Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from Frozen

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs can totally be cooked from frozen! It’s such a lifesaver when you’ve forgotten to pull meat out of the freezer for dinner.

6 chicken thighs with black pepper on them in stainless steel steamer basket in instant pot insert; blue and white checked cloth in background

Yes, it’s true: You can totally cook chicken thighs straight from frozen in your Instant Pot. This is a miraculous revelation for crazy weeknights when you’ve forgotten to take something out to defrost.

How to Freeze Chicken Thighs for Cooking from Frozen

Previously, I have told you that you have to freeze the chicken thighs individually in order to later cook them from frozen. This means that you get your chicken thighs home from the store and you take them out of the packaging and put them into a ziptop bag. You then freeze the bag flat such that none of the chicken thighs are touching each other. Once they are frozen, you can give them a toss and then they don’t have to stay flat anymore.

However, I have experimented and found out how to cook frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot even if they’re frozen in a clump. How amazing is that?

So below I am giving instructions for how to cook chicken thighs whether they were individually frozen or were frozen in a clump.

As to chicken thighs frozen in a clump, you can do at most 10 chicken thighs like this. More that that and the clump is too big and things will not cook evenly.

It is best if the clump is still fairly flat. That is, the chicken thighs are touching on each other’s sides and not stacked. The less contact between the thighs, the better.

Finally, you must remove any styrofoam or absorbent pads, or any packaging before putting the chicken thighs into the Instant Pot. If you froze the chicken thighs with packaging and if the thighs are stuck to the packaging, then you need to defrost the thighs a little bit so that you can remove the packaging. Head over here to learn different ways to thaw chicken thighs.

My preference in this case is to fill a sink with hot tap water. Make sure the thighs and the packaging are in a water-tight container, such as a ziptop bag. Submerge the bag of chicken in the hot tap water. Check it every 5 minutes to see if you can remove the packaging. Once all the packaging is removed, you can proceed with cooking the chicken thighs following the instructions below, even though the chicken has not been fully thawed.

How to Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Pour 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot insert (1 and 1/2 cups if you are using an 8-quart Instant Pot). Add the trivet or a steamer basket to the insert. Put the chicken thighs on top of the trivet. Season them well with salt, pepper, and anything else that you’d like.

Put the lid onto the Instant Pot and turn the valve to Sealing. Then set the Instant Pot to Pressure cook on high according  to the times given below.

Once the Instant Pot has finished pressure cooking, allow it to do a natural release for 5 minutes. This is so that the temperature inside the Instant Pot doesn’t change too drastically all at once. A drastic change in heat has a tendency to toughen up meat and we don’t want tough chicken thighs.

After the 5 minutes of natural release is done, turn the valve to Venting and allow the remaining steam to release. Then take off the lid and do a quick test that the thighs are at least 165°F in the middle. Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature. The chicken thighs should all be at the correct temperature. If for some reason they aren’t, set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on high for an additional 2 minutes and do another 5 minute natural release.

The reason that the thighs might not be done in the first round is simply that different freezers freeze meat at different temperatures and different ways of the thighs being clumped together can result in unevenness. Once you’ve cooked chicken thighs in this way a couple of times, you’ll have a better sense for how long they will take coming from your freezer and using your freezing method.

How Long to Pressure Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs

The following are for 6 chicken thighs:

  • Boneless and bone-in chicken thighs that have been frozen individually: 14 minutes
  • Boneless chicken thighs that are frozen in a clump: 16 minutes
  • Bone-in chicken thighs that are frozen in a clump: 18 minutes

Can you cook chicken thighs that were frozen in a marinade?

I don’t recommend freezing chicken thighs in a marinade. Head over here to find out why. Basically, it results in the thighs being in the marinade for too long. This tends to toughen the meat.

Instead, I recommend adding flavor ingredients to the Instant Pot during cooking. The pressure forces the flavors into the meat and the result is delicious. Good additions are a sliced onion, sliced lemon, any herbs or seasonings you like, and/or whole garlic cloves.

There you have it! A new way to get dinner on the table super-quickly. If you try cooking chicken thighs from frozen, let me know how it goes in the comments below. Thanks and have a great day!

Christine 🙂

Print

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from Frozen

6 chicken thighs with black pepper on them in stainless steel steamer basket

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs can totally be cooked from frozen! It’s such a lifesaver when you’ve forgotten to pull meat out of the freezer for dinner.

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 1 minute
  • Cook Time: 14 minute
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 frozen chicken thighs*
  • 1 cup water (1 and 1/2 cups water if using an 8-quart Instant Pot)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

  1. If chicken thighs have packaging or absorbent pad stuck to them, defrost thighs until all packaging and pads can be removed.
  2. Pour water into the Instant Pot insert. Put the trivet or a steamer basket into the Instant Pot.
  3. Put the chicken thighs onto the trivet. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to Sealing.
  5. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on high for the following times:
  6. Boneless and bone-in chicken thighs that have been frozen individually: 14 minutes
    Boneless chicken thighs that are frozen in a clump: 16 minutes
    Bone-in chicken thighs that are frozen in a clump: 18 minutes
  7. Once the Instant Pot is finished pressure cooking, allow a natural release for 5 minutes. Then turn valve to Venting.
  8. Once the pressure has released, remove the lid. Using an instant read thermometer, test that all of the chicken thighs have an internal temperature of at least 165 °F.

Notes

  • It is best if the chicken thighs have been frozen individually. See above in the article for more information about this.

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from Frozen
Instant Pot Chicken Thighs from Frozen

Christine Pittman

Christine is the Senior Editor and Owner of The Cookful, COOKtheSTORY and IsThisThatFood. Her sites reach over 1.5 million readers per month, which means that things can get a bit crazy. She's constantly writing, taking pictures, editing, managing contributors, and, oh yeah, cooking. To say that she wears many hats is an understatement - there are many hats, and also many shirts, shoes, pants, and even the odd cape!