Instant Pot Chicken Legs

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Instant Pot Chicken Legs are easy to make and result in a supremely tender chicken that goes with any sauce and side dish for a quick meal.

Instant Pot Chicken Legs

I love cooking in the Instant Pot. It’s so much faster than the oven and it doesn’t require heating up the house to do it. This recipe is so simple, and it results in the most tender chicken legs you’ve ever had.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Budget-friendly: Chicken legs are inexpensive and easy to make.
  • So versatile: I always keep chicken legs in my freezer, because they’re so versatile.
  • Cook from frozen: They can actually be put directly from the freezer into the Instant Pot and it only takes an additional 2 minutes to cook.

Melinda Fewless says: 5 stars These turned out so juicy!!!

Jess says: 5 stars These are beyond easy in the Instant Pot. Full of flavor and simple…my kind of recipe!

instant pot chicken legs

Ingredients You Need

  • Chicken legs – You can also use chicken drumsticks or thighs, if you don’t have legs.
  • Seasoned Salt – Lawry’s seasoned salt is perfect for this dish. If you want to mix up your own dry rub instead, here is our recipe for dry rub that we use on all kinds of meats.
  • Water
  • Garlic – I like to put a couple pieces of garlic in the bottom of the pot. It adds a great aroma to the chicken, though it doesn’t really impart any flavor. Consider it optional.

Equipment Needed

  • Instant Pot – I use a 6-quart Instant Pot Plus to make all of my recipes. If you’re using an 8-quart pot, you will need to adjust the amount of liquid accordingly, as it requires more than the 6 quart to build steam.
  • Trivet – You’ll want to use the trivet to keep the chicken out of the water. If you submerge the chicken in the water, your chicken will boil.
  • Meat thermometer – You’ll want to use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken legs have reached the proper internal temperature of 170° F. I love this Thermapen.

Tips & Notes

  • If cooking the chicken from frozen, cook for 14 minutes.
  • If you want, you can broil the chicken to get the skin crispy. It takes just 5 minutes under the broiler.
  • Cooking the chicken on a trivet makes the chicken more tender and less water-logged. You could also use a steamer basket.
  • Putting a couple pieces of garlic in the bottom of the pot adds a great aroma to the chicken.

How to Cook Chicken Legs in the Instant Pot

Step 1: Season the chicken with rub

Seasoning the chicken legs before cooking adds a ton of flavor. I season almost everything with my homemade dry rub. You can find the recipe at that link. It’s fine to season with seasoning salt or just salt and pepper.

Step 2: Prepare the Instant Pot

You’ll need the trivet that came with the Instant Pot. Set it inside. If you don’t have one, you can set the chicken directly in the pot. I like the texture of the chicken more when it’s on the trivet. It’s more tender and less water-logged, for lack of a better descriptor.

Pour a cup of hot water into the base of the pot, along with the smashed garlic. Then place the legs evenly on the trivet.

PRO TIP: This recipe is for just 2 servings, but you can make as many chicken legs as you need. You don’t want to stack them directly on top of each other, but lay them at odd angles so they can cook evenly. For 4 legs you don’t need to increase the time. For 8 legs, increase by 2 minutes.

Uncooked chicken legs in the Instant Pot

Step 3: Pressure Cook

Close the lid and seal the vent. Press the “pressure cook” button and set the time to 10 minutes. After this, allow natural pressure release for 5 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure. You can also allow the pressure to release completely on its own, if you aren’t in a hurry. The extra few minutes won’t hurt anything.

chicken legs in the instant pot

» Be sure to visit our Instant Pot Guide for more tips and great recipes!

At this point, you can serve the chicken legs as is. They are nicely seasoned and tasty. Or you can brush them with BBQ sauce (try our killer bourbon bbq sauce recipe), buffalo sauce, or a glaze, like this delicious honey sriracha sauce.

You can also crisp up the skin in the oven, if you want to. I almost always skip this extra step. It’s just not necessary, in my opinion. Cooking the chicken for longer in the oven isn’t why I choose to use the Instant Pot. If you do want to crisp the skin, put it under the broiler for up to 5 minutes.

instant pot chicken legs

What to Serve With Chicken Legs

I am a huge fan of serving grilled veggies like asparagus or zucchini with chicken lets. I also think this Classic Wedge Salad is a perfect pairing. You might also try these crispy oven-roasted potatoes.

If you’d rather add some carbs, try our creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese, or this easy Black Bean & Corn Pasta Salad.

