If you have an Instant Pot you’ve certainly heard everyone talk about salsa chicken. You’re probably wondering “What is salsa chicken and how can I make it in my Instant Pot?” Well, wonder no more. I’ll walk you through one of the easiest and most versatile meals you can prepare in your Instant Pot.
Salsa Chicken is actually the very first thing I made in my Instant Pot when I got it several years ago. I asked a friend for the easiest thing to make in the Instant Pot and Salsa Chicken is what she recommended. I used frozen chicken breasts and was amazed at how easy it was! You can visit my Instant Pot Chicken Tacos post and see my first meal in the Instant Pot.
What Exactly Is Salsa Chicken?
Salsa Chicken is exactly what it sounds like. Chicken with salsa! All you need is chicken breasts, a jar of salsa and a few spices and you’ll have a nice pot of shredded chicken that can be used in so many ways.
In the recipe card below you can read all my suggestions for how to serve Salsa Chicken. But just to give you an idea, you can make tacos, nachos, quesadillas, burritos and so much more!
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What Kind of Salsa Is Best for Salsa Chicken?
The beauty of Salsa Chicken is you can use your favorite salsa. The only thing I would tell you to be aware of is you don’t want to use a salsa that is mostly chunky with no liquid. The salsa is the only liquid you will be using in this recipe so you want to make sure it’s not too thick. Our favorite salsa to use when we make Salsa Chicken is Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa.
Should I Use Frozen or Thawed Chicken Breasts for Salsa Chicken?
You can use either frozen or thawed chicken breasts when you make Salsa Chicken in the Instant Pot! This recipe I usually make with thawed, but once in a while I’ll throw some frozen breasts in the pot and make it that way.
Technically, you can use the same cook time for either frozen or thawed chicken. The only difference is your pot will take longer to come to full pressure when using frozen.
Does Salsa Chicken Freeze Well?
Another great thing about Salsa Chicken is it freezes well. You can make a big batch and separate it into smaller portions and freeze them. The problem I have in my house is with 7 people, we never have leftovers so there’s never anything to freeze!
Is There an Easy Way to Shred the Chicken?
Yes, there is! I used to dread shredding chicken but that is no longer the case. Some genius figured out you can shred chicken with a hand mixer! Game changer! It is so incredibly easy to simply shred the chicken while it’s still in your Instant Pot.
My only recommendations are to wait for a bit for the chicken to cool down and when you first start the mixer, start it at a slower speed and gradually move it up. You don’t want chicken flying everywhere!
Kitchen Prep Tools, Utensils & Appliances
Here is a list of the kitchen prep tools, utensils, and appliances I used to make this recipe.
Prep Tools & Utensils
Not only is this recipe so quick and easy to make, but there is also very little clean up required because you don’t have to use a lot of utensils, prep bowls, or cookware.
- I don’t like to handle raw chicken by hand (it’s just gross), so I always use a pair of metal tongs to place the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot.
- To make shredding the chicken so much easier, I highly recommend using a hand mixer. It’s just too much work to have to do this by hand. When using the hand mixer, I slip on my mini mitts so that I can hold the hot liner in place while I shred the chicken.
- When I’m really in a rush, my go-to meal is to serve this salsa chicken on some warm flour or corn tortillas. I like to warm my tortillas on a flat cast-iron griddle and then place them in a warming basket so that they don’t get cold by the time I’m ready to serve.
Appliances & Cookware
Must-Have Instant Pot Accessories
Make sure to check out my post on Must-Have Accessories for the Instant Pot. You’ll find a complete list of all the top accessories that can be used with your Instant Pot.
I know you will find this recipe easy, quick and delicious! Your family will love all the different things you can make with it! I’d love to hear in the comments when you try it.
Whether you’re an Instant Pot beginner or you just like to follow visual step-by-step instructions, you’ll want to head over to my How To Make Salsa Chicken in the Instant Pot. There, you’ll find detailed instructions along with some other great tips and suggestions.
Instant Pot Salsa Chicken
Chicken breasts, salsa, and spices.
