Instant Pot Chicken Legs

Published Date: February 15, 2022

Instant pot chicken legs come out perfectly juicy and tender with the meat practically falling off the bones.  All you need are a few simple ingredients and 10 minutes of hands-on time to get chicken drumsticks ready to cook and then your electric pressure cooker does all the rest of the work!

  • Save

I love when I run across ways to cook that make the entire process easier, and it’s even better when the results are main dishes that my family loves! Using the instant pot to cook chicken does this for me with excellent results each and every time.

Chicken legs are one of those ingredients that often get overlooked but it cooks up with such amazing plump and juicy flavor. And drumsticks are always a favorite with kids!

Let me show you how to cook up this easy recipe for instant pot drumsticks that I feel certain you will love it too!

Try Some of My Other Favorite Chicken Recipes

Are you always on the hunt for new and different ways to cook up chicken for dinner? It’s such a flexible and healthy meat, and there are just so many different ways to use it!

Making instant pot chicken legs was inspired by another easy instant pot recipe with turkey breast. While it’s not chicken it’s an excellent alternative.

If you want more chicken inspiration, you might also like making Chicken Gyros that uses shredded chicken breast, or this easy Shake and Bake Chicken in the Air Fryer.

Juicy chicken legs will work with a variety of side dishes including potatoes, rice, vegetables, and more. My favorite pairings for this recipe include Crack Potatoes and a simple preparation of green beans or asparagus.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Making chicken legs instant pot delivers plump and juicy chicken each and every time.
  • An easy and reliable chicken drumsticks recipe everyone will love!
  • The instant pot makes mealtime easy for busy weeknights!

Ingredients

An easy dry rub made with only 6 pantry staple spices coats the chicken legs giving them tons of flavor.

  • Chicken drumsticks: An inexpensive, healthy, and delicious alternative to chicken breasts, thighs, and other cuts of chicken.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Basic seasonings that add so much to the flavor.
  • Garlic powder:  Or granulated garlic.
  • Onion powder: Adds a hint of onion flavor without any work.
  • Chili powder:  A powdered mix of some of my favorite seasonings such as dried chiles, garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander, and cloves.  It can sometimes be spicy so be sure to use a mild or medium for less heat.
  • Cayenne pepper:  We’re just adding a bit and of course, you can always leave it out if you are sensitive to spicy foods.
  • Water or chicken broth:  Just a bit to add moisture to the instant pot.  Water works fine but the chicken broth adds a bit more flavor, and it’s the best option especially if you plan to use the juices after to make a gravy or sauce.

*see recipe card for detailed measurements

  • Save

Kitchen Supplies You Need

  • Instant pot or other pressure cooker
  • Medium bowl to mix up the chicken
  • Tongs to handle the chicken
  • Measuring cup and spoons

How to Make Chicken Drumsticks in the Instant Pot

Step 1: Mix together the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.   

Step 2: Rub this spice rub all over the chicken turning it around to make sure you get all the sides.

Step 3: Add 1 cup of water or chicken broth to the bottom of the instant pot.  Place the metal trivet on the bottom of the pot.

Step 4: Place the chicken legs in a single layer, on top of the trivet, skin side up. 

Step 5: Set the electric pressure cooker to high pressure on pressure cook mode and cook for 10 minutes.  Allow the pot to natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then use quick release to release the remaining pressure.  Be sure to wait until the pressure cook button goes down before opening the pressure cooker.

Step 6: This step is optional but cooking chicken pieces in the Instant Pot doesn’t create a crispy chicken skin.  The easiest way to get crispy skin (along with the best flavor) is to broil the chicken after removing it from the instant pot pressure cooker.   Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet and place it in the oven on the broil setting for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is browned.  

Step 7: Serve up the chicken legs once cooked or add some bbq sauce to make BBQ chicken drumsticks or a spicy version with buffalo sauce.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

  • I find the best way to cook chicken drumsticks in the instant pot is by using fully thawed pieces of fresh chicken.
  • For best flavor, coat all sides of the chicken legs with the spice rub.
  • For a crispy skin, broil the chicken for five minutes after it cooks in the instant pot.

How Do I Reheat Chicken Legs?

The best way to reheat this chicken is in the air fryer. Set the temperature to 360 degrees. Place the pieces of chicken into the basket (not crowded) and spray them with a little olive oil if you like. Then let them cook for 4 minutes, flip them over, and cook for another 4 minutes.

It also works to reheat the chicken legs in the oven. Simply place them on a baking sheet or pan and cook at 350 degrees for 8 minutes on each side.

The chicken will still taste delicious even when reheated in the microwave. Just cover the pieces with a paper towel and heat for just enough time to heat them through. It will only take a minute or two.

  • Save


How Long Does It Take to Cook Chicken Legs in the Instant Pot?

It takes 10 minutes on high pressure to cook fresh, completely thawed chicken legs using an electric pressure cooker. If they are frozen you will need to set the cooking time on high pressure for 15 minutes.

Note this time doesn’t include the time it takes to pressurize and depressurize the instant pot which can be around 20-25 minutes when using 10 minutes of natural release.

Also, chicken pieces may vary in size so be sure to check the chicken for doneness. If it isn’t quite cooked, you can always return it to the pot and cook under pressure for a few more minutes. In my experience, the pressure cooker will re-pressurize much quicker than at the start because it is already warm.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Swap out garlic powder with 2 fresh garlic cloves finely minced.
  • Add to or swap out your favorite herbs for the spice rub. Some of my favorites include rosemary, thyme, and oregano.
  • Use your favorite store-bought spice blends to change up the flavors.
  • Add a simple bbq sauce, buffalo sauce or gravy after cooking.
  • Save

Storage Notes

These instant pot chicken legs may be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated for 3-4 days.  Or you may freeze them for 3-4 months.  They need to be stored in a suitable container for the freezer. I prefer using a labeled freezer bag that can lay flat and take up less space.

