I Make This Instant Pot Chicken Chile Verde Every Summer, and My Kids Adore It

published Jul 6, 2022
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Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Born and raised in the Phoenix area, I have a deep love for Sonoran-style Mexican food. But I moved from the Valley of the Sun to the San Francisco Bay seven years ago. While there’s no shortage of excellent Mexican food here, nothing scratches the itch quite like the stuff I grew up on.

My go-to order when I’m back home and cozied up in a vinyl restaurant booth is almost always a green chile burro. Tender chunks of beef or pork shoulder swimming in a subtly spicy stew, all wrapped up in a tender, chewy flour tortilla. It’s deceptively simple.

The version I make at home is J. Kenji Lopez Alt’s Pressure Cooker Chicken Chile Verde. It’s a total snap to make and absolutely delicious. It seems a little counterintuitive to eat a deeply flavored spicy stew in a climate that can hit 90°F+ from March until September, but Phoenix logic suggests hot foods as the temperatures climb. The more you sweat, the better ability your body has to cool off. This dish isn’t particularly spicy (I skip the serranos when making it for the family), but it still warms you inside and out. It’s perfect on sweltering summer days or chilly winter nights.

Both of my kids absolutely adore this recipe, making it one of the few dinners our whole family can agree on. And with how quick and hands-off it is to make in the Instant Pot, I’m happy to oblige. Start to finish, it’s done cooking in 45 minutes, including time to come up to pressure. The recipe calls for bone-in/skin-on chicken, but I opt to use the same weight of boneless skinless chicken thighs for ease. (There’s also a pork version if you’re into that!) I like to shred the chicken to make things a little easier to eat once at the table, but it’s totally not necessary. Leftovers heat up beautifully the next day for a lunchtime burrito, or maybe with your eggs in the morning for a particularly filling start to your day. Or freeze half for dinner down the road.

How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Chile Verde

This recipe is pretty much a dump-and-go situation. 

  1. Chop the veggies: Roughly chop tomatillos, some fresh chiles, and an onion. Add it to your pressure cooker with several garlic cloves, a spoonful of cumin, and chicken thighs. Season it all with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook in your Instant Pot: Lock your pressure cooker and let it go for 15 minutes.
  3. Quick release: When the time is up, quick release the pressure. Remove the chicken. 
  4. Season and blend: Season the stewed vegetable mixture with lime juice and fish sauce for brightness and depth of flavor, and toss in a handful of cilantro. Blend with an immersion blender right in the pot.
  5. Add back the chicken: Add back the chicken and dinner is done!

Regular InstantPot users may notice an absence of added cooking liquid. Skipping any extra liquid and relying on the natural juices from the vegetables and meat means super concentrated flavor. 

Get the recipe: Chicken Chile Verde Pressure Cooker Recipe from Serious Eats

What to Serve with Chicken Chile Verde

The ease of the electric pressure cooker makes this an ideal weeknight dish. Serve over rice (make it pot-in-pot to make things even easier) or just with some flour tortillas you’ve warmed through. I like some sauteed summer squash on the side. (My children decidedly do not.) Or go in a more Tex-Mex direction and make a pan of cornbread to serve alongside for dipping and mopping.

And while perfect for a busy Tuesday evening, the stew’s deep flavor is impressive enough for a casual dinner party as well. Go for it and make all the fixings. A pot of homemade beans and Mexican rice are natural pairings. (Californians for some reason wrap their beans in rice into the burrito — I prefer them on the side, as the burrito gods intended.) And I don’t know anyone who would refuse a batch of guacamole and a pitcher of margaritas to start!