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Frozen Chicken Thighs Instant Pot Recipe

Frozen chicken thighs in Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi are so easy to make! From rock hard to tender fall off the bone in your pressure cooker in just minutes. Instructions on how to cook frozen chicken thighs to tender is a game changer! 

Frozen Chicken Thighs Instant Pot

Instant Pot Frozen chicken thighs directions are here! Forgot to defrost meat for dinner? NO problem because you can make tender chicken in a pressure cooker in no time. Find this and over 100 other easy Instant Pot recipes here. (affiliate links present, originally published 2/21)

I know I can’t be the only one who forgets to defrost dinner in time. But now cooking frozen chicken has never been easier! Ten years ago before I ever tried pressure cooking I wouldn’t have believed this would be possible. My mom always had to transfer meat from the freezer to the fridge the night or two before or we were out of luck. Not anymore!

Ninja Foodi Frozen Chicken Thighs

Earlier I shared how to cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot, but boneless and skinless chicken breasts were used that time. I am frugal by nature and sometimes those are on the more expensive side. Now we are here to share the dark meat version. You can use the same timing if you have a Ninja Foodi or Crockpot Express too. Those pots work the same.

If you are new to pressure cooking we have a lot of easy one pot meal recipes for you here. To begin with let’s start with a few basic tips:

For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have (a 6 quart) and use for all recipe creations.

star wars instant pot

Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Thighs

We’re talking all about cooking frozen chicken thighs this time! We have made skinless bone-in style, boneless, all the things. If you love chicken skin leave those babies on. Now you can make a variety of quick chicken thigh recipes even if they start off rock solid and here’s a goodie that is quick too.

We have also shared frozen chicken thighs in air fryer timing. If you have that machine too you’ll have 2 methods to choose from. OR you can get these to ultimately tender using these instructions and then transfer to there. Reason you would want to do that is to crisp the skins nicely. If the skin is on you will likely want both textures.

Let’s say you planned on cooking thighs in the oven the old fashioned way but realized at 4pm that your meat was still in the freezer. Yep, I’ve done that too. Don’t fret. The only tip I will say is that you will want your pieces to be separated as you see here. Other than that you can just take it right out and get going.

frozen chicken thighs

Instant Pot frozen chicken thighs boneless skinless

Now ideally they will be free from bones so it is easier to serve up, slice and eat when done. You could use bone-in if that is what you have. I might add 2 minutes to the timing for those just because it takes a bit longer to get to the center. Here are a few questions you might have to start with:

Can you cook frozen chicken thighs from frozen?

First off, do not cook frozen chicken in the microwave or in a slow cooker. BUT, chicken can be cooked from a frozen state in a pressure cooker, in the oven, or on the stove.

The cooking time may be about 50% longer for the last two methods but in an Instant Pot is fast!

Can you cook chicken from frozen?

Absolutely. Of course it is better if you have time to defrost it but life happens. Air fryer frozen chicken and pressure cooking frozen meat is the way to go. OR make Instant Pot frozen chicken legs this way, here is how you start. If you have a bunch that are stuck together you’ll first want to run a bit of cool water over the top of them.

This will loosen the ice in between them so you can pull gently and unstick them from one another. This is important so that the heat can rotate around each piece evenly so the middle can reach a safe 165 degrees F. You can even cook Instant Pot frozen turkey breast from rock hard to tender and tastes amazing.

instant pot frozen chicken thighs

Frozen Bone In Chicken Thighs Instant Pot

Many times if there is a great sale at the grocery store I will stock up! I have bought meat in bulk before too and portioned it out into gallon bags. Freeze, pull out when ready and cook. Saves money and drive time. If you do know that you will be cooking without thawing first you may want to consider a piece of wax or parchment in between each piece.

This will help prevent them from sticking together so when you are ready you can just pull them apart easily. Make sure you mark the date it was done on the bag as meat tends to lose it’s flavor and great texture after 12 months. Rotate your packages when you get new and have the older ones on the top so you grab the first.

How long does it take to bake frozen chicken thighs?

If you’re using an oven you’re looking at almost an hour! This is what I used to do back in the day because there was literally no other option. It worked pretty good but took quite a while and now that I can compare isn’t nearly as tender and juicy. NO bueno in this house. Just to give you an idea, this is what you’d need to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Lay frozen chicken thighs on a lined baking pan, parchment paper is best.
  3. Coat chicken with things like a bit of butter, thyme and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  4. Bake in an oven at 375 for 50 to 60 minutes.

Now we have this other way better option that not only is faster but it also doesn’t heat up your entire house. Especially when we were living in the desert I wasn’t about to do anything to increase the heat in my house, it was already bad enough. This was the answer to all my prayers when this baby came out.

frozen chicken in instant pot

Frozen chicken thigh Recipe

This is the easiest and most tender way to make them quick!! Now the seasonings are going to be up to you but I share what works well when I make them below. Broth is by far better than just using water but if that is all you have then just use that my friend. We use what is in our grasp y’all.

  1. Chicken – we used bone in skinless style
    1. cheapest is bone in chicken thighs with the skin on
    2. if using boneless chicken thighs I would take 1 minute off the cook time
  2. Chicken broth
  3. Italian seasonings
  4. Salt and pepper
  5. Lemon
  6. Cornstarch if you want to thicken sauce at the end
  7. Onion is optional but I add some to just about every recipe I make

There isn’t much difference in cook times, unless yours are like huge. We always buy organic free range poultry and so that is never the case. I always suggest this variety but to each their own. If you don’t stick to medium “normal” sizes and not the huge ones that look like breasts.

How long do thighs take to cook?

