Our Instant Pot chicken thighs recipe may be your new favorite way to cook this protein, especially when you’re doing food prep for the week. The method is quite simple: lightly brown the seasoned chicken thighs and pressure cook them on a bed of vegetables until they are fork-tender and juicy.
The result is fall-off-the-bone, flavorful chicken with an effortless gravy made from the juices leftover in the pot. The dish hits that wondrous spot between sweet and savory, tender and juicy, simple and elegant. It also happens to make a satisfying dinner in less than an hour and there’s only one pot to clean when you’re done.
Is This Recipe Healthy?
Yes, our Instant Pot chicken thighs recipe is healthy. To be specific:
It’s protein-packed: It’s no surprise that these Instant Pot chicken thighs are an excellent source of protein. Each serving contains 28.1 g of protein — 56% of your daily need based on a 2000-calorie diet.
It’s light in carbs and calories: With only 24 g of carbs per serving, this dish is a hit with many Keto dieters. Having only about 500 calories, it also leaves a decent amount of room for salads or drinks to add vitamins and minerals to your meal.
Chicken: Dark meat like chicken thighs is more flavorful and doesn’t overcook in the high heat of a pressure cooker. Both skinless and skin-on chicken is great in this recipe, but the cooking time will vary (skin-on will take a little longer).
Olive Oil: We used olive oil to brown the skin side of the chicken thighs. This step gives the meat and the gravy a more complex flavor and is worth the extra time. However, it’s important to carefully watch the chicken for that crispy, golden brown skin without it burning.
Broth: We used homemade unsalted chicken stock to limit the sodium content in the dish but feel free to use any type of broth on hand.
Vegetables: You can go with any vegetables that suit your taste buds and refrigerator inventory.
Seasoning for Chicken Thighs
Dark meat already has more flavor than white meat, but seasoning is essential for any delicious chicken dish. The basic rub of salt and pepper sets an amazing taste foundation for the meat, especially if you’re doing protein prep for soups and salads.
If you’re planning to serve chicken thighs for the main dish, the chicken needs to be more than a one-dimensional meal. In this recipe, we went with paprika for a tender heat, as well as oregano, onion and garlic powder for an aromatic hint.
The beauty of the spices in this recipe is that they can be easily swapped with your favorites. If you’re feeling adventurous, here are other combinations to try:
Oregano, basil, and garlic powder
Rosemary, thyme, and basil
Turmeric, cumin, and chili powder
Tips for Making
Brown the Skin Side First: This step adds depth of flavor to the meat and gives complexity and color to the sauce. Browning the skin side causes it to release extra fat to the bottom of the pot. This means you can skip the added oil for searing vegetables in the next step and reduce the fat profile of the dish.
Save the Extra Liquid: Once you’re done cooking the chicken and vegetables, you’ll find a flavor-packed chicken broth at the bottom of the pot, which is perfect for homemade soup or gravy.
Making gravy from this extra juice is super easy — simply whisk in a thickening agent and cook to the desired consistency. We prefer cornstarch over flour since it makes the most silky smooth gravy.
How Long to Cook Chicken Thighs in an Instant Pot
The capacity of your Instant Pot and the amount of cooking time will vary slightly from each other. The time list below is for 4 -6 medium chicken thighs:
Fresh Chicken Thighs
Boneless Thighs: 12 – 15 minutes.
Bone-In Thighs: 15 – 18 minutes.
Frozen Chicken Thighs
Frozen chicken needs an extra 2 – 4 minutes for this recipe. However, note that if you’re using frozen chicken thighs with skin on, chances are the spice rub won’t stick well to the meat, and the skin will go limp when searing in the hot oil.
Thus, we recommend thawing the chicken in the refrigerator the night before or directly under running water to bring the meat to room temperature. These few extra minutes of prep help take your chicken to a whole other level of deliciousness.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
To safely store the cooked chicken, place it in an airtight container or a Ziplock bag and keep it in the refrigerator. The dish should stay fresh for 3 – 5 days.
For more extended storage, freeze your Instant Pot thighs by placing them in a freezer-safe plastic storage bag. You can keep them for up to 3 months without quality deterioration.
What to Serve With
These Instant Pot chicken thighs lend themselves well to various flavor profiles so you can pair them with almost anything. Our favorite side dish to go with it is a light green salad, and then a glass of juice to complete the dinner.
Greek Salad: Here is a classic salad that has a bit of everything: crunchiness from lettuce, sweetness from cherry tomatoes, creaminess from cheese, and a touch of vinegar-olive oil dressing for balance and unity.
Pineapple Cucumber Juice: Our tropical pineapple cucumber juice with its fruity tone and tangy-sweet taste is a perfect palate cleanser for the rich flavor of the chicken.
Delicious Instant Pot Appetizers
Our team cracked up as we came across this dish and its name, but puns aside, it's pretty good. It's a chicken sandwich with burger buns, chicken shreds drenched in a cream sauce, and cheese. We think the result would be better with a mayo slaw, but the burgers turn out really good already.
If you're looking for a hearty and comforting dish that can be made in an instant pot, this Mississippi chicken recipe is a must-try. For a well-rounded meal, we slow-cooked shredded chicken in a deeply flavored, slightly sour gravy sauce with pepperoncini, then served it with creamy mashed potatoes.
31 oz skin-on bone-in chicken thighs (22 oz boneless chicken thighs)
8 oz baby carrots
8 oz baby potatoes
1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
2 tbsp garlic (chopped)
1 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp shallot (chopped)
2 tsp cornstarch
1 fl oz water
1 1/2 tsp traditional Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp parsley (chopped)
Rub 31 oz chicken thighs into the spice mixture of 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp oregano, and 1/2 tsp ground pepper. Set aside.
Set your Instant Pot to ‘sauté’ mode, and heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Once the oil is hot, sear the skin side of the chicken first for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken onto the other side and cook for 3 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pot. Add 2 tbsp garlic and 2 tsp shallot, stir fry until fragrant.
Stir in 8 oz baby carrots and 8 oz baby potatoes and pour in 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth.
Place the trivet in the Instant Pot and arrange the chicken thighs on top. Close the lid and set to ‘stew meat’ for 15 minutes.
Once the Instant Pot is done cooking, let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and transfer the chicken and vegetables to a plate. Remove the trivet from the pot.
In a small bowl, whisk 2 tsp cornstarch with 1 fl oz water. Turn on the ‘sauté’ mode, add 1 tbsp honey, 1 1/2 tsp mustard, 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard, 1 tsp sriracha, 1 tsp lemon juice, and the cornstarch mixture. Whisk until well-combined.
Cook to thicken the gravy, about 5 minutes.
Arrange the chicken and vegetables on serving plates. Garnish with 2 tbsp parsley and drizzle the gravy over them.
Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 494Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 8g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 14g
Vitamin A 8243IU
Vitamin C 11mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Emily Rogers is a California-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in Public Health Dietetics. She has had an eclectic career working as a health educator, nutrition counselor, recipe developer, clinical dietitian and outpatient dietitian. Emily is currently a full-time Public Health Nutritionist with the County of Orange where she teaches Nutrition Education and Community Nutrition courses.
Instant Pot chicken thighs are juicy and flavorful, making them a perfect protein for any meal.