total Time: 52 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 225kcal
Author: Laura



For the Seasoning

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Alderwood smoked salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried onion flakes

For the Chicken

  • 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts around 3-4
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 small onion chopped
  • ¾ cup sugar-free BBQ sauce


  • Prepare the seasoning in a small bowl. Sprinkle or rub it onto the chicken.
  • Pour the water into the Instant Pot. Add the Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke to the water. Place the chicken breasts into the water. Sprinkle the onions over the top.
  • Put on the lid and set the vent to Sealing. Press the Poultry button, or set manually to 12 minutes (15 minutes if the chicken is frozen). When the time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes, then do a quick release.
  • Remove the water from the pot. If making shredded chicken, shred with tongs, then add the BBQ sauce and stir. Allow it to heat up on the “stay warm” setting for 5 minutes before serving.
  • If making BBQ chicken breasts, whole, remove the chicken pieces. Brush the BBQ sauce on each piece. Place the chicken under the broiler in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the edges begin to char.


  • Any smoked salt will work. You can also just substitute with regular or seasoned salt, if you can find smoked salt.


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 830mg | Potassium: 716mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 544IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

One thought on “Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

  1. Amber says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe several times and every time I love it! Perfect with coleslaw. And, I don’t have liquid smoke and it was just as tasty.

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