Easy Barbecue Chicken Thighs Instant Pot ® – Instantly Delicious

Barbecue Chicken in the middle of winter?  Using the Instant Pot ®​  to take a frozen block of chicken to delicious goodness in 20 minutes? Amazing.
I live in the Midwest and two days into February, I am finished with winter.  One way for me to get through this funk is to have a summery dinner. Easy Instant Pot® Barbecue Chicken Thighs recipe is fast, easy, and with a baked potato, baked beans, and some buttered corn, it makes it seem like warm summer days are not too far away.
​Easy Instant Pot® Barbecue Chicken Thighs
Serves 4


1 teaspoon olive oil
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (fresh or frozen)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of chili flakes


1. Set the Instant Pot ® to saute and add the oil.  Let it heat until the oil shimmers, and then add the chicken, fresh or frozen to the oil.  Brown for 3 minutes on each side.  

2. While the chicken is browning, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Scatter the onion around the chicken and cover with sauce.

4. Set the Instant Pot ® to manual – high pressure. Adjust the time to 20 minutes for frozen or 10 minutes for fresh, making sure the pot is in sealing mode.

5. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with foil and set broiler to high. When chicken is finished, switch the steam release handle to venting. Allow the pressure to release and then take off lid.  Carefully remove the chicken with tongs (it will be falling apart) and place on the lined pan, under the broiler, for 3 mins per side.

6. While chicken is browning, switch the pot mode to saute to reduce and thicken the sauce.  Pour the thickened sauce over the chicken when it has finished browning.



Diane Payne
6/30/2016 07:48:30 pm

This was delicious. Thank you!


7/7/2016 02:03:59 pm

Thanks, Diane. So glad you enjoyed.


8/9/2016 08:30:11 pm

can the bbq sauce in the pot be saved and reused?


8/10/2016 09:17:55 pm

Sure. You can strain and then reheat as needed.


8/19/2016 08:21:25 pm

Could bone in thighs with the skin be used?


8/19/2016 08:59:29 pm

Absolutely, although my personal preference is to remove the skin, because the sauce might become too greasy. I would probably increase the cooking time to 13 for fresh and 23 for frozen, but you should check for doneness and continue cooking, if necessary.


Sue Glenn
11/27/2016 11:33:02 am

It says 1 cup BBQ sauce, is this a bought BBQ sauce in ADDITION to the ingredients listed underneath in the recipe?


11/27/2016 12:28:00 pm

Yes, or homemade if you’d like. It’s a doctored bbq sauce recipe.


4/12/2017 08:23:02 pm

Julie – my friend emailed me your recipe after I got my IP – it has become one of our favorites and is super easy!! I usually do it on the Poultry setting and it turns out great. Thanks so much!!


4/14/2017 09:08:10 am

I am so glad you like it. 🙂


4/19/2017 11:58:50 am

Made this last night with frozen thighs. SO easy and delicious! My whole family loved it!


4/19/2017 01:38:26 pm

Love positive comments. It’s my sons favorite – of all my recipes.


5/12/2017 07:55:26 pm

This was wonderful! I added a can of beans to the sauce as it reduced, chopped/shredded the chicken, and then used the cooled mixture on a prepackaged BBQ ranch salad (with fresh corn, sliced yellow pepper, and grape tomatos). It was amazing. The next day I served the BBQ mixture over brown rice, which was also quite good.


5/17/2017 09:46:35 pm

Love all of these ideas, Crystal. Thank you!


5/17/2017 01:55:31 pm

How do I make a copy of one of your recipes?


5/17/2017 09:45:16 pm

Hi Joyce,

I would just copy and paste into word (or a similar program) and print that way. Unfortunately, my website host does not allow for the print function. Maybe in the future.


6/6/2017 02:00:07 pm

I made this for my family and it was a hit. Thanks so much for sharing!


7/21/2017 07:46:03 am

Thanks, Carla!


7/20/2017 08:44:25 pm

I can’t stop eating this!! SO delicious-everyone loved it. Good thing I have extra chicken-going to make more tomorrow!


7/21/2017 07:45:35 am

Thank you for this nice comment!


11/24/2017 06:31:18 pm

never heard of a instant pot until a few days ago , bought 2 today at Walmart black Friday sale one for me one for my daughter. made this chicken for supper tonight was excellent. looking forward to trying more of your recipes


11/24/2017 08:15:46 pm

Thank you! Enjoy your new toy.


12/31/2017 09:37:14 am

Could I do this with bone in Chicken Breast.. what would you adjust the time to?


