These Instant Pot chicken thighs taste like they’ve been slow-baked in the oven. From prep to table, they only take 30 minutes to make and are fall-off-the-bone juicy.
Instant Pot chicken thighs are so simple, versatile, and perfect for meal prep. You can enjoy them as a main dish with a side of white rice, in salads, or shredded for a Mexican Taco night. The possibilities are endless…
When you feel like you’re tugged in a million directions on a busy weeknight, it’s time to pull out a tried-and-true recipe that’s both easy and delicious. These Instant Pot chicken thighs are as no-fuss as it gets. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself making them a couple of times a week.
Note: This recipe calls for fresh, boneless chicken thighs, but you use bone-in chicken thighs if you prefer. All you need to do is tack on 2-5 minutes of extra cooking time to compensate.
How to Make Fresh Chicken Thighs in an Instant Pot
Cooking perfect Instant Pot chicken thighs is a no-brainer. Check out the recipe overview below:
- Trim and Season Chicken: Trim any excess fat and skin from your chicken thighs. Massage the seasoning all over the thighs until they are completely coated.
- Brown the Chicken and Onions: On the sauté setting, brown the outside of the chicken thighs. Remove the chicken. Cut onion into half rings and sauté in the brown bits leftover from browning the chicken.
- Pressure Cook Chicken: Return the chicken to the Instant Pot, nestling the thighs on top of the onions. Seal and cook for 10 minutes on high pressure. Allow the chamber to have a natural release for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs in an Instant Pot
Cooking frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot requires no defrosting at all. Follow the simple steps below to take your chicken from frozen to phenomenal.
- Brown the Onions: Use the sauté option on the Instant Pot to brown the onion rings until they turn golden brown.
- Pop the Frozen Chicken In: Place the frozen chicken thighs on top of the onion. Season each thigh generously on both sides.
- Seal and Cook: Seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Let the pressure do a natural release for an additional 15 minutes. Once the pressure pin drops, open the pot. Serve and enjoy!
Invest in a meat thermometer. Take the guesswork out of making chicken in the Instant Pot by investing in a meat thermometer. Chicken is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165° F.
What to Serve Alongside Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
These Instant Pot chicken thighs are super versatile and neutral. This means they can be served with a variety of different side dishes and the leftovers can be repurposed into many different dishes. Serve them with a roasted beet salad with goat cheese for a healthy lunch. Or, make a classic, well-rounded American meal of green beans and mashed potatoes. If you happen to have any leftovers, shred the chicken for tacos, quesadillas, or burritos.
How long does it take to cook chicken thighs in an Instant Pot?
It takes about 20 minutes to cook chicken thighs in the Instant Pot. Tack on 2-5 more minutes if you are using frozen thighs.
How much water do you put in an Instant Pot for chicken thighs?
For this recipe, no water is required. The juice released from the onions and chicken provides more than enough moisture. However, if you want to air on the safe side, feel free to add 1/2 cup of water into the pot.
Can you layer chicken in Instant Pot?
Layering chicken in the Instant Pot is perfectly fine. Just make certain that each thigh is coated evenly with seasoning before you start stacking.
How should I adjust the cooking time if I wanted to swap boneless thighs for boneless chicken breast?
Go 2-3 minutes shorter on cooking time if you use chicken breasts. However, if you are using thicker breasts, you may need to go 2-3 minutes longer. Use a meat thermometer to take the guesswork out. Note: Chicken is safe to eat when the internal temperature reads 165°F.
Do you still try to brown the chicken even if it’s frozen?
If you’re using frozen chicken thighs, you will not be able to brown them. Just ensure that the onions are browned to bring in that caramelized flavor.
Can I leave the skin on the chicken thighs?
You can absolutely leave the skin on your chicken thighs. This will add more flavor to the mix.
Storing Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
- Refrigerating: Store Instant Pot chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They should stay fresh for 3-5 days.
- Freezing: Freeze Instant Pot chicken thighs by placing them in a freezer-safe plastic storage bag. You can keep them on hand for up to 3 months. If you have a vacuum sealer, they will last for up to a year.
Reheating Tip: Reheat frozen Instant Pot chicken thighs by popping them back in the Instant Pot. If you are reheating refrigerated thighs, microwave them or reheat them in an air fryer f you want them extra crispy.
