Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken Tacos

These instant pot chipotle chicken tacos pack a ton of smoky and bold flavors good enough to rival your favorite street tacos or taco trucks.

Several chipotle chicken tacos on charred corn tortillas with purple cabbage, avocado, red onions, cilantro and limes.

Today we’re making some taco truck-worthy instant pot chipotle chicken tacos. These are honestly the BEST homemade tacos I’ve had so far, surpassing my old favorite of slow cooker chicken tacos and the super popular slow cooker beef tacos. We’ve made it three times now and this is a new staple in our household for taco nights.

Its flavor packs a punch with just the right amount of heat. There’s just something about some juicy, pulled chipotle chicken in a charred corn tortilla with some crunchy diced red onions, maybe some crumbled queso fresco cheese, fresh cilantro, and some drizzled zesty lime juice. Sounds perfect? Then let’s get started.

Two side by side shots of chipotle chicken tacos made in an instant pot and shredded in a blue bowl with taco fixings.


Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce: I used a 7 oz. can of the La Costena brand for this. Feel free to adjust how many peppers you use to your desired spice level. 6 peppers was good for us to get some spice going but nothing too strong that it’s all you can taste. I could barely taste anything at 2 peppers. So if you’re unsure and 6 peppers seems a little too much for you, a good middle ground to start would be 4 peppers. In any case, one can (7 oz.) should have more than enough peppers for these tacos. And if you have any leftover peppers, a trick I use is to freeze them in these freezer pods for future use.

Chicken: You can use both boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs for this recipe.

Other meats: This recipe also plays well with pork shoulder, also known as pork picnic or pork butt. If you’re substituting this meat, increase the pressure cooking time to 45 minutes.

Garlic: You can substitute fresh garlic with more garlic powder. I ended up using both fresh garlic and garlic powder because I like garlic and wanted bold flavors in the tacos. If you end up using fresh garlic, a trick for quickly minced garlic is to use a mini grater.

Tomato paste: I used tomato paste instead of tomato sauce to limit the water content so the sauce is thicker and there’s less time needed to cook it down. If you don’t use tomato paste very often, try buying tomato paste in a tube instead of a can. The brand I use in my kitchen is Cento and you should be able to find it in the same aisle as your regular tomato paste/sauces. I used to throw away the excess canned stuff and hated buying tomato paste for recipes because of it. But the tube form totally changed this for me because it keeps so well in the fridge.

Several chipotle chicken tacos on charred corn tortillas with purple cabbage, avocado, red onions, cilantro, queso fresco and limes.

Charring tortillas: I like charring my tortillas over an open flame to get them slightly browned on both sides. It usually takes me about 5 seconds per side. You can also do this in a skillet with no oil.

Sauce: Once the chicken is cooked, thicken the sauce by simmering on the sauté setting. A quicker way to do this would be to add a cornstarch slurry. Start with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons of cold water. Wait until the whiteness of the slurry dissolves into the sauce and that’s as thick as it can get. Add more slurry if needed.

Leftovers: Leftovers taste great the next day after the chicken has had more time to absorb the sauce. Heat them up in the microwave.

Topping suggestions: Some topping suggestions that go great with these tacos are diced red onions, avocado, lettuce or purple cabbage, salsa, cotija/salsa Fresca/feta cheese/Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, lime juice, or sour cream. I ended up drizzling my tacos with Ortega Street Taco mojo chili lime sauce for some contrasting flavor and it was so good.

And that’s about it. It’s pretty easy and the leftovers taste even better the next day, so making a big batch like this is a win-win. Have fun building your tacos and happy cooking!

For other taco recipes to try, check out two slow cooker versions of beef or chicken tacos or enjoy some easy one-pan chicken fajitas.

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These instant pot chipotle chicken tacos pack a ton of smoky and bold flavors good enough to rival your favorite street tacos or taco trucks.

  • 3 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts/thighs
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (individual peppers, not cans)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. On the saute setting, heat some oil and saute the chopped onions until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ground cumin, stir to combine and saute another 1 minute.
  3. Layer the instant pot with the chicken.
  4. Combine the rest of the ingredients and add to the pot.
  5. Secure the lid and move the pressure release valve to the ‘sealing position’.
  6. Set cook time for 20 minutes on high pressure.
  7. Let the pressure cooker release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure by turning the release valve to ‘vent’ with a wooden spoon.
  8. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks.
  9. Toss the pulled chicken in the sauce, coating it fully.
  10. Switch back to the saute setting and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
  11. Dish and serve hot with corn or flour tortillas and your favorite taco toppings.


For more heat add 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or use the whole can (7 oz.) of chipotle chili peppers.

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