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Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from Fresh or Frozen

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Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from fresh or frozen are tender, juicy, and deeply flavorful! Served with a delicious brown butter garlic sauce to smother the chicken or as additional gravy and pan sauce. Instructions included for fresh or frozen chicken thighs.

Close up of Instant pot brown butter garlic chicken thighs in dark bowl on mashed potatoes and topped with green onions on top of woven mat next to white cloth and green onion stalk

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from Fresh or Frozen

My recipes for Instant Pot Chicken Legs from fresh or frozen and Air Fryer Chicken Wings from fresh or frozen are some of my most popular recipes!

Today, I’m sharing with you how to make Instant Pot chicken thighs from fresh or frozen. This recipe in particular is for Brown Butter Garlic Chicken thighs, but you can use the same method and time with your favorite flavors. Simply replace the liquid and seasoning with your favorite and it’ll come out perfectly. 

Cooking Chicken thighs in the Instant Pot is awesome because the dark meat is incredibly difficult to mess up. It’s never dry, has great flavor, and cooks much quicker than chicken breasts.

Chicken thighs cooking in instant pot

Brown Butter Garlic Chicken thighs

The secret to these Brown Butter Garlic Chicken Thighs is to sear the chicken in the Instant Pot using the sauté feature before pressure-cooking.

Browning the meat caramelizes the surface, resulting in a rich flavor and color. This small effort creates a fork tender, deeply flavorful chicken and sauce. It’s worth it!

Deglazing sounds fancy, but it’s a basic technique!  It simply means adding liquid to a hot pan and gently loosening the caramelized bits, also known as fond, from the bottom. It’s how you get the flavor off the bottom of the pan and into your mouth!

The best part—the whole process uses only the Instant Pot for less mess. Instant Pot Chicken Thighs with brown butter garlic sauce is perfect served with anything to soak up every last drop of gravy, such as Colcannon mashed potatoes, rice, or crusty bread.

Why you’ll love this easy Instant Pot recipe

However, if you don’t have the time to sear, this recipe comes together quickly with frozen chicken thighs for a delicious last minute dinner! I’ll include directions for this recipe from either fresh or frozen chicken thighs, but first let me tell you three reasons to love Instant Pot Chicken Thighs:

  1. Brown butter garlic sauce! YUM. It sounds fancy, but it’s incredibly easy! I simply brown the chicken, deglaze the pan, and then thicken the cooking liquid to make a delicious pan sauce or gravy. I serve this with Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes or Instant Pot Brown Rice or Instant Pot White Rice.
  1. Pantry friendly ingredients. This Instant Pot chicken thigh recipe calls for basic ingredients and spices. I usually have everything on hand! It’s a great option for an impressive, last-minute meal.
  1. Versatile dish. Instant Pot chicken thighs are a versatile dish. It pairs well with a variety of sides, such as rice, mashed potatoes, or other vegetables. Leftover chicken thighs are delicious as is, or shredded to stuff sandwiches and burritos. Switch it up to satisfy your needs and cravings!
Side view of Instant Pot chicken thighs in white bowl topped with green onions

How to make Instant Pot Chicken Thighs (with fresh chicken thighs)

  • Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot and allow to preheat until the pot reads “HOT.”
  • Add 2 tablespoons butter and stir until brown and nutty, about 3 minutes.
  • Combine the seasoning blend ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on both sides of the chicken thighs.
  • Cooking 4 at a time, place the chicken into the hot butter and sear 3 minutes per side.
  • Remove the chicken to a plate and add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the pot. Let cook until browned, then add the remaining chicken and sear 3 minutes per side.
  • Remove the chicken to a plate and immediately add the chicken broth to the pot. Turn off sauté mode. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add garlic and soy sauce.
  • Place the chicken and any juices back into the pot in the liquid.
  • Lock the lid, turn the knob to sealing, and then pressure cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow a 5-minute natural pressure release.
  • Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot onto a serving plate and cover.
  • Press the sauté button and bring the liquid back to a boil. Mix together the cornstarch and cold water, then whisk it into the boiling sauce. Mix until thickened, and then serve along the chicken as additional gravy or pan sauce.

How to make Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Thighs

The fact that the Instant Pot can quickly cook frozen chicken is one of its many talents. It’s a game changer! Perfect for pulling together a last-minute meal without thawing, defrosting, or boiling frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs.

How do you cook frozen chicken thighs?

I tested this recipe with both fresh and frozen chicken thighs and there is no difference in cooking time! For Instant Pot frozen chicken thighs, you’ll take the frozen chicken thighs and add them to the Instant Pot with the rest of the ingredients. Simply skip the searing process. It’s not as flavorful, but it’s much faster.

The only change you’ll have to make is to brown the butter first, if you don’t already have it on hand. You can brown the butter in the Instant Pot, then add the rest of the ingredients, then cook.

Close up of Instant Pot chicken thighs made from frozen in dark bowl on mashed potatoes and topped with green onions

How to serve Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

Brown Butter Garlic Instant Pot Chicken Thighs pair well with anything to soak up every last drop of gravy, such as mashed potatoes, your favorite rice, or crusty bread. I also love to serve this dish with a hearty, fresh salad for a low carb option.

