How to cook perfect, juicy Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from fresh or frozen, bone-in or boneless. Serve as a main dish with simple homemade gravy using the extra liquid in the pot!

I’m convinced the Instant Pot is the easiest way to cook chicken breasts and thighs, especially when you can add them from frozen, and with the touch of a button they will cook perfectly!

Four cooked chicken thighs on a trivet in an instant pot.

You can add basic seasonings to the chicken and use it in meal prep or recipes that call for cooked chicken, or serve as a main dish with gravy made from the sauce leftover in the pot. Let me teach you how to use your instant pot!

How to cook Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot (Fresh or Frozen):

Set instant pot to saute setting. (Skip this step if using frozen thighs.) Add oil. Season chicken with desired seasonings. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until skin is crispy brown. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Add 1 cup of liquid (water, chicken broth, pineapple or apple juice) to the bottom of the instant pot, scraping up any browned bites that have stuck from searing the skin.

Three process photos for seasoning chicken thighs, searing the skin in the instant pot, then liquid poured in the instant pot.

Place trivet inside and add chicken thighs on top. Place lid on the instant pot and make sure the vent is set to “sealed”.

Pressure cooking times for fresh and frozen thighs:

  • Boneless Thighs: Pressure cook on high for 8 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen thighs.
  • Bone-in Thighs: Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes for fresh, or 15 minutes for frozen thighs.

Allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then turn the valve to “venting” to release any remaining steam.

If desired, test chicken with a thermometer; it should reach 165 degrees. (If it’s just shy, place the lid back no and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. If the chicken is not cooked to at least 160 degrees, secure the instant pot lid and cook for 1-3 minutes longer, on high pressure.) Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Store leftover cooked chicken in the fridge for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Save the extra liquid at the bottom of your instant pot after cooking for a simple and flavorful homemade chicken broth. You could even add piece of carrot, onion and celery to the liquid at the bottom of the pot to further flavor the broth while the chicken cooks.
  2. Make gravy with the extra liquid. It’s easy and a delicious way to serve the thighs as a main dish, with a side of mashed potatoes! Whisk together 3 Tablespoons water with 3 Tablespoons flour, until smooth. Stir the flour slurry into the hot broth at the bottom of the instant pot and turn the instant pot on to sauté setting. Cook, stirring until your gravy is thickened. Taste and season with chicken bouillon and additional salt and pepper, as needed.

Do I need to sauté chicken thighs before cooking them?

It’s not required, but definitely recommended for best flavor, especially if serving them as a main dish. If using frozen thighs with the skin on, the skin will be limp after cooking so you can remove it, or broil the chicken for a few minutes to make the skin crispy before serving.

Should I use the poultry setting on the Instant Pot?

Be wary of the poultry setting on the instant pot. This setting is based on an average chicken thigh, and doesn’t take into account whether the thighs are boneless or bone-in. It is best to set the manual pressure on the instant pot yourself.

Do I need to use a trivet?

If you have the trivet that the instant pot comes with it is best to cook the thighs in a layer on top of it. This will ensure the chicken is steamed and kept juicy instead of boiling in the liquid. If you are without a trivet, putting the chicken breasts directly into the liquid will work fine. You could also roll up a piece of aluminum foil and snake it around the bottom of the pot to create your own “rack” for the chicken to rest on.

How to season chicken thighs:

Chicken thighs are very flavorful and can benefit from a variety of different seasonings. Basic salt and pepper work great if you are doing meal prep to add chicken to salads or other meals. Add a sprinkle of paprika, garlic, and thyme if you are planning to serve your chicken thighs as a main dish.

What size of instant pot should I use?

You can cook chicken breasts in whatever size instant pot you have. Just make sure you add at least 1 cup of liquid, and ideally try to cook the chicken in a single layer, for even cooking. If you have a smaller instant pot you may want to cook the chicken in batches.

Chicken thighs that were cooked in an instant pot, served on a white plate garnished with parsley.

