Salsa Verde Chicken (Instant Pot!)

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 Salsa Verde Chicken couldn’t be easier to make — throw everything into a pressure cooker and let it do the work! The result? Succulently tender chicken bathed in a deliciously seasoned salsa verde sauce with hearty black beans, crisp corn, and melty Cheddar. Serve the chicken over rice with your favorite toppings. We love sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and lots of fresh lime!

Overhead image of Salsa Verde Chicken

This Salsa Verde Chicken is part of our Back-To-School Lifesavers — a series of recipes that are intended to have little (or no) veggie chopping, minimal prep time, around 10 ingredients or less (not including pantry staples), and use kid-friendly ingredients. Click here to see all the recipes in the series! 

Salsa Verde Chicken

This Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Soup is a favorite at my home and the prep is ridiculously simple. Inspired by the ease of that recipe and the love for the flavors, this Salsa Verde Chicken was created. Although we love that soup, it’s not always the most appealing on a scorching hot summer day, so this chicken has been the perfect way to quell the cravings without all the heat!

Ingredient shot-- image of everything used in this dish

Let’s Chat Salsa Verde

The salsa verde is arguably the most important ingredient in this Salsa Verde Chicken recipe — it’s responsible for the majority of the flavor and the spice in the dish.

  • Use a salsa verde you enjoy. You can make this meal very mild or quite spicy, depending on the salsa verde used. 
  • Spice levels: For mild chicken, use a mild salsa verde sauce (one you know is mild, or taste it first to ensure mildness). We use Herdez® Mild Salsa Verde and the kids love this chicken! This particular brand of salsa verde does have a little heat, but with the creamy cool toppings, we think it’s perfect.
    • For a spicier Salsa Verde Chicken, use medium or hot salsa verde, and/or add in 1-2 tablespoons diced jalapeños or a can of fire-roasted diced green chiles.

QUICK TIP

All salsas aren’t the same! Salsa Verde is made with tomatillos as the base. Verde means green in Spanish, after all. Red salsa is made with a tomato base. The two types of salsa have very different flavors, so we don’t recommend swapping them. However, if you decide to give it a try, we’re sure it would be delicious in its own way. Just call it Salsa Roja Chicken to be more accurate!

Process shots-- images of the salsa verde, chicken thighs, and seasonings being added to the instant pot and the chicken being removed

What To Serve With Salsa Verde Chicken

To keep things as simple as possible, we serve this chicken atop a bed of microwaveable rice and keep the toppings to a minimum. Here are the details:

  • As the base, we use Ready Rice® or any brand of microwaveable packaged rice. Ready rice is already cooked and just needs to be heated to warm it through — so easy, quick, and convenient! This type of packaged rice is typically found among other packets of rice and grains in the grocery store and is a trade-marked product of Uncle Ben’s Rice/Mars Foods. This Cilantro Lime flavored rice pairs especially well with all the other flavors going on.

Process shots of Salsa Verde Chicken-- images of the corn and black beans being added and the chicken being removed and shredded

Serving Suggestions, Cont.

  • For toppings, we keep things simple. Some kind of creamy element is a must — whether it’s sour cream (fat-free or light is great!), a ripe diced avocado, or a scoop of guacamole. Beyond that, we like to serve a few lime wedges on the side for a burst of citrusy freshness. Cilantro is another vibrant addition.
  • While this Salsa Verde Chicken really has it all in one bowl, if you’d like to serve a side dish, here are my suggestions: Cucumber SaladGarden SaladFruit Salad Recipe, or this Chipotle Chicken Salad. (I’d leave out the chicken in the Chipotle Chicken Salad since there is plenty of meat in the main course.)

Process shots-- images of the shredded chicken being returned to the instant pot and cheese being added back

How To Make Salsa Verde Chicken

This dish is as simple as tossing it all in the pressure cooker and letting it do its job! Here are our top tips for ensuring the best possible outcome:

  • Use chicken thighs: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are our meat of choice in this recipe. The meat is extremely tender, easy to shred, and more forgiving (meat doesn’t dry out). The fat in the thighs adds a nice richness to the dish. We didn’t love this recipe as much with chicken breasts and don’t recommend them in this recipe.
  • Freshly grate the cheese: This recipe is aimed at being simple, but the one thing we highly recommend is grating your own cheese. This ensures a nice and even melt. Pre-grated cheese contains preservatives that keep the shreds from clumping together in the bag, but they also keep the cheese from melting smoothly in this recipe. Use your favorite cheese or a blend of a few. We love sharp Cheddar cheese best, but some other favorites are pepper-Jack cheese or Monterey Jack cheese.

