This instant pot chicken tenders recipe has the most deliciously tender chicken tenders ever! They are ready to eat in 15 minutes after being cooked in the Instant Pot and make an excellent appetizer or main course. Juicy, flavorful, and seasoned with garlic and herbs.
Chicken tenderloin strips made in the instant pot are a fast, simple, and excellent family meal. Furthermore, they are completed in less than 30 minutes.
Any night of the week, these chicken tenderloins from the pressure cooker are ideal as an appetizer or the main course. Additionally, chicken tenderloin from frozen can be used right away!
These Instant Pot chicken tenderloins are a must-make if you're looking for quick dinner prep ideas and have picky eaters at home. And you might also like Grilled Buffalo Chicken, Air Fryer Frozen Broccoli, and Carrot and Lentil Soup.
Why You'll Love It
- Time-saving: The Instant Pot is known for its ability to cook food quickly. Chicken tenders, being small and thin, can cook in a fraction of the time compared to traditional cooking methods. This makes it a convenient option for those who are short on time or want a quick meal.
- Tender and juicy: The sealed pressure cooking environment of the Instant Pot helps to lock in moisture, resulting in tender and juicy chicken tenders. The pressure forces the flavors to infuse into the meat, enhancing the overall taste.
- Versatility: The Instant Pot can be used for a variety of cooking methods, including pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, and more. This versatility allows you to experiment with different flavors and cooking techniques to customize your chicken tenders.
- Easy cleanup: With the Instant Pot, you can often cook everything in one pot, reducing the number of dishes you need to wash. This can save you time and effort when it comes to cleaning up after cooking.
- Healthier option: Using an Instant Pot to prepare chicken tenders typically requires less oil compared to frying. This can result in a healthier dish with fewer calories and less greasiness, while still achieving a crispy exterior.
Chicken tenders are one of my favorite chicken parts. I enjoy the softer texture as well as the fact that they are smaller than chicken breasts and cook faster. Kids adore these, and I prepare them in a variety of ways that the entire family likes.
They are often a crowd favorite, and they come out delightfully moist and juicy when cooked in the Instant Pot. The pressure cooker helps to seal in the fluids, and you don't have to worry about overcooking and drying them out.
Serve with your favorite dips or as part of the main course.
This pressure cooker chicken tenders dish is simple and can be easily customized with your favorite ingredients. For a basic chicken flavor, I only use salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.
What You'll Need
To make instant pot chicken tenders, here's a list of what you'll need:
- Chicken Tenders: Get fresh or thawed chicken tenders, typically about 1-2 pounds, depending on your serving size.
- Seasonings: Choose your preferred seasonings to enhance the flavor of the chicken tenders. Common options include salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and any other herbs or spices you enjoy.
- Cooking Oil: Use a neutral cooking oil like vegetable oil, avocado oil, or olive oil to prevent sticking and add some moisture to the chicken tenders.
- Instant Pot: Have an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker ready for cooking the chicken tenders. Ensure it is clean and in proper working condition.
- Trivet: A trivet or steamer rack is useful for keeping the chicken tenders elevated from the bottom of the Instant Pot to avoid them sitting in their own juices.
- Cooking Liquid: Some recipes may call for a small amount of cooking liquid like chicken broth, water, or marinade to add moisture and flavor to the chicken tenders.
- Tongs or Kitchen Utensils: Have tongs or a kitchen utensil handy for placing the chicken tenders in the Instant Pot and removing them once cooked.
- Optional Ingredients: Depending on your preferences, you may want to gather additional ingredients like fresh herbs, lemon juice, or your choice of dipping sauces for serving.
Ensure you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment ready before starting the cooking process. This way, you'll be well-prepared to make delicious chicken tenders using your Instant Pot.
How to cook chicken tenders in an instant pot
This is an overview with step-by-step images. The recipe card below contains all of the ingredients and instructions.