» Can’t make up your mind? Check out this list of 10 great summer salads that all pair well with chicken.

Storing & Reheating

To ensure proper storage of any leftover chicken, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. They can be frozen in Ziploc bags for up to three months. When ready to reheat the frozen chicken, either thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before warming, or you can directly reheat it from frozen.

When it comes to reheating chicken legs, there are a few methods you can choose from. The most recommended method is to use an oven.

  • Oven – Place the chicken legs on a baking sheet, and cover them loosely with foil to prevent excessive drying and bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  • Microwave – Place the chicken legs on a microwave-safe plate, cover them with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe wrap, and heat them in short intervals, checking and flipping them occasionally to ensure even heating.
  • Air Fryer – Add individual chicken legs to the air fryer basket and reheated for 5-6 minutes on 365°F. Check the internal temperature and add a minute or two at a time until desired temperature is reaches.

NOTE: In order to be safe to eat, chicken should have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to determine whether the temperature has reached this safe level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I cook the chicken legs from frozen?

You can cook frozen chicken legs in the Instant Pot, if you’ve forgotten or haven’t had time to thaw in advance. If you’re cooking these chicken legs from frozen, you’ll need to give them 14 minutes of cook time, and I also sometimes extend the pressure release to 8 minutes.

Will the chicken turn out rubbery?

I’ve never had chicken turn out rubbery in the Instant Pot. I think this outcome has more to do with the quality of the chicken than the cooking process. If you can, make sure you purchase grass fed chicken that are raised in the open, not farmed. Read more about why chicken can be rubbery.

Do chicken legs really require a natural pressure release?

You might be wondering about the need for a natural pressure release on the Instant Pot. Letting the pressure release naturally allows the food to come down from being at a high pressure at a slower pace. During this time it is still cooking and the meat will have time to relax as it comes down.

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instant pot chicken legs

Instant Pot Chicken Legs

Instant Pot Chicken Legs are easy to make and result in a supremely tender chicken that goes with any sauce and side dish for a quick meal.
4.74 from 60 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Pressurize Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes
Servings: 2 Servings
Calories: 283kcal
Author: Laura Lynch

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken legs
  • 1/2 tablespoon (2 g) dry rub
  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • 2 cloves (6 g) garlic

Instructions

  • Season the chicken legs with the dry rub.
  • Insert the trivet into the Instant Pot. Add water and garlic.
  • Set the chicken legs on the trivet, skin side up.
  • Lock lid. Press the Pressure Cook button and set to cook on high for 10 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then do a quick release of the remaining pressure. When cooking from frozen, cook for 14 minutes with a 5 minute natural release.

Equipment Needed

Notes

  • If cooking the chicken from frozen, cook for 14 minutes.
  • If you want, you can broil the chicken to get the skin crispy. It takes just 5 minutes under the broiler.
  • If you cook 4 chicken legs, there’s no need for extra time. For more, add 2 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 283kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 262mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 145IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

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19 thoughts on “Instant Pot Chicken Legs

  1. Gloria says:

    5 stars
    You can never go wrong with a great chicken dinner. Made in the Instant Pot….makes a quick an easy meal. So much better than takeout.

    • Mary Howell says:

      Laura I cooked my chicken legs like you said but the next thing I knew it was on low and so far it’s been 2 minutes still cooking what’s wrong

      • Katie says:

        The number with an L in front is the time that it’s been releasing naturally. If you have keep warm setting on this will happen. It doesn’t affect anything, and you should flip the release non once that timer hits whatever natural release time the recipe you’re using asks for

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Sam, this recipe is for 2 full chicken legs which includes the drumstick and thigh. You can easily cook 5 pounds of drumsticks in the Instant Pot as long as it doesn’t fill the inner pot over the max fill line. Place the drumsticks on the trivet with a cup of water and pressure cook for 10 minutes. When the time is up allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes and then release the remaining pressure.

  2. Lou's Kitchen says:

    4 stars
    My frozen drumsticks were not cooked after 14 minutes on high, with natural release…temperature reading was 140 degrees. I restarted the instant pot and set it for 5 minutes on high pressure. After an instant release, the bone temp was a perfect 165 degrees , and the legs were juicy and tender.
    Next time, I’ll cook the frozen legs on high for 20 minutes and let them release naturally.
    For the rub I used onion powder, garlic powder, basil, and smoked paprika. now that’s amazing!!!

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