Instant Pot

Instant Pot Chicken With Cumin-Chile Sauce

March 11, 2019
16 Ratings
Photo by Ghazalle Badiozamani
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This super-simple yet flavorful Mexican-style chicken will add great pizzazz to your dinner table. It’s a great way to change up your chicken game! It’s fast, delicious, and extremely flavorful. When you start making this dish, you’ll be sure you’re putting waaayyy too much spice in it. You’re not, as long as you use chili powder, which is a mix of ground cumin, cayenne, and a few other things. If it’s not available where you are, use ½ to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, and a ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika instead. Shred the chicken a bit more when it’s done if you’re using it for tacos, or serve it over rice.

Excerpted from INSTANT POT FAST & EASY © 2019 by Urvashi Pitre. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. —Urvashi Pitre

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 10 Instant Pot Chicken Recipes for Comforting Dinners All Week Long. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 (5-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, drained
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chili powder, and salt. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Sprinkle the chicken with the spice mixture. Toss well to coat.
  2. Select SAUTÉ on the Instant Pot. When the pot is hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Select CANCEL.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, onion, tomato paste, jalapeños, and garlic to the pot. Stir to combine.
  4. Secure the lid on the pot. Close the pressure-release valve. Select MANUAL and set the pot at HIGH pressure for 15 minutes.At the end of the cooking time, allow the pot to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. Serve with tortillas, sour cream, and guacamole, or over zucchini noodles.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • skibum
  • Vanessa Trieu
    Vanessa Trieu
  • borntobeworn
  • Tiffany Siek
    Tiffany Siek
  • Madeline Spiker
    Madeline Spiker
Dr. Urvashi Pitre is the President of a global marketing consulting firm, as well as the author of several best-selling cookbooks.

21 Reviews

Epicjonathan June 25, 2023
I keep coming back to this recipe, it's so flavorful. Every once in a while I'll remember it and wonder why it's not in my regular rotation.
skibum September 7, 2021
This was a great dish that we will make again. I had plenty of sauce and no "burn" notice issues with my IP. I cut back to 1 teaspoon salt after reading reviews and ended up adding more at table. Maybe others who found it too salty used 1T. table salt vs kosher salt?
SueCanuck August 11, 2021
I made this recipe for the first time. It seems to me that there’s a typo regarding the salt ingredient. One tablespoon of salt should probably be one teaspoon. I got the burn message during the pressure cooking stage so stopped the cooking, cleaned the pot, and added water before continuing. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe again with my two modifications.
Vanessa T. March 2, 2021
Much more tasty and flavourful than I was expecting!! I'm impressed with simple and delicious it was. I will definitely make this again. Goes well as a protein for tacos, rice, or roasted veg on top. Personally was a bit salty for me, next time I will do 1.5-2tsp and then salt to taste after it's cooked.
borntobeworn February 27, 2021
This was fabulous! Made as directed except used 2 packages of thighs and one of breasts so we've got chicken for lunches and dinners this week. This is my new go-to chicken recipe when I need leftovers. After browning the chicken with the spices on the outside, I deglazed the pot with a little chicken broth so the sauce was extra flavorful.
borntobeworn March 3, 2021
I have now made this coating on cauliflower and roasted it in the oven. Delicious!
Beverlyn M. August 11, 2020
I made this on the stovetop using garden fresh tomatoes, frozen shredded and strips of chicken, added a bag of frozen peas. You can’t go wrong with the sauce as a base.
Marteenielala June 21, 2020
Followed to a T and it turned out perfectly. This will become a regular.
nutcakes February 21, 2020
This is a great quickie recipe I was able to make without a trip to the store. Saucy and flavorful, I opened a can of seasoned black beans and served with sour cream and tortillas. I even forgot to use the cilantro that I had on-hand, which would be great so I’ll do that with the leftovers. I had to use chicken breasts and yellow onion, so I cooked 11 minutes instead of 15. I’ll probably try this with Indian spices too, maybe even add a can of chick peas. Right after dinner I ordered your book off the Amazon link above. It’s a great price right now. Btw, I was able to make this in the Mini by sautéing the chicken in two batches. my other pot is a huge one so a pain to wash. Of course this can easily be made on stovetop.
nutcakes February 21, 2020
IMPORTANT: I only used a heaping tsp of kosher salt. That was plenty with my no salt diced tomatoes and regular tomato paste. I think a full Tbsp salt would be far too much.
Tiffany S. February 10, 2020
Wow this was good!! I didn’t have a full can of tomato paste so added more diced tomatoes. But other than that made it per the recipe. It was amazingly flavourful. Served it on rice with a few slices of avocado. This was a keeper!
herold1961 January 26, 2020
This is fantastic: I add two cans of kidney beans and call it Chicken Chili! I did get the burn warning every time so I started adding a can of tomato sauce to add more liquid.
Madeline S. January 15, 2020
I didn’t have high hopes for this chicken, but it blew me out of the water. So flavorful. So good! Can use the sauce for multiple days! Subbed one teaspoon with ancho chili powder and forgot the pickled jalapeños.
Jonathan P. October 3, 2019
This is my favorite instant-pot recipe. I make 1.5 times the quantity listed and have it throughout the week for my work lunches. I especially like the lack of sugar or other sweeteners, corn starch, flour, etc. Simple to make and delicious!
Steve March 30, 2019
Absolutely loved this recipe. I made is per the instructions. I used locally pastured raised chicken thighs along with fresh made tortillas. The chicken is tender and well seasoned which surprised me with the anmountbof chili powder. I generally use tomatoes with low sodium and the dish did not need any additional salt other than what was called for in the recipe.

