butcherbox chicken thighs

How to Cook Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Thighs

Last Updated on June 21, 2023

Cooking frozen chicken thighs in an Instant Pot is a convenient and easy way to prepare a tasty meal. Once cooked, you can use the juicy chicken thighs as a staple protein in so many great recipes for different meals.

The Instant Pot are electric pressure cookers that have become a game-changer in many kitchens. Its ability to cook frozen foods in a fraction of the time makes it a favorite in busy households. In this blog, we’ll explore the simple steps to cook frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot, resulting in tender and flavorful meat that’s ready to be enjoyed in no time.

greek roasted chicken thighs

This Greek roasted chicken thigh recipe could easily be adapted to the Instant Pot.

8 Simple Steps to Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

Step 1: Prepare the Instant Pot

Before starting the pressure cooking process, ensure that your Instant Pot is clean and in proper working condition. Place the inner pot into the Instant Pot base. For cooking thighs, you won’t need the trivet, steamer basket, or other accessories. If you have an 8-quart Instant Pot, you can easily fit at least 4 frozen chicken thighs for cooking.

Step 2: Add Liquid

To create the necessary steam for cooking, adding cooking liquid is essential. This will also help prevent the chicken skin or meat from sticking to the pot. Pour approximately 1 cup of chicken broth, water, or your preferred cooking liquid into the Instant Pot. Adding fresh lemon juice, pineapple juice, minced garlic, or even sliced onion rounds can add flavor to your chicken as its cooking.


Season your chicken thighs well for optimal flavor during the cooking process.

Step 3: Season Chicken

Whether you go with frozen boneless thighs or bone-in, skin-on frozen chicken thighs, seasoning is key. Season your raw chicken thighs with a combination of salt, pepper, garlic salt or powder, sweet paprika, or your favorite spice blend. You can add the seasoning directly onto the frozen chicken thighs or sprinkle it in the cooking liquid.

Step 4: Place the Chicken in the Instant Pot

Carefully place the seasoned frozen chicken thighs into the Instant Pot, ensuring they are fully submerged in the cooking liquid. Avoid stacking the thighs directly on top of each other to promote even cooking.

Optional Step: Sauté to Brown the Chicken

The beauty of an Instant Pot over a crockpot is the multiple cooking functions. Depending on your type of pressure cooker, there may be a sauté function. Browning your meat on both sides is a great way to have that grilled or sautéed appearance and crispy texture. It also helps to lock in the flavor of the meat before cooking your chicken with the pressure cooking function.

Step 5: Set the Cooking Time

Securely close the lid of the Instant Pot and set the cooking time accordingly. For boneless chicken thighs, a cooking time of around 12-15 minutes on manual mode at high pressure is usually sufficient. However, for bone-in chicken thighs, you may need to increase the cooking time to 15-20 minutes.

Note: Remember, cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken thighs and the specific model of your Instant Pot. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

instant pot pressure cooker turned on and ready to use

Using the Instant Pot is a great way to cook a flavorful meal quickly with little cleanup.

Step 6: Natural or Quick Release

Once the cooking cycle is complete, you have two options for releasing the pressure: natural release or quick release. Natural release involves allowing the Instant Pot to depressurize naturally over a period of 10-15 minutes. Quick release, on the other hand, involves carefully turning the pressure release valve to “Venting” to release the pressure quickly. Take caution as hot steam will be released during a quick release.

Step 7: Check the Internal Temperature

After the pressure has fully released and it’s safe to open the Instant Pot, use a digital meat or instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken thighs. Ensure that the minimum safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) has been reached. If not, you can cook the chicken for a few additional minutes using the sauté function or by placing it back on high pressure for a short amount of time.

Step 8: Save or Serve and Enjoy

Once the chicken thighs have reached a safe temperature, carefully remove them from the Instant Pot. Allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving. You can serve the chicken thighs as they are or shred the meat for various recipes like tacos, sandwiches, salads, or stir-fries. Store leftover cooked chicken in airtight containers for meal prep. The possibilities are endless!

Lemon basil chicken thigh with quinoa and pesto plated as well in meal prep containers

Lemon basil chicken thigh recipe is a great make-ahead recipe for weekly meal prep.

Instant Pot Chicken Thigh Recipes to Try 

When looking for instant pot recipes for chicken thighs, you can widen your search. Don’t just search for instant pot recipes. Look for baked chicken thighs and even instant pot chicken drumstick recipes for a wider range of recipes. It will take a little adjusting when it comes to following the recipe instructions for the cooking method.

But all of these chicken thigh recipes, with a little creativity, would work well with Instant Pot frozen chicken thighs.

Cooking Frozen Chicken is a Breeze in the Instant Pot

With the Instant Pot, cooking frozen chicken thighs is incredibly easy. A process that used to take hours of thawing, seasoning, and cooking, is now reduced to less than 30 minutes.

The Instant Pot continues to revolutionize the way we cook, providing convenience, speed, and outstanding results. So, next time you have frozen chicken thighs on hand, give the Instant Pot a try and discover the flavorful, juicy chicken that awaits you.

For more recipe tips and tricks, check out the JustCook blog.