Easy on all sides for this frugal chicken recipe: easy to put together in the morning, easy to serve at dinner, easy to make into leftovers. It’s even easy to have all the ingredients on hand, which is why we have it at least once a month. Make it in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- For Instant Pot: add ½ cup water
- 4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 c. onion, chopped (or 1/4–1/2 c. dry minced onion)
- 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped (optional)
- 4 cloves minced garlic (or 1–2 tsp. dried minced garlic or garlic powder)
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 c. tomato sauce (in glass jars best of course!)
- 2–3 Tbs. maple or sorghum syrup or molasses (totally optional!)
- 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbs. yellow mustard
- 2–4 Tbs. arrowroot starch (if needed)
- Instant Pot extra instructions: If using fresh onion and peppers, saute in a tablespoon of oil for better flavor (optional). Add fresh garlic the last minute, then follow directions below.
- For either slow cooker or Instant Pot:
- Place the chicken on the bottom in even layers.
- Pour everything else except the arrowroot starch on top – no need to even stir! Some prefer to mix the ingredients in a measuring cup first and pour over. Both work.
- Slow Cooker:
- Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Using a plastic utensil (or two), shred the chicken. It practically shreds itself at this point, to be honest.
- Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker:
- Pour the water into the Instant Pot.
- Check the sealing ring and blocking shield to make sure they don’t have any food on them and are installed correctly.
- Lock in the lid.
- Turn the valve to “Sealing.”
- Set the time to 25 minutes using the “Poultry” or “Manual” buttons and + or – until 25 shows up. Add 15 minutes if your chicken is frozen.
- It will take about 15 minutes to get up to pressure. Tip: Speed this up by turning on “Saute” as you add the ingredients (after the water is in the pot).
- After the cooking time is over, you can open the valve for a quick steam release or wait about 15 minutes (or more) for a natural pressure release. The chicken will be more tender after longer time but will be done and able to be shredded with the quick release.
- Use two forks or any utensil to shred the chicken in the pot.
- (optional) Press “Cancel” and then “Saute” to evaporate some extra liquid and thicken up the chicken.
- Both methods:
- After shredding the meat, sprinkle 2-4 Tbs. arrowroot starch over the top and mix in to thicken.
- Serve on buns, over rice, or with side veggies like cauli-rice, potato wedges, cabbage noodles, sweet potatoes, and more. Great with extra mustard and pickles on top.
Even if someone in your family doesn’t think they like dark meat, they’ll still love this recipe. I promise.
The chicken is marvelous cold in the lunchbox or picnic basket.
Freezes great; if a double batch would fit in your appliance, go for it!
Don’t have boneless/skinless? You could totally use bone-in chicken thighs with this, making it even more economical! Use slightly more than 4 lbs. chicken. Trim off as much of the skin as possible using kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Make as directed, then pull out the bones and make homemade chicken stock out of them! Rinse if you want or embrace the extra flavor.