How to Make the Juiciest & Moistest Chicken Breast in Pressure Cooker

I have to admit it. There is a dilemma for cooking chicken breast in pressure cooker. On one hand, pressure cooker saves so much time! On the other hand, pressure cooking is not the best method for the juiciest and moistest chicken breast.

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Moisture Level vs Cooking Time:

Pressure Cooker Moisture Chart
*The data for the above chart was an average from 18 different tests we performed in our kitchen.

To summarize, the longer the meat is cooked, the drier it will become.

The Problem:

It is very easy to overcook chicken breast in pressure cooker, as we cannot check the temperature and level of doneness during the cooking process. Once upon a time, I overcooked a chicken breast in pressure cooker so badly that it registered at over 200°F on my food thermometer. It was like eating a piece of dry cardboard.

The Meat for this Experiment:

We removed the skin, bones and excess fat, then halved our whole chicken breasts (Note: this is how skinless, boneless chicken breasts are mostly sold in the market). They weigh 242 grams, 264 grams, 279 grams, 283 grams, 281 grams, and 298 grams respectively. The thickest part is about 1 5/8 inch thick.


Materials & Methods for Pressure Cooker Chicken Breast Experiment

Pressure Cooker: Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker

Altitude: close to sea level
Exactly 250ml (1 cup) of cold running tap water
Pressure: Low Pressure (5.8 ~7.2 psi) and High Pressure (10.15~11.6 psi)
Cooking Time: 5 minutes – 9 minutes
Release Method: Natural Release

How We Cooked the Chicken Breasts:

  • Pour in exactly 1 cup of cold running tap water
  • Place chicken breasts in pressure cooker (in the water or on a Stainless Steel Steaming Rack Stand)
  • Cook at High Pressure or Low Pressure
  • Rest for 5 – 8 minutes before slicing & tasting

Pressure Cooker Chicken Breast Experiment Results

How to Make the Juiciest & Moistest Chicken Breast in Pressure Cooker Experiment Results Chart

Low Pressure or High Pressure?

We did a direct comparison and we both agreed that the texture of the high pressure chicken breast came out slightly better. Maybe it was the quality of the chicken meat. For now, we do not have enough data to make a solid conclusion.

To Brine or Not to Brine?

After doing 18 tests with chicken breasts and chicken drumsticks, we found that a quick one hour brine increased the moisture level by 0.8% – 1.1% compare to the non-brine chicken.

Advantage: Even a quick brine increases the chicken breast’s moisture level and makes it more tender. It was evident in our direct taste test. It also adds some saltiness flavor to the chicken breast.

Disadvantage: Brining dilutes some of the chicken’s flavor. It was detectable in our taste test.

One small note, the non-brine version was highly acceptable when it was perfectly cooked.

How to Brine?

Here is a quick wet brine recipe 🙂

  1. In a small mixing bowl, mix 30 g salt with 500 ml of cold running tap water.
  2. Fully submerge the chicken breast in the mixture and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Brining chicken breast for over 3 hours may result in ham-like meat texture.
    • To prevent leakage, you can brine by putting everything in a ziploc bag instead of a mixing bowl.

On the Rack or Directly in Liquid?

We do not have enough data to make a conclusion, but it seems like more moisture is lost while the chicken breast is partially submerged in the liquid. More testing needs to be done on this.

What Temperature Should I Aim for?

Official recommended safe temperature for chicken breast is 165°F (some recommends 150°F – 160°F).


Aim for 161°F – 163°F at the thickest part of the chicken breast when you remove it from the pressure cooker. Get a food thermometer if you don’t have one!

Rest the chicken breast for 5 – 8 minutes to let the carryover heat elevate the center temperature to 165°F.

Why Should I Rest the Chicken Breast?

Not only does resting allows the carryover heat to slightly elevate the center temperature, but more importantly, it allows the meat fiber to relax and hold more moisture when we slice it.


My Chicken Breast is Undercooked, Should I Pressure Cook it Again?

Unless the chicken breast is severely undercooked, We will not recommend pressure cooking it again. If the chicken breast is below 160°F, quickly place the chicken breast back in the pressure cooker. Close the lid and let the residual heat cooks it for an additional 2 – 5 minutes. Do check the temperature often to avoid overcooking.

If the pressure cooker has completely cooled down, you can heat it up before placing the chicken breast back in. Remember to turn off the heat before you place the chicken breast back in to avoid overcooking the exterior!

