Instant Pot Chicken Tenders are plump, juicy, and great for the entire family. You can prep this easy chicken entree in as little as 2 minutes and they cook fast too, so it's a great weeknight meal option. Instant Pot Chicken Tenderloins are naturally gluten-free, grain-free, low carb, and keto-friendly too.
There is something about chicken tenders that brings out the kid in you no matter how old you get. These tenders are great to eat by themselves, added to a vegetable salad, or even enjoyed in a sandwich.
Besides the fact that this chicken tenderloins Instant Pot recipe tastes amazing, cooking it in an electric pressure cooker is a game-changer. The texture of the chicken is amazing, and it's a low effort meal on my part because the pressure cooker does all the work. I can spend time cooking side dishes like my Cheesy Cauliflower Rice, Spaghetti Squash Bites, or Keto Fries.
Once you get the hang of pressure cooking it will become one of the best you've done in the kitchen.
If you haven't picked up on it yet, I am always a fan of recipes that require minimal ingredients. These chicken tenders only take 5 ingredients, and most of them are seasonings. Limited ingredients mean less expensive!
Olive Oil - Using olive oil tastes great and cooks the chicken beautifully. You could also use refined coconut oil or your favorite oil if you want.
Chicken Tenders - Make sure that the chicken tenders are cut to a similar size. This will ensure that they cook evenly, and you don't have to worry about some being overdone while others are still raw. You can use a sharp knife to carefully remove the chicken tendons (that firm white piece near the wider end) on a cutting board.
Seasonings - For seasonings, I like to go simple! A little bit of garlic powder, salt, and pepper is ideal for giving the chicken flavor without going overboard. You can add other spices if desired.
How To Make Instant Pot Chicken Tenders
I'm sure you are ready to make this easy pressure cooker chicken recipe! Let's get started so you can make a batch yourself.
Step One: Start by heating the oil in the Instant Pot using the saute setting. Add the seasonings to the chicken and place the meat in the inner pot. Stir it around to ensure that the chicken is evenly coated with hot olive oil. Do not add a rack.
Step Two: Add the lid and make sure the vent is turned to seal. Turn to high pressure for 2 minutes. The chicken will start to cook as it comes up to pressure which is why the cooking time seems low.
NOTE: The Instant Pot will take around 8-10 minutes to come to pressure; this is normal.
Step Three: Once the timer has gone off, let the instant pot release pressure naturally for around 2 minutes. Then complete a quick pressure release. Serve and enjoy!
Expert Tip: if you just do a natural release the instant pot chicken tenderloins may be overcooked.
Substitutions & Tips
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts - you can sub in chicken breasts for the tenders, just cut them into long strips.
Frozen Chicken Tenders - if you only have frozen chicken tenderloins I do suggest thawing them first for this recipe. If you don't thaw them first you won't get a nice browned exterior.
Shredded Chicken - if you want to have shredded chicken I do suggest using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken tenderloins. They shred easily because of the fat content. You can check out my recipe for keto pulled chicken to see how to make thighs.
What is the difference between chicken tenders and chicken breasts?
There is between chicken breasts and chicken tenderloins. Not only do they come from different portions of the chicken, but they also come in different sizes and shapes as well. Chicken tenderloins are not those muscles located below the breast of the chicken; they are the actual muscles located underneath.
I go into this in detail is this blog post: Chicken Tenderloins vs Breast
Do I Need to Add Liquid?
No, you do not need to add water, chicken broth, or any other liquid. The natural juice the chicken releases when cooking is enough for the electric pressure cooker to come up to pressure.
What Other Seasonings Can Be Used?
You can really go crazy here and add any of the seasonings you like. Whether it's Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, a Cajun rub, or something as simple as lemon pepper, it's going to change the flavor. Just don't put so much seasoning on the chicken strips that it is overwhelming and takes away from the meat itself. Paprika, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper are also a nice combination.
How Do I Serve Instant Pot Chicken Tenderloins?
You can actually serve the chicken by themselves and eat them as traditional chicken strips, or you can include some tasty side dishes and sauces. Here are a few ideas to consider trying out:
Ranch Dressing - Dip the chicken in your favorite keto-friendly ranch dressing for a kick of flavor.
Barbecue Sauce - Use some sugar-free barbecue sauce and serve with the chicken.
Chicken Tacos - Add some Roasted Jalapeno Salsa, sour cream, and your other favorite toppings on either lettuce leaves or low carb tortillas.
Garden Salad - Cut up the instant pot chicken tenderloins and serve on a big garden salad with lots of greens and veggies. It's super healthy and tastes great.
Sweet Potatoes - If you aren't low carb or keto these Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar are amazing. You can use a brown sugar sweetener to make them sugar-free.
How Long Do Leftover Chicken Tenders Last?
You can store the leftovers of this instant pot chicken tenders recipe in a sealed container in the fridge that has a tight-fitting lid. The chicken will last 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. If you are into prepping your meals, this chicken recipe is great to have on hand.
You can meal prep and make a large batch and have them to eat for the week! It saves time on those nights when you aren't in the mood to cook too.
Or freeze them in a freezer bag and just defrost the cooked chicken as needed.
- Heat the oil on the saute setting. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasonings and add to the pot. Mix it around to coat the chicken with the hot oil.
- Cover with the lid and set to manual high pressure for 2 minutes. It will take about 8-10 minutes for the pressure cooker to come to pressure.
- After the timer has counted down let the pressure release naturally for 2 minutes and then quick release.
Want more Chicken Tender Recipes? Try these:
Originally Published April 30, 2021. Revised and Republished January 31, 2023.