Instant Chili Lime Chicken Tacos

Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot®) tacos are super quick and easy to make. The chili and lime give a burst of flavor to the tender chicken, which gets shredded for the tacos. The shredded chicken is very versatile and can also be used on salads, sandwiches, quesadillas and other recipes too.

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This is a recipe for Instant Chili Lime Chicken Tacos, but it’s really about making shredded chicken in the pressure cooker. Sure, I’m giving you all the ingredients and topping suggestions for making delicious tacos, but the shredded chicken that you make with this recipe is good for so many other meals – toss it into a salad, make it into a quesadilla or build these delicious chicken tostadas

Ingredients on a counter - spices, limes, onion and stock.

Spice Rub for Chicken

A lot of the flavor in these chili lime chicken tacos comes from the spice rub that is put on the chicken at the start. You don’t need to marinate the chicken with this rub, although you could if you wanted to. The key is to get the rub on all parts of the chicken and then to brown the chicken in oil, letting those spice rub flavors shine through. 

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Chicken pieces browned in a pressure cooker.

How Long to Pressure Cook Chicken

Once browned, this chicken only cooks for 5 minutes under high pressure – not very long. The key to making sure the chicken is tender, however, is to make sure you do a natural pressure release. Now a natural pressure release can add as much as 15 minutes to the cooking time, so make sure you plan for that in your timing for diner. It’s important to let the pressure drop naturally, and you’ll be happy you did when you shred the tender chicken.

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Chicken being shredded on a cutting board with two forks.

Shredding the Chicken

If you were patient and did let the pressure drop naturally, the chicken should be so tender that shredding it with two forks is easy. It’s easier to shred the chicken while it is still warm, so let it cool for just a few minutes and then go for it. In the meantime, let the braising liquid in the pressure cooker reduce and thicken. This sauce isn’t critical to the recipe, but it’s nice to be able to moisten the shredded chicken, which if you chose to cook chicken breasts, can be a bit dry.

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All the ingredients for instant chili lime chicken tacos on a wooden cutting board next to a pressure cooker.

Taco Fixings

When it comes to taco fixings, it’s really up to you what you decide to put into your taco. That’s the beauty of tacos, really. You can put out all the toppings – lettuce, salsa, avocado, limes, sour cream, fried onions, cheese, etc… – and let everyone build dinner the way they want it. 

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A chicken taco being wrapped up near all the ingredients.

Tortillas for Tacos

There are corn tortillas and there are flour tortillas and most people have a preference. I prefer corn tortillas, but you’ll see flour tortillas in the photo above. Use whichever you like, but warm them before serving – they are so much better warmed. You can wrap them in foil and pop them in a 300ºF oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or you can brush them with oil and air-fry them for 2 to 3 minutes, or you can even fry them in a skillet with a little oil for a really delicious taco wrap.

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Instant Chili Lime Chicken Tacos 

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 5 m
  • Natural Release: 15 m
  • Total Time: 40 m
  • Servings:
    6
    Makes 4 Cups Shredded Chicken

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts and legs
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 2 limes
  • flour tortillas
Topping suggestions:
  • lime wedges
  • pico de gallo
  • diced or sliced avocados
  • grated cheese
  • shredded lettuce
  • sour cream

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the pressure cooker using the BROWN or SAUTÉ setting.
  2. Combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil on the chicken pieces and rub the spice mixture on all sides of the chicken.

  3. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the pressure cooker and brown the chicken in batches on both sides. Remove the browned chicken to a side plate.
  4. Add the onion and garlic to the cooker and sauté for a few minutes, until lightly browned. Pour in the chicken stock and lime juice and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the cooker. Return the chicken to the cooker and lock the lid in place.
  5. Pressure-cook on HIGH for 5 minutes.
  6. Let the pressure drop NATURALLY and carefully remove the lid. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool for a few minutes.
  7. While chicken is cooling, return to the BROWN or SAUTÉ setting and simmer the sauce until it reduces and thickens to about ¾ cup.
  8. Shred the chicken with two forks and return the shredded chicken to the pressure cooker with the reduced sauce. Toss to coat the chicken with the sauce and set the cooker to WARM.
  9. Warm the tortillas by either popping them into a 350ºF oven wrapped in foil for about 10 minutes, or by frying each one in a little olive oil over medium-high heat for about 1 minute per site.  Set up all your favorite toppings and let everyone build their own taco.
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Comments (10)Post a Reply

  1. The instructions says garlic powder but there is none in the ingredient list. Should there be? Thanks

    1. Hi Phylis. No, there’s no garlic powder in the recipe. That was in a previous version of the recipe and I forgot to take it out of the instructions. Thanks for catching that. I have fixed it now.
      ML

  2. Chili Lime Chicken Tacos was a success for Tuesday Cinco De Mayo dinner. Everyone enjoyed it. Enjoy your recipes all the time. The Margaritas gave it an extra zip!

  3. 5 stars
    These are the best chicken tacos and so easy to make in the pressure cooker. I made them for Cinco de Mayo yesterday and will be keeping this recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    Let the meat shine thru! I understand that this is a taco recipe but I would suggest limiting the toppings so that the deliciousness of the meat be the star.

    1. Hi Sandy, If you want to make this on the stovetop, I would simmer it gently, adding enough chicken stock to cover the chicken. Simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, until the chicken is super tender and shreddable. Then, only reduce part of the sauce to moisten the shredded chicken.

    1. Hi Diane. Sure! You can use bone-in thighs. I would still remove the skin, however, because you’ll end up emulsifying a lot of fat into the sauce if they are left on. If they are really big, add a couple of minutes to the cooking time. If they are a modest size, the cooking time should stay the same.

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