Perfectly cooked, juicy and incredibly flavorful, these Instant Pot Honey Soy Chicken Thighs can be made with boneless or bone-in chicken, in 30 minutes, with just 7 ingredients (including one special ingredient!). They are perfect for meal prepping for busy weekday lunches as well.
Sunday is my meal prep day. We sleep in a little, enjoy some brunch, and then I get to work prepping our lunches for the rest of the week.
While my lunches are pretty simple, I like to make them filling and flavorful for my husband. He works long hours, and barely has enough time for lunch, so my plan is always to make lunch the one thing that he looks forward to during the day! 🙂
So this means I cook in bulk on Sundays. The oven was always my best friend, UNTIL I got my hands on the Instant Pot. Instant life change. I missed my multi cooker back from my time living in Australia, so I was really excited to put my Instant Pot to good use.
Instant Pot Honey Soy Chicken Thighs are great for packed lunches.
These honey soy chicken thighs along with some steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables are among my husband’s favorite packed lunches. The chicken is a little spicy, a little sweet, and chock-full of great flavor! This is easily the BEST honey soy chicken, and can be made in the instant pot easily and quickly. This honey soy instant pot chicken will be ready in 30 minutes, and you can easily meal prep for 1 whole week with this chicken. How awesome is that?
Making a big batch of Instant Pot chicken thighs is super easy. The only trick is to get the cook time just right, and this takes a little trial and error. And since I’ve been making instant pot chicken thighs regularly, I’ve perfected the timing! 🙂 My husband and I prefer our chicken to be perfectly cooked, juicy, and with a little bite to it (NOT soft and soggy!). Unless I’m specifically making pulled chicken, I don’t want the meat to be really soft.
So here I’m going to give you tips to make sure you cook these Instant Pot honey soy chicken thighs to perfection! And I guarantee this will be your family’s favorite instant pot chicken thighs recipe ever! 🙂 These Asian flavored instant pot chicken thighs are made with authentic Asian spices, and they are so easy to prepare and keep so well.
Here’s why you should make these Instant Pot Honey Soy Chicken Thighs!
- You don’t have to sear each chicken piece before cooking. While this step does add flavor, it takes ages to sear the chicken in an instant pot, so it’s no longer a quick recipe if you need 20 minutes just to sear the chicken.
- Instead, you’ll be BROILING the chicken after it’s cooked in this recipe, in the oven or toaster oven. This step caramelizes the chicken thighs, with some of the leftover sauce going right on top, adding even more flavor.
- You can make as little as 4 pieces of chicken, or as many as 12 pieces of chicken with this instant pot chicken thighs recipe. The more chicken you cook, the more liquid you will have left in the pot as well, but you can thicken the liquid with more cornstarch slurry.
- You can use boneless chicken thighs, OR bone-in chicken thighs. The cooking times will need to be adjusted accordingly.
- Boneless chicken thighs (large; about 200 – 250 g / 7 – 9 oz in weight per piece) take only 7 minutes. Smaller chicken thighs will only take about 5 minutes.
- Bone-in chicken thighs (large) take about 11 minutes, while the smaller ones can take about 9 minutes.
These instant pot honey soy chicken thighs are made with only 7 ingredients.
- Chicken paste or cubes
- Star anise (my secret ingredient!)
You don’t have to make a spice paste or anything, since you’ll simply be mixing in everything in the IP. I do like to add some spring onions and sesame seeds after cooking the chicken. These are not essential to the recipe, although I do highly recommend them.
Star anise is truly the star ingredient in the sauce! It adds amazing flavor to these instant pot honey soy chicken thighs, and gives them an authentic Asian flavor.
Then once the chicken is cooked, I like to broil the chicken pieces for just a few minutes under the grill, with a little of the honey garlic sauce on top. This achieves 2 things.
- Caramelizes the chicken
- Caramelizes the honey garlic sauce on top, creating an additional layer of flavor.
This way you can broil all of the chicken at once in the oven, instead of searing the chicken in batches in the instant pot. And while the chicken is grilling in the oven, stir in a slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce to the consistency you like. These flavor-packed honey soy chicken thighs will be ready in 3o minutes! 🙂
How I meal prep with Instant Pot honey soy chicken thighs
If you use a separate rice cooker, you can cook the rice at the same time as these instant pot chicken thighs. Basmati rice, jasmine rice, medium grain rice, brown rice, or even red rice are all great options. Or you could substitute the rice with quinoa if you like.
