Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Tenders are really easy to achieve time and time again! This post will walk you through exactly how to achieve tender & juicy shreddable or dice-able chicken tenders every time! Perfect for meal prep!
Instant Pot Chicken Tenders- Shredding, slicing or dicing!
Since receiving my first Instant Pot (from my mom! LOVE YOU!) I have cooked a lot of chicken. Especially once I started blogging, recipe development and recipe testing! I feel like I am constantly buying more chicken at the store!
I have cooked with both chicken breasts and chicken tenders. I have tested and perfected Chicken breasts, as you can see and get more details about it on my Instant Pot Chicken Breast Post.
I get asked all the time by readers why their chicken breasts didn’t turn out well, it’s either undercooked or rubbery or just plain not edible.
I go into a lot more detail in my Chicken Breast post, but we all know that chicken breasts are never the same size! I could get a package of A’s one day and the next the package could be DD’s! 😉 As you could imagine, a standard cook time across the board for all chicken breasts just doesn’t make sense.
It’s no wonder people have so many problems with them! In all of my recipes using chicken breasts, I always eliminate those variables so you can have consistent results time and time again.
Instant Pot Chicken Tenders > Chicken Breasts
Chicken Tenders though, are a different story! They come in a pretty standard size. Sure, one might be slightly smaller or larger than another, but nothing drastic like we see in chicken breasts.
This is one of the reasons I love cooking with chicken tenders! Set cook times WORK! I have tested and tested and tested. These times are perfect.
Not only is there no guess game, but I find that chicken tenders always come out so much more.. well.. TENDER! than chicken breasts do. Generally, I have a hard time pulling them out of the Instant Pot with a fork because they are just falling apart!
How to make Chicken Tenders in the Instant Pot
As with all Instant Pot recipes, you’ll need a thin liquid first and foremost. I like to use chicken broth to give the chicken a bit more flavor, but water would work if needed.
Then put all of your chicken tenders into the liquid. Pictured here, I use frozen but fresh will work too. (I’ll go over timing for each below.)
Season as you’d like, I usually use salt, pepper and sometimes some onion powder.
For frozen chicken tenders: Cook on Manual HIGH for 6 minutes, followed by a 6 minute NPR before turning the knob to release the pressure manually.
For fresh chicken tenders: Cook on Manual HIGH for 3 minutes, followed by a 6 minute NPR before turning the knob to release the pressure manually.
This is what the chicken tenders looked like after 6 minutes on HP with the 6 min NPR.
Can you believe how easy that is? Now it is time to decide whether you want to slice, dice or shred the chicken.
If you want to slice or dice the chicken, I suggest waiting 5-10 minutes to let the chicken cool a bit before slicing to insure nice, clean cuts.
If shredding the chicken, I suggest using you hand mixer! It works complete magic in a matter of seconds!
Using your Instant Pot Chicken Tenders for meal prep
One of my favorite ways to prepare for the craziness of life (and to help calm the anxiety of not having control of everything!) is to have chicken, cooked and prepped, ready to go in my freezer.
How many recipes have you found online that call for 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken? I know I’ve come across quite a few!
I like to cook an entire bag of chicken breasts in my Instant Pot at the beginning of the month. I then dice half and shred the other half before freezing for use within that month.
To freeze, let the diced or shredded chicken cool completely and then freeze in zip top bags. I usually measure out and place 2 cups of chicken in each bag.
I like to pull all of the air out of the bag. I then flatten the chicken so the bags will stack easily.
Once frozen, the chicken is ready whenever you need a quick and easy meal! When needed, simply pull out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes.
Or, you can run the baggie under hot water and you’ll have room temperature chicken in no time!
I really like to make Chicken Parm Sliders with my shredded chicken stash in the freezer. I love to toss some diced chicken on top of my Instant Pot Alfredo or Creamy Ziti, also!
Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Tenders (Fresh or Frozen)
- 2 cups thin liquid chicken broth or water
- chicken tenders as many as you want, either fresh or frozen
- Pour the thin liquid into the liner of the Instant Pot.
- Place chicken tenders into the liquid.