Summary: Pressure Cooker Chicken Breast Cooking Time

Chicken Breast:  260 g – 300 g chicken breast (9 – 10.5 oz) with ~ 1 5/8 inch at the thickest part (get a Digital Kitchen Scale if you do not have one!)

High Pressure Cooking Method: 5 minutes at High Pressure with 1 cup of cold running tap water on a rack + 7 – 8 minutes Natural Release
Low Pressure Cooking Method: 9 minutes at Low Pressure with 1 cup of cold running tap water on a rack + 8 – 9 minutes Natural Release (The floating pin will drop at around 2 – 4 minutes)

The Moistest & Juiciest Chicken Breast

There you have it.

The Moistest & Juiciest Chicken Breast from your pressure cooker to your dining table in roughly 30 minutes (until we find a better method, of course 😀 ).

Now, time to make some moist chicken breast: 

Instant Pot Chicken Breast Roulade

Umami Stuffed Instant Pot Chicken Breast Recipe: easy make ahead dish with 7 simple ingredients! Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas holidays, dinner parties, valentine's day, or potlucks parties.

If you liked this experiment, you may also like:


Say No to Cardboard Chicken Breast! 🙂

How to Make the Juiciest & Moistest Chicken Breast in Pressure Cooker? We tested batches of chicken breasts in pressure cooker to find the secrets to making juicy & moist chicken breast. Say no to cardboard chicken breast!

Leave a Reply

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hi! i have 2 questions:

1) should i take the temperature of the chicken before it rests after cooking, or after resting for 5-8 min? i’ve been measuring it before it rests, and it’s not up to 165 – does this mean it needs more time?

2) how would i figure out the cooking time needed for pre-diced/cubed chicken?

thanks so much!

Pressure Cooker
Instant Pot DUO 60

Great tips for cooking chicken breast! The Pressure cooker is a game-changer for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These are perfect for summer salads. I didn’t see this article before, but I have been doing some experimentation on my own. I like to keep the breasts out of the liquid. I have been searing the chicken breast lately with good results. Just pat the chicken dry and rub in a spice mixture. Then brown them on each side for a total of 6 minutes. Then PC as you suggest. I need to look at the article again, maybe I missed WHY… Read more »


Hey friends, I’m a huge fan of your site and a brand new user. I made this as my second ever instant pot recipe. I have a 6qt and followed your instructions for HP nearly perfectly. I noticed when I opened the pot, the parts where the chicken breasts were touching were not cooked through. Should I try to avoid stacking them? I set them back in there for three more minutes.


hello Ame & Jacky,

I’m cooking fish, but it comes out rubbery and tough. I buy whole fish and just slice it and cook on low pressure for 8 mins.

Also, how would one cook chicken drums or thighs n low pressure. I usually avoid under-cooking the meat (fish/thighs). I cook chicken for 30 mins on low pressure.

Any suggestions?
Thank you


We keep kosher. Our meat and chicken are soaked and salted before they are sold. Do I still need to brine?


Hi, I am interested in trying brining but my co-worker swears that you must heat the water first to dilute the salt, otherwise the salt just sits at the bottom of the bowl and does nothing……thoughts? thank you 🙂


Would a marinade have the same impact as a brine? I tend to marinade the night before so I don’t have to worry about rushing into the kitchen in the morning or 2-hrs before, but now that I read your comment about the 3 hour brine turning the chicken into a ham like texture, I am curious.

Thanks for great tips and good recipes,

Claudia Atkins

I just made four large fresh chicken breasts in the the Instapot and set it on manual for nine minutes and it took itcabout 20 or more minutes to come to pressure then I let it do a natural release and it was very dry. I read your article but don’t understand the high pressure and natural pressure release. Can you explain what I did wrong? Thank you! I’m afraid to cook my boyfriend chicken in the Instapot.


Hello again Amy and Jacky, I just purchased two fresh chicken breasts that are huge: 1.5 pounds each! (If I did the math correctly, that’s about 680 grams per breast.) Should I increase the cook time or cut each breast in half before cooking? Thank you!


Hi Amy and Jacky,
I’m following up on Cyndi’s question above. Thank you for taking the guesswork out of IPing unfrozen chicken Breasts!
With frozen breasts halves, you said they need to be submerged, 3/4 of the breast under the water. She said she did 8 mins HP, then 6 mins NPR. What times do you recommend?

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