Instant Pot BBQ Chicken with Homemade Sauce

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A few months ago I got a Ninja Foodi (gifted from Ninja Kitchen), which is basically like a pressure cooker, air fryer and slow cooker all in one, plus a few other features. Seriously, this thing does it all. Including Instant Pot BBQ Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce. ; )

instant pot bbq chicken with homemade barbecue sauce - healthy fall recipe

Okay, so technically I made this recipe in my Ninja Foodi using the pressure cooker setting, but it seems that most people refer to ALL pressure cookers as Instant Pots these days. Kinda like all slow cookers being called Crockpots. And all tissues being Kleenex’s. Ya know?

Anyway, I have really been wanting to create and share a recipe using my Ninja Foodi, since I haven’t really done that yet. I’ve made several things in it though, like my Baked Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (finishing it off with the air crisper setting), and a Shrimp Pasta Stir Fry dish, upside down nachos, and more.

Home Things I'm Loving: Ninja Foodi: Healthy Chicken Nachos
Upside Down Chicken Nachos in the Ninja Foodi!

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is Perfect for Tailgating

Football season is among us, and I figured a recipe like this would be a hit for tailgating or watch parties at home.

You know why? Because:

  1. It feeds A LOT of people
  2. It’s extremely easy!
  3. You can make it in advance
  4. It heats up well
  5. Most importantly, it’s delicious – duh
instant pot bbq chicken with homemade barbecue sauce - healthy fall recipe

Homemade Barbecue Sauce is a healthier option

I decided to try making homemade barbecue sauce for this recipe for a couple different reasons. First off, I’ve never done it before, so I was genuinely curious to see how it would turn out! Spoiler alert: freaking amazing.

In addition, I knew homemade sauce would be much lower in sugar and sodium than the BBQ sauces you’d find in the stores. Of course, you can totally use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce if that’s what you prefer, or if you’re short on time! But if you have certain dietary restrictions, homemade sauce might be a great option for you!

instant pot bbq chicken with homemade barbecue sauce - healthy fall recipe

I also like that you can customize homemade sauce according to your taste buds. Make it spicier or sweeter, etc.! I was SUPER impressed with how it turned out.

Shout out to Erin of Well Plated for the amazing BBQ sauce recipe! Click here to check out this recipe, and all of the other deliciousness on her blog. She has so many goodies!!!

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is Picky-Eater Approved

I used the Instant Pot BBQ Chicken recipe from Meaningful Eats, and then just inserted the delicious and easy homemade BBQ sauce from Well Plated. Lemme tell ya. These two were a match made in heaven.

My dad can be hard to please when it comes to “healthy stuff” and substituting chicken over beef or pork, etc. But alas, he loved this recipe! So I guess I’d call it *picky eater-approved*. Hopefully that applies to any picky kiddos out there as well. ; )

serving suggestions

This Instant Pot BBQ Chicken can be served up multiple ways. Obviously, you can go the traditional route and serve it up on a (whole wheat) hamburger bun. It is also delicious on toasted, whole wheat bread. Lastly, you can serve it on top of a bed of greens for a healthy, gluten-free option if needed! I’ve done all three. : )

Since the BBQ chicken is a good source of protein, serve it alongside some roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts, or a loaded salad!

instant pot bbq chicken healthy recipe

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

Shanna Hutcheson
This Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken is quick and easy to make, and it's a little bit healthier thanks to homemade barbecue sauce! Perfect for tailgating or watching the game at home! Makes enough to share with a crowd.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 195 kcal


Homemade Barbecue Sauce by Well Plated

  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste 6 ounces
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup molasses or honey
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if you don't like spicy; add more if you prefer very spicy, up to 1-2 tsp)

BBQ Chicken

  • 1 cup water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 lbs chicken breasts frozen
  • 1.5 cups homemade barbecue sauce


Homemade Barbecue Sauce

  • In a medium saucepan, stir together all of the ingredients: tomato sauce, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, dry mustard, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover with a lid slightly ajar so that the pot is mostly covered to deter splattering, but steam can still escape and the sauce can reduce.
  • Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  • Measure out roughly 1.5 cups of the sauce to be used in the instant pot. Reserve the rest to be used for dipping, putting on top of your BBQ chicken sandwich or serving with other dishes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

  • Place the ingredients in the instant pot in this order: 1 cup of water, chicken breasts, then 1.5 cups of homemade barbecue sauce. DO NOT STIR. You want the water to stay at the bottom so the instant pot comes to pressure.
  • Place the lid on the instant pot (or Ninja Foodi) making sure the valve is in the sealed position. Press manual (high pressure) and set to 15 minutes.
  • Once it is done, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. (AKA, let it just sit there for 10 minutes without touching it.) Once the pressure has fully released, open the lid, transfer the chicken breasts to a large bowl and shred with two forks or chicken shredding claws.
  • Transfer shredded chicken back to instant pot and stir to coat in sauce. Add more BBQ sauce if desired. Enjoy on BBQ sandwiches, salads and more!


Calories: 195kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 25gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 559mgPotassium: 838mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 608IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 2mg
Keyword barbecue, fall recipe, homemade bbq sauce, instant pot bbq chicken, kansas city, slow cooker, tailgating recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Also, if you need some fancy chicken shredding claws, click here! I love these things.

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken with  Homemade Barbecue Sauce - Healthy Fall Recipe / Slow Cooker

I hope you enjoy this Instant Pot BBQ Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce this fall, or all year long! Be sure to tag me in your creations on Instagram at @wellnessforthewin and pin this recipe on Pinterest!

Thank you!


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    1. Yay! I hope you love it! It really is amazing for meals during the week too. I’ve been enjoying it all week long. Can’t wait to hear what you think! 🙂

    1. Hi there! Thank you so much! I think this could definitely be made in the crockpot. I’m not 100% sure since I haven’t tested it myself, but it isn’t that different from my Crockpot Chicken Tacos recipe, and that is cooked on low for 4-6 hours in the crockpot. I would check it around 4 hours with a meat thermometer to see if it’s done!! I hope that helps! 🙂

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