Indulge in the ultimate comfort food with Instant Pot Crack Chicken! This irresistible dish features tender chicken, Italian bacon, and mushrooms (optional) bathed in a flavorful cream sauce with sharp white cheddar cheese. Slow cooker instructions are also included. This recipe is gluten-free when served with your favorite gluten-free sides.
Ready to add some effortless, family-friendly flair to your recipe routine? Look no further than “crack chicken!” This dish is here to simplify your weeknight dinner rotation, and it’s downright delicious!
This one's always been a big hit with my kiddos –and I bet it'll be a winner at your table, too! The best part? Crack chicken practically cooks itself, whether you use your pressure cooker or let the magic happen in the slow cooker.
Not unexpectedly, this Instant Pot crack chicken recipe is a lifesaver for busy families or anyone who needs something scrumptious on a whim. Enjoy!
What is crack chicken?
Crack chicken is a beloved dish in many households, but rest assured, the name “crack chicken” doesn’t refer to any illicit substances but instead highlights the dish's addictive nature –one bite, and you’re hooked!
While many home cooks have put their spin on crack chicken, at the heart of this dish is typically melt-in-your-mouth chicken, mouthwatering Italian ham, and often mushrooms nestled into an indulgent sauce made with cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, and savory seasonings.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Addictively delicious. This creamy chicken dish is practically impossible to resist, making it a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
- Versatility. You can pick your preferred cooking method –Instant Pot or slow cooker. Either way, this recipe is easy to make with simple ingredients.
- Family-friendly. Its creamy texture and incredible flavor make crack chicken a hit with kids and grown-ups alike.
- Serving potential. The chicken can be served over rice or egg noodles or enjoyed in sandwiches, wraps, sliders, etc.
- Meal prep. It's a great dish to make during a batch cooking session for easy reheating throughout the week.
Ingredients you'll need
- Olive oil. To sauté the pancetta and mushrooms and brown the chicken breasts.
- Pancetta. This is a type of Italian cured pork belly. Feel free to substitute bacon or prosciutto; they have a similar salty, savory flavor profile.
- Mushrooms. I love the combination of aromatic, earthy mushrooms slathered in the rich, creamy sauce, but you can leave them out if mushrooms aren’t your thing.
- Chicken breasts. I prefer chicken breasts, as pressure cooking ensures they come out fall-apart tender. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs also work –you’ll just have to adjust the pressure cooking time.
- Seasonings. You’ll need garlic powder, salt, and pepper to season the chicken breasts.
- Chicken broth. Provides the necessary liquid component for deglazing the pot and pressure cooking and also helps create a savory sauce.
- Cream cheese. Gives the sauce a rich, creamy texture and a tangy, slightly sweet undertone. I don't recommend fat-free.
- Cream of chicken soup (can). Such as Pacific Foods Organic brand (my fave!-it's also gluten-free) simplifies the prep process, providing a creamy, flavorful base for crack chicken.
- Dry ranch seasoning. This is a one-stop shop for zesty flavor. I’ve also used a dry Italian dressing mix with delicious results.
- Sharp white cheddar. Topping with shredded cheddar is optional (and not included in the nutrition info). Feel free to leave it out, use a light cheddar cheese, or choose a different cheese like parmesan, Swiss, Gouda, Havarti, or Mozzarella. Just be sure to use cheese shredded from the block.
- Green onions. For a fresh and flavorful garnish.
How to make crack chicken in the Instant Pot
Step 1: Sauté pancetta and mushrooms. Heat the Instant Pot using the “Saute” function. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pancetta, and mushrooms and sauté until lightly golden, stirring often, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
Step 2: Season chicken breasts. Season the chicken breasts with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Step 3: Brown chicken breasts. Heat the remaining olive oil in the pot, then lightly brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Press "Cancel” to stop the saute function.
Step 4: Add remaining ingredients. Add the broth first to deglaze the pot, then add the cream of chicken soup, ranch seasoning, and cubed cream cheese.