FAQs

Can I make pressure cooker chicken legs without skin?

Yes, chicken legs will cook up perfectly juicy even without the skin in the pressure cooker.  While removing the skin may make the chicken a bit healthier, it does lose a bit of flavor when it cooks without the skin.

Can I use chicken pieces other than drumsticks to make chicken in the instant pot?

Yes, the pressure cooker works for cooking chicken of all types.  Use this easy instant pot recipe to prepare chicken breasts, mixed pieces of chicken, boneless chicken thighs, or even boneless skinless chicken thighs. However, thicker pieces of chicken may require more time to cook.

How do I know the chicken is fully cooked and safe to eat?

The best way to ensure chicken is fully cooked is to use an instant-read thermometer.  The general guidelines state that the internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165 degrees. Take the temperature reading from the thickest part of the chicken leg.

Can I use frozen chicken legs in this easy recipe?

Yes, frozen chicken drumsticks will work well in this recipe.  You will just need to adjust the amount of time needed for cooking by adding 5 minutes to the pressure cook time. 

Can I brown the chicken before cooking instant pot chicken drumsticks?

Yes!  You can brown the chicken right in your instant pot.  Just use the sauté mode and brown the chicken on all sides – it will just take a few minutes. You can add a bit of oil if you prefer to help it brown quicker.

Once it’s the color you like, remove the chicken from the pot and make sure there are no brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot which can trigger a burn notice while cooking under pressure.  Add the water to the pot and gently rub the bottom of your instant pot with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits.  Then place the trivet inside,  add the chicken, and continue on with the pressure cooking.

What can I do with the leftover liquid and chicken juices?

As the chicken is cooking, it will release its natural juices and some of the cooking spices into the water or broth you added to the pot.  You can use this liquid to spoon over your finished chicken or you can use it to make a simple gravy or thicker sauce.

How do you defrost chicken legs quickly?

I know it’s frustrating but sometimes it happens and you forget to pull the chicken from the freezer for dinner.

There are a couple of different ways to thaw it out which all still take a bit of time.  You can use the defrost setting on your microwave to thaw it out.  It cooks at a lower heat setting so that it thaws rather cooks, but you will still need to set the time in intervals and move the chicken around in between. 

Another method, which may take 3-4 hours is to place the chicken in the sink under cool running water and allow it to thaw.  This also requires moving the chicken around as it begins to thaw in order to thaw out more quickly.

Thawing chicken under hot or warm water or on the counter are not considered safe methods of thawing out raw chicken.

Is it ok to stack the chicken legs in the instant pot?

I prefer cooking chicken legs in a single layer but it can work to stack them if you want to cook a double batch or you are using a smaller pressure cooker.

  • Save

More Easy Instant Pot Recipes

If you’ve made this recipe or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how they turned out. We love hearing from you! You can also follow along with me on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM to see more colorful recipes!

Chicken legs cooked in an instant pot on a teal plate sitting on a marble countertop.
  • Save

Instant Pot Chicken Legs

An easy way to prepare perfectly cooked juicy and tender chicken legs. This chicken drumstick recipe is one the whole family will love.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken drumsticks recipe, instant pot chicken drumsticks, instant pot chicken legs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 163kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot
  • Medium bowl
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring spoons

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth

Dry rub:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Optional Garnish:

  • barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce or gravy

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Rub this spice rub all over the chicken.
  • Put 1 cup of water in the bottom of the instant pot. Place trivet on the bottom of the pot. Put chicken pieces in a single layer, on top of the trivet, skin side up.
  • Set the electric pressure cooker to high pressure on pressure cook mode and cook for 10 minutes. Allow the pot to natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then allow quick release to release the remaining pressure. (Wait until the pressure cook button goes down before opening the pressure cooker.) The chicken will be moist and tender but the chicken skin will not be crispy.
  • The easiest way to get a crispy skin (along with the best flavor) is to broil the chicken after removing it from the instant pot pressure cooker. Place the chicken on a foil lined baking sheet and place it in the oven on the broil setting for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is browned.
  • Serve this with your favorite bbq sauce or buffalo sauce.

Notes

Tips:
  • I find the best way to cook chicken drumsticks in the instant pot is by using fully thawed pieces of fresh chicken.
  • For best flavor, coat all sides of the chicken legs with the spice rub.
  • For a crispy skin, broil the chicken for five minutes after it cooks in the instant pot.
Storage:
These instant pot chicken legs may be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated for 3-4 days.  Or you may freeze them for 3-4 months.  They need to be stored in a suitable container for the freezer. I prefer using a labeled freezer bag that can lay flat and take up less space.

Nutrition

Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 498mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 131IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @sweettea_and_sprinkles or tag #sweetteaandsprinkles
Nutritional Disclaimer

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating





Comments

    1. Post
      Author
  1. 5 stars
    This is going into our regular meal rotation – so easy and so delicious. I can’t believe how tender the chicken is. And it is quick and easy to crisp it up too – thanks for the tip.

Rachel Headshot
Sweet Tea and Sprinkles Hello

I'm Rachel.

If you love easy, semi-homemade recipes that remind you of your favorite comfort foods and look like a million bucks, this is the place for you friend!

let's be friends