Process shots of the Salsa Verde Chicken-- images of the rice and chicken mixture being added to a bowl

Repurposing Leftovers

One of my favorite things about this recipe is how much it makes and how great it repurposes into different meals. It’s a great meal-prep recipe. Here are some of the ways to repurpose leftovers:

  • Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos: Scoop leftovers into charred tortillas. Add a scoop of sour cream, a squeeze of lime, and enjoy!
  • Chicken Enchiladas In Salsa Verde: Repurpose leftovers into enchiladas. Scoop leftovers in tortillas with some extra cheese, roll them up tightly and add to a casserole dish. Cover the enchiladas in more salsa verde, bake, and enjoy with your favorite enchilada toppings.
  • Salsa Verde Chicken Tostadas: Grab some tostada shells (or make your own following the direction in this Bean Tostadas recipe) and then layer on the chicken and your favorite toppings.
  • Serve leftovers with chips: Either layer chips and leftover chicken nacho-style or simply dip the chips in the warmed leftovers and enjoy — so good!
  • Salsa Verde Chicken Salad: Layer a bed of greens, a few scoops of leftovers, a diced avocado, and drizzle this delicious Cafe Rio Dressing on top.

Up-close overhead image of the Salsa Verde Chicken, ready to be eaten

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Salsa Verde Chicken

5 from 2 votes
This Salsa Verde Chicken couldn't be easier to make -- throw everything into a pressure cooker and let it do the work! The result? Succulently tender chicken bathed in a deliciously seasoned salsa verde sauce with savory black beans, crisp corn, and melty Cheddar. Serve the chicken over rice with your favorite toppings -- we love sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and lots of fresh lime!
Print Recipe

Salsa Verde Chicken

5 from 2 votes
This Salsa Verde Chicken couldn't be easier to make -- throw everything into a pressure cooker and let it do the work! The result? Succulently tender chicken bathed in a deliciously seasoned salsa verde sauce with savory black beans, crisp corn, and melty Cheddar. Serve the chicken over rice with your favorite toppings -- we love sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and lots of fresh lime!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Healthy, Mexican
Keyword salsa verde chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 395kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.12

Ingredients

  • 1 jar (16 oz.) Salsa Verde (Note 1)
  • 1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons each: ground cumin, chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1-1/2 cups (5 oz.) freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese (Note 3)
  • Serve over Ready Rice with sour cream (light/fat-free is great), fresh lime, fresh cilantro, ripe avocado (Note 4)

Instructions

  • INSTANT POT: Pour the entire jar (2 cups) of salsa verde into the base of the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Nestle the chicken thighs right on top of the salsa verde in one even layer. Sprinkle seasonings evenly on top of the chicken thighs and salsa. Season to taste with salt and pepper-- I add 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, but add to taste. Cover the pressure cooker and seal. Place venting valve to "sealed."
  • COOK: Select the "manual" or "pressure cook" function and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. (Keep in mind that pressure needs to build inside the pot, so the timer won't start counting down for a few minutes.) Once cook time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes (don't do anything or release the valve). Once 5 minutes is up, carefully hit the release button to let out the remaining pressure and steam. (Keep your hands and face away from the venting steam -- don't let it burn you!)
  • SHRED CHICKEN: Use tongs to pull the chicken out of the pressure cooker and onto a cutting board. Before shredding the chicken, add the frozen corn and drained black beans to the pot. Give everything a good stir and then cover to keep it all warm and thaw the corn. Back to the chicken: use two forks to shred it and discard any pieces of fat or gristle. Return the fully shredded chicken to the pot and gently stir it through. Turn the control to "Saute" to warm things through again for 1 minute. After that, turn it off and sprinkle with cheese. Cover and let melt for a few minutes before gently stirring through. Don't stir too much or it will make the chicken stringy!
  • SERVE: Use tongs to remove the chicken onto prepared rice. Top bowls with lots of sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro, and a diced ripe avocado as desired. Enjoy promptly!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Salsa verde: Use a salsa verde you know you enjoy. You can make this meal very mild or quite spicy, depending on the salsa verde used. For mild chicken, use a mild salsa verde sauce (one you know is mild, or taste it first to ensure mildness). We use Herdez® Mild Salsa Verde in this recipe.
Note 2: Chicken: No need to trim the fat off the thighs-- we want the fat for cooking and it comes off easily after it is cooked! We did test this recipe with chicken breasts and didn't enjoy it nearly as much.
Note 3: Cheese: This recipe is aimed at being simple, but the one thing we highly recommend is grating your own cheese. This ensures a nice and even melt. Pre-grated cheese contains preservatives that keep the shreds from clumping together in the bag, but they also keep the cheese from melting smoothly in this recipe. Use your favorite cheese or a blend of a few. We love sharp Cheddar cheese best, but some other favorites are pepper-Jack cheese or Monterey Jack cheese.
Note 4: Ready Rice® or microwaveable packaged rice. For a quick rice base, use Cilantro-Lime Ready Rice which is already cooked and just needs to be heated to warm it through. Follow directions to heat through in the microwave. As far as other toppings go, we highly recommend some kind of creamy addition to cool the heat of the salsa verde and bring everything together -- either a diced ripe avocado or sour cream (or both!).

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 24.3g | Protein: 36.1g | Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 139.2mg | Sodium: 1053.6mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5.2g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Very flavorful and satisfying meal! I don’t have an instant pot but it turned out just fine in the slow cooker. I like how everything could just be dumped into the slow cooker, no chopping required. This was really easy to prepare during the morning rush.

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