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BBQ Instant Pot Chicken Thighs: from FRESH or FROZEN!

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 4 servings

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These Instant Pot Chicken Thighs are an easy, healthy dinner made right in your electric pressure cooker! Add your own sauces and seasonings or bbq sauce. Quickly and easily cook chicken thighs in your Instant Pot from FRESH or FROZEN, bone in or boneless — no need to thaw!

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instant pot chicken thighs in bbq sauce

I know, I know. We’re mixing things up a little with these Instant Pot Chicken Thighs today.

Around here, you see a lot of chicken breast recipes, and that is primarily because they are lean, easy to cook, and relatively inexpensive. I often buy a giant box and it lasts us a month or so in the freezer. This post on How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot has been so popular that I knew I needed to brand out a little!

Since then, I’ve experimented with cooking an Instant Pot Whole Chicken from frozen, frozen and partially frozen Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin, as well as using frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot to make taco meat. And I’m just getting started!

bbq instant pot chicken thighs on a plate

If you have an electric pressure cooker, I’d love to hear what your favorite things to make are. I’m always looking for new ideas!

And if you’re looking for more dinner inspiration, check out these chicken thighs recipes from the Food Network!

How to cook Instant Pot Chicken Thighs:

  • Because I’m all about EASY these days (the 5 month old baby limits my dinner prep time!), I normally use boneless chicken thighs in this Instant Pot recipe. The difference in cook time is significant, so make sure you read through thoroughly.
  • I pretty much always use skinless chicken, because I know I’m not going to eat the skin anyways. The choice is up to you, though, as skin or no skin won’t affect cook time. You will, however, really want to make sure you brown it well first on saute!
  • If you choose to brown your chicken before pressure cooking, it’s important to deglaze (scrape the bottom of the pot) well first so that you do not get a burn notification. Simply add the chicken broth while on saute, wait for it to get hot, and then scrape the bottom of the pot well with a sturdy spoon.
  • I like to cook my chicken breasts or chicken thighs in the Instant Pot with chicken broth and simple seasonings, and then add thicker sauces and finishing seasoning or spices at the end, after it is cooked. The reason for this is that thick liquids can clock up the steam release valve and cause a burn notification if the sauce sticks or begins to caramelize on the bottom of the pot. No one needs that head ache!
  • I’ve included a super simple homemade bbq sauce that we use to glaze the chicken thighs after cooking. Feel free to use my recipe, or serve with your own favorite sauces or seasonings, or simply shred the chicken for salads and sandwiches.

pressure cooker chicken thighs in bbq sauce

How to cook frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot:

To cook frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot, you will have to adjust the cook time and it will take longer to come to pressure. You will also not brown the meat first if cooking from frozen.

Some people say that it doesn’t take any longer to cook meat from frozen in the pressure cooker, but I have done numerous, numerous tests on whole chickens, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, pork tenderloin and ground beef and I have not found that to be true. You do need to increase the cook time.

For frozen chicken thighs, increase the time by 5 minutes for a total cook time of 12-13 minutes.

How to cook bone in chicken thighs in the Instant Pot:

*I tested this recipe with bone in chicken thighs weighing about 150-175 grams or 5.3-6.2 ounces.

To cook fresh bone in chicken thighs: You will follow the same directions, but the cook time for bone-in chicken thighs is 10 minutes plus 10 minutes natural pressure release. This means when the timer goes, you press off or cancel and let the pressure release gradually.

To cook frozen bone in chicken thighs: You will follow the same directions, the cook time for bone-in chicken thighs from frozen is 15 minutes plus a natural pressure release of 10 minutes.

Note that the skin will not be crispy, so you can choose to either remove it before or after cooking. I scrape it off after, because it adds moisture to the meat during the cook time and comes off more easily after cooking.

BBQ Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

5 from 5 votes
These Instant Pot Chicken Thighs are an easy, healthy dinner made right in your electric pressure cooker! Add your own sauces and seasonings or bbq sauce. Quickly and easily cook chicken thighs in your Instant Pot from FRESH or FROZEN -- no need to thaw!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 4 servings
Calories 257kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oil optional
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons liquid honey
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Instructions

  • Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  • OPTIONAL: Turn Instant Pot to saute and wait until it says "hot". Add 1 tablespoon oil, and brown chicken thighs on each side for 1-2 minutes per side. Turn off. If you brown the chicken, you'll need to make sure the bottom of the pot is clean before starting to pressure cook -- see notes above.
  • Add chicken broth, close the lid, turn the valve to sealing, and set to Manual, high pressure, for 8 minutes. 
  • Once the cook time is up, turn the Instant Pot to off and let pressure release naturally for 10-15 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and drain the rest.
  • Stir together the ketchup, honey, Worcestershire sauce, corn starch, vinegar, garlic, mustard and reserve cooking liquid. Pour into Instant Pot and turn to saute. 
  • Let cook until thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 475mg | Potassium: 491mg | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 180IU | Vitamin C: 2.7mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1.6mg

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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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Comments

  1. Jennifer says

    This is my 4th time making this recipe and the family loves it! This chicken makes great pulled chicken sandwiches.

  2. Christine mcelhinney says

    We loved it. I used my Ninja Foodi and the 13 minute cooking time for the semi-thawed chicken thighs was perfect. I will definitely make this again.

  3. Susan says

    If we don’t have the ingredients and using premade bbq sauce, should we still use the chicken stock to cook the chicken and do we saute at the end with the bbq sauce?

  4. Debi says

    I made this using one pack of frozen boneless organic chicken thighs from Costco. It was a solid block of frozen chicken and after cooking 13 minutes and letting it come to natural release it wasn’t to an internal temp of 165. So i sautéed it with the bbq sauce and then turned it off and loosely covered it until it came to temp. It was “amazing”, my hisband’s words.

  5. Cara E Bruno says

    I only have balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar. Are either ok or should I just use the bottle of premade bbq sauce that I have? Thank you

  6. Cory says

    OMG! So finger lickin good! I made with 4 FROZEN thighs…worked perfectly, and now I have extra sauce for tomorrow…maybe on rice. Seriously good sauce.

    • Allison says

      I prepared 4 frozen solid chicken thighs exactly as directed and let it NR for 13 mins and had blood pouring out of my chicken so I added back to IP for 10 extra minutes and will let it NR for 10 again. If that doesn’t work, I will have to check my seal. Idk why it would work for everybody else and not myself if not for an improper seal.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      As long as they are not stacked right on top of each other. If they are stacked directly on top of each other, the overlapping chicken will take longer to cook. If you can stagger them, then it shouldn’t take any longer.

  7. JJ says

    Hi! I want to try out this recipe using frozen boneless skinless thighs…after step 3, should I do natural release for 10 minutes, which is what you recommend for bone-in thighs? (I have no idea if bone-in vs boneless makes a difference in what sort of pressure release to use, sorry.)

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