Using this method it is only about 20 minutes including the time the pot will take to come to pressure. You need to keep that in mind if you are on a time schedule. It will take about 10 minutes or so to get to the point where the timing will actually start. That doesn’t occur until the pressure gets high enough to close the venting valve at the top.

chicken thigh recipe

Frozen BBQ Chicken Thighs Instant Pot

Once done you could of course add all the sauces. Barbecue is a given but teriyaki is amazing as well. If you are going to air fry once done then remove, add into your basket and brush your sauce on then. It will kinda’ bake on and caramelize a bit. So. Good. Here are the steps you should follow, printable directions with nutritional information is below too:

  • You will start by pouring some broth or cup of water into your pressure cooker. Then mix in all spices and onion. Put frozen chicken inside bottom of the pot with the bone side facing down (if not boneless).
  • Close lid and steam valve on your electric pressure cooker and set to high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Allow for a 3 minute natural pressure release, then do a quick release. Carefully remove chicken. Then select saute function.
  • In a small bowl whisk together some of the hot liquid from the pot and your cornstarch until it is smooth.
  • Once boiling add this mixture to thicken the sauce. Serve chicken with some of this sauce on top…..or air fry your thighs to crisp skin and then pour sauce on top.
    • To crisp skin in air fryer set to 400 F.
    • Spray basket with non stick spray, put thighs in and spray top with olive oil spray or brush teriyaki or bbq sauce on top.
  • Cook for about 4 minutes or until crisp as you want on top.

Total time from start to finish including prep is about 30 minutes when pressure cooking. Always check internal temperature before consuming to make sure it is a safe 165 F. Remove the meat to rest, place into the thickest portion of the meat and see if it is safe. Remember that the temp will rise another 5 degrees or so when it rests.

how to cook frozen chicken

How long does it take to thaw frozen chicken thighs?

It will take about 24 hours to thaw one pound of frozen boneless chicken breasts or other chicken pieces. If you’re thawing a whole frozen chicken, it will take bout 4 to 6 hours per pound. I will say that if I had to choose starting from rock hard or thawed, the latter is always better. BUT if you forget, this is handy to have.

Want to crisp the skins at the end? Use your air fryer or Ninja Foodi at 400 F for about 4 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Spray basket and top of meat with olive oil spray and just go for it. If you want to add a sauce then skip the oil on top and just brush on your choice like bbq or another. This is our fave as you can see here with a bit of Baby Rays.

instant pot frozen chicken thighs

How do you store cooked chicken thighs?

You might have a few left after they are served right?? You know how I just hate to waste food of any kind. This is how to save them properly; First make sure they reach room temperature first. If you aren’t going to eat them all place inside airtight containers or freezer bags. Seal closed without air and store in fridge. They’ll stay good for 3-4 days.

Can I reheat cooked chicken thighs?

Of course. You could put them into an air fryer at 380 F for 4-6 minutes flipping halfway through. Spray with olive oil on the top at the beginning and when turning over. In a microwave reheat in 45 second increments flipping every time you add additional heat. I would add sauce if using this last method because it does tend to dry it out more than others.

How to Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs

This Ninja Foodi chicken thighs works great this way too. The nice thing about this machine is you can pressure cook and air fry right in the same basket. Printable recipe is posted below with all ingredients necessary. Print it out and keep it handy or just come back time after time so we can “see you”.

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs Bone In

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ninja foodi frozen chicken thighs
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Frozen Chicken Thighs Instant Pot

Frozen chicken thighs in Instant Pot are so easy to make! From rock hard to tender fall off the bone in your pressure cooker in just minutes. Game Changer! #chicken
Course Entree, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken thighs, instant pot, pressure cooker
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 269kcal
Author The Typical Mom

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pour broth into pressure cooker, then mix in all spices and onion. Put frozen chicken inside pot with the bone side facing down.
  • Close lid and steam valve and set to high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Allow for a 3 minute natural pressure release, then do a quick release. Carefully remove chicken. Then select saute function.
  • In a small bowl whisk together some of the hot liquid from the pot and your cornstarch until it is smooth.
  • Once boiling add this mixture to thicken the sauce. Serve chicken with some of this sauce on top…..or air fry your thighs to crisp skin and then pour sauce on top.
  • To crisp skin in air fryer set to 400 F. Spray basket with non stick spray, put thighs in and spray top with olive oil spray or brush teriyaki or bbq sauce on top.
  • Cook for about 4 minutes or until crisp as you want on top.

Video

Nutrition Facts
Frozen Chicken Thighs Instant Pot
Amount Per Serving (3 oz)
Calories 269 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 111mg37%
Sodium 232mg10%
Potassium 319mg9%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 19g38%
Vitamin A 110IU2%
Vitamin C 9mg11%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
ninja foodi frozen chicken thighs
Recipe Rating




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Ned

Friday 24th of February 2023

Oh awesome! I love the flavor of chicken thighs and cooking them in an air fryer made it so easy! That was just what I needed. Thank you for the awesome recipe!

The Typical Mom

Saturday 25th of February 2023

OH good

Rosemary

Friday 24th of February 2023

Wow, I really didn't know you could cook frozen chicken in an instant pot and that it would be tasty. I now know I can get meals on the table fast when I forget to defrost chicken. Thanks for the tip!!

Jess

Friday 24th of February 2023

This is a life-changing recipe! The Instant Pot makes it so easy.

Lily

Friday 24th of February 2023

This is definitely one of those recipes you need when it's dinner time, and you can't think of another thing in the day. We've all been there... and these frozen chicken thighs don't need to thaw or really any major prep.

Beth

Friday 24th of February 2023

This is one of the best chicken thigh recipes I've made in quite some time. They came out so tender and juicy, and the skin is perfect!

The Typical Mom

Friday 24th of February 2023

OH yay

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