Uncooked chicken thighs in an Instant Pot.

How Long to Cook Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

By Whitney Reist
December 7, 2021

One of our favorite ways to cook chicken thighs is pressure cooking in an Instant Pot – the tender, juicy, and succulent results are so irrisistable and surprisingly easy to achieve! In this post, we’re sharing all of our tested and expert advice on how long to cook chicken thighs in the Instant Pot!

Uncooked chicken thighs in an Instant Pot.

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After a TON of recipe development and testing for our Instant Pot cookbook, we are happy to share all we have learned about perfectly cooking chicken thighs in the Instant Pot. Whether they are boneless, bone-in, fresh, or frozen, keep reading for all the details you need to know!

In this article, you’ll find:

  • How long you should cook boneless or bone-in chicken thighs in the Instant Pot
  • How long to cook fresh or frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot
  • A free Instant Pot cooking times chart
  • The answer to how long you should cook chicken thighs in the slow cooker
  • Chicken thigh recipes you might like
  • Where we get our chicken thighs from
  • Bonus tips for cooking frozen food in the Instant Pot
  • Instant Pot freezer meal inspiration

How Long Should You Cook Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot?

The first thing you will need to do when cooking ANY type of chicken thighs in the Instant Pot is add 1 cup of chicken broth or water for a 6-quart Instant Pot. If you are using an 8-quart Instant Pot, add 1.5 cups of liquid. We also recommend seasoning the chicken thighs with salt and pepper for some much-needed flavor.

Next, it’s time to determine how long to cook your chicken thighs:

Boneless Chicken Thighs

For 1 1/2-2 pounds of fresh, boneless chicken thighs, you will need to cook in the Instant Pot at high pressure for 7 minutes with a quick pressure release.

Bone-In Chicken Thighs

For 2 1/2-3 pounds of fresh, bone-in chicken thighs, you will need to cook in the Instant Pot at high pressure for 12 minutes with a quick pressure release.

Frozen Chicken Thighs

If you forgot to thaw chicken thighs, you are in luck! Frozen chicken thighs cook wonderfully in an Instant Pot.

  • For 1-2 pounds frozen, boneless chicken thighs: cook at high pressure for 15-20 minutes with a quick release.
  • 2-3 pounds frozen, bone-in chicken thighs: cook at high pressure for 17-22 minutes with a quick release.

For more tips, see our in-depth post on how long to cook frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot!

Once your chicken thighs are cooked, turn things up a notch and broil them on a sheet pan for a few minutes – you and your family will LOVE the extra-crispy skin that results.

Chicken thighs in an Instant Pot with seasoning.

Testing the Internal Temperature

We can assure you we are NOT just guessing about these cooking time recommendations. While writing our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we methodically tested recipes by taking the internal temperature with our trusted meat thermometer (pic below) at different points during the cooking time.

A blue digital instant-read meat thermometer.

If you don’t have one of these digital meat thermometers, be sure to snag one. It’s one of our top kitchen tools, because it prevents undercooking or overcooking all kinds of dishes.

Free Cooking Times Chart for Instant Pot

In an effort to save you from overcooking or undercooking future Instant Pot meals, we wanted to equip you with this free Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart. (We spent two years testing the most accurate Instant Pot cooking times for our second cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker.)

Download it, print it, snuggle it, and thank us later.

How Long Do I Cook Chicken Thighs in the Slow Cooker?

We are so glad you asked! Take a look at and download our free slow cooker cooking times chart below!

Can I Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs in the Slow Cooker?

Now, we know this is your next question. We hate to break this to you, but unfortunately cooking frozen chicken (or any meat) in the slow cooker is not safe. Here is what the USDA says about frozen food in the crockpot:

Always defrost meat or poultry before putting it in the slow cooker. If you place frozen meat or poultry in a slow cooker it can spend too much time thawing, allow bacteria to multiply, and make you sick. Using defrosted foods will also ensure your meal cooks evenly and all the way through.

– USDA

Fresh or thawed chicken thighs do, however, cook beautifully in the crockpot!

