Instant Pot garlic brown sugar chicken is what you make when you need an unplanned, quick, and easy chicken dinner. It’s so simple, but the chicken turns out so juicy and flavorful as it’s cooked in the most amazing sweet and savory sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta and drizzle the sauce over everything on your plate!
Everyone loves chicken thighs, they’re always incredibly moist and tender especially when cooked in the Instant Pot. Similar to the Instant Pot Honey Mustard Chicken and the Instant Pot firecracker chicken, the chicken thighs here are cooked in a sweet but savory rich and sticky sauce.
The key to this recipe is to sear the chicken thighs really well, just like you would sear them in a skillet. And that’s what gives this dish that lovely caramelized flavor that you will love!
What You’ll Need
Super simple and straight-forward pantry staples, and chicken thighs! That’s really all you need to make this. Here’s what we’re using:
- Chicken thighs – I used bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs. If using frozen then make sure to thaw completely before cooking. Using skin-on chicken thighs is what gives them that awesome crispy crust and color.
- Honey and brown sugar – to sweeten the sauce up! You can also use maple syrup or agave syrup if you like.
- Garlic – an essential that goes into every chicken recipe at LSK!
- Oil and butter – Oil is used to sear the chicken, and the butter gives richness and flavor to the sauce but it can be skipped if you like.
- Stock – so chicken stock is what’s recommended here, but if you only have vegetable stock available then go for it!
- Seasonings – dried basil, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper.
This is so simple! The detailed directions are in the recipe card below, but in short, this is what you have to do:
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- Brown the chicken very well until a golden-brown crust forms, I do this in oil and butter on the medium SAUTE setting in the Instant Pot on both sides. Of course, you want to focus on browning the skin side better.
- Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot.
- Make the sauce! Saute the garlic, and DEGLAZE the pot to avoid getting a BURN message! Add the honey, brown sugar, and seasonings.
- Put the chicken back in, and pressure cook on HIGH for 8 minutes. If using boneless thighs, then reduce the cooking time by 2 minutes.
- Thicken the sauce (optional but recommended) using cornstarch slurry and serve!
Can I Use Chicken Breasts Instead of Thighs?
You can, but you won’t get that caramelized flavor as what you’d get from chicken thighs. And remember, chicken breasts are drier.
- Fridge: Store the chicken in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave, or in the oven until it’s heated through.
- Freezer: These chicken thighs can last up to three months in the freezer, so be sure to write the date on the bag with a freezer-proof marker.
And you might also want to serve some veg on the side. I recommend a portion of Instant Pot broccoli, or Instant Pot green beans to bright up your plate! Oh, and don’t forget to drizzle some extra sauce over everything in your plate, because the sauce is everything!
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Instant Pot Garlic Brown Chicken
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter divided
- 4-6 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon fresh parsley for serving
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- On the Instant Pot, press on SAUTE, add the oil and melt the butter. Brown the chicken starting skin side down, flip and brown it from the other side. When the chicken is golden brown, remove from the pot and set aside.
- Melt the remaining butter in the Instant Pot, and add the garlic. Cook for a minute until it's fragrant.
- Add the chicken stock, and deglaze scraping off any stuck bits to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the honey, brown sugar, oregano, basil, and thyme. Season with a pinch of salt, and put the chicken back in the pot.
- Secure the lid and set the vent to SEALING. Select the PRESSURE COOK/MANUAL setting and set the cooking time for 8 minutes at high pressure. The Instant Pot will take around 6-7 minutes to come to pressure and start cooking. When the cooking program ends, quickly release the steam.
- Transfer chicken thighs to a serving plate, and to thicken the sauce (optional), set the Instant Pot to SAUTE mode, and add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water. Add that to the sauce, and whisk until the sauce thickens. Have a taste and add more salt if needed.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken, and garnish with chopped parsley leaves.
- You can use chicken breasts instead of thighs, but you won’t get that caramelized flavor and the chicken breast meat is drier.
- When browning the chicken thighs, if the pot is crowded then work in batches.
- You need to make sure that you brown the chicken really well, starting skin side down. But also keep an eye on it so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot, I like to use kitchen tongs to move the chicken around a little as they’re being seared.
- Thickening the sauce is optional but HIGHLY recommended to get that awesome glaze and thick sauce.
- Serve this Instant Pot brown sugar chicken with any starch that you like! I usually serve this over basmati rice or brown rice, but mashed potatoes and pasta are also great options.
- And you might also want to serve some veg on the side. I recommend a portion of Instant Pot broccoli, or Instant Pot green beans.
- Storing – Fridge: Store the chicken in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave, or in the oven until it’s heated through. Freezer: These chicken thighs can last up to three months in the freezer, so be sure to write the date on the bag with a freezer-proof marker.