Go Back

Building Block Meal Prep Chicken for Instant Pot

Tender, juicy dark meat chicken with a sauce base, ready to be dressed up and packed for lunches or dinners to be reheated later without turning tough or chewy.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Building Block, Main Course, Meal Prep
Keyword: chicken, Instant Pot, Keto, Pressure Cooker
Servings: 5 meals
Author: Lyn
Cost: $10


  • Pressure Cooker
  • Large bowl
  • Flat-edged spatula
  • Knife
  • Large slotted spoon, strainer scoop, or colander
  • Large mixing bowl


  • 3 pounds boneless skinless leg quarters or thighs Up to 5 pounds for a 6qt pressure cooker
  • 1 onion chunked and/or diced
  • 3 cloves garlic whole, smashed, or minced
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper to preference
  • 2 T fairly high smoke point oil (Olive, Avocado, Coconut, Peanut, etc)
  • 1 14oz can tomatoes, drained with liquid reserved any kind - diced, strips, whole, fire roasted or not, seasoned or not


  • Set the pressure cooker to Saute mode, normal level. Cut onion into chunks and/or dice while pot heats - the smaller the cut, the more the onion will disintegrate in the final sauce, so leave some larger pieces if you want somewhat recognizable onion pieces in the final product.
  • When pressure cooker is hot, add oil and onions, stirring to coat and evenly distribute. How long you want to cook the onions is up to you. Browning them slightly will add a little bit of flavor, but I usually just get them warmed and well-coated in oil and move on.
  • Turn the heat off on the pressure cooker and add garlic, stirring for 30-60 seconds to make sure garlic doesn't burn.
  • When sizzling stops, add the drained tomato liquid.
  • Add chicken in as even layers as you can, seasoning each layer. Usually I can do 3 pounds of chicken in about a layer and a half, two or three layers for 5ish pounds.
  • Pour the canned tomatoes over the top of the chicken.
  • Close lid and seal for pressure cooking.
  • Set to cook on High pressure for 12 minutes.
  • Walk away, for anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. At the very least, let the pressure cooker naturally release (takes about 20 minutes after cooking completes), but I find the chicken is better if it rests quite some time after that.
  • When you are ready to continue, remove the chicken and as much remaining solids as you can with a slotted spoon or strainer scoop to a large, stable, heat-safe bowl. No need to be completist, just pull out any chunks of chicken, onion, or tomato that they might burn during reduction.
  • Fast option: drain off most of the liquid to a your chicken bowl. Add your sauce components to the pot and warm through on low Saute, return chicken to the pot and stir to cover and warm.
    Slow option: Set the pressure cooker to Saute mode, and if your pressure cooker has saute levels choose High. Boil the remaining liquid in the pot down until it is reduced 50-70%. This could take up to 30 minutes depending on the pressure cooker and amount of moisture, and while you do not have to stand over it you should check it every 5 minutes starting at the 15-minute mark. Turn the heat off or set to a low saute when it has reduced sufficiently.
  • If desired, you could add vegetables to the reducing sauce to cook in it without being pressure-cooked. This requires a little timing guesswork as to when to add them to get them to the doneness you want when the sauce is reduced enough, but it would spare you having to steam/nuke/roast those vegetables separately.
  • When you've reduced the cooking liquids, you can remove and store everything to be mixed with sauce later, shred into taco meat/BBQ, or add sauce components and stir to combine and warm through.


At the end of this recipe is where the highly-variable magic happens: This is where you build a sauce, using the rich reduced cooking liquid as a base. This could be anything from jar/pouch/can sauce to a from-scratch sauce; we'll talk a lot more about this in another entry.