Made with a simple spice blend, Instant Pot Chicken Thighs is a ridiculously simple recipe for chicken fresh or frozen chicken thighs that delivers flavor fast!
When it comes to cooking perfectly cooked, tender, juicy chicken you can count on my tried and tested instant pot chicken recipes.
why you'll love this recipe
- Fast. Even if you start this recipe with frozen chicken thighs, the chicken will be cooked in under 30 minutes (YES--including the time it takes for the pressure to be reached AND released!)
- Versatile. You can use fresh or frozen chicken thighs. Bone-in or boneless chicken thighs. And skinless or skin-on chicken thighs. Whatever YOU like or that is on sale!
- Perfect Results. This technique makes perfectly seasoned, juicy Instant Pot Chicken Thighs whether using fresh, frozen, bone-in, or boneless chicken thighs.
- Cook From Frozen. Forget to thaw out your meat? No problem! You can safely cook chicken from frozen when using the Instant Pot.
- Crispy Skin. Like crispy skin? This recipe includes directions for achieving crispy skin if you are opting to cook chicken thighs with skin.
- Endless Serving Options. Whether served with a side of Roasted Red Potatoes and a Caesar Salad or used in a recipe that calls for cooked chicken, you can count on this recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Thighs to deliver a flavorful meal.
Notes on Ingredients & Equipment
- Chicken Thighs: Bone-in or boneless, skin-on or skinless chicken thighs all work for this recipe, but there will need to be adjustments made to the cooking time. The recipe card provides the timing to ensure perfectly cooked chicken for each variation of chicken thighs.
- Smoked Paprika: Feel free to use regular paprika if you don't have smoked paprika on hand.
- Dried Thyme Leaves: I love the slight citrus flavor that thyme leaves add to the chicken thighs. Feel free to omit this seasoning from the spice blend. Just be sure to use thyme leaves NOT ground thyme.
- Oil: If you plan to sear your chicken thighs to achieve crispy skin, you will need to use either olive or canola oil.
- Instant Pot: This recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Thighs will work with any brand or size of an electric pressure cooker.
- Trivet: It is best to cook the chicken thighs ABOVE the water to keep their skin crispy and allow the spice blend to adhere to the chicken thighs.
The spice blend on this recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Thighs is the perfect compliment to the chicken and pairs well with a variety of side dishes or recipes calling for cooked chicken. That said, you can change up the flavoring by replacing the spice blend with 1-2 tablespoons of the following seasoning blends.
How to Cook Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step One: Season Chicken Thighs. Regardless of what type of chicken thighs you use for this recipe, you will want to start by seasoning your chicken liberally with the seasoning and rubbing that spice blend into the chicken thighs. This will ensure that the chicken is flavorful.
Step Two: Saute Chicken Thighs. Sauteing your chicken thighs is OPTIONAL and MUST BE skipped if you are preparing frozen chicken thighs. But I highly recommend searing skin-on chicken thighs for the best flavor and crispy skin. I even recommend searing skinless chicken thighs for texture and flavor.
Step Three: Deglaze Inner Pot. Any time you saute ANYTHING in the Instant Pot, you must deglaze the inner pot. This just means adding liquid and scraping off the browned bits from the bottom of the inner pot. This extra step will prevent a burn notice.
Step Four: Pressure Cook Chicken Thighs. It is best to use the manual or pressure button to set the cooking time yourself, not the poultry function. The amount of time you set to cook your chicken thighs in the pressure cooker will depend on the type of chicken thighs you used and whether or not you seared the thighs first.
- Bone-In Chicken Thighs: 8 Minutes on High Pressure (10 minutes if not seared first)
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: 6 minutes on High Pressure (8 minutes if not seared first)
- Frozen Chicken Thighs: 15 minutes on high pressure, for bone-in chicken thighs, or 10 minutes for boneless chicken thighs.
Step Five: Release Pressure Naturally. Any time you are cooking meat, you want to allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes to ensure the meat stays tender and juicy.
Step Six: Broil (Optional). If desired, you can further crisp up the skin under a broiler. This is a great option if you started this recipe with frozen chicken thighs.
∗ What if the Chicken Thighs aren't Cooked? ∗
Once the pressure has been released, open the instant pot and check the temperature of the chicken thighs using a digital meat thermometer. Your chicken should be between 162-165 degrees Fahrenheit. If your chicken thighs are below 162 degrees, do not panic. Simply place the lid back on the pressure cooker and cook for 1-2 minutes on high pressure. It will not take long for your Instant Pot to come to pressure a second time.
Instant Pot Chicken Thighs are delicious when served with a side of roasted broccoli, rice pilaf, parsley potatoes, or roasted red potatoes. They also can be used in recipes calling for Leftover Rotisserie Chicken.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
Love instant pot chicken recipes? Me too! Check out a few of my favorites:
- Instant Pot Chicken Breasts
- Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Instant Pot Chicken Chili
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves not ground thyme
- 4 chicken thighs bone-in or boneless; skin-on or skinless
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-½ cups water
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves until well combined.
- Trim excess fat or grizzle off the chicken thighs and then pat them dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the spice rub evenly over the chicken thighs, rubbing the spice blend into the chicken to adhere. Be sure to season both sides of the chicken.
- To sear the chicken is optional and must be skipped if your chicken thighs are frozen. To saute the chicken, turn the saute function on the Instant pot and add in the oil. Let the oil heat until glistening and then add the chicken thighs, skin-side down into the inner pot. Don’t overcrowd the pot, you may need to work in batches to brown the chicken. Sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, until both sides are golden brown. Remove the chicken to a clean plate and turn the saute function OFF.
- Pour the water into the inner pot and scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the inner pot (if needed.) Place the trivet inside the inner pot and then place your seared chicken thighs on top of the trivet (it is okay if they overlap).
- Place the lid on the inner pot, and be sure the venting knob is pointed towards sealed. To set the cooking time: Bone-In Chicken Thighs: 8 Minutes on High Pressure (10 minutes if not seared first)Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: 6 minutes on High Pressure (8 minutes if not seared first)Frozen Chicken Thighs: 15 minutes on high pressure, for bone-in chicken thighs, or 10 minutes for boneless chicken thighs.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Then remove the lid and use an instant-read thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165° F.
- Serve as desired.