Instant Pot Chicken Thighs (from frozen)

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You can cook frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot in a fraction of the time it takes on the stovetop and it comes out perfectly cooked, fork tender, juicy, and with less mess to clean up.

Chicken Thighs

If you didn’t plan ahead to defrost the chicken thighs in time to prepare it for dinner, that’s not a problem for the Instant Pot. If you were to cook the chicken on the stovetop, you’d have to go through a lengthy defrosting, but the Instant Pot doesn’t require the chicken to be thawed, so it’s a much faster and easier way to make dinner.

I rarely thaw chicken before cooking anymore, since it’s really unnecessary when cooking in the Instant Pot. You can easily cook frozen chicken thighs, or frozen chicken breasts or tenderloins in the Instant Pot (or the air fryer if you like!).

Of course, you can’t get the skin crispy in the Instant Pot, but that takes just a few minutes under the broiler once the chicken is done cooking. You could even crispy the skin in the Instant Pot on sauté mode, once you’ve discarded the liquid and dried the pot.

Alabama white bbq sauce on chicken

I guarantee you’ll start making chicken thighs this way in your Instant Pot from now on once you’ve tried it. The chicken really turns out juicy and delicious, and there’s no greasy mess to clean up on the stove later on.

» You might like these Instant Pot Chicken Drumsticks.

Ingredients in Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Thighs

The small amount of ingredients needed is what makes this recipe so great. There isn’t much to think about. Let the Instant Pot do all of the work.

Instant Pot and Frozen Raw Chicken Thighs
  • Chicken thighs – You can use boneless, skinless thighs for the easiest possible version. You can also use bone in skin on and just crisp the skin when the cooking is done. I use medium sized bone-in, skin on chicken thighs. If you use bone-less, skin off chicken thighs, they don’t need to cook quite as long. See the notes section of the recipe card.
  • Water – I don’t use chicken broth, like some recipes do, because the chicken sits on the trivet inside the Instant Pot, not touching the broth, so not much flavor gets into the chicken.
  • Seasonings – I like to use a mix of paprika, salt, garlic salt, and ground pepper. I put a lot on both sides of the chicken. You could just season with salt if you wanted to keep it simple.
  • Sauce – If you want to use a sauce, we’ve served ours with Alabama White BBQ Sauce.

How to Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

You can make chicken thighs from fresh or frozen in the Instant Pot. The only difference will be the amount of time they need to cook. So whether you have frozen or thawed chicken, you can use this recipe.

Now for the process. It’s quite simple. Just place the trivet in the pot and pour in the water. Season the chicken as best you can. You won’t be able to do a real “rub” because it won’t adhere to the frozen chicken. I usually just sprinkle it on top.

chicken in instant pot

Put the chicken on the trivet. Then lock the lid and set the timer for 12 minutes.

The cook time will vary depending on the type and size of chicken thigh you used (see below). 12 minutes is usually good for small to medium chicken thighs, not stacked on top of each other. You will need 15-18 minutes for larger chicken thighs – around the size of your clenched fist.

chicken thighs cooked in instant pot

When the time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally. It takes about 5-10 minutes. If the skin was on, it won’t probably look as appetizing as you want it to. To crisp the skin, just stick it under the broiler for a few minutes.

How Long to Cook Chicken Thighs

Not every piece of chicken is the same size and some will have bones, some will be frozen, some won’t be. We want to make sure your chicken thighs turn out perfect no matter how they start out. So here is a chart to help you decide how long to cook your chicken.

From frozen:

  • Bone in (small to medium): 12 minutes
  • Bone in (large): 15-18 minutes
  • Boneless: 8 minutes
  • More than 10 pieces: 20 minutes

From fresh:

  • Bone in (small to medium): 10 minutes
  • Bone in (large): 13 minutes
  • Boneless: 6 minutes
  • More than 10 pieces: 15 minutes

The chicken should be 165° F after cooking when measured on a meat thermometer. It’s important to make sure it’s reached the right temperature before you eat it.

Should You Broil Chicken After Cooking?

Broiling chicken after cooking in an Instant Pot can be a great way to achieve a crispy and browned exterior. Broiling adds a nice texture and flavor to the chicken, especially if you prefer your chicken with crispy skin or a golden-brown crust.

How to Serve Chicken Thighs

For skin-on chicken thighs, you will probably want to take the extra step of crisping up the skin under the broiler. Just place the chicken on a baking sheet and place it about 2″ under the heating element for about 3-5 minutes, until crispy. You can then add any seasonings or sauces you want. I love it with this Alabama White BBQ Sauce or Smoky Bourbon BBQ Sauce.

chicken thighs with white bbq sauce going under the broiler.

If you don’t want to use the broiler, you can crisp the skin on the grill outside, or you can empty and dry the inner pot of the Instant Pot and sear the skin side of the chicken on saute mode for 3-5 minutes.

Sauce and Seasonings

You can add any manner of different spices as well. Try:

No matter what flavor combo you want to try, you still need at least 1 cup of water in your pot. So keep that in mind when you add sauces, they are in addition to the water. This will mean that your sauce will turn out a bit watery and will have to be cooked down or thickened with corn starch.