Serve chicken thighs with:

Use leftover cooked chicken thighs to make:

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Recipe

For chicken thighs cooking in an instant pot.
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Total 30 minutes
Save Recipe

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 lbs chicken thighs* , skin on, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tablespoons oil , canola or vegetable
  • 1 cup liquid (water, chicken broth, apple, or pineapple juice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions
 

  • (Skip this step if using frozen thighs). Set instant pot to saute setting. Add oil. Season chicken with desired seasonings. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until skin is crispy brown. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
  • Add 1 cup of liquid (water, chicken broth, pineapple or apple juice) to the bottom of the instant pot, scraping up any browned bites that have stuck from searing the skin.
  • Place trivet inside and add chicken thighs on top. Secure lid on the instant pot and make sure the vent is set to “sealed”.
  • For Boneless Thighs: Pressure cook on high for 8 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen thighs.
  • For Bone-in Thighs: Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes for fresh, or 15 minutes for frozen thighs.
  • Allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then turn the valve to “venting” to release any remaining steam.
  • If desired, test chicken with a thermometer; it should reach 165 degrees. (If it’s just shy, place the lid back on and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. If the chicken is still not cooked secure the instant pot lid and cook for 1-3 minutes longer, on high pressure.)
  • Allow the chicken to rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • Store leftover cooked chicken in the fridge for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Notes

Frozen skin-on thighs: You wont be able to sear the chicken skin when frozen, so just remove and discard it after the chicken has cooked.
Skinless thighs: Use same cooking time.

Nutrition

Calories: 266kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 35gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 172mgSodium: 629mgPotassium: 445mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 44IUCalcium: 16mgIron: 1mg

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RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

Photography by Nikole from The Travel Palate.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was wonderful! I defrosted chicken thighs for 5 minutes in the microwave to get them apart, sprinkled them with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg and cooked them with 1 cup water and a teaspoon of chicken flavored “Better than Bouillon”. They came out perfectly and the gravy was delicious! No added seasonings needed. First time to use my instant pot with frozen meat and loved it!! 15 minutes was perfect! Thank you!

  2. Omg this was so good and so simple. Thank you so m7ch, I am so glad I found this cuz I was going going to cook my thighs for 20 min in the InstaNtpot. They would have been too done. They ended up tasting delicious, cooked just right, was so easy to do. I can’t wait to try it again, with my boyfriend’s mom’s teriyaki sauce . Mmmm.

  3. 5 stars
    Chicken half frozen. Cavenders(Greek seasonings) in water and on the chicken. Cook time 15 minutes, 5 minutes natural release. Let cool. Shred. Used in chicken tacos. Chicken salad. Chicken Mac. And chicken and veg panini. 👍 Think I will try McCormicks maple BBQ next time. Maybe with some Sweet Baby Rays. Simple prep. Very versatile. Love it.

  4. 5 stars
    This is my first time using an instant pot and I made this recipe. It was delicious! I used Smokehouse maple seasoning on the chicken and for the liquid I used apple juice. Chicken was tender and juicy. My pressure cook time (after searing) was 8 minutes. Thanks!

  5. 4 stars
    Cooked as directed with one exception. After
    Removing from the instant pot, the skin had became soggy and lost its crisp. So I turned the sauté setting back on and crisped the skin again. I used some complete seasoning and a little ranch powder to season the chicken and water to deglaze. Delicious.

  6. Instant Pot Chicken Thighs is what I am making. I would like to add some sweet and slightly spicey sauce, but not sure where and when in the process I apply it. I want a sauce that would be like having a party of seasoned chicken wings, but only with thighs.

    1. I would put some sweet chili sauce on them immediately after taking them out of the instant pot and sauté them for just a few min. Just a light glaze of it. I love it on wings but in the instant pot it may just run off of the chicken as the juices come out.

  7. 5 stars
    I am so excited about this. We added some Sesame seed sauce with the water and thighs. It smells so good. And I love that it cooks fast. (I got 2 toddlers at home + im a teacher)

  8. 4 stars
    This did not turn out for me. A little over done that was my fault. But it was tasteless. The gravy was thin but very good. I added two cans of mushroom soup. I will have to try again some day. Maybe put the meat in the water??

    1. Yeah, when cooked this way, the liquid is pretty much just making steam, so it doesn’t take on a lot of flavor. I’d recommend finding a recipe for stewed chicken, or a chicken soup, for more guidance on how to get a flavorful broth.

  9. 5 stars
    I must use this recipe for timing of cooking theighs at least 1 time per week…. all year…. this morning, I thought I should THANK YOU for the wonderful recipe! I should probably make myself a little cheat sheet to stick on the side of the refrigerator with all the cook times for things that I frequently cook in my instant pot!