12/31/2017 10:09:41 am

Hi Tascha,

They should be cooked in the same amount of time. Possibly a minute less. I’d start with 9 minutes. Do the QPR and temp your chicken. Without trying I can’t be certain (I might even start with 8 minutes to avoid them drying out). You can add a minute or two if they are not at a safe temp the first time.


Debbie cadene
1/1/2018 03:04:43 pm

I’m making this now with your directions and it went to BURN….now what?


1/2/2018 04:27:23 pm

I wish I knew. My instant pot isn’t that fancy. Maybe add a splash of water? What model do you have? Maybe I can research it.


1/9/2019 08:26:50 pm

I made for first time today and my Instant Pot went to burn but then seems it cooled down and went back to counting down the time again. The chicken came out great. From researching it sounds like when you saute in pan before you pressure cook sometimes thinks get stuck on bottom which will cause hot spot. Recommended after sautéing you let cool down and/or get chicken stuck to bottom off.


1/3/2018 09:01:12 pm

I chose this recipe for my first try in my new pressure cooker. Oh my goodness…..it was the best bbq chicken I have ever made. Thanks so much for sharing. Will definitely be one of my go to recipes!


1/4/2018 03:42:16 pm

What a sweet thing to say. Thank you.


Louise Williams
1/18/2018 08:17:07 pm

Oh my! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It is now my absolute most favorite chicken dish! So so tasty! We love it. Was a bit skeptical at first but after reading the reviews gave it a try. Glad I did. Mmmmmm.


1/19/2018 10:40:26 am

Thanks Louise! What a sweet comment.


1/20/2018 05:42:17 pm

How does this not burn without water?


1/21/2018 02:40:50 pm

Hi Debbie,

The liquid from the chicken, onion, ketchup, and bbq sauce provide enough liquid for the pot to come to pressure. It is actually quite soupy when you release the pressure. The sauce has to be reduced to return it to a bbq sauce consistency.


1/30/2018 06:40:29 pm

This is delicious! Instead of broiling, I shredded the chicken and put it back in with the sauce. Thank you for a great recipe!


1/31/2018 10:16:41 am

Love that idea – yum!


2/2/2018 07:40:04 pm

So in step 5 do you mean to do a natural release? Or do a quick release?


2/3/2018 08:48:53 am

Quick pressure release.


Claudia Schmidt
3/12/2018 05:07:15 pm

Did anyone experience the food “burning” in the IP? When I was sauteing the chicken, some of the meat stuck to the bottom. When I sealed the pot and it started to cook, it gave me the message “burn” so I had to turn it off and clean the bottom. I put everything back in and finished the meal.


3/13/2018 10:22:11 am

The burn message is not available on my instant pot (a couple of years old), so I don’t have experience modifying recipes for this. I am sorry it happened – I think it happens more often with sugary foods. Hopefully someone can comment on this.



3/20/2018 05:37:09 pm

You have to deglaze the bottom of your instant pot after sauteing. The little pieces stuck to the bottom can cause pressure and burning issues.

3/13/2018 06:20:44 am

My husband and I tried this recipe last night. It is absolutely fantastic! Thank you for sharing.


3/13/2018 10:20:40 am

So glad you liked it!


4/4/2018 07:12:50 pm

While cooking the chicken an alert “burn” came on. Did I do something wrong?


4/6/2018 01:51:59 pm

Hi Deb,
Unfortunately, this is a problem with some newer models that have the burn indicator (my old IP does not). I believe it is the sugars that begin to caramelize. Someone suggested deglazing the pan. Maybe after browning the chicken, deglaze with 1/4-1/3 cup of water before adding the sauce. Sorry this happened to you.



2/7/2019 04:16:30 pm

Made this for this first time and deglazed the pot(after reading comments) and it turned out perfect. This is now my favorite instant pot chicken recipe.

4/29/2018 10:04:47 am

I’m trying this tonight but only have (buy) chicken breasts. I hope it turns out great!


4/29/2018 01:13:15 pm

What size chicken breasts? You might have to adjust the cooking time. Maybe to 6-8 minutes, if they are not frozen. It is hard to say. They should turn out well, though.


7/30/2018 08:48:05 pm

I’ve made this quite a few times now and a certain picky person (Not me!!) Who doesn’t like chicken always cleans his plate and picks at the leftovers!!!! LOL 😀 This recipe is AWESOME!! Thank you for posting this!!


7/31/2018 02:01:16 pm

That is great. Thanks for letting me know!


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