Instant Pot Southern Pulled Barbecue-Style Chicken (Pressure Cooker Recipe)

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Summer is here and it’s zipping by quickly. So quickly that my kids only have a month left of summer vacation.

This week we’re going to focus on summer recipes. Three summer recipes to be exact: a southern pulled chicken (today), a homemade coleslaw with greek yogurt dressing, and a homemade version of a popular dip/dressing.

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

First, we’re going to start with a barbecue-style chicken. That’s a mouthful. But a necessary mouthful to adequately describe this recipe.

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

I consider the Tampa Bay Area (our home) to be somewhat “southern.” Although it’s often said that you have to go north (in Florida) to truly “go south” (Tennessee, Georgia, etc.). We’ve also traveled extensively throughout the south, so I’d like to think that I’ve had some really good barbecue. Today’s recipe–an easy, homemade take on classic southern-style chicken–is exactly the kind of meal that’s served at a good ol’ southern barbecue stand/restaurant.

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

If you’re looking for a fun, delicious, hands-off recipe for the Fourth of July, or a backyard get together or a weeknight meal, this recipe should be on your list. The recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don’t have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

The sauce is made on the stove-top. I know, it would be so convenient to allow the sauce to simmer and thicken in the Instant Pot alongside the chicken, but from our experience this just doesn’t produce the best results. Even with this extra step, the recipe is exactly what a summer meal should be: effortless, delicious, and so easy.

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

As mentioned, you’ll need an Instant Pot to cook the chicken. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, yet, you may be able to use a slow-cooker.

Chardea, who works behind-the-scenes at Live Simply, took this recipe (which was perfected by Helen) and made it in her slow-cooker the other night. Here’s what she texted me after dinner,” So, I started with frozen chicken. I rinsed it so there wasn’t any ice on it. Kinda think I should have let it defrost but didn’t have time. Sauce was perfect. I added a tiny bit of water to the chicken, I think it still came out a little dry, but I didn’t have dark meat (chicken thighs)–just chicken breasts.  And the onions didn’t cook all the way though. So all in all it was still really good, chicken pulled apart nice, flavor was there, just a tad bit dry (again, only breasts). The dark meat definitely helps.”

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

Chardea cooked the chicken and sauce (unlike the Instant Pot recipe, which separates the sauce and meat) for 3 hours on high. I wonder if 6 hours on low would have helped soften the onions–something the Instant Pot masters in just a few minutes. If you try this recipe in the slow-cooker, I recommend making it when you’re home so you can keep an eye on the sauce and chicken.

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

Later this week, we’re going to make a homemade slaw to top off the pulled chicken. The slaw provides the perfect amount of crunch to the saucy, tender chicken. And when you combine the slaw and today’s pulled chicken on a bun (maybe even a homemade einkorn bun, if you want to turn on your oven), and maybe even a crunchy pickle...barbecue joint perfection. The kind of perfection everyone needs to experience at least once this summer.

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

Southern Pulled Barbecue-Style Instant Pot Chicken
5 from 1 vote
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Instant Pot Southern Pulled Barbecue-Style Chicken (Pressure Cooker Recipe)

If you're looking for a fun, hands-off recipe for the Fourth of July, or a backyard get together or a weeknight summer meal, this recipe should be on your list. The recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 233 kcal
Author Kristin Marr

Ingredients

Chicken Dry Rub:

  • 1 TB paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Chicken:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium white onion or sweet yellow onion
  • 1 cup water

Sauce:

  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce no salt added
  • 2 TB light brown sugar dark brown sugar would also work
  • 2 TB honey
  • 1 TB yellow mustard
  • 1 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder

Special Equipment:

Instructions

  1. Mix all the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Trim any large pieces of fat off of the thighs. Cut chicken breasts in half so they are similar in size to the thighs. Add all the chicken to a bowl.
  3. Add the dry rub to the chicken, and rub/mix to evenly coat the chicken. 

  4. Pour water into the Instant Pot liner. Layer chicken in the water.

  5. Cut the onion into ½-inch half rounds* and layer over chicken.
  6. Secure the lid and set to Sealing. Set the Instant Pot to Manual, High Pressure for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, add all the sauce ingredients to a medium-size saucepan, whisk to combine, and let simmer over low heat while the chicken cooks.
  8. Once the cooking cycle for the chicken is completed, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before releasing remaining pressure (use a towel or hot pad holder).

  9. Remove the cooked chicken and onions to a clean bowl and discard the cooking liquid in the Instant Pot.

  10. Shred the chicken with two forks and stir in barbecue sauce. Serve warm. 

Recipe Notes

*Slice the onion in half (root to tip) and then cut ½-inch half circles.

The amount of sauce is perfect for the batch of chicken. You won’t have any extra to add to the top of the sandwiches. I personally don’t think extra sauce is needed. If you wanted more sauce, you could either double the sauce (freezing extras for future sandwiches) or use a store-bought barbecue sauce as a topping.

If you want to save time, you could make the sauce in advance and freeze it. Or store it in the fridge for up to a week.

This amazing BBQ pulled chicken recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don't have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

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If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #LIVESIMPLYBLOG. I'd love to see what you make!

 

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6 Comments

  • Four years ago I taught my nephew how to cook pulled chicken in his crock pot. I gave him the shopping list, the recipe and told him how long to cook the chicken. He called me about six hours later and said something “went wrong.” He said “…the chicken thighs were still whole in the pot and not apart in shreds…” I realized I forgot to tell him he actually had to pull the meat apart himself. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Happy Wednesday, Kristin.

  • I’m excited to try this! If you were to substitute the brown sugar for maple syrup, honey or something less processed, what would you substitute it with? Thanks!

  • I love Kristin’s recipes most of all because they’re delicious,but also because it’s so convenient to click the ‘Jump To Recipe’ icon. I mean, why doesn’t everyone do this!?
    No offense,but sometimes I don’t have time to read the story behind the food and I just want to check ingredients and print! LOL. My husband and I are eating Keto so I replaced the brown sugar with stevia and this turned out great! Will definitely be a regular in our house. We use keto Mug Bread in place of buns. Thank you Kristin!

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