Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes
Servings 6 servings

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This Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is the easiest way to cook your chicken for any summer barbecue! It’s juicy and tender every time, make ahead friendly and can be tossed on the grill to crisp it up!

instant pot bbq chicken on white plate with pressure cooker in the background

If you’re not in the thick of summer barbecues yet, it’s really only a matter of time.

Memorial Day is next week (our long weekend was this week in Canada!), and it seems like once we get past that point, it’s all about barbecues, long weeks in the sunshine (or the rain or even the snow here in Manitoba — fingers crossed that doesn’t happen this year), popsicles, and flip flops.

I’ve been loving on my Instant Pot for more than a year now, and I wanted to figure out the best ways to get the most use out of it this summer.

This Instant Pot Potato Salad is happening on repeat here — it’s perfect with any grilled meats, cold sandwiches, you name it!

And these Instant Pot Chicken Tacos are another of our favorites for the summer — so easy to throw into a taco salad, wrap, or sandwich for on the go lunching!

instant pot bbq chicken on sheet pan drumsticks and thighs

Today we’re adding this Instant Pot BBQ Chicken to our family of suitable Instant Pot summer eats, and it’s going to be one we make over and over and over again (burgers and hot dogs? No. Thanks. I don’t love my Instant Pot that much).

What kind of chicken works best with this pressure cooker bbq chicken?

I was debating how to go about making this recipe — whether I wanted to use boneless chicken breasts, which I knew would probably end up being shredded with the sauce, or going with bone-in cuts that can be slathered in sauce and crisped in the oven or on the grill.

In the end, I knew it would actually be pretty easy just to dump some bbq sauce on this Instant Pot Shredded Chicken you all love, so I wanted to do something different.

I opted for bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks because I think they’re perfect for getting a little messy at a summer cookout, and the flavor and juiciness just can’t be beat.

Plus, kids love chicken drumsticks!

You can also use chicken breasts with this recipe if you like — I recommend a cook time of 8-10 minutes depending on how large they are.

instant pot bbq chicken on white plate overhead on grey marble background with bbq sauce on the side
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How to make Instant Pot BBQ Chicken:

  1. First, we cook our chicken in the Instant Pot with some chicken broth or juice or other clear liquid until it is super juicy.
  2. Then remove it from the Instant Pot, slather with your favorite barbecue sauce (or try one of my favorites: Pineapple Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce or Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce), and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes until the skin is crispy and caramelized, or (my favorite) pop it on a hot grill, skin side down, until crispy.
  3. Devour!

How to make this bbq chicken ahead:

I think one of the best things about this pressure cooker bbq chicken is that you can pressure cook the chicken ahead of time, then pop it in a container in the fridge for up to 24 hours before saucing and grilling.

This makes it the perfect recipe for a big barbecue because you know the chicken is cooked and juicy, and all you need to do is finish it off.

It takes out so much of the guesswork to getting perfect grilled chicken!

What to serve with Instant Pot BBQ Chicken:

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Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

5 from 11 votes
This Instant Pot BBQ Chicken is the easiest way to cook your chicken for any summer barbecue! It’s juicy and tender every time, make ahead friendly and can be tossed on the grill to crisp it up! 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 6 servings
Calories 480cal


  • 6 skin on, bone in chicken drumsticks (or skinless)
  • 6 skin on, bone in chicken thighs (or skinless)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water (chicken broth, juice, or soda works, too)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce


  • Place chicken in 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot or pressure cooker.
  • Combine salt, garlic powder, paprika, dried onion, black pepper and sprinkle over chicken, turning to coat all sides. 
  • Pour water (or other liquid) and liquid smoke into Instant Pot — feel free to experiment with different flavours as long as they are clear liquid!
  • Put the lid on, turn the valve to sealing, and select Manual or Pressure Cook, high pressure, for 10 minutes (12-15 minutes for frozen or partially frozen).
  • It will take about 10 minutes for the pressure to build and the cook time to begin counting down. When the cook time is over, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes, then open the valve and remove the lid.
  • Remove chicken, brush with barbecue sauce, and either broil for 3-4 minutes until the skin begins to crisp up, or place on the grill for 4-5 minutes.
  • *This chicken can be made ahead of time, cooked and stored in the refrigerator up to 24 hours before grilling or broiling.


*Note: one serving equals one drumstick and one thigh

Nutrition Information

Calories: 480cal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 211mg | Sodium: 827mg | Potassium: 520mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 285IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1.6mg
Keywords instant pot chicken, pressure cooker chicken

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Bob Haavisto says

    I just used a smoker rub instead of the recipe, before they went on the grill I coated them with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. They were fantastic.

  2. Lynne says

    This recipe is the best ever! I will never make chicken legs any other way now! I used the trivet and then broiled 6 min. when done.

  3. Andie K says

    I did a family pack of chicken drumsticks in my 8 quart instant pot, cooked for 10 minutes, and let completely naturally pressure release. The chicken on the top of the liquid came out very tender and I had to be careful that it didn’t fall off of the bone and the chicken below the liquid was perfect. My husband finished them up on the grill with the bbq sauce and they were delicious.

  4. Jeff H says

    Thanks! This recipe is a winner and virtually foolproof. Make-ahead pressure braising in the IP … genius! I have a couple of comments and a question …
    * 10 min cook + 10 min NPR certainly cooks the chicken to falling-off-the-bone tender, if you like it firmer you might back off the cook time
    * Dump the sauce over the chicken in an over-sized salad bowl and gently tumble the pieces with your hands – quick, uniform coating without a brush
    * 5 min grill/broil is not enough to reheat and crisp if you are starting with refrigerator-cold chicken on Day 2 (I found more like 15 min in an oven broiler).
    * The recipe doesn’t mention what to do with that delicious looking braising liquid after cooking … any suggestions for soup or chili or …?

  5. Donna Jones says

    Delicious easy recipe. Moist, great flavour. I did some with no skin after instapot. they were delish too! Definitely will make again!

  6. Gayle Tino says

    I tried this recipe and it was unbelievable! Chicken drumsticks is our favorite part of the chicken. I stopped making them because there was blood at the meaty part, my family did not like them. Once I started making them in the Instant Pot, my family went nuts. No black blood that you get when just baking them. They are the only way I will cook raw chicken.

  7. Heidi says

    Hi! I’m attempting to make this for dinner & I have a question. Is it for just 6 drumsticks & thighs or 6 of each? I’m a bit confused on that part

  8. Emily says

    Cannot compliment these enough!!! They are so so good!! Thank you for the recipe! My family loved them! ??

  9. Ashley says

    I just made this tonight and it was a total hit! My 2 year old even cleaned her plate! It was so so easy to make and clean up was even easier. I ran out of paprika so instead I added 1/4 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder and it turned out awesome. Definitely adding this to my weekday dinners. Thank you!

  10. Taylor says

    Me and my brother were looking for a quick easy recipe, since we live in college. Turned out awesome! We used some cream of chicken soup and water instead of chicken broth, worked great! Thank you for the detailed and simple instructions!

  11. Angie says

    This may be a silly question, but how do you go about “broiling” in the oven? Is it a setting or just temperature? Thanks!

  12. Mariya says

    Looks so good! Do you think this will work with turkey drumsticks as well? Maybe just increase the time a little?

5 from 11 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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