chicken thighs

How to Cook Skin-On Chicken Thighs in an Instant Pot: The Oil Trick

Did you know you can cook the perfect skin-on chicken thighs in the Instant Pot?  Beyond its famed pressure cooking prowess, the Instant Pot harbors a lesser-known yet equally impressive function: the “Saute” setting. This often-overlooked feature transforms your Instant Pot into a versatile cooking tool capable of sauteing, simmering, frying, and even browning –- ideal for preparing delicious skin-on chicken thighs and other proteins.

To saute food in your Instant Pot, simply press the “Saute” button. Wait for the machine to indicate that it’s ready — a clear “HOT” message will appear in red letters on the display screen, signaling the perfect temperature to start cooking. Then, note this crucial step: Pour in your choice of neutral cooking oil. Olive oil is fine too, adding a subtle hint of its distinct flavor to the dish. Place your chicken thighs skin-side down with the oil gently sizzling in the pot. Unlike conventional frying pans on a stove, the Instant Pot usually takes a bit longer to brown the chicken, so give it a few minutes.

Let the chicken skin crisp and brown before flipping the chicken thighs over to cook for another minute or so. The point here is to par-cook the chicken and brown and crisp the skin for flavor, not to cook the meat thoroughly. The other functions of the Instant Pot will take over the rest of the cooking.

The saute setting turns the Instant Pot into a frying pan

chicken cooking in instant pot

After sauteing the skin-on chicken thighs in the Instant Pot, you should deglaze the inner pot –- a technique commonly used in stovetop cooking. Pour cooking wine (like Shaoxing wine) into the pot and gently scrape the bottom with a spatula. This process helps lift the flavorful brown bits and chicken juices left from sauteing the chicken, and you can then Incorporate these flavorful components into your final dish. 

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Once the pot is deglazed, it’s time to cook the chicken thoroughly. Place the thighs on a trivet inside the pot to prevent them from sitting directly in the liquid, which could make the skin soggy. Depending on your recipe, you can cook the chicken using the manual high-pressure setting or another setting. The “steam” setting is an option, too, if you don’t mind the skin losing crispness. When you combine the saute and manual pressure cooking functions, your Instant Pot will help you cook a dish where skin-on chicken thighs are not only flavorful but also perfectly cooked –- crispy and browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Just don’t forget to add oil. 

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