This Instant Pot Asopao is a bright and fresh, packed-with-flavor chicken dinner made with fresh or frozen chicken thighs, lots of garlic, and fresh cilantro.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This is a flavorful variation on chicken and rice stew that comes together in minutes, thanks to your Instant Pot / pressure cooker.
We’ve tested this recipe with both thawed and frozen chicken thighs dozens of times to ensure that the meat cooks up moist and tender and the sauce has the right balance of spice, savory, and umami.
Update: We’ve been making this amazing chicken stew in the pressure cooker for years. And we’ve recently updated this post with more hints, step-by-step instructions, and photos to help you perfect the dish at home with ease.
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED
Here’s what you need for Instant Pot Asopao with chicken thighs:
- Poblano chili pepper. This green pepper is not that hot and is easy to find at most grocery stores. You can substitute an Anaheim pepper if you can’t find the poblanos.
- Aromatics. You’ll make a delicious sofrito with chili pepper, onion, lots of garlic, and a whole bunch of fresh cilantro.
- Caldo de Tomate. The first time I made this recipe, I learned about Caldo de Tomate, which is a very easy-to-find seasoning made by Knorr. It’s a powdered tomato and chicken bouillon that adds rich flavor to the cooking liquid. Some grocery stores keep it in the international section, while others keep it near the other bouillons.
- Chicken thighs. We always use boneless, skinless thighs. And you can use thawed or frozen chicken for this asopao.
- Apple cider vinegar. This adds a nice hit of acid to finish off the dish. You could also use white or red wine vinegar in a pinch.
How to Make Asopao in an Instant Pot
Make the Sofrito
The first step in this recipe is to make a quick sofrito. Sofrito can be loosely translated as “sauteed or lightly fried” and is a smooth blend of garlic, onions, and a variety of other flavorful veggies such as peppers or tomatoes.
To make the sofrito, sauté the chili pepper, onion, and garlic until the onion is soft and tender. (You can do this in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop.)
Use an immersion blender or transfer the vegetables to a blender, along with the bunch of cilantro and another two tablespoons of oil. Blend the mixture until you have a mostly smooth sauce that resembles pesto. This is your sofrito, which will make the flavor base for the asopao broth.
Cook the Chicken
Add the water and Caldo de Tomate seasoning to the pressure cooking pot. Stir until the seasoning is dissolved, then add the chicken.
Cook the chicken at high pressure for 9 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, and finish with a quick pressure release.
Carefully remove the Instant Pot lid and use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Dice or shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Add half of the sofrito mixture from the blender, along with the vinegar, to the pressure cooking pot. Stir in the diced chicken. And to finish, use the Saute feature to simmer everything for 10 minutes to develop the flavors and heat through.
To serve the Asopao, scoop the chicken and broth over rice and garnish with diced avocado. Enjoy!
Important Tips for Making Asopao
- You can substitute the bouillon with a bit of tomato paste and chicken bouillon to flavor your broth.
- For added heat, you can add hot sauce to the finished dish or add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the chicken before pressure cooking.
- Be sure to stir the sofrito regularly when using the Sauté function to avoid burning on the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Stir the chicken and liquid well before placing the lid on to avoid a burn warning.
Frequently Asked Questions about Asopao
Yes, if you’d like to cook the rice with the asopao at the same time, I would dice the raw chicken into pieces before pressure cooking so the cooking time is closer to the cooking time of white rice, 3 minutes. You could try cooking for 4 or 5 minutes in this recipe if you like the rice softer.
Yes, you can replace the chicken thighs with 3 large (8-ounce) chicken breasts and reduce the cook time to 6 minutes.
You’ll only need about half of the sofrito to seasoning the chicken. We always freeze the other half for the next time we make asopao—it comes together really quick with the sofrito pre-made.
But it’s delicious, so you could serve some on top of your asopao, or save it to make Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad or Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Turkey Lentil Taco Filling.
We always top our bowls of Asopao de Pollo with diced avocado. You could also add chopped fresh cilantro, or diced white onion if you like.
You can store leftover cooked chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. You can also freeze it in a freezer-safe container for up to six months.
I prefer to store my leftover chicken separate from the rice to help the rice keep its texture.
A Quick Note about Asopado vs Asopao
We initially were sent this recipe in our Pressure Cooking Today Facebook group from Felicia who loves making her grandmother’s Mexican food recipes in the pressure cooker. Her grandmother called it asopado; which is the term we used in our initial post.
However, several Puerto Rican and South American readers have reached out and strongly prefer the more traditional asopao.
From what we can translate: asopado is a little-used Spanish term for a thick stew made with rice, a protein, sofrito, and different veggies. Asopao is much more common term for this gumbo-like dish, especially in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, where asopao is well-known and well-loved.
However, while there are a wide variety of preparations (asopao con pollo [chicken] or asopao de camarones [shrimp]), it seems like these countries’ versions traditionally have a red, thicker broth that comes from adobo, bell peppers, or tomato sauce. They also seem to include other vegetables.
Honestly, we don’t care what you call it, as long as you try it!
MORE Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
Try these other flavorful weeknight chicken recipes next:
- Spicy Chicken Soup is our twist on the classic warm-me-up meal, with added heat.
- Easy Chicken Tacos are fast and family-friendly, perfect for Taco Tuesday.
- Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup is an ultra-comforting stew to warm up on a chilly night.
Do you LOVE this recipe?
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- 1 pasilla/poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped*
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 10 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons Caldo de Tomate seasoning
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (frozen or thawed)
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Prepared white rice, for serving
- Avocado, diced for serving
- Select Sauté and preheat the pressure cooking pot. Add 1 tablespoon oil and sauté the pepper, onion and garlic until tender. Turn off pressure cooker.
- Transfer mixture to a blender. Add the cilantro and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Blend until the mixture has the consistency of pesto. Divide in half and set aside.
Prepare the Chicken
- Add water and Caldo de Tomate to the pressure cooking pot and stir to dissolve. Add chicken thighs.
- Lock lid in place, select High Pressure and 9 minutes cook time. When timer sounds, turn off pressure cooker and allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick pressure release.
- Carefully remove lid. Use a slotted spoon to remove chicken thighs to a cutting board. Cut chicken into large bite size pieces. Add half of the sofrito and apple cider vinegar to the liquid in the pressure cooking pot. Add diced chicken. Select Saute and simmer for 10 minutes.
- To serve: add a scoop of prepared rice to soup bowls and ladle soup over the top. Garnish with avocado.
*If you can't find a poblano pepper, an Anaheim pepper is a good substitute.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 284Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 780mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 28g
Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.
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