- 4 large chicken breasts skinless, boneless, approx. 2 lbs
- 1 jar salsa 16 oz
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
- Add the chicken breasts to the pot and dump the salsa and spices on top of the breasts.
- Close the pot and set it to cook on 'Manual' / 'Pressure Cook' for 10 minutes and allow for a 5-minute natural pressure release (NPR).
- Release any remaining pressure, open the pot and allow the cooked chicken breasts to sit for 5 minutes before shredding.
- Use a hand mixer set to medium speed and begin shredding the chicken. Once some of the chicken has shredded, you may wish to adjust the mixer to medium-high for quicker and more complete shredding.
- Serve and enjoy.
Some things you should know about this Instant Pot Salsa Chicken recipe.
Start slow. You’ll want to start shredding with the hand mixer on medium speed or lower. Otherwise, you’ll have pieces of chicken flying all over the place. Once about half of the chicken breasts have been shredded on the lower speed, you can then adjust the mixer speed up to a higher setting to speed up the process.
Chicken breast cook times can vary. I cook the chicken breasts for 10 minutes and allow for a 5-minute natural pressure release. This should be long enough to cook even the thickest breasts all the way through. For thinner breast, you may wish to reduce the cook time to maintain juiciness. Since chicken breasts come in all different sizes and thicknesses, it’s always safest to use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature has reached 165°Fahrenheit.
So many ways to serve. What I love most about this salsa chicken is that it is so versatile. You can use it in an endless number of dishes. Make sure to check out my serving suggestions below for a handful of ideas.
Freezer friendly. This shredded salsa chicken is a perfect freezer food. You can make a batch or two in the Instant Pot and then divide it up in quart-sized or pint-sized freezer bags and freeze for later.
Juicier, tastier, cheaper. If you want a juicier, more delicious salsa chicken, then use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Not only will the dark meat of the thighs make this salsa chicken tastier but they are usually cheaper than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The only caveat – chicken thighs have much more fat and calories.
While every effort is made to correctly calculate these nutritional facts, they should be used as general guidance as they may not be 100% accurate.
This is a list of the kitchen tools, utensils and appliances I used to make this recipe.
Tips & Tricks
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make this Instant Pot Salsa Chicken recipe your own.
Choosing a salsa. I recommend just going with your favorite salsa. We use Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa because it’s very flavorful. We get the Mild version when making salsa chicken for the whole family. On special occasions when it’s just me, my hubby and the older boys, we’ll go for the Habanero Hot version.
Here are a few ideas for serving your Instant Pot Salsa Chicken.
Chicken tacos. This is our favorite way to serve this salsa chicken. It’s so perfect for tacos. We’ll serve it on hard taco shells or warm up some corn or flour tortillas to serve it on. We’ll also make sure and prep all the fixings like shredded lettuce or cabbage, pico de gallo, cilantro, avocado, cotija cheese, and a few wedges of lemon.
Chicken quesadillas. Add the salsa chicken and a handful of Mexican style shredded cheese on half of a tortilla. Fold the tortilla over and then cook over medium heat on a lightly oiled skillet until the cheese has melted and each side of the tortilla is lightly browned.
Cheesy chicken nachos. Layer tortilla chips, salsa chicken, black beans, jalapenos, and pico de gallo on a baking sheet. Cover generously with shredded Monterrey Jack or Colby Jack and place in a 350° oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted.
Serve over rice. This chicken is perfect served over a bed of warm rice. This makes for a perfect light lunch.
Add it to a soup. This chicken is perfect for adding to a chicken tortilla soup or a chicken chili. Cook your soup as usual and just throw in the shredded chicken at the end.
Add to a salad. Make an awesome Southwest Salad by adding some of this chicken on top of a bed of lettuce with some black beans, corn, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips. Top with a Ranch or Southwest dressing.
Bowls, burritos, and fajitas. Just throw some of your favorite Tex-Mex ingredients in a bowl or wrap them up in a flour tortilla for a burrito or fajita. Makes a great school lunch or lunch on-the-go.