Other Chicken Thighs Recipe to Try
- Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs (30 Minutes!) – Crispy skin-on chicken thighs
- Garlic Ranch Baked Chicken Thighs – Zesty chicken thighs
- Rice Stuffed Chicken Thighs – Traditional Slavic recipe
- Grilled Teriyaki Chicken – Tangy and sweet chicken thighs
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 lbs chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp parsley dry or fresh
- 2 tsp garlic parsley salt
- 1 tbsp salt adjsut to taste
- 1 tbsp oil for cooking
- Gather all your ingredients. Combine dry seasonings together in a bowl.
- Thoroughly season the chicken thighs on both sides.
- Turn on your Instant Pot to the sauté setting. Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the pot. Brown the outside of the chicken thighs until golden. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Cut the onion into half rings. Sauté onion until golden brown. Add browned chicken on top of the browned onions.
- Set the timer to manual for 10 minutes. Once the Instant Pot beeps, allow it to do a natural release for an additional 10 minutes. Carefully release any remaining pressure from the valve by covering it with a towel and turning it slowly. Once the pressure pin drops, safely remove the lid. Serve chicken hot, accompanied by your favorite sides.
Hi Natalya! Thank you for sharing this recipe! We have this on heavy rotation at our place because it is tasty and quick using ingredients we always have on hand in the pantry. I love the fact that I can throw in frozen thighs when I don’t have time to defrost them - and I have made this with chicken breasts too! Equally delicious. Thanks again and all the best to you!
Amy, I am so happy to hear this. Thank you for sharing you feedback. I have been in so many situation when all the meats were frozen and no dinner to serve. The magic os instant pot is really great.:)
Thank you so much for creating the ultimate " easy button" for homemade YUMMY week day dinners!
Hi Dana, I am so glad that you found my blog helpful! I am thrilled to have you here!
I used frozen thighs and followed your directions and this is the best/easiest chicken I have ever served to my family! Thank you so much!
Hi Kelly, I am so thrilled to hear that! Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback. Enjoy!
I used frozen and it was totally raw. Wouldn’t recommend that method!
Hi there! I am sorry to hear that the recipe didn't work out as expected. For frozen chicken the full cook time should be about 30 minutes (15 minutes on high with a 15 minute natural release). I hope it turned out well in the end. Thank you for your feedback!
Made this chicken tonight and everyone loves it!!
Hi Karrie, So glad to hear that! Thank you for your feedback. Enjoy!
Very tasty chicken! I added mushrooms at the bottom with the onions the second time I made it and it comes out great still.
Hello Amy- I love the addition of mushrooms, that sounds delicious!
This is the tastiest chicken that I have made in a awhile. I just got the instant pot and this is my second recipe and I don’t know how i’ve lived without one. Thank you!! 5 stars!
Hello Maria- I'm so glad to hear that 😀 I do have more instant pot recipes on the blog that I hope you'll try. Enjoy!
Amazing chicken!! I’m making it for the third time tonight. So tender. Important note for those new to the Instant Pot (like myself): make sure you completely deglaze the inner pot before pressure cooking. The spices burned onto the bottom when I browned the chicken and I ended up getting a burn notice and the pot never came to pressure. Thankfully the chicken cooked through even without coming to pressure, and was equally delicious! The next time I made sure to thoroughly deglaze the pot before pressure cooking and had no issues.
Hi Joy- thank you for sharing that tip! I'm glad you enjoyed this recipe otherwise 🙂
Can I cook rice with this recipe at the same time?
Hi Diana, thats an amazing idea. I have not tried it but I think it's possible. You would need to add liquid.
White rice, when I've tried it, will cook in 3 minutes, manual time with about 12 minute natural release, I think the rice would possibly be too mushy. However, I've been using marinades, rather than plain water to make my rice in and it's incredibly delicious. I make a meat slow cooked in the crock pot and then take equal amounts of the liquid left over from the meat to the rice I am going to cook and do that as the liquid. The rice comes out oily from the marinade which causes it to glide around rather than stick and it's just so, so delicious.
