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!

honey sesame instant pot chicken thighs served 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 1/4 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!

deglaze instant pot with chicken broth

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.

chicken thighs cooked in the instant pot

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 chicken thighs in the instant pot

Enjoy!

~Nichole

4.99 from 70 votes

Honey Sesame Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

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!
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 15 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients 

  • 2 Pounds Chicken Thighs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil Divided
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Ketchup
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes optional
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons Cold Water
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Green Onion, Chopped
  • Rice, For Serving

Instructions 

  • 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.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
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Hey! Nice to meet you! I'm Nichole!

Welcome to The Salty Marshmallow! I'm a mom, animal lover, photographer, & kitchen mess-maker. Here you will find the result of my decades-long passion for chasing the best flavors in the kitchen, all meant to be cooked by regular people with busy lives just like you and me.

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82 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this last night to rave reviews from my kids and hubby! It will definitely be a staple in our house from now on! It didn’t specify the release in the recipe, but we are at high altitude, so I let it naturally release for about 10 minutes and the chicken was perfect.

    1. In the instructions above the recipe it says, “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.” Evidently what you did also worked, so yay!!!

  2. Hi – looking forward to making this tonight. Do you have advice for cooking brown rice with it at the same time?

  3. 5 stars
    I am so excited to try this dish. I received an Instant Pot for Christmas and this recipe will be my 2nd recipe that I’m trying. I prepared rice last night enough for leftovers for tonight’s meal. Just removed the lid and it looks amazing Oh my goodness! Delicious! So happy! I love my instant pot and I love this recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! I reduced the honey a bit and added sriracha. Added broccoli towards the ends. Yum!!!

  5. 5 stars
    Delicious! Used 4 lbs of bone in chicken thighs and removed skin and extra fat because that’s what we do. Doubled sauce ingredients and followed same cooking times. Absolutely delicious and so simple. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    1. I did 3.5 pounds and didn’t change anything. Having more chicken overall, the thighs produce more juice after being cooked, which equals more sauce.

  6. Delicious! I made it tonight for kids between practices after school. Worked out great and was a hit. Not too salty or sweet (I did use low sodium soy sauce). The sauce and toppings are what made it for me.

  7. 5 stars
    This was the most successful Asian style chicken recipe I have made in the Instant Pot. I will definitely be making it again. I think I might try subbing in Hoison sauce for the ketchup just to see if it has a little more of a traditional Asian flavor.

  8. I wonder if after taking the chicken out of the IP, could I crisp them up under the broiler before adding the thickened sauce?

    1. Hi Kelly! I haven’t tried it, but, I definitely think you could. I’d just watch it closely under the broiler so that they don’t burn. Hope that helps!