Fresh, frozen, boneless, bone-in, skinless, or skin-on — the Instant Pot can do it all.
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In case you haven't heard, the Instant Pot is quite a versatile appliance. It can cook chicken thighs every which way, whether it's fresh, frozen, boneless, bone-in, skinless, or skin-on. If you don't know where to start, consider this your guide to everything you need to know about Instant Pot chicken thighs. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions on how to cook chicken thighs in the Instant Pot, plus get top-rated recipes for more inspiration. 

Fresh vs. Frozen Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

One of the great advantages of Instant Pot cooking is you can cook straight from frozen, no thawing required. To cook chicken thighs of any kind from frozen, you'll want to up the cooking time to about 14 minutes (as opposed to 10-12 minutes for fresh chicken thighs). See below for exact cooking times. 

Bone-In vs. Boneless Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Both bone-in and boneless chicken thighs will work great in the Instant Pot. The only difference you'll need to make when using one versus the other is the cooking time. Bone-in chicken thighs will require about two more minutes of pressure cooking than boneless chicken thighs, so 12 minutes total. See below for exact cooking times.

Skinless vs. Skin-On Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

If you're going to be cooking skin-on chicken thighs in the Instant Pot, you'll want to first brown the skin side using the "saute" function on the Instant Pot. To do this, first season the skin as desired and pour a little oil into the inner pot. Once the Instant Pot reads "hot" add the chicken, skin side down, and brown for up to three minutes. Then flip and brown for an additional minute. Now you're ready to pressure cook!

If you're using skinless chicken thighs then you can skip the browning step. If you don't brown skin-on chicken thighs you'll end up with limp, soggy skin that is best removed before serving.

How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Thighs Step-by-Step

Here's What You'll Need: 

  • 6-8 chicken thighs (fresh or frozen) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-4 cups water (depending on whether you want broth or not)
  • Optional: minced garlic, paprika, oregano, onion, etc.

Instant Pot Chicken Thigh Cooking Times

  • 6-8 Fresh, Bone-In Chicken Thighs (Skin-On or Skinless): 12 minutes on high pressure
  • 6-8 Fresh, Boneless Chicken Thighs (Skin-On or Skinless): 10 minutes on high pressure
  • 6-8 Frozen Chicken Thighs, Any Kind: 14 minutes on high pressure

Instructions: 

  1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste. Use additional seasoning if desired. 
  2. Skip this step if using skinless chicken thighs: Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the inner pot. Turn the Instant Pot to the "saute" function. Once the Instant Pot reads "hot" add the chicken, skin side down, and brown for up to three minutes. Then flip and brown for an additional minute. Turn off "saute" function, remove the chicken, and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot before continuing to step three. 
  3. Add any additional ingredients for flavor such as minced garlic or onion. 
  4. Place the trivet ($10; Amazon) or steamer basket ($16; Amazon) in the Instant Pot and pour in water. If you don't want broth, use just 1 cup. If you do want broth add up to 4 cups.
  5. Place the chicken thighs on the trivet in a single layer. Close the lid and set the Instant Pot to the sealed position. Use the "manual" function to cook on high pressure for designated cooking time (see above cooking times).
  6. Once the timer is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for five minutes, then turn the valve to release the remaining pressure. 
  7. Remove the lid and use tongs ($13; Amazon) to remove each chicken thigh. Optional: Strain the remaining liquid to use as broth. 

How to Store Cooked Chicken Thighs

Allow any leftover chicken to cool and transfer it to an airtight container or tightly wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil. Refrigerate for up to four days.

How to Use Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

Now that you've got the basic technique down, get inspired with all different kinds of Instant Pot chicken thigh recipes. A little teriyaki sauce goes a long way in this Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken Thighs recipe. Experiment with flavors like barbeque or bacon-ranch. Keep things simple with this Instant Pot Pepper Chicken Recipe. Or for a dish that will really impress, chicken cacciatore is made easier with the Instant Pot. Browse our best Instant Pot chicken recipes today. 

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