Loose recipe of this:
Take basically any frozen meat (always what we use, not sure about using fresh as I think more water releases out of frozen meat?) and pour a marinade over it. Let that cook slow for 8-10 hours and it'll fall apart good. Then strain the liquid marinade left over from that meat into whatever portion of rice you'll be cooking, use a 1:1 ratio. For instance, 1 cup of rice will be 1 cup of marinade. I soak and rinse my rice to get rid of as much arsenic as possible and anti nutrients, then I put it in the bottom of the pot, pour the marinade over the ride, and I twist the inner pot to distribute the rice evenly under the marinade. I seal it, pick 3 minutes on manual and cook it. I let it naturally release for 11-18 minutes. You will have to decide if a shorter or longer natural release to have firmer or less firm rice is right for you.
Hi Melanie- cooking the rice in the leftover meat juices sounds absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing all of these great tips! 😀
Great recipe! The whole family loved it. I plan on making extra and freezing it next time. How would you reheat in the instant pot? Can it be done in a crockpot? Thank you.
Thank you, Yvette. You can reheat frozen Instant Pot chicken thighs by popping them back in the Instant Pot. If you are reheating refrigerated thighs, microwave them or reheat them in an air fryer if you want them extra crispy!
want to try this. Is it still two pounds of chicken even with the bone in? Thanks
Hi Debbie- great question. I do use 2lbs of boneless thighs , so if you use bone-in thighs and want a bit more meat, then you can use more than 2lbs. Otherwise if you use just 2lbs of bone-in thighs, the recipe will still work out, it's pretty flexible!
This is a great recipe! My husband typically doesn’t care for chicken, but he couldn’t stop raving about this meal. It was one of my first times using my Instant Pot and it turned out great. I used bone-in thighs and pressure cooked it for 14 minutes. My husband wants me to make it for his family - score!
Rebecca, I am so glad you guys loved this recipe. Means so much! I don't use my instant pot often but with this recipe, its a win!
Just had this for dinner. Whole family loved it. Easy and fast- perfect combo. Thank u
Oh, this is so amazing! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Means so much!
I made this for dinner tonight. I only had frozen thighs with skin on, so I ran water over it a bit and pulled the skin off. Since the thighs still had bones in, I just pressure cooked it for five minutes longer. (And to save time, I browned the chicken in a skillet while browning onions in the pot; I know, I unnecessarily dirtied another pan, lol.) Anyway, your recipe was fantastic. I couldn’t believe the amount of yummy au juice that was in the pot. Delicious over the chicken and potatoes with green beans. My husband loved it! Thanks!
Hi Ann - That's awesome to hear. I'm glad that your husband liked it and that you enjoyed all the juices - those are my favorite too.
I have never left a comment on a recipe but I have to with this one. This was absolutely delicious! I wanted to make a nice healthy dinner for myself after work and only had frozen meat. I found this recipe and I'm so glad I did! I halved the recipe and still did not have to add any liquid. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
Awwww Robyn that is so, so, so sweet. I'm happy to hear that you loved it! It's such a lifesaver of a recipe when you only have frozen meat on hand. You're very welcome and thanks for taking the time out of your day to drop us a line. 🙂
Great dish and definite keeper recipe! We’re new to pressure cooking and this is a great addition to our repertoire. Just FYI, made a few tweaks mostly because of what we had on hand: 1.5 lbs of boneless & skinless chicken thighs instead of 2 lbs (b/c that’s what we had), white instead of yellow onion (again: what we had), 1 tsp paprika instead of 1 tbsp (b/c I measured wrong, lol), Jacobsen Rosemary Salt (b/c didn’t have garlic-paprika), rubbed chicken with olive oil and dry ingredients (r/t adding oil to pot), Garnished with ~1 tbsp fresh parsley and served with a quick ratatouille. Quick and delicious!
Hi Greg - Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed. Also, this seasoning combination sounds BOMB. I'm a huge fan of Jacobsen Salt. I actually used to live in the PNW where the brand started.
How long do you brown the thighs on each side? I’m using fresh thighs. Thank you!
Hi Tara- a couple of minutes per side, til they achieve a nice golden color.Enjoy!