Chicken Thigh Recipes You Might Like

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings are probably the ultimate comfort food.  This one-pot-wonder is filled with tender vegetables, juicy shredded chicken, and soft dumplings in a rich creamy-brothy gravy.

Slow cooker chicken and dumplings in a white bowl.

Italian Baked Chicken Thighs

The most amazing, flavorful oven-baked chicken thighs you’ll find! With just a handful of simple seasonings, these chicken thighs come out crispy on the outside and amazingly tender and juicy on the inside.  Baked chicken thighs are so easy to make and we show you how to turn them into a make-ahead freezer meal too!

Italian baked chicken thighs on a white plate with a red and white towel on the side.

Teriyaki Chicken

This fast, healthy chicken teriyaki dinner will thoroughly impress your family and friends. The best part – it’s made in the slow cooker, so you have very little work to do!

Teriyaki chicken thighs on a grey plate garnished with sliced green onion.

Where Do You Get Your Chicken Thighs From?

We are HUGE fans of Butcherbox and have been getting our chicken (and beef, seafood, and pork) from them for years now. In fact, Rachel wrote a comprehensive honest review about this meat subscription service.

We love that all their meat is healthy and sourced responsibly. It’s so convenient to have it delivered to our doorsteps whenever we choose!

A woman standing on her front porch holding a box from Butcher Box meats.

Bonus Tips for Cooking Frozen Food in the Instant Pot

Tip 1: Freeze your Instant Pot meals in a circular form.

While many are accustomed to freezing meals in a nice flat square-shaped freezer bag, this shape won’t work when trying to cook a freezer meal in the Instant Pot. It simply won’t fit.

Our preferred method is to freeze the meal in a zip-top freezer bag and place the meal in a bowl (or something that is a round shape). After it’s frozen, snatch the bowl back and leave the meal in the freezer. Then when you want to make your meal, it’ll plop right into that Instant Pot!

A freezer bag filled with chicken breasts and chicken broth

Tip 2: If possible, don’t stack your meat when freezing meals in the Instant Pot.

We have learned this the hard way. Because the Instant Pot cooks so fast, if meat (especially chicken breast) is stacked, it’s really hard for it all to cook evenly. The outside gets done and the inside remains pink as a pig. (Is that a phrase? It is now.) If it’s impossible to not stack your meat, just be sure to check for doneness throughout. If it’s not done, move the meat around with some tongs and cook on high pressure for a few more minutes.

Tip 3: Large cuts of meat should be cut into small pieces before freezing.

We’re talking pork shoulders and beef roasts. In order for meat to cook evenly and to get really tender, it’s better if it’s not in one big chunk. We recommend quartering our pork shoulders and cutting our chuck roasts into 2 inch cubes. It’s some work on the front end but worth it. Chicken breasts and thighs seem to do fine as they are.

Tip 4: Saute the freezer meal in the Instant Pot for 5 minutes before cooking.

One trick that we have learned about cooking a freezer meal in the Instant Pot is to let the frozen meal simmer for about 5 minutes. Simply turn on the Sauté function, place the meal in the pot, and let it do its thing.

Tip 5: Allow extra time for coming to pressure and for cooking freezer meals in the Instant Pot.

We’ve found that freezer meals take almost twice as long to come to pressure than a thawed meal does. Make sure you allow for that time when prepping or you’ll have a hangry family. I wish there was a one size fits all pattern to freezer meal cooking times in the Instant Pot but there just isn’t.

One trend we see is that the longer it takes a meal to come to pressure, the less additional time you need to add to cook a frozen meal. It seems counterintuitive, I know. You’ll just have to trust us on this one.  So for example, in our recipes for a large batch of soup, we don’t add any additional cooking time when cooking from frozen. On the flip side, we add 10+ minutes to a small chicken recipe.

Want More Instant Pot Freezer Meals?

Be sure to check out this post packed with 20+ Instant Pot Freezer Meals!

A collage of images for freezer meals made in the Instant Pot.

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