Instant Pot Perfect Seared Chicken Breasts

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recipe by Bruce Weinstein

  • Time icon
    Total Time
  • Serves icon
  • Calories icon

Here’s the problem: Despite the pot’s high-moisture environment, boneless, skinless chicken breasts dry out and turn to shards in a multi-cooker. So here’s our solution: Brown them first, then set them on a rack (or the machine’s trivet) to keep them off the insert’s superheated bottom when they undergo all that pressure. After cooking, a modified quick release lets them then sit in the steam a bit, so they can plump as they reabsorb some of their natural liquids. Notice that these boneless skinless breasts are a bit larger than those sold in bulk bags at the supermarket. Notice, too, that you should brown the meat thoroughly. The chicken needs good color for the best flavor. Beyond • You must halve the recipe for a 3-quart cooker. • After cooking, garnish the breasts with lots of ground black pepper. • You’ll get even better results if you brine the breasts: Buy chicken breasts that have not been injected with “a solution that may contain. . . .” (read the package). Whisk 2 tablespoons kosher salt into 8 cups cool water until dissolved, then submerge the breasts in the brine for at least 20 minutes but no more than 40 minutes. Discard the brine, pat the breasts dry, then proceed with the recipe. • Or buy kosher boneless skinless chicken breasts. They’re essentially prebrined!

Inspired by:

recipe updated Feb 4, 2020


  • Butter icon
    2 tbsp (about 28.8 g)
  • Chicken breast icon
    Chicken breast
    4 (about 450 g)
  • Mixed dried herbs icon
    Mixed dried herbs
    2 tbsp (about 11.1 g)
  • Salt icon
    ½ tsp (about 3 g)
  • Chicken broth icon
    Chicken broth
    1 ½ cups (about 373.5 g)


  • kCook icon Instant Pot
  • kCook icon Inner pot
  • kCook icon Rack
  • kCook icon Work surface
  • kCook icon Plate

Step preview

  1. Heat - Sauté, Normal
  2. Add butter to the inner pot
  3. Place chicken breast on a clean work surface
  4. Season with mixed dried herbs and salt
  5. Transfer half of chicken to inner pot
  6. Brown well and turn half way through - approx 6 min
  7. Transfer browned chicken to plate
  8. Transfer the rest of chicken to inner pot
  9. Brown well and turn half way through - approx 6 min
  10. Transfer browned chicken to plate
  11. Place a clean rack in the inner pot
  12. Add chicken broth to the inner pot
  13. Place chicken on rack
  14. Close and lock the lid and turn the steam release handle to Sealing
  15. Pressure cook - Manual, High, 8 min
  16. Release pressure -
  17. Let rest - 3 min
  18. Serve immediately
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