Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Thighs are the perfect summer food, no grill required! Use bone-in or boneless chicken thighs, or fresh or frozen.
How to make BBQ chicken thighs in the Instant Pot
Combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Marinade chicken with the spice rub.
Add water, trivet and chicken thighs to the Instant Pot and pressure cook until cooked.
Once pressure cooked, remove chicken thighs carefully and broil in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Once the skin is crisped, brush chicken thighs with BBQ sauce.
Serve the chicken on its own or with your favourite side dishes and enjoy!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken thighs – use boneless or bone in chicken thighs for this recipe. You can also use frozen chicken thighs straight from the freezer.
- Water – the water is essential for cooking in the Instant Pot. You can use a broth, but since the chicken won’t come in contact with the liquid directly, it is best to just use water.
- Paprika – cayenne powder, chili powder or chili flakes are great alternatives to use in place of paprika.
- Onion powder – onion salt, fresh minced onion, or extra garlic powder can substitute onion powder.
- Garlic powder – fresh or jarred minced garlic, garlic salt or extra onion powder can substitute garlic powder.
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- BBQ sauce – use store-bought BBQ sauce to make this recipe easier. If you aren’t able to find BBQ sauce, combine red wine vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and paprika to make your own. In a pinch, use another sauce in place of BBQ, but it will change this recipe from being BBQ chicken thighs to reflect whichever marinade you choose!
How long does it take to cook chicken thighs?
The cook time for chicken thighs in an Instant Pot will vary depending on whether you are using bone-in chicken thighs or boneless chicken thighs. Bone in thighs will take longer to cook, but with the bone remaining in the chicken thigh you may have a more tender cut of meat. Bone in chicken thighs are also a lot more cost-effective because it requires less work for the butcher to process out the bones. The choice is yours!
If you choose bone-in thighs, you will be pressure cooking the chicken thighs for 15 minutes. If you choose to use boneless chicken thighs, you will be pressure cooking the chicken for 10 minutes.
Can you stack chicken thighs in an Instant Pot?
The answer is yes! If you’re cooking the serving suggestion listed in the recipe card, you will have to stack the chicken thighs in the Instant Pot. It is completely safe to do so. When stacking your chicken thighs in the Instant Pot, make sure to not to exceed four pounds of chicken at one time because it will over extend the amount of time it will take to bring the Instant Pot to reach pressure.
Note: if you’re stacking your chicken thighs in the Instant Pot, make sure all of the chicken is seasoned evenly before cooking otherwise the chicken might be unevenly seasoned.
Using frozen chicken thighs
Forget to thaw your chicken during the day? Well, not a problem! You’re able to cook frozen chicken thighs directly in the Instant Pot. Since the cook time of an Instant Pot is much faster than a crockpot, there isn’t a possibility of the meat sitting at an unsafe temperature for too long. The Instant Pot is much more instant!
To cook frozen chicken thighs, pressure cook boneless thighs for 15 minutes, or bone-in thighs for 20 minutes
What to serve with BBQ chicken thighs
BBQ chicken thighs are a delicious staple for the summer months. Bring them to your next BBQ, potluck or outdoor picnic! The best part about BBQ chicken thighs is that they pair great with basically everything.
If you’re looking for side dish inspiration for your BBQ chicken thighs, I’ve got you covered:
- Potatoes in any form: mashed potatoes, potato salad, fries, etc.
- Roasted or steamed vegetables
- A leafy green salad or coleslaw
- Other salads: quinoa salad, pasta salad or bean salad
- Pasta dishes
- Corn on the cob
Storing and reheating
If you’re preparing your meals for the week or just have leftovers on hand, the chicken thighs will last in the fridge for five days. Repurpose the leftovers into other meals or enjoy on their own.
To store the chicken thighs, divide them into individual portions and refrigerate. Before refrigerating, make sure you allow them to cool down a bit to avoid bacteria build up or the formation of any condensation. When ready to enjoy, warm the chicken in the microwave before eating. Sprinkle water over the chicken to ensure it doesn’t dry out while reheating.
Freezing chicken thighs
There are two ways that you can go about freezing the BBQ chicken thighs: freeze the raw chicken thighs or freeze cooked chicken thighs.
To freeze the raw chicken thighs, marinade the chicken and then freeze it. When you are ready to prepare the chicken thighs, you can put the marinaded chicken directly into the Instant Pot and cook using the frozen chicken instructions above.
To freeze the cooked chicken thighs, wait for the chicken to cool down, place them in freezer bags or an airtight container and freeze them. The chicken thighs will last for about four months in the freezer. Allow the chicken to thaw in the refrigerator before reheating using the reheating instructions above.
More Instant Pot chicken recipes
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on turning this recipe into your weekly lunches.
- I get all my free-range chicken from Butcher Box, conveniently delivered to me frozen.
- Use these Ziploc bag holders if you’re marinating the chicken then freezing it
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Thighs
- 2 lbs bone-in or boneless chicken thighs
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
- Mix together paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken thighs, tossing to coat.
- Add water to Instant Pot, followed by trivet and seasoned chicken thighs.
- Place lid on Instant Pot and make sure valve is set to seal. Press the pressure cook button and set to high. Pressure cook bone-in thighs for 15 minutes, or boneless thighs for 10 minutes. Pressure cook frozen boneless thighs for 15 minutes, or frozen bone-in thighs for 20 minutes.
- When chicken thighs are done, do a quick release of the pressure on the Instant Pot by flicking the switch at the top with a spoon. Open the lid when pressure gauge has dropped and the lid opens easily. Remove chicken thighs from the pot.
- Set oven to broil on high. Meanwhile, add cooked chicken thighs to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes until skin starts to crisp up, watching closely so they don't burn, then remove from oven and brush with BBQ sauce. Serve and enjoy!