Tips & Notes

  • For boneless chicken thighs, cook for only 8 minutes.
  • Chicken should be 165 degrees F after cooking when measured on a meat thermometer. It’s important to make sure it’s reached the right temperature before you eat it.
  • The Instant Pot doesn’t require the chicken to be thawed, so it’s a fast and easy way to make dinner.
  • To crisp the skin, just stick it under the broiler for a few minutes or dry the inner pot of the Instant Pot and sear the skin side of the chicken on sauté mode for 3-5 minutes.
Chicken Thighs

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Use Natural Release Or Quick Release?

NPR involves allowing the pressure inside the Instant Pot to release naturally over time without manually releasing the pressure. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to around 20 minutes, depending on the recipe and the amount of liquid in the pot.
In this recipe, I use the natural pressure release because it doesn’t take that long for chicken and it usually leads to more tender, less rubbery texture. If you’re in a hurry, you can release the pressure rather than waiting.

Should I use the poultry setting on the Instant Pot?

While the poultry setting can be a helpful starting point, especially for those new to using the Instant Pot, for more control over the cooking process and to ensure that your specific recipe requirements are met, you might find it beneficial to use the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” setting and manually adjust the time and pressure level as needed.

Do I need to use a trivet?

When deciding whether to use a trivet, consider the recipe’s instructions and the type of food you’re cooking. If the recipe calls for it or if you believe it will enhance the cooking process, then using a trivet can be a helpful tool in your Instant Pot cooking.

Can you overcook chicken thighs in the Instant Pot?

Truthfully, you can overcook anything. Chicken thighs are not immune from overcooking. They do have more tolerance to it though because they contain more fat, so they won’t become overly dry until they are severely overcooked. Since you are going to set the timer on the Instant Pot, it’s very unlikely that you’ll end up overcooking it.

Is it safe to cook frozen chicken?

Yes. You want to make sure that you are cooking the chicken to the correct temperature for it to be safe to eat. Also cook chicken to 165° F when measured on a meat thermometer.

Should I brown the chicken before cooking it?

I don’t brown the chicken before cooking it in the Instant Pot because the effects of the browning will be muted by the steam from the cooking process. Instead, if you want to have a crispy skin or that nice caramelization on the chicken, you can brown it after pressure cooking it.


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Chicken Thighs

Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Thighs

You can cook bone-in chicken thighs in the Instant Pot in a fraction of the time it takes on the stovetop and it comes out perfectly cooked fork tender, juicy, and with way less splatter.

Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot

4.86 from 90 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Pressurize Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 249 kcal


  • 4 frozen chicken thighs *see notes
  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • 1/2 tablespoon (4 g) paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) ground black pepper


  • Pour the water into the inner pot. Set the trivet in the pot. Place the chicken on the trivet.
  • Mix together the paprika, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Season with chicken with the spice mixture.
  • Close and lock the lid. Set the vent to sealing.
  • Press the pressure cook or manual button and set to 12 minutes. It will take about 5 minutes to come up to pressure.
  • After cooking, allow a natural pressure release (usually 5-10 minutes).
  • Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot. Place it on a baking sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes to crisp the skin.


  • These instructions assume you are cooking small to medium sized bone-in skin-on chicken thighs. For larger thighs, cook for 15-18 minutes.
  • For boneless chicken thighs, cook for only 8 minutes.
  • Chicken should be 165 degrees F after cooking when measured on a meat thermometer. It’s important to make sure it’s reached the right temperature before you eat it.


Calories: 249kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 18gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 381mgPotassium: 238mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 125IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Chicken
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31 thoughts on “Instant Pot Chicken Thighs (from frozen)

  1. Lori Rebhan says:

    3 stars
    I don’t know what happened but after 12 minutes and 10 natural release my thighs were bloody. Frozen Bone-in thighs with skin.

    • Laura says:

      That’s unusual. Were they large thighs – size of your fist? If so, they would need 15 minutes of cook time. I’ve added that to the recipe.

  2. Brenda says:

    5 stars
    I made this last night and Oh My it was delicious. It was super easy to prepare
    and it was my second time using my Instant Pot.
    I will be searching for more receipts from you. Thank You

  3. Dawn Klein says:

    We had frozen bone-in chicken thighs in the freezer. We usually buy the boneless ones, but my daughter bought the other ones. We’d been trying to figure out what to do with them. She found your recipe and it worked as promised. Also, we don’t always use the instant pot, but it came in handy today. The chicken thighs were delicious.

  4. Jacob Leslie says:

    5 stars
    The results are always fantastic, and it’s so versatile – I’ve used the cooked chicken in salads, wraps, and more.

    • Angela Morris says:

      I love it with Alabama White BBQ Sauce or Smoky Bourbon BBQ Sauce. As for seasonings you can try your favorite dry rub, Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, or hickory salt.

    • Angela Morris says:

      Yes, you will need to adjust the cooking time. For bone-in thighs you will want to cook for 12 minutes. For boneless thighs you should change the cooking time to 8 minutes.

  5. BennyTGM says:

    4 stars
    I made a slight modification to your instant pot frozen chicken thighs recipe by adding some minced garlic and a splash of lemon juice for a zesty twist.

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