The caramelized onions are important in this recipe! I used your recipe blueprint and adapted it so I could use what I had at hand: my own seasoning blend, half red and half green bell pepper, a lonely carrot...it turned out very well! I did add about 3 tablespoons of water because as you said, I was worried about "zero liquid" in my pressure cooker. Next time, I won't. The juices from the onions and the meat itself would've been enough. Bone-in thighs, partially thawed, took 12 minutes at high pressure, followed by natural release until the pin dropped. They were yummy. Thanks!
Thanks for the detailed feedback, I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe!
This turned out very good. I'm on relaxed DASH diet, so I used only 1/3 Tbsp (1 tsp) of salt, which was still a bit salty to me (I'm sensitive to salt). I'd use less than 1 tsp next time and see. I cooked with bone-in thighs (5 mins longer as directed), some carrots and shiitake mushrooms in addition to onions. Chicken thighs aren't my son's favorite but when he had a second, I knew this recipe was a keeper even with much less salt. Thanks.
Hi Chi, its sounds like an incredible combo. Adjusting salt is a great tip, it really depends on the brand and type of salt you are using. Thanks for sharing your tips!
Made this tonight and it was good. I didn't have a large onion, I had a small side of medium sized onion and so I added less than a quarter cup of water to deglaze. Also stuck it under the broiler to crisp up the skin because I have a kid who loves the crispy skin. It wasn't fall off the bone or anything but it was good.
Thanks for the feedback, Laurel! Glad you enjoyed the chicken.
How do you keep the white gunk (I assume blood) from getting all over the chicken. Not pretty or appetizing at all.
Hi Ginger, I advise to trim all the excess fat/skin from the chicken thighs before cooking.
Had some trouble. Browing thighs and the bottom of instantpot was getting burned. Turned sauté down. Than followed recipe to finish. And during beginning of pressure cooking I got a burn notice. Opened pot everything looked fine I stirred and lowered pressure to low. Cooked just fine after that. Tested chickens temp and it was fine. Next this was flavorless. I couldn't believe it. I need suggestions.
Hi Dawn - Thanks for sharing your feedback. Yikes on the burn notice! Glad you were able to turn the heat down and your chicken didn't get torched. In terms of flavor, always feel free to add more salt to taste as listed in the recipe card. Let us know if you try the recipe again and how it turns out.
Very easy! I used 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs from frozen and added paprika to them. Placed on trivet and added 1 cup water to inside pot (omitted onion). Set on high manual pressure for 15 minutes and then let release naturally for 15 minutes. Turned out perfectly. Thanks!
Hi Maria - YUM! I love paprika. That sounds super tasty. Glad these worked out well for you.
Amazing!! My fiancé loved it and was impressed with such a quick and easy recipe
Yay! That's awesome, Sierra. It's one of our meal-prep go tos for everything from quick soups to enchiladas. Happy New Year!
worked great, simple, fast and delicious and juicy
Yay! So happy to hear that. It's such a great meal prepping recipe.
If thighs are frozen, can I still sauté them?
Hi Kim, if you’re using frozen chicken thighs, you will not be able to brown them. Just ensure that the onions are browned to bring in that caramelized flavor. Hope this helps 🙂
Wow!! I am so glad I found this recipe! I realized when I got home my chicken was frozen! In about 30 minutes I had the best meal put together!! Delish!! Thanks
Hi Megan, that is so good to hear, we love super quick and easy recipes here, I am so glad you found this one quick and easy to make! Thanks for your feedback!
That's a KEEPER! We love our Instant Pot, especially for chicken (SO much quicker). Like others, I was curious about no liquid, but resisted. Did two medium onions, will do three next time.
Hello Paul, I am so glad you loved the results of this recipe, thank you for taking the time to share your feedback!!
Very good quick and easy meal. I cut the salt in half but still seemed a bit salty. I will definitely make it again.
Hi, thank you for that tip on saltiness! I am so glad you still enjoyed the recipe and will be enjoying it again!
How much salt is needed seems to depend on how much you are used to having. We have cut salt in our diet so a little goes a long way. More normal diets may need more.
100% agree, Rebecca. Feel free to adjust the salt content as you see fit. A great salt-free seasoning to throw in the mix is fresh lemon juice and loads of freshly cracked black pepper.
My husband’s new fave!
Did it without water (2 onions though) and crossed my fingers, amazing!
Thank you very much for sharing
That is so good to hear!! Thank you for taking the time to comment your feedback!