To prevent an overheat indicator from the instant pot, I followed the recommendation of another cook and took the pot out of the cooker while adding the other imngredients. No issues at all.
Juli A. March 26, 2019
My husband and I loved this! I was a bit scared when I saw someone had the "burn" message. To be on the safe side, I kept the saute on low. Also, to avoid "burning" I removed the inner pot after I hit cancel and added in the remaining ingredients per the recipe. Also, since I can not use a lot of salt due to minor heart issues, I only sprinkled a pinch of salt. With the flavors of the chile pepper and cumin, really no need for lots of salt. While the pressure cooker was doing its job, I mashed 2 avocados and added 2 tbsp of greek yogurt for a low cal guacamole. When this was done, we were so floored by how the chicken tasted and how soft it was. It was perfect in every aspect! This is a keeper. Since we have leftovers, tonight I am going to add some black beans to the chicken and add spanish rice.
Hindrek March 20, 2019
We found this dish to be overly salty and I got the “burn” warning on the instant pot as there simply wasn’t enough liquid in the pot. It was tasty, sure, but not one for my recipe files.
Urvashi P. March 20, 2019
I would love to help you troubleshoot this. It actually makes a TON of sauce when made exactly per the directions.

A few questions. Is it possible you forgot an ingredient? Is your chicken organic and therefore less likely to release water? Do you have an 8 quart? Is it possible your seal was leaking therefore letting water evaporate?

If you have an 8 quart you may need to double the recipe or add 1/c cup of water.
Matthew E. March 18, 2019
It is one of my favorite recipes now! Thank you for it! It looks delicious and flavourful that i want to taste it again!
rainbow G. March 12, 2019
Woohoo for this recipe! I almost followed it exactly, which is pretty good for me, and it was fabulous. My changes were using frozen chicken breasts (boneless/skinless) and not doing any of the steps. I stirred everything together, put it in the instant pot for 21 minutes, 10 minutes npr, open, shred chicken, mix back in. It was very delicious and my non chicken eating teenager had a hearty portion! Thanks for posting.
Thibau K. March 11, 2019
This is one of the more practical sweet chicken dishes I’ve seen because you can take just a as much as you want. I think this would be perfect if it is served with some rice or maybe some mashed potatoes. I am definetly showing this to my mother so she can make it. It just looks amazing. I hope my mother doesn't screw it up so I can taste this delicious dish. I'm definetly gonna check out some more of your recipes. Keep up the good work.

Thibau K.