- For fresh chicken tenders, cook on manual HIGH for 3 minutes followed by a 6 minute NPR.
- For frozen chicken tenders, cook on manual HIGH for 6 minutes followed by a 6 minute NPR.
- Your chicken is now ready to shred, dice or slice to use in your favorite recipe or to store in the freezer!
Karli Bitner says
So happy to hear this was a success for you, Allison!
I used your method for cooking frozen tenders, and oh, man, were they FABULOUS!! I cooked them in unsalted beef broth to which I added some pink Himalayan salt (I have to control the quality and quantity, so never use already-salted anything), and after the NPR, I added a bag of frozen broccoli, put the pressure lid back on, but didn’t restart it, and just let everything sit for a few minutes while I finished prepping another part of my meal. The resulting hot chicken and broccoli, almost a soup, was absolutely perfect for the weather we had that day; I liked it SO MUCH, I”m about to go out and get chicken now, and make some more for supper tonight.
Heidi Durig Heiby says
I just made shredded burrito filling with frozen tenders using your recipe and it turned out PERFECT!!! I simply added some taco spices and lime juice to the broth. Thank you for this! Excited for some awesome healthy chicken burritos later this afternoon!
Karli Bitner says
Yum! That sounds amazing, Heidi! So glad it turned out perfect for you!
I’m sorry if this is a dumb question. I’m really new to pressure cooking. So after I cook the fresh tenderloins for 3 min HP and I let it NRP (neaning let it be) for 6 min will I then have to manually release the pressure at that point? Thank you. 😊
Karli Bitner says
Yes, that is exactly right! 🙂
Thank you so much! I just successfully made my favorite chicken taco filling using tenders, not whole breasts. This is the first time the tenders were not over cooked and stringy. Thank you for doing the experimenting for me! I cannot wait to cook a whole batch of tenders for storage. I will definitely check out more of your recipes!
katie Thornley says
I have used this method to cook chicken more times than Oprah gave away a free car or Ellen danced in an audience ! It is spot on!
Ann Lozis says
I’m loving these insta pot recipes. My instapot displays keep warm during the six minutes natural release. Do I want to turn the pot completely off and wait six minutes or is keep warm supposed to be on? Thanks
Karli Bitner says
Either way will work! If the keep warm light is on, then your Instant Pot will count up for the NPR, if the keep warm light is off, your Instant Pot will just turn off.
Susan Bivins says
Thank you so much. Need to make big batch of tenders for sliders and was worried about the timing.
Maggee Mae says
Perfect! Only made 4 fresh chicken tenders. Used 1 cup of chicken stock. (2 cups too much for small amount of chicken I made). I did coat tenders with taco seasoning and sautéed. Took tenders out, added a little more oil and sautéed onions a bell peppers. Added tenders back in with the stock.
Cooked 3 mins with 6 NR. Very very tender, shredding perfectly. Easy and quick way to have tenders for taco’s or any starter meal.
Thanks Karli, saved recipe. Going to ck out your site for more goodies.
Kaye M. says
Thank you for this recipe! Looks like just what I want! One question. I have a 3 Qt. Mini. Should I still use 2 cups of liquid or should I cut back on the liquid?
Cooking with Karli says
Thanks for the kind comment Maggee! I wish you luck in your cooking. 🙂
Karli Bitner says
You could cut back the liquid to 1 cup if you’d like!
how do you get rid of that tendon in the chicken tenders. Larger chicken tenders especially have tough ones. I don’t want to eat that.
Karli Bitner says
You can remove either before or after cooking. I usually remove after, before serving. I generally just cut it out. Hope this helps!
Never buy tenders but they happened to be on sale. Had saved a bookmark for this a while back, but remembered it once I had tenders in the house. Crazy quick, simple and effective! I put some Thai Coconut Salsa that I needed to use up on top (reducing the broth to only 2/3 c). Tasty and easy for meal prep! Thx!
Charlotte A.Wertepny says
These are the best tenderloins that I have ever made. They are very very tender and juicy. I will definitely make this recipe again, thank you for this.