Tequila Lime Instant Pot Chicken

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I love Cozumel, Mexico. I adore the sealife, the coral reefs, the beautiful blue colors of the ocean, the people, the food and of course, the TEQUILA! I’m not a huge fan of sipping high quality tequila like my hubby, but I do enjoy a good margarita. And what better day than today, July 24, National Tequila Day, to celebrate with an Instant Pot chicken dish flavored with tequila and lime juice. My mouth is watering just waiting for it to finish! 

As with any liquor, quality plays a big part, but do you know how to judge a good quality tequila from a more economical one? One way I learned how to tell if a tequila was a good ‘sipping tequila’ versus a cheaper one, was to first sip the tequila, exhale and then swallow it. Exhaling over the liquor helps remove some of the vapors that give tequila its ‘burn’. You should, at that point, be able to taste a variety of flavors, such as the oak it was aged in, caramel, etc. If you can’t, it’s probably a cheaper variety! 

And there are many kinds (grades) of tequila too – mainly based on how long it’s been aged.  Thankfully, tequila producers have made it easy for us to distinguish between the four grades.

  1. Blanco tequila is unaged tequila that has been bottled straight away. The correct terminology in Mexico is ‘plata’ which means ‘silver’, but is often referred to as ‘blanco’ which means ‘white’. 
  2. Gold tequila is the next stage of the liquor. While it is still young and unaged, the producers or bottling companies add color and/or flavoring. Often this tequila is called ‘joven’ which means ‘young.’
  3. Reposado (which means ‘rested’) tequila has aged in wooden barrels for two to 12 months. Often oak is used for the barrels.
  4. Anejo, or ‘vintage’, tequila has been aged for a minimum of 12 months, often in whiskey or cognac barrels which help produce this amazingly smooth sipping tequila. 

Now, just because a tequila is considered ‘blanco’ doesn’t mean you can’t get a high quality one! I used Sauza brand silver tequila which is a decent tequila for cooking, drink mixing, etc.

For this Kindsay signature Instant Pot recipe, I wanted it to be super quick and easy (kind of a signature of most IP recipes, huh?), and use the familiar flavors I often encounter while traveling in Mexico. The beauty of this recipe is the seasoning blend – you can use whatever suits your family’s tastes. I use chicken quarters as I prefer dark meat in the Instant Pot but feel free to swap out for bone-in chicken breasts if you’d like.

Tequila Lime Instant Pot Chicken

  • 4 chicken quarters (about 2.5 pounds)
  • 2 tsp of seasoning blend (I used Penzey’s Northwoods seasoning, which has chipotle, adding a great flavor dimension)
  • 1 TB vegetable oil
  • 2 TB lime juice (juice from 1 lime)
  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup chicken broth or water

Heat the oil in the Instant Pot on the ‘saute’ mode. Season the chicken quarters with your spice mix, salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, brown each quarter (skin side only) for about four minutes. If the quarters are small enough, you can do two at a time – mine were big enough I could only do one at a time. After browning chicken, pour water/broth (carefully so it doesn’t splatter!), into Instant Pot and deglaze pan, scraping all the browned bits up. Add lime juice and tequila, then place chicken back in pot. I used the trivet to prevent the chicken from sticking but you don’t have to do this. 

Lock Instant Pot and make sure the knob is turned to ‘sealing’. Set for high pressure and timer for 30 minutes. Use natural pressure release for 15 minutes, then you can use quick release (again, carefully!).  

Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary, and enjoy this easy meal on National Tequila Day or any other day!