How to Cook Chicken Tenders in the Electric Pressure Cooker

If I had to name one ingredient that makes it onto my shopping list just about every week, it would have to be chicken.

Vertical image of a black plate with white meat seasoned with a dry spice mix in front of a kitchen appliance.

It doesn’t matter what cut of poultry it is, it’s always on the list because this type of meat is so darn versatile.

But one of the cuts that I secretly love to use is chicken tenders.

I know it isn’t the one that most people go for, as they usually opt for breasts. I think this is because this cut is usually seen as an option only when it’s prepared in its whole form, never to be utilized in other ways. But that’s a mistake!

I do love them whole or breaded. I mean, who doesn’t have fond childhood memories of grabbing a chicken finger and dipping it in lots of ketchup for dinner?

Even as we get more deeply into our adult years, this protein entree is still one that I will bust out on occasion, much to the delight of my husband. But there’s more to these humble pieces of poultry than you might think.

I don’t know what it is about tenders exactly, but whenever I make them, they always come out, well… tender!

There’s no guessing game involved at all when you make them this way, in your countertop appliance. They just work, especially when you want them to fall apart to shred, or if you want to dice them to use in other recipes.

I actually prefer using them over breasts or thighs when I am making shredded poultry to use in various meals throughout the week.

Vertical image of a blue bowl filled with shredded white meat in front of a kitchen appliance.

Pro tip: If you want to shred the meat that you prepare using this method, simply cook the pieces of poultry in the liquid and skip the trivet. It will be even more moist this way, and practically falls apart when it’s done.

This poultry option is fantastic for meal prep too. You can make a large amount and use it in a variety of ways.

I like to incorporate it into salads a couple of days a week after I make it, then soups for a couple of other days. The rest gets incorporated into a pasta, or sometimes I’ll make a refreshing cherry chicken salad or curried chicken salad.

Another pro tip: if you are shredding the poultry, try using your hand mixer!

It’s a lot less time consuming than using two forks, enabling you to get the job done in a matter of seconds. Seriously, it works.

Make sure you use a big, deep bowl for mixing to prevent the meat from flying out. I start at a low speed to break down the big pieces, then slowly increase the speed to finish shredding.

Next up, I’ll share some more tips and tricks, and then we’ll get into the fail-proof prep method. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Can I Cook More than 2 Pounds at a Time?

You can cook as much as you want, up to 4 pounds at a time in your pressure cooker per batch, or however much will fit comfortably.

I use a 6-quart Instant Pot to make mine, but you can also use an 8-quart appliance if that’s what you have, and make more.

There’s no need to change the cook times if you are cooking more, so it’s a simple substitution.

How Do I Season the Tenders?

You can flavor this meat in any way you want.

Vertical image of a black plate with white meat with a mixed seasoning.

Consider an Italian seasoning mix if you are going to dice it up and add it to pasta. Use a Mexican spice mix if you are going to shred it to use in burritos, tacos, or enchiladas. Or try a Cajun mixture of spices if you are going to slice it up to serve with grits.

The options are nearly endless, because this poultry is a fantastic base for just about any type of flavoring.

Just be sure to use 1 1/2 teaspoons total of your selected spice blend per 2 pounds of meat, and you’re good to go.

How to Cook Chicken Tenders in the Electric Pressure Cooker

This is the ultimate way to cook this cut of poultry because it’s quick, they can be cooked from fresh or frozen, and they are extremely versatile, a true boon to your meal planning.

Step 1 – Measure Ingredients and Season the Poultry

To begin, gather and measure your ingredients. You will need:

  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen chicken tenders
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning blend of your choice (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water

Horizontal image of raw pieces of meat with seasonings on a blue plate.

Season the poultry all over with salt and pepper. If you are using a seasoning mixture, season the tenders with this now as well, being sure to coat them all over.

Step 2 – Pressure Cook

Add the broth to the bottom of the pressure cooker insert. Place a trivet in the insert and top it with the seasoned meat.

Horizontal image of seasoned pieces of raw meat in an insert of a pot.

For fresh tenders, cook on Manual on High pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes before manually releasing any remaining pressure.

Horizontal image of seasoned pieces of meat in a pot with broth underneath.

For frozen tenders, cook on Manual on High pressure for 6 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes before quick-releasing any remaining pressure.

Serve immediately, however you like.

Can I Freeze Cooked Tenders, or Shredded Cooked Chicken?

This is one of my favorite ways to keep extra poultry on hand to incorporate into a last-minute recipe.

Horizontal image of seasoned white meat pieces on a black plate, with a kitchen appliance in the background.

First, be sure that the pieces have cooled to room temperature before you prep them to be frozen.

For shredded, place it in quart-size freezer bags (perfect for pre-portioning) and squeeze all of the air out of the bags. For whole tenders, place them in an airtight freezer-safe container or gallon-size freezer bag, and squeeze all of the air out before you seal it.

Freeze for up to two months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and serving.

What recipes do you like to use shredded chicken or diced fingers in? After you try this simple cooking method at home, tell us about it in the comments below.

And here are even more ways to utilize your electric pressure cooker for preparing chicken with the best results:

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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