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Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Thighs

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Learn how to cook frozen chicken thighs in the instant pot: it’s fast, easy, and delicious! Crispy skin and tender, juicy thighs ready in less than 30 minutes.

close up golden cooked chicken thighs with parsley leaves.

Did you forget to defrost the chicken? No problem. This instant pot frozen chicken thighs recipe will save dinner tonight. All you need are the thighs, some spices, and a bit of chicken stock or water. Using the instant pot pressure cooker for preparing frozen food is a game changer.

Should you not have an instant pot, you can also cook frozen chicken in the air fryer, on the stove, or in the oven. Try our Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Air Fryer, learn How to Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs in the oven, How to Cook Frozen Chicken Wings, or How to Boil Frozen Chicken Breast.

Recipe ingredients

collage of two pictures of raw chicken thighs and a bowl of spices.
  • Chicken thighs: I prefer to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs; they are always juicy, delicious, and much more economical than boneless thighs. And cooking bone-in juicy chicken thighs in the instant pot will only take a few minutes more than cooking boneless parts.
  • Spices: This recipe is a lifesaver when dinner needs to be fast, so I tend to use a ready-made chicken seasoning mixture. However, ANY spices you like are great. And if all you have are salt and pepper, the frozen chicken thighs will still be delicious.
  • A cup of liquid: Water is perfectly sufficient. For a boost of flavor, you can use chicken broth or stock. I often add ½ a chicken stock cube to the water (if I remember it in time).

Step-by-step instructions

Pressure cook:

  • Place the trivet into the pot and pour a cup of chicken broth or water into the inner pot. Arrange the seasoned meat on top of the trivet (1). Cover with the instant pot lid and seal.
  • Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.
  • Release the pressure naturally (5-10 minutes). Turn the valve to “venting” to release any remaining pressure. HOT steam – be careful!

Broil:

  • Spray the pieces with olive oil (2) and broil in the preheated oven on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for 3-5 minutes or until the skin is crispy (depending on your broiler). Don’t let the skin burn.
collage of two pictures of four chicken thighs in an instant pot and then on a baking sheet.

How long does it take to cook frozen chicken thighs in the instant pot?

The cooking time depends on the size of the pieces and whether they have any bones.

  • Bone-in, medium: 12 minutes
  • Bone-in, large: 15-18 minutes
  • Boneless, medium: 8 minutes
  • Boneless, large: 9-10 minutes

How to check if the chicken is cooked through?

The best and easiest way to check is with an instant-read thermometer; the internal temperature should be 74°C/ 165°F (Amazon affiliate link).

If you don’t have a thermometer, pierce a thigh at its thickest; the juices should run clear. Or make a small cut near the bone; everything should be white and juicy; no traces of red or pink are allowed.

Expert Tips

  • Seasoning frozen meat properly is a bit of a challenge, as the spices will not adhere properly to the frozen parts, and you will not be able to rub the meat. The best method is to sprinkle the underside with the spices, place the pieces onto the trivet and sprinkle them generously with more spices.
  • You can cook more than four pieces of meat at once; it will not matter much if you layer them a bit. Make sure that you season the pieces on the bottom before adding some more parts on top of them.
  • Cooking liquid: Don’t waste it. You can thicken it with cornstarch slurry to make gravy. Or pour it into a jar, let it cool and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days (or freeze it). Use it to make gravy, to add to soups or sauces.
four thighs cooked from frozen on a silver plate.

Recipe FAQ

Should I use the poultry setting of the instant pot?

You can, but I don’t recommend it unless you know your machine very well and always use the average chicken thighs.  
The problem is that the automatic setting will not consider the weight of the meat pieces or whether they are boneless or not. My experience is that using the automatic setting will often lead to overcooking. Apparently, the standard chicken thigh is larger than those I usually have.

Do I have to use the trivet?

I recommend using it. The trivet will ensure that the thighs are steamed and not boiled in the liquid.

What if the thighs are frozen in a block?

That’s fine. You might need to place them in the pot at an angle, but that will not affect the cooking process.

Shouldn’t I brown the thighs before cooking?

You can’t brown them if they are frozen; that will only work if you start the recipe with fresh meat.

Will the skin be crispy?

Not directly from the instant pot. You must broil the cooked chicken in the oven to get it crispy. That will only take 3-5 minutes, don’t forget to preheat the broiler in time.

How to store?

Refrigerate the pressure cooker chicken thighs in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator.
Reheat in the oven or the air fryer.

How to serve?

close up four crispy thighs sprinkled with parsley.

More food cooked from frozen

Check the web story for this post: How to make Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Thighs

Do you like this recipe?

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four thighs cooked from frozen on a silver plate.

Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Thighs

Learn how to cook frozen chicken thighs in the instant pot: it’s fast, easy, and delicious! Crispy skin and tender, juicy meat ready in less than 30 minutes.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Main Course, Poultry
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 320kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • Instant pot
  • Baking sheet

Ingredients 

  • 4 frozen chicken thighs bone-in, skin on medium, Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon chicken seasoning Note 2
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock, 250 ml, Note 3
  • cooking spray

Instructions

Instant pot

  • Place the trivet into the pot and pour in the water or stock. Arrange the seasoned chicken on top of the trivet.
  • Cover with the lid and set the vent to “sealed.”
  • Cook: Set the timer. Cook for 12 minutes (it will take about 5 minutes to come to pressure).
  • Allow a natural pressure release; it will take 5 to 10 minutes. Set the valve to “venting” to release any remaining steam. BE CAREFUL: the steam will come out of the top; keep your face and hands away.
  • Check if the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature 74°C/165°F).

Broil:

  • Preheat the broiler while the thighs are still in the instant pot. Line the baking tray with aluminum foil.
  • Place the cooked chicken on the tray (use tongs). Spray lightly with the oil.
  • Broil for 3-5 minutes or until the skin is crispy (depending on your broiler), keeping an eye on the meat to ensure that the skin will not burn.

Notes

  1. The cooking time depends on the size of the thighs and whether they are bone-in or boneless.
  • Bone-in, medium: 12 minutes
  • Bone-in, large: 15-18 minutes
  • Boneless, medium: 8 minutes
  • Boneless, large: 9-10 minutes
  1. You can use any spices or spice mixtures you like. Only salt and pepper are great as well. Sprinkle the spices on the meat; you will not be able to rub them on frozen meat.
  2. Water, chicken stock or water and ½ cube chicken stock.

Nutrition

Serving: 1thigh | Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 303mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.03g | Vitamin A: 139IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
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