Have you discovered Instant Pot cooking yet? Ever since I bought mine I’ve been testing Pinterest recipes and developing my own in an effort to collect a wide variety of healthy meals that can be prepared quickly enough for our fast-paced lifestyle. I’m happy to tell you that the Instant Pot soup recipe I’m about to share with you is not only quick, it’s also insanely delicious. It was born out of my love for chicken tamales. Thick and hearty, this chowder has all the flavors of tamales, but unlike traditional tamales, this recipe comes together in a snap.

My family loves tamales, so this Instant Pot chicken tamale soup was a quick family favorite. It's hearty and both quick and easy. It's one of the best meals on our dinner rotation!

Having lived in Tucson, Arizona, for twelve years, you can bet I enjoyed my fair share of authentic tamales. My favorite variety were the chicken and green corn tamales. We’d always order a dozen for our Christmas dinner and and enjoy them along with our enchiladas and rice and beans. It may not sound like a traditional Christmas dinner but for our family, nothing says festive quite like that Mexican menu.

Instant Pot Soup Recipe | Chicken Tamale Chowder

This hearty chowder represents my best effort to deconstruct the chicken tamales I love and give them new life in an Instant Pot soup recipe. I think it quite successfully does just that. It brings together tender shredded chicken with a savory polenta that mimics the corn masa of a traditional tamale. The Mexican flavors you’d expect are brought in with the addition of cumin and chili powder and then the whole things gets a tangy zip from tomatillo salsa.

Instant Pot Soup Recipe | Chicken Tamale Chowder

Hatch chilies were in season and available in stores when I developed this recipe so I added a couple of those and they delivered just the perfect amount of heat and a nice, smoked chile flavor. If you don’t have access to fresh or frozen Hatch chilies, you can substitute a can of diced green chilies. Either way, I suggest including this recipe on your dinner menu sometime soon. Our whole family licked the bowls clean.

Instant Pot Soup Recipe | Chicken Tamale Chowder

Instant Pot Chicken Tamale Chowder

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

 This hearty chicken tamale chowder is a comforting and delicious take on the traditional tamale and comes together in an Instant Pot super quickly without any fuss.


  • 2 chicken breast halves
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dry polenta (cornmeal consistency, not prepared polenta sold in a tube)
  • 1/4 cup tomatillo salsa
  • 2 roasted Hatch chiles, seeded and diced or 2 4.5 oz cans of diced green chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped cilantro, roasted corn, sour cream and Cotija cheese for garnish


  1. Place chicken breast halves, chicken stock and salt in the stainless steel bowl of your Instant Pot.
  2. Lock cover into place and seal the steam nozzle.
  3. Choose the manual setting and adjust time to 18 minutes.
  4. When cooking time is complete, allow natural depressurization for ten minutes and then release any remaining pressure.
  5. Unlock and remove the cover. Remove and shred the chicken.
  6. Return chicken to the inner pot and stir in the polenta, salsa, chiles, spice and cheese. Replace and lock the cover. Choose the manual setting and adjust the time to 12 minutes.
  7. When cooking time is complete, release pressure manually. Unlock and remove cover. Stir in heavy cream.
  8. Serve warm.
  9. Garnish as desired with cilantro, corn, sour cream and/or Cotija.


Leftovers might need to be thinned with additional chicken stock before reserving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 357Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 820mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 17g

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My family loves tamales, so this Instant Pot chicken tamale soup was a quick family favorite. It's hearty and both quick and easy. It's one of the best meals on our dinner rotation!


  1. Sounds delish! Don’t you love the convenience of the Instant Pot? Can’t wait to see what other recipes you make with it.

    1. I agree that it’s intimidating. It really isn’t all that difficult to master, though. I really love using mine.

  2. I love my IP. I use it at least 3 times a week. Really it’s easy to use & to clean. So convenient & quick. Don’t be afraid of it. Follow the instructions on your recipes. You’ll wonder how you ever cooked without it. Happy Cooking!

  3. I wish you would put dry or powdered polenta in the ingredient list. Having never used polenta before, I only saw the pre mixed polenta in a rube and bought it. Trying the soup tonight and will try to mix it is but afraid it will be lumpy.

  4. This is fantastic! I subbed the chilis and salsa for a jar of Trader Joe’s Hatch Green Chili Salsa (had tomatillos in it). I skipped the cream and added a little more broth. Heated up some frozen Trader Joe’s roasted corn, threw in a little minced onion, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, cilantro and lime that I heated up in a skillet. Put that on top and a dab of sour cream. Awesome comfort food!!

    1. That Trader Joe’s salsa is the best, right?! That’s what I use, too. Only we live two hours from the nearest Trader Joe’s so I have to buy mine by the caseload. Your tweaks on the recipe sound delicious, Sloane. I will have to try topping ours that way next time. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  5. Hi, really delicious!!

    I used red salsa instead of green and even added 2 extra cups of broth but I still got the burn message on the IP after adding the polenta. I just finished cooking it on sauté while stirring it but was wondering if anyone else encountered this problem?? Thanks!

  6. This was a delicious recipe. I added some pico on top with just a touch of lime juice. Really, really great.

  7. This is one of my go to recipes with the IP. It is great! The bottom of my IP does get a little browned when cooking, not sure how to avoid this.

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