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Instant Pot Chicken Salad

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Instant Pot Chicken Salad is an easy, classic recipe made with simple ingredients like chicken breast, celery, bell pepper, green onion, mayo and Greek yogurt. It’s ideal for meal prep and easily customized with different mix-ins.

If you’re looking for more creamy salad ideas, check out my Spicy Tuna Pasta Salad!

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Chicken salad in a beige speckled bowl with a gold spoon tucked in, viewed from overhead.

I’m sharing a classic today: chicken salad. The Instant Pot is the best way to make juicy chicken with the perfect texture for salad. It’s such a hands off process and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen, which is a big benefit on hot summer days! You will love the simple yet flavourful creamy dressing.

Instant Pot Chicken Salad can be served many different ways: as a main dish (on toast, a bun, or lettuce wraps), as an appetizer or snack with crackers, or scoop it onto a green salad for a protein boost. Make it on the weekend to have it in the fridge for easy lunches all week!

Ingredients

Below is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make pressure cooker chicken salad. See the recipe card below for full details!

  • Chicken breast – two pounds (I used four 8-ounce boneless, skinless breasts)
  • Mayonnaise – your favourite kind. I use Hellmann’s.
  • Greek yogurt – I use full fat (2.9%) for the creamier texture. It adds nice tanginess and more volume to the dressing.
  • Celery – for crunch!
  • Bell pepper – for even more crunch and some colour
  • Green onion – I use the white and light green part only, for flavour
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon juice – freshly squeezed is best; you can also sub apple cider vinegar
  • Dill – I like to use fresh when it’s on hand, but dried also works!
Ingredients needed to make Instant Pot Chicken Salad, viewed from overhead.

How to make it

First, pressure cook the chicken. Place the chicken breasts in an even layer at the bottom of the insert. Add the water on top (1 cup for a 6-quart, 1.5 cups for an 8-quart) and pressure cook on High for 8 minutes, with a 10-minute natural pressure release. Quick release any remaining pressure.

You may need to adjust the cook time for the size of your chicken breast (see the tip section below). Be sure to check that the thickest part of the breasts reach an internal temperature of 165 °F.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the vegetables and gather the dressing ingredients.

Once the chicken is cooked, transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board. When it’s cool enough to handle, chop the breasts into small pieces (about half-inch in size) and then place in a large mixing bowl.

Mixing ingredients for Instant Pot Chicken Salad in a large white bowl.

To the chicken, add the mayo, Greek yogurt, celery, bell pepper, green onion, lemon juice, dill, Dijon, salt and pepper. Gently mix until well combined. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then place covered in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, or until you’re ready to eat.

Chicken salad in a beige speckled bowl, in front of a plate of lettuce and an Instant Pot.

Tips for Success

Adjust pressure cooking time based on the size of your largest chicken breast. For each ounce, cook for 1 minute at High pressure, plus a 10 minute natural release. My breasts were about 8 ounces each, so I used an 8-minute cook time, with a 10 minute natural release. If yours are 10 ounces, you’ll want to cook for 10 minutes at High pressure, plus 10 minutes natural release.

When in doubt about the size, round up the cook time slightly (nothing is more annoying than having to wait for it to pressure cook again if it was under cooked!). This recipe is very forgiving, if the chicken is slightly overcooked.

Save time and prep the mix-ins while the chicken is cooking. No need to have everything ready to go before you start cooking. You’ll have plenty of time to chop while the Instant Pot does its thing.

Let the salad chill after assembling. I find the flavour is best after the salad is chilled, so I recommend giving yourself enough time to let it chill for at least 30 minutes. This also lets the flavours blend even more.

Chicken salad served open face on a brioche bun with lettuce, on a white plate.

Variations

Don’t feel limited by my choice of mix-ins! I like the the simple combination of celery and bell pepper because my kids love it and it’s school safe (no nuts). Here are some more options, if you’re feeling adventurous:

  • sliced almonds
  • sliced grapes
  • crumbled or small-dice cooked bacon
  • red onion, instead of green onion
  • dried cranberries
  • chopped water chestnuts, instead of celery
  • apple, diced small
  • grated carrot
  • diced avocado (if you’ll be eating it right away, as it will turn brown)

How to serve chicken salad

There are so many ways to serve chicken salad, but here are my favourites:

  • Chicken salad sandwiches – I highly recommend toasting your bread so it’s sturdier. It’s also amazing on brioche buns, as shown in the photo above.
  • In lettuce wraps
  • On a bed of lettuce
  • On top of crackers, for a protein-rich snack.
  • Plain! Sometimes I’ll make a bento-style lunch with fruit, vegetables and cheese and eat the chicken salad with a fork.

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Chicken salad in a beige speckled bowl with a gold spoon tucked in, viewed from overhead.

Instant Pot Chicken Salad

Laura Lawless, BASc
Instant Pot Chicken Salad is an easy, classic recipe made with simple ingredients like chicken breast, celery, bell pepper, green onion, mayo and Greek yogurt. It's ideal for meal prep and easily customized with different mix-ins.
Servings 8
Calories 238
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 13 mins
Inactive time 20 mins
Total Time 43 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast (four 8-oz breasts)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup celery, small dice (about 2 large stalks)
  • ½ a red bell pepper, small dice
  • ¼ cup green onion, sliced (white and light green parts only, about 6 stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried dill)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Cook the chicken. Place the chicken in an even layer in the Instant Pot insert. Pour in 1 cup of water (1.5 cups for the 8-quart). Close the lid, set the vent to sealing and pressure cook on High for 8 minutes if you have 8-ounce breasts (see note 1 for how to adjust cook time for the size of your chicken breasts). Note that your Instant Pot may have a "Manual" button rather than a "Pressure Cook" button, depending on the model. Allow for a 10 minute Natural Pressure Release, then quick release the remaining pressure.
  • Prep the veggies. While the chicken is pressure cooking, slice the bell pepper, celery, green onion and dill, and gather the other ingredients.
  • Chop the chicken. Once the chicken breasts are done cooking (internal temperature of at least 165 °F in the thickest part of the breast), place them on a cutting board until they're cool enough to handle. Chop into half-inch pieces. Transfer the chopped chicken to a large bowl. Carefully discard the water from the Instant Pot.
  • Assemble the salad. To the chicken, add the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, diced bell pepper, diced celery, sliced green onion, chopped dill, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Gently mix until well combined.
  • Cool before serving. Cover the bowl or transfer the salad to a large sealable storage container. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until you're ready to serve. Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within 4 days.

Notes

  1. Adjust the cook time to match the size of your largest individual chicken breast: 1 minute per ounce of weight. For example, pressure cook 9-ounce breasts for 9 minutes, 10-ounce for 10 minutes etc. 
  2. Inactive time indicates the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and release pressure.

Equipment

Instant Pot (8 qt)
Cutting Board
Dry Measure Cups
Meat Thermometer

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 397mg | Potassium: 486mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 341IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
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Portrait of Laura Lawless in a green sweater standing in front of white shelving filled with food photography props.

Hey, I’m Laura!

Creator of The Recipe Well


I love food and cooking, but hate doing the dishes. I use my nutrition degree to create easy, approachable recipes that will help you find your happy place in the kitchen.

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