Cooking chicken tenders in the Instant Pot takes approximately 5-8 minutes of active cooking time. Here's a breakdown of the process in a more active voice tone:
- Preheat the Instant Pot by selecting the "Sauté" function and adjusting it to high heat.
- Add a small amount of cooking oil to the Instant Pot and let it heat up.
- Season the chicken tenders with your preferred seasonings, such as salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs or spices.
- Carefully place the seasoned chicken tenders in the Instant Pot using tongs or a kitchen utensil.
- Sear the chicken tenders for about 1-2 minutes on each side until they develop a golden brown color. This step helps to lock in the flavors.
- Once the chicken tenders are seared, turn off the "Sauté" function and add a small amount of cooking liquid, such as chicken broth or water, to the Instant Pot. This helps create steam and prevents the chicken tenders from drying out.
- Secure the lid of the Instant Pot and set the pressure release valve to the "Sealing" position.
- Select the "Pressure Cook" or "Manual" function on high pressure and set the cooking time to 3-5 minutes. Keep in mind that the exact cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken tenders.
- Once the cooking time is complete, allow for a natural pressure release for about 5 minutes, followed by a quick pressure release to release any remaining pressure.
- Carefully open the lid of the Instant Pot and use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the chicken tenders has reached 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.
- Remove the cooked chicken tenders from the Instant Pot and serve them immediately with your preferred sides or dipping sauces.
When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, it is done. Instant read thermometers are simple to use, affordable, and provide peace of mind by ensuring the meat is never overdone or undercooked.
Can you make them ahead of time?
These chicken tenders are delicious right out of the pressure cooker, but they can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cooked tenders can be eaten cold, added to salads and sandwiches, or reheated in the oven at 350F until warmed through.
Can you freeze chicken tenders?
Yes, cooked chicken tenders are excellent to keep in the freezer! Allow it to cool completely before wrapping tightly and storing it in a freezer bag or airtight container. Thaw the chicken overnight in the refrigerator before using it.
Tenders can be frozen whole or shredded.
Why is my Instant Pot chicken rubbery?
Overcooking the chicken in the Instant Pot can result in rubbery chicken. Check for doneness before the indicated cook time, and use it as a guide.
How long to cook chicken tenders in the instant pot?
Pressure cook on high heat for 8–10 minutes; for frozen chicken, cook for 10–12 minutes (depending on the thickness of the breasts). No matter how much chicken you add to the pot, the cooking time remains the same; the pressure-building process merely takes longer.
How do you serve Them?
Chicken tenders can be served in various ways, depending on personal preferences and the desired meal or occasion. Here are a few common ways to serve chicken tenders:
- Standalone: Chicken tenders can be served as a main dish on their own. Arrange them on a plate or platter and serve with your choice of dipping sauces, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, honey mustard, or ranch dressing. They make great finger food for casual gatherings or as a kid-friendly meal option.
- Sandwiches or Wraps: Chicken tenders are a popular ingredient in sandwiches and wraps. Place the tenders in a bun or wrap them along with fresh vegetables, lettuce, tomatoes, and your favorite condiments. You can also add cheese, bacon, or avocado slices to enhance the flavors.
- Salads: For a lighter option, add chicken tenders to a salad. Cut the cooked tenders into bite-sized pieces and toss them with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables of your choice. Drizzle with your preferred dressing, such as Caesar, ranch, or balsamic vinaigrette.
- Pasta and Rice Dishes: Chicken tenders can be sliced or diced and incorporated into pasta dishes or rice bowls. Add them to a creamy Alfredo pasta, stir-fried noodles, or a flavorful rice dish. The tenders can add protein and a tasty element to these dishes.
- Appetizers or Party Platters: Chicken tenders make excellent appetizers for parties or gatherings. Serve them on toothpicks or skewers for easy handling, and pair them with different sauces or dips. You can also combine them with other appetizers like mini sliders, mini tacos, or vegetable sticks for a diverse party platter.