    *** Just a side note for those that enjoy crispy chicken skin…. if you don’t have time to sear the skin or if using frozen theighs, after cooking, remove the skin from the cooked theighs and lay flat, in single layer, on a sheet pan (with low sides) lined with parchment paper and roast the skin in the oven at 400° for 10-15 minutes… salt immediately when removed from oven to taste!
    Watching closely to be sure they don’t burn. The time these take to crisp nicely without burning varies greatly depending on the size of the skins and the % of fat left in the skins. Much of the fat renders out leaving chicken ‘bacon’ crispy treats!

    THANK YOU AGAIN, Ruth

  10. I made this recipe in my 6-qt Instant Pot. Seasoned with smoked paprika and oregano, next time I’ll use a little white wine with the broth, and cook on high for 12 minutes instead of ten.
    The gravy was made with 2 T flour and one T tapioca starch. it was like velvet!! Added to the gravy was a dash or three of cayenne pepper. very yummy, indeed!

  11. 5 stars
    I broiled it after to crisp it up . It was easy and turned out good, I hope I can find this recipe next time!!😉

  12. 5 stars
    Followed directions as given. Was delicious. Made gravy by adding 1 T of flour to the liquid and whisking on saute setting for a few minutes. Family loved it. Super easy.

  13. 5 stars
    This recipe is well written, easy to follow and came out perfect! I used thawed chicken thighs,
    avacado oil for sauting, rubbed the chicken thighs with roasted garlic cloves and then added the remaining cloves to the broth. Also seasoned the thighs with salt and pepper, added celery and carrot to the broth as suggested.

    Cooked the thighs with lemon slices on each thigh. I removed all chunks of lemon, celery and carrot and made a delicious gravy, whisking in flour + salt and pepper until desired thickness and taste.

    Yum! I will make it again and serve it over rice.

    I served it tonight with smashed loaded Yukon gold potatoes.

  14. Why on earth would you ruin a perfectly good recipe with toxic inflammatory oils?!

    Use avocado, coconut or olive oil! They are cold pressed and actually good for your health ❤️

  15. 5 stars
    Tonight I made it with three and a half pounds of chicken non Frozen but with skin and bone thighs. Add a little bit more oil trim the excess skin off fat and it came out wonderful made gravy with the liquid I use chicken broth instead of water, had it with potatoes and peas. Easy peasy and tasty thank you Lauren, I passed the recipe on to my son who is just learning to use his instant pot.

  16. 4 stars
    If desired, test chicken with a thermometer; it should reach 165 degrees. (If it’s just shy, place the lid back no and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. (I found this direction in the paragraphs above, you could really use a proofreader, I believe it MEANS place the lid back ON.

    1. Some of these comments are just plain silly and rude. Get a grip, ladies (and gents) – it’s just a recipe shared with us by a nice person. Just CHILL!

  17. You need to put what buttons we need to push on the Insta pot like I’m trying it this recipe on the poultry setting for 15 minutes for the frozen bone in thighs and I added some pressure herbs in there and in my water I added a onion soup mix so hopefully it’ll be good thanks for the recipe

    1. You use the pressure cook button. Not poultry, but pressure cook. They do specify when you need to use other buttons.

    2. 4 stars
      RE what instant pot buttons to press:
      press “manual” , then, “pressure” to select high (if not selected already), then use the + or – buttons to set the cook time minutes.

  18. 5 stars
    This was an easy and excellent chicken recipe!! I used white grape juice for the juice and seasoned the chicken good with Litehouse Poultry Herb blend before browning! Wonderful!! Thanks so much for the recipe!!

    1. Shiitake mushrooms worked wonders for me many years ago, when I had a very serious insomnia issue. Will have to try them in the chicken. Thanks for mentioning them.

  19. Hey, Lauren – I use bone-in thighs and thaw them just enough to separate them from one another – they sear just fine while still frozen!

  20. 5 stars
    The chicken turned out juicy and delicious. I’d never used apple juice as a liquid in the Instant Pot before. I’ll be trying that again.

  21. 5 stars
    Delicious! I use boneless thighs and seasoned them with poultry seasoning. I believe searing them was the trick. Will do this again. Maybe try it with boneless breasts.

  22. 5 stars
    Love, love, love this recipe! It’s easy, there’s hardly any cleanup, and the flavor of the chicken thighs is amazing! Thanks!