Step 5: Pressure cook. Lock the lid in place, ensuring the pressure valve is in the "Sealing” position. Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" for 15 minutes. When the timer stops, allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure.
Step 6: Assemble and serve. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred it with two forks (you can also do this right in the pot). Return the chicken to the pot, give it a good stir, then add the pancetta and mushrooms, and stir again to combine. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top, and place the lid on top for 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Serve with diced green onions, and dig in!
Slow cooker instructions
No pressure cooker? No problem. Here’s how to adapt this Instant Pot crack chicken for the Crockpot:
First, season the chicken breasts with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and sear the chicken breasts on both sides until lightly browned. Remove from the skillet, transfer to a slow cooker sprayed with olive oil spray, and sprinkle with the ranch seasoning to coat. Top with the cream of chicken soup and broth, then place the cubed cream cheese on top. Cook on Low for 7 hours. When the chicken is almost done, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and saute the pancetta and mushrooms until lightly golden and crispy.
When the chicken is done, shred it with 2 forks, and stir in the pancetta and mushrooms. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with the lid for 10 minutes to melt.
- Don’t skip searing the chicken. This step is technically optional but 100% worth it. It creates a lightly browned crust to lock in the juices and ensure effortlessly shreddable meat.
- Deglaze the pot. After sautéeing the pancetta and mushroom and searing the chicken, there are often flavorful browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Adding the broth first will loosen up these tasty bits to incorporate them into the dish.
- Shredding technique. Remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before using two forks to shred it and return it to the pot. This helps the chicken retain juiciness and evenly absorb the creamy sauce.
The beauty of this crack chicken instant pot recipe is that you can add a personal touch simply by switching up how you serve it. Here are some ideas:
- Rice or quinoa – Serve over a bed of fluffy jasmine or white rice, brown rice, or quinoa for a hearty and satisfying meal.
- Pasta – Toss the creamy chicken with your favorite cooked pasta (egg noodles are great) for a comforting and filling meal.
- Sandwich, wrap, or sliders – Layer the chicken between slices of crusty bread, in a bun, or your favorite wrap for a handheld version. Or, serve the crack chicken slider-style on King’s Hawaiian rolls (like me!)
- Low-carb entree – Pile the chicken on a bed of cauliflower rice and serve with a green veggie like broccoli, green beans, or spinach for a lighter, low-carb option.
- As a dip – Transform crack chicken into a warm and creamy appetizer dip by serving it with tortilla chips, crackers, crostini, or vegetable slices.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Allow leftover Instant Pot crack chicken to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container and refrigerating for 3-4 days.
Freezing: Let leftovers cool completely before transferring them to a freezer-safe, airtight container. Keep frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating: Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is warmed through. Add a splash of broth to maintain the sauce's creamy consistency, if needed.
Easy Instant Pot Crack Chicken
- 1 Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot
- 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 4 oz pancetta finely diced -or finely diced bacon
- 1 cup mushrooms sliced- optional*
- 24 oz chicken breast boneless, skinless
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning mix I've also use dry Italian dressing mix with delicious results
- 10.5 oz can of cream of chicken soup I love Pacific Foods organic brand
- 8 oz cream cheese cut into 1" cubes
- 1 cup sharp white cheddar shredded from block-optional topping
- ½ cup green onions finely chopped for garnish
- Heat the Instant Pot using the "Saute" button. When hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, pancetta, and mushrooms.
- Saute until pancetta and mushrooms are lightly golden, stirring often, about 4-5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Season the chicken breasts with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pot and lightly brown the breasts on both sides, about 2-3 minutes. Press "Cancel" to stop the saute function.
- Add the broth first to deglaze the pot, then add the cream of chicken soup, ranch seasoning, and cubed cream cheese.
- Secure the lid and set the pressure valve to "Sealing". Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" for 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes, then open the valve for a quick release.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Add the chicken back to the pot, give it a good stir, then add the pancetta and mushrooms, and stir again to combine.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top, and place the lid on top for 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Serve with diced green onions.
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