How to store Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

If you have leftovers, store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, or the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can I substitute chicken thighs with chicken breasts?

Chicken thighs are more tender, fatty, and forgiving. The dark meat has a delicious, intense flavor. Oppositely, chicken breasts are all white meat. If not cooked correctly, chicken breasts can result in dry, bland, and chewy chicken.

I make this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the best result. If you try it with chicken breasts, I recommend cutting the chicken breast into 3 inch chunks (keep the cook tie the same). You may also cook whole fresh or frozen chicken breasts with this recipe by increasing the cook time to 20 minutes. Consider shredding the cooked chicken into the sauce for a yummy dish!

If you’re looking for a yummy Instant Pot chicken breast from fresh or frozen, check out my Instant Pot Shredded BBQ Chicken recipe! I like to add this Instant Pot pulled chicken to a fresh strawberry salad.

Close up of Instant Pot brown butter garlic chicken thighs in white bowl topped with green onions

Can I use bone in chicken thighs?

Chicken thigh meat is juicy and flavorful. I love to stock up on it when there’s a sale at my grocery store. Often the best sale prices are for bone in chicken thighs.

This recipe can be made with bone in chicken thighs! Simply adjust the cooking time by cooking for 15 minutes. You’ll know the chicken is done when a cooking thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches a minimum of 165º F.

Can I leave the skin on chicken thighs?

Bone in, skin on chicken thighs create a delicious flavor depth and are usually a lot more affordable than boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

You can make this recipe with skin on chicken thighs, but keep in mind that the skin will not be crispy like if you had baked it in an oven. Make sure to sear the chicken, skin side down, for about 4 minutes or until really browned.

If you enjoy this recipe, you’ll love the Chicken Thighs with Rice recipe in my cookbook!

Check out this video for 4 Easy Instant Pot Chicken and Rice recipes!

About Lisa

Lisa childs holding an instant pot lid with a mickey instant pot

Lisa Childs is the food blogger behind Tried, Tested, and True. Join the hundreds of thousands of people each month that learn from Lisa-

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Graphic of Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from fresh or frozen with one picture of plate of cooked chicken thighs.
Close up of brown butter garlic chicken thighs in dark bowl on mashed potatoes and topped with green onions on top of woven mat next to white cloth and green onion stalk

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from Fresh or Frozen

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs are tender, juicy, and deeply flavorful! Served with a delicious brown butter garlic sauce to smother the chicken or as additional gravy and pan sauce. Instructions included for fresh or frozen chicken thighs.

Ingredients

Seasoning blend

  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Chicken

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 4 bone in, skin on)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Instructions

  1. Press the saute button on the Instant Pot and allow to preheat until the pot reads "HOT."
    Add 2 tablespoons butter and stir until brown and nutty, about 3 minutes.
  2. Combine the seasoning blend ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on both sides of the chicken thighs. Cooking 4 at a time, place the chicken into the hot butter and sear three minutes per side.
  3. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the pot. Let cook until browned, then add the remaining chicken and sear 3 minutes per side.
  4. Remove the chicken to a plate and immediately add the chicken broth to the pot. Turn off saute mode. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add garlic and soy sauce.
  5. Place the chicken and any juices back into the pot in the liquid.
    Lock the lid, turn the knob to sealing, then pressure cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow a 5 minute natural pressure release.
  6. Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot onto a serving plate and cover. Press the saute button and bring the liquid back to a boil. Mix together the cornstarch and cold water, then whisk it into the boiling sauce. Mix until thickened, then serve along the chicken as additional gravy or pan sauce.

Notes

  • To cook from frozen, brown the butter in the Instant Pot. Add the chicken, chicken broth, minced garlic, and soy sauce. Mix together the seasoning blend ingredients and sprinkle all over the top of the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes with a 5 minute natural pressure release. Remove the chicken, then turn on saute mode. Combine the cornstarch and cold water, then whisk into the sauce. Making it from frozen isn't as flavorful, but it's a lot easier!
  • For bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (fresh or frozen), adjust cook time to 15 minutes with a 5-10 minute natural pressure release.
  • This recipe is formulated for chicken thighs that are between 1/2-3/4 inch thick and about 4 inches wide. If your chicken thighs are larger than that, increase the cook time 2-8 minutes. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165º F. I always recommend using a Thermapen cooking thermometer to always ensure food safety.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 489Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 305mgSodium: 1806mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 55g

Did you make this recipe?

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Patricia

Sunday 5th of June 2022

I just made this dish and the taste of the spices is spot on. BUT, 5 minutes for "frozen" chicken thighs was not enough. They were still raw. Maybe it should say 15 minutes if using frozen thighs. I will make again bit i will increase the cook time for frozen.

Lisa Childs

Tuesday 28th of June 2022

Hi Patricia! The blog post itself included instructions for frozen chicken thighs, but you're right- I should have included additional instructions in the notes of the recipe card. I'm sorry about that! I've updated the recipe card to reflect those instructions. I've also tested this recipe multiple times, and I find that almost all frozen, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are relatively thin (3/4-1/2 inch thick or less) and do cook in 5 mninutes. If the chicken thighs are bone-in or larger than that, they will need more time. Thanks for helping us improve! - Lisa

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