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Instant Pot Salsa Chicken

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When it comes to simple, easy weeknight meals, this Instant Pot Salsa Chicken takes the prize. Although you can bake a tasty salsa chicken, once you make this dish the Instant Pot, you’ll love how much easier and tastier it is for a quick dinner. With just a few ingredients and under 30 minutes, it is a real “dump and go” meal!

bowl of chicken salsa and Instant Pot in the background

Like Salsa Chicken, I shared Chicken Chile Verde in my Cook Once, Eat All Week post.

Both the Chicken Chile Verde and this Salsa Chicken are perfect as leftover makeover meals. You can use any leftover shredded chicken later in the week for tacos, nachos, salads, burrito bowls, enchiladas, or soup.

Ingredients for Salsa Chicken

The ingredients for Instant Pot Salsa Chicken are pretty simple, as I mentioned. You’ll need:

  • 2 pounds of chicken
  • A jar of salsa
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • garlic powder, salt, and pepper

New to Instant Pot cooking? Read this post on Using the Instant Pot first.

A bowl of chicken salsa with tortillas, salsa, and rice in the background

Instant Pot Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking is fast. Those new to pressure cooking are often surprised at how quickly the Instant Pot cooks food.

It isn’t “instant,” though, as the name implies. It takes a while to bring the pot to the heat needed to pressure cook. See my Instant Pot 10 Tips for how to shorten overall cooking times.

Frozen Chicken Thighs or Breasts?

One of the things I love most about the Instant Pot is pressure cook frozen meat. Just toss your frozen chicken thighs or breasts right into the Instant Pot. Defrosting them is not necessary.

I like using a mixture of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts in the Instant Pot. The thighs have good flavor and are inexpensive.

Chicken breasts have less fat but less flavor. Using a combination of both is the perfect mix.

Chicken Salsa in a bowl with an Instant Pot and bottle of salsa in the background

How Long Do You Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot?

These are the cooking times I use to cook chicken in the Instant Pot:

  • Boneless chicken thighs: 8 minutes (fresh or frozen) with a 10 minute natural release
  • Boneless chicken breasts: 10 minutes (fresh or frozen) for thinly cut or 12 minutes for larger breasts with a 10 minutes natural release
  • Bone in chicken breasts: 12 minutes (fresh or frozen) with a 10 minutes natural release.

Allowing a natural release after cooking chicken ensures a tender and juicy outcome. If you skip this step and go straight to a quick release, your chicken may turn out tough and chewy.

Take a temperature check to ensure the chicken is at least 165º.

Not sure what a natural or quick release is? Read this post on How to Use the Instant Pot to find out.

How to Make Chicken Salsa Instant Pot Style

1. First, preheat your Instant Pot by setting it to sauté, and add olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Go ahead and gather your ingredients.

Preheating is important: I believe that allowing your pot to preheat and using a little cooking oil on the bottom helps prevent burning.

2. Next, lay the chicken pieces on the bottom of the pot. Pour over the salsa, and add the spices. Twist on the Instant Pot lid and make sure the sealing lever is closed.

Instant Pot Salsa Chicken

3. Press cancel to end the sauté and set the pot for high pressure, for 12 minutes.

4. After the pressure cycle is over, allow Instant Pot to release for 10 minutes naturally. Then, initiate a quick release by turning the sealing lever open.

How to Easily Shred Chicken

Do you know the secret to easily shredding cooked chicken? Well, it’s using a mixer!

Mix it right in the pot with a hand mixer, or use a stand mixer. Just be sure to start with a low setting. Otherwise, you could have a mess in your hands.

a bowl of shredded Chicken Salsa Instant Pot

Variations on Instant Pot Chicken Salsa

  • Use Salsa Verde to make a Salsa Verde Chicken Soup by shredding the chicken and adding 4 cups of chicken broth.
  • Make Creamy Chicken Salsa by stirring in 4 ounces of cream cheese to the salsa after pressure cooking.
  • Use the chicken to make an easy Chicken Tortilla Soup.
  • Give leftovers a transformation and use the chicken in tacos or Creamy Chicken Enchiladas.

How to Prevent an Instant Pot Burn Notice

No one wants to get a burn notice on their Instant Pot. It will appear on your Instant Pot’s screen as “BURN,” “OvHt,” or “Food Burn.”

I have yet to experience this, but I have some suggestions on preventing and dealing with a burn notice…

  • Before pressure cooking, turn the Instant Pot to sauté and let it warm up. I add 1 Tbsp of olive oil before adding my ingredients to keep food and sauces from sticking and burning.
  • If you sauté meats before pressure cooking, deglaze your pot by adding the broth a few minutes before sealing your pot.
  • Keep an extra Instant Pot liner insert on hand. If you get a burn notice, then having an extra pot will allow you to safely transfer the food to a clean pot and continue cooking. Plus, an extra pot gives you flexibility when pressure cooking. There are times when I make rice or potatoes first, add a silicone lid to that pot, and use my second pot for the meat.

For more information on how to handle a burn notice, read this.

See Below for the Complete Instant Pot Salsa Chicken Recipe + Video!

How to Serve Salsa Chicken

I love to serve this as salsa chicken tacos with tortillas, beans, and rice. Or use it as a hearty filling for homemade burritos.

You also can use shredded chicken to make nachos and sliders for yummy snacks or appetizers.

If you are counting macros…

For low-carb macro days, use lettuce wraps to make low-carb salsa chicken tacos or add shredded salsa chicken to a fresh garden salad loaded with veggies.

I am sure that Instant Pot Salsa Chicken will become a regular easy, weeknight dinner in your house.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to use Pico de Gallo (fresh salsa)?

Yes. The sauces left behind after cooking the chicken will be more watery than using jar salsa.

Does it matter which kind of salsa I use?

No, choose your favorite kind! Use mild sauce – either green or red – for a non-spicy chicken salsa. For more heat, use medium salsa.

I am out of salsa. Can I use enchilada sauce instead?

Absolutely. To help avoid a burn notice, use 10 ounces of enchilada sauce and 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of water.

Can I freeze the leftover chicken?

Sure. Freeze it for up to 3 months.

Get the Recipe Here:

Salsa Chicken
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5 from 1 vote

Instant Pot Salsa Chicken

This Instant Pot Salsa Chicken makes perfectly flavored, stewed chicken chicken that is ideal as a cook once, eat again meal. Make it early in the week for dinner, and you can use the chicken to create other meals, such as tacos, chicken enchiladas, chicken cobb, later that week. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Chicken, Dinner, One Pot Meal, Make Ahead, Weeknight Dinner, Easy Dinner, gluten-free, 30 minute meals, Instant Pot, Meal Prep
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 223kcal


  • Pressure Cooker


  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 jar (12 ounce) salsa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


  • Gather your ingredients. Preheat your Instant Pot by setting it to sauté, add olive oil to the bottom of the pan.
  • Lay the chicken pieces in the bottom. Pour over the sauce, and add the spices. Twist on the Instant Pot lid, close the sealing lever.
  • Press cancel to end the sauté and set the the pot for high pressure, for 12 minutes. After the pressure cycle is over, allow Instant Pot to naturally release for 10 minutes. Then, initiate a quick release by turning the sealing lever.




Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 223kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 371mg | Potassium: 245mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 91IU | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

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