- Tacos or Quesadillas: Shred or chop the cooked chicken tenders and use them as a filling for tacos or quesadillas. Add some cheese, salsa, guacamole, and other toppings to create a delicious Tex-Mex-inspired meal.
If you are looking for a great chocolate recipe for breakfast, you can check my Chocolate Chip Cookies without Brown Sugar recipe.
Substitutions & Tips
- Chicken Breast: Slice chicken breast into thin strips or pound them to an even thickness for a texture similar to chicken tenders. Chicken breast serves as a versatile substitute.
- Chicken Thighs: Remove the bone and skin from chicken thighs, then slice them into strips or small pieces. Chicken thighs offer a juicier and more flavorful alternative to chicken tenders.
- Chicken Cutlets: Thinly sliced pieces of chicken breast, known as cutlets, are perfect for quick cooking. Use them as a substitute when you desire a thinner and larger surface area.
- Ground Chicken: Season and shape ground chicken into small patties or nuggets to replace chicken tenders. Bread and fry them or bake them in the oven for a similar texture.
- Chicken Strips or Fillets: Conveniently available in grocery stores, chicken strips or fillets resemble chicken tenders and can be used as a quick substitute.
Shredded Chicken - Chicken Tenderloins Should Not Be Used Instead of Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs If You Want Shredded Chicken. The fat content makes them easy to shred. To learn how to prepare thighs, see my recipe for keto-pulled chicken.
- The tenders were browned, and I particularly appreciated how they preserved the flavor. If you wish to eat the tenders like chicken fingers or tenders and dip them in sauce, it also provides the outside of the meat a great texture. Browning is entirely arbitrary.
- The 6-minute cooking time made shredding simple.
- Cook the tenders on a trivet. The bottoms will burn if you put them directly into the pot.
Frozen - If you only have frozen chicken tenderloins, I do advise thawing them first before using them in this dish. You won't obtain a well-browned exterior if you don't defrost them first.
How to store and reheat chicken tenders
To store and freeze chicken tenders, follow these steps:
- Store chicken tenders:
- Allow the cooked chicken tenders to cool completely.
- Place them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with plastic wrap.
- Label the container with the contents and the date of storage.
- Store in the refrigerator for short-term use or in the freezer for long-term storage.
- Reheat chicken tenders:
- To reheat refrigerated chicken tenders, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Place the tenders on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until heated through.
- Alternatively, reheat them in a microwave-safe dish by covering them loosely and microwaving them on medium power in 30-second intervals until heated.
- Reheat frozen chicken tenders:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Place the frozen tenders on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until heated through and crispy.
- You can also use an air fryer by preheating it to 400°F (200°C) and cooking the frozen tenders for about 10-12 minutes or until crispy and heated.
- Check the internal temperature:
- To ensure the chicken tenders are thoroughly reheated, use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
- Once reheated, serve the chicken tenders immediately.
- Pair them with your favorite dipping sauces or use them in sandwiches, wraps, salads, or other dishes.
More Instant Pot Recipes:
- Instant Pot Navy Bean Soup
- Cajun Alfredo Sauce
- Instant Pot Fried Rice
- Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup
- Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas
Instant Pot Chicken Tenders
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tbsps unsalted butter
- 2 lbs chicken tenders
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ½ tbsp oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Mix all the spices together, and Season both sides of each chicken tender with the spice mixture.
- Melt the butter in the instant pot, then add the chicken tenders.
- Sauté and brown the chicken tenders on each side for 1-2 minutes. This step is optional, although it helps to lock in the taste.
- Remove the chicken tenders from the instant pot.
- Pour in the pre-heated chicken broth into the instant pot.
- Place the chicken tenders in the trivet and put back into the instant pot.
- Close the lid, and set it to high pressure for about 5 minutes.
- When finished, open the pressure valve and wait for the pressure to release before allowing the chicken to rest for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the chicken tenders from the pot. Serve with your favorite ketchup or sauce! Voila, Bon Appétit!