Honey Sesame Instant Pot Chicken Thighs are super easy, tender, and flavorful making for one of the best instant pot chicken recipes ever! This chicken is smothered in a sweet and savory honey sesame garlic sauce that is out of this world and perfect over rice!
You guys, I'm in love with this chicken! This recipe came about for several reasons, but, the first is that we absolutely adore chicken thighs and I had been wanting to give them a try in my Instant Pot!
Second, I was craving some really good sesame chicken. Takeout sesame chicken is good, don't get me wrong. But, I knew I could do better. I'm happy to report that the honey sesame garlic sauce on this chicken is the perfect combination of savory and sweet. Addicting to say the least!
Instant Pot Chicken Thighs:
Cooking chicken thighs in your instant pot is a super simple process, and there are a few things to know that will ensure perfectly tender and juicy chicken.
Before we get into what kind of chicken to use, and the different cooking times, let's talk about searing the chicken. You will sear the chicken in olive oil in saute mode. This is best done on "more" or "high" saute mode to get the chicken nicely browned.
After searing, you will remove the chicken from the pot. Then, you will need to deglaze. Deglazing is something I get asked about all the time! This step ensures that you don't end up with the "burn" warning while the pot is under pressure. To deglaze, you simply will pour in ¼ cup of chicken broth to the pot. You gently scrape all of the browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. After this step, you will simply turn the pot off, and move forward with cooking!
What kind of chicken thighs to cook in the instant pot:
For this recipe, as you can see in the pictures I used boneless chicken thighs. You can also use bone in and skin on if that is what you prefer. I have tested the recipe both ways, and there is a small difference in cooking time.
Searing the chicken first gives the chicken amazing flavor, and it also cuts down on the pressure cooking time by a couple of minutes. The biggest factor when considering how long you will need to cook your chicken thighs is how thick they are.
For boneless chicken thighs, I found that eight minutes was perfect. When using thicker, bone-in chicken thighs, ten minutes cooked the chicken perfectly.
Make sure to allow about 5 minutes or so for this recipe to come to pressure. Also good to remember is that chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees before consuming.
You will want to quick release this chicken for best results. Typically with meat, I say that natural release is best. But, with instant pot chicken thighs, quick release ensures that the chicken won't continue to cook for too long and dry out.
Once your chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot to a plate and cover with foil if desired to keep warm. Then, you will turn your pot on saute mode again and add the cornstarch and water slurry. You will want to wait until the liquid is simmering before adding the slurry.
Thickening the sauce is very quick, it only takes a couple of minutes for it to thicken up. Then, simply turn off your pot and pour your delicious sesame garlic sauce over your chicken. It's great served with sesame seeds and green onions. Perfect by itself, or over rice, noodles, or veggies!
Honey Sesame Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
- 2 Pounds Chicken Thighs
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- ¼ Cup Chicken Broth
- 2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil Divided
- 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
- ½ Cup Soy Sauce
- ⅓ Cup Honey
- 2 Tablespoons Ketchup
- ¼ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes optional
- ½ Cup Water
- 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons Cold Water
- Sesame Seeds
- Green Onion, Chopped
- Rice, For Serving
- Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil to the instant pot and turn to saute.
- When the oil is hot, add the seasoned chicken thighs and sear for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on each side.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the pot to a plate. Pour the chicken broth into the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Turn the instant pot to off.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil, minced garlic, soy sauce, honey, ketchup, red pepper flakes, and water.
- Return the chicken thighs to the pot. Pour the sauce over the chicken thighs.
- Seal the pot and cook on manual for 8 minutes for boneless chicken thighs or 10 minutes for bone-in chicken thighs. Once the cook time is up, do a quick pressure release.
- Remove chicken from the pot to a plate and cover with foil if desired to keep warm.
- In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water.
- Turn the instant pot to saute and add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce with a whisk. When the sauce is thick, turn off the pot and serve the sauce over the chicken.