I also like to cut up some veggies that can be eaten raw, to go with the rice. The veggies will soften a bit, as we reheat the meals, but you can avoid this by packing the vegetables separately if you like. Some veggie options I like are,
- Bell peppers
- Shredded cabbage
- Snap peas
I also like to add some easy, steamed or stir-fried vegetables too.
- Asian greens like bok choy (like I’ve used in this post)
- Or even a bag of frozen veggies.
Then I portion out about 1 cup of cooked rice (or a little more for my husband) into lunch boxes, and divide the veggies between them. Finally, I add a piece of delicious honey soy chicken, along with a generous spoonful of sauce on top with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
I usually make at least 6 meal prep boxes. These keep well for up to 4 days in the fridge, and up to 2 weeks in the freezer. So I like to keep 3 boxes in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.
And then every time I remove one from the fridge, I replace it with one from the freezer (to allow the frozen lunch to thaw in the fridge overnight).
Other uses for these Instant Pot honey soy chicken thighs
- This chicken can also be used to make the most flavorful chicken fried rice!
- Chop the chicken and serve it with a salad.
- Or use them as a filling for wraps and sandwiches.
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Instant Pot Honey Soy Chicken thighs
Instant Pot Honey Soy Chicken Thighs - ready in 30 minutes and incredibly flavorful and easy to make. Perfect easy dinner for busy weeknights, and for meal prep lunches too.
- 6 pieces of boneless chicken thighs 6 - 7 oz each, 2 - 2.5 lbs total
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chili flakes crushed red pepper (optional)
- 4 - 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp good quality chicken stock paste or 1 cube
- ½ yellow onion sliced thin (or 4 - 5 spring onions, sliced into big pieces)
- 2 whole star anise
- ¼ cup water
- Sliced green onion
- Sesame seeds
- 1 - 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
Place the chicken, honey, soy sauce, and chili flakes in a bowl, and mix to coat well. Set aside. (If you'd like the chicken to be even more flavorful, you can let it marinate for about 1 hour, or up to 24 hours).
Set the instant pot to the saute setting. When the pot is hot, add about 1 tbsp of oil. Saute the onions and garlic cloves until the onions have softened and there's some caramelization on the garlic cloves. Add the chicken stock paste (or crushed up cube) and mix it in with the onion and garlic.
- Add the chicken into the Instant Pot, and scrape in any leftover marinade in the bowl as well. Add the water and star anise and mix well.
Lock on the IP lid (vent closed) and set the IP to cook the chicken on high pressure for 7 minutes, and natural release for 5 minutes. Open the vent and allow the IP to depressurize.
Remove the chicken from the pot, and transfer them to a plate or a lined baking tray (if caramelizing - see below). Mash up the softened pieces of garlic cloves with a spoon or fork inside the cooking liquid.
Set the IP to saute. Mix the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
When the cooking liquid starts to simmer, add half of the cornstarch slurry and stir through to thicken. Simmer for 1 minute. If you'd like to thicken the sauce further, stir in the rest of the cornstarch slurry and simmer for at least another minute. If you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce, let it simmer for a few minutes and then keep it warm until the chicken is ready.
Taste and season with more salt if necessary.
Caramelizing the Chicken (optional, but recommended)
While the sauce is being thickened, you have the option of caramelizing the chicken for more flavor.
Line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper and switch on the broiler (or grill setting) in your oven to high or low (high setting is faster, low setting can give you more control).
Using tongs, carefully place the chicken on the lined baking tray. Spoon a little of the liquid over each of the chicken thigh pieces.
Place the tray under the broiler and allow the chicken to caramelize. Check on the chicken every few minutes to prevent them from burning.
When the chicken has caramelized a little, remove them from the oven, and put them back in the IP with the thickened sauce to allow the chicken to soak up more sauce and flavor. Spoon the thickened sauce over the chicken.
Top with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, and serve.
This recipe is for large chicken thighs and is cooked in a 6 qt Instant Pot.
If you're using smaller chicken thighs, you can reduce the cook time to about 6 minutes. If you prefer the chicken to be cooked to a point where it's really soft, then cook the chicken for a further 1 - 2 minutes.
If you're using bone-in (skinless or skin-on) chicken, increase the cook time to 11 - 12 minutes (for large chicken thighs), or 9 minutes for smaller chicken thighs.
If you're only cooking 4 pieces of chicken, this recipe can be followed unchanged (in a 6 qt instant pot).
If you're doubling the recipe, double the amount of honey, soy, garlic, chicken stock, chili flakes and onion. But keep the amount of star anise the same, and you can eliminate the water altogether (because the marinate will provide enough liquid for the recipe). You may need more cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce.
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