Spicy Coconut Pulled Chicken Thighs
What makes this the BEST pressure cooker pulled chicken recipe? It starts with chicken thighs, which makes for fall-apart-it’s-so-tender chicken. And it ends with the sticky, spicy, and slightly sweet chili coconut sauce that packs a beaucoup of flavor into every bite. Serve this pulled chicken with rice and a fresh squeeze of lime and you’ll never know you’re eating kinda healthy!
How to Make the Best Pressure Cooker Pulled Chicken
This is a super simple recipe that takes less than 5 minutes of prep time. Just throw everything in a pressure cooker pot, stir, seal, and cook. Seriously, that’s about it.
Still, I’ll walk you through the recipe below to cover ingredient modifications like using chicken breast or crockpot, gochujang vs sriracha or sambal oelek, and more. If you’re feeling confident, there’s a full recipe card at the bottom of the post. Now, the pressure’s on!
Mix reduced fat coconut milk, honey, gochujang, lime juice, and a handful of spices together in a pressure cooker pot.
If you’ve made my spicy coconut ground chicken recipe, this ingredient combo will look familiar. After reviewers raved about the flavor in that recipe, I knew I wanted to adapt it for some pressure cooker pulled chicken!
You’re probably familiar with everything in the lineup except for maybe the gochujang, which is a thick hot chili paste. It’s got a great fermented and slightly sweet flavor in addition to the heat. You should be able to find it in most grocery stores these days, and you can always buy it on Amazon.
If you’re thinking about swapping it for sriracha, chili garlic sauce, or sambal oelek, those will bring the spice but lack in the fermented umami department. The honey definitely helps with the sticky sweetness, but I’d try to get your hands on gochujang if possible!
Add boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts to the pot and cover in the coconut milk mixture.
The extra fat in chicken thighs makes amazing pulled chicken, but you could definitely use chicken breast to save some fat. My shredded buffalo chicken nachos recipe calls for cooking 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast for 10-12 minutes. So you shouldn’t need to extend the cook time for chicken breast by too much.
Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes with quick release pressure.
I use the 301 model Ninja Foodi (6.5qt) for pressure cooking. I’ve tested several recipes in the same size Instant Pot and they seem to have consistent cook times. That said, there’s never any harm in starting on the low end of the cook time window and using a food thermometer to make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
Another huge benefit to using chicken thighs is that they’re super forgiving. Over cook chicken breast by a few minutes and you’ll have dry, rubber chicken. Chicken thighs, on the other hand, almost seem to get even more tender.
Use two forks or meat claws to make pulled chicken thighs.
Like I mentioned in my shredded jerk pork tenderloin recipe, it’s hard to contend with the precision of forks when it comes to making pulled chicken or pork. More good news about chicken thighs—it almost falls apart on its own so shredding is that much easier.
Use the sauté function on your pressure cooker to reduce the remaining liquid to make a thicker sauce for the chicken thighs.
If you’re not reducing the remaining liquid in your pulled chicken recipes, you’re messing up! It’s a great way to concentrate all the flavor and make eating so much easier.
When your spatula leaves a trail, it’s probably thick enough and ready to go!
Add the pulled chicken thighs back to the sauce and serve!
And that’s a wrap. You’re ready to serve your pressure cooker pulled chicken over some rice with sesame seeds, scallions, and a fresh hit of lime juice. You could also save some carbs with something like cilantro lime cauliflower rice or the cilantro lime Right Rice I used in my ground chicken and rice enchiladas.
Side note: If you’re familiar with recipes like my pressure cooker pork tenderloin carnitas, shredded Mexican chicken thighs, or bbq pulled pork tenderloin, you know I like to use the Ninja Foodi’s broil function to create crispy edges after adding the shredded meat back to the sauce. I didn’t use it for this spicy coconut pulled chicken, but I’d respect you for trying it.
Can I use a crockpot to make this pulled chicken?
Most def. I’d go with something like slow cooking on HI for 2.5 hours or so. You could either transfer the remaining liquid to a saucepan to reduce or use something like a cornstarch slurry to thicken it before adding the pulled chicken back to the sauce.
How spicy is this pressure cooker pulled chicken?
Now, I’ve been accused of underestimating my spice tolerance before. So take it with a grain of salt when I say this pulled chicken is like a 5 or 6 out of 10 on the spicy scale. The coconut milk and honey do a great job at neutralizing most of the spice. If you take my word for it and need to cool things down, a little extra lime juice should help neutralize the spice even further.
K, that’s the way the chicken crumbles. If you have a recipe question I missed, leave a comment below and I’ll help you out. Otherwise, enjoy your spicy coconut chicken thighs!
- 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (or chicken breast)
- 14 oz can Lite Coconut Milk
- 2 Tbsp (60g) Gochujang
- 2 Tbsp (42g) Honey
- 2 Tbsp (30g) Lime Juice (about 1 small lime)
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/4 tsp Ground Coriander (optional)
- Mix the all the ingredients except the chicken thighs in the pot of a pressure cooker before adding the chicken. Fully coat the chicken in the coconut milk mixture.
- Pressure cook on HI for 10 minutes with quick release pressure.
- Transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl to shred with two forks.
- While you shred the chicken, use the pressure cooker's sauté function to reduce the remaining liquid for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is as thick as you'd like.
- Once you've reduced the sauce, set the pressure cooker to its keep warm function and add the shredded chicken thighs back to the pot. Stir to coat in the sauce and serve with rice.
Nutrition Facts Notes
- Each 4-ounce serving of pulled chicken thighs has 5 WW SmartPoints (blue).
- Each serving with chicken breast has 160 calories, 18g protein, 10g carbs, 5g fat, and 4 WW SmartPoints (blue).
- The amount you reduce your sauce may affect serving sizes. For accuracy, weigh the entire finished recipe and divide by 6 to find the weight of each serving in your batch.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Servings Serving Size: 4 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 185Total Fat: 9gCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 15g