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8 qt instant pot want to use 6-7 lbs boneless theighs, double the other ingredients? Thanks
Sooooo good, my hubby who I didnt think would like this (he's picky) lol, went for seconds
Delicious! Made these tonight and they were really tasty, had it over rice.
I've made this a few times now and we like it. Turned out too salty once because I was a little too liberal with the salt in the first step, and with the soy and sesame oil was quite salty, so I've learned from that lol. Last time I made it I just lightly salt peppered the chicken and switched to a low sodium soy sauce and it was awesome. Thanks
This is my go to chicken thigh recipie!
Every recipe from TSM is always delicious and these chicken thighs are no exception. Interestingly enough, I forgot to add the ketchup and water to the sauce and the recipe came out terrific. Next time I’ll add them in as instructed but in my rush to get dinner on the table, I overlooked them and we still thought this fish was lick-your-plate clean. I served this with cauliflower rice and fresh broccoli. Pure YUM!
Is it the same cooking time for Boneless Chicken Breast. Making this tonight
After a really disappointing experience making chicken cacciatore from another website’s recipe, I had leftover chicken thighs to use, and hoped for a positive Instant Pot experience in doing so. Every IP recipe I’ve made from The Salty Marshmallow has been superb, without fail, which has given me, a newbie, a lot of confidence in cooking and pleasure in eating. (Until takeout restaurants closed during the pandemic, I didn’t realize how satisfying it is to prepare and enjoy a delicious meal!) The honey sesame instant pot chicken recipe was NO EXCEPTION. I was delighted that I didn’t even have to make any special trips to the grocery store! Perfect flavors, amazing chicken texture, and it seems it could withstand variations and substitutions while maintaining its rich flavor integrity. I have my Instant Pot confidence back. Thank you, Nichole, I am truly appreciative! 100% saving this one!
I make this at home in the IP and it’s GREAT! But I’m visiting my dad and he doesn’t have an IP. How would you recommend I cook the thighs? I figure baking it and then making the sauce over a stove would work?
Hi! I personally would just do it in a skillet on the stove. You can sear the thighs just like you would in the instant pot, then simmer them on medium-low in the sauce until cooked through 🙂
Amazing recipe! Very simple (except I'm a fanatic about trimming all fat from the thighs even though it's unnecessary). My family raved and we are making it again this week in a larger batch so we have left overs! I'm going to try adding some breast meat as well even though thighs are so much more tender and juicy...
Hi there! Wondering if this can be converted to the slow cooker, and if so, how long would you cook it? Thanks!
Pamela G Gautreaux says
Just cooked and it is delicious. May not need to order Chinese anymore. Quick and easy.
I'e made this before and it is delicious!
Have you made it using frozen chicken thighs? Obviously you wouldn't be able to sear the meat first but wondering how much the time would need to be adjusted?
Love this recipe! I have a kid with an eating disorder and this is one of the few things she'll eat regularly, so thank you.
Christine Lennon says
Hi, this chicken recipe will be the second time I use my IP, so please forgive me if my questions are a little silly.
In step 8, do I cook at low or high pressure. Also, once cooking is done, do I let the pressure naturally release..
High pressure, and do a quick release 🙂
Have made this several times. Sooo good. Use the IP in my motorhome and this recipe was a hit.
Very delicious. 6 chicken thighs, served with rice and veggies. Thanks for the recipe. Will be making it again.
How much time is needed for boneless chicken breast? Recipes can follow for 2 lb of breast? I’m not a big fan of thighs. Many thanks!
I'm new to Instant Pot cooking. Can I double this recipe in a 3-quart pot?
I'm sorry, I haven't tried it in a three quart. Hoping someone else will chime in for you!
Tried this out and even doubled the recipe for a weeknight family dinner and it was a hit! Granddaughters (5 & 1 yo) loved it! Son-in-law asked for the recipe and pinned it so he could make it as well. Thanks for a great recipe.