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Chicken thighs, kale, and gravy over mashed potatoes in a shallow blue bowl.

Instant Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American


An easy Instant Pot Chicken recipe with kale, garlic, onion, and lemon.


  • 2 Tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups fresh kale, stems removed and roughly chopped


  1. Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper
  2. Set Instant Pot to sauté setting. When pot is hot, add canola oil.
  3. Use tongs to add chicken thighs to pot and sear 4-5 minutes per side until lightly browned. 
  4. Move chicken to one side of the pot to make some room. Add onion and garlic. Sauté 1-2 minutes until onion has softened.
  5. Add thyme and another pinch of salt and pepper to pot. Toss to combine.
  6. Add lemon juice, chicken stock, and kale to pot. Toss to combine, making sure to scrape up any browned pieces from the bottom of the pot. 
  7. Press "cancel" on your Instant Pot to turn off the sauté setting.
  8. Lock the Instant Pot lid in place, move the valve to "sealing", and set the cook time for 5 minutes at high pressure. When the cook time has finished, let pressure release naturally for five minutes, then do a quick release by carefully moving the valve to "venting." Let the pot vent completely before opening. Serve immediately.


Additions and Substitutions. Add 1-2 cups broccoli or cauliflower florets, parsnips, carrots, potato, sweet potato, or butternut squash just before pressure cooking (we recommend cutting heartier veggies like potatoes or squash into 1/2" pieces for even cooking). Depending on the vegetables you add, you may need to extend the cook time by 1-2 minutes. Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in place of chicken thighs if you like (you may need to extend the cook time depending on size). Use a digital thermometer to test chicken for doneness (cooked chicken should reach 165 degrees F). Swap 1/2 cup white wine for an equal amount of chicken stock. Add an extra boost of flavor by stirring in an extra Tablespoon of lemon juice or a dash of fish sauce just before serving.

To save extra time, you can skip searing the chicken. We like the texture and color a quick sear adds to the dish, but it's not necessary if you're in a pinch. Sauté the onions and garlic on their own (the texture is so much better this way!), then add the rest of the ingredients and proceed as directed. 

For a thicker, creamier sauce, stir in a cornstarch slurry, add a splash of heavy cream, or add a few spoonfuls of Magic Cauliflower Cream just before serving. 

What to serve with this Instant Pot chicken: Serve this chicken over mashed potatoes (bonus points if you use some of the broth in place of milk or cream when you mash them up!), pasta, rice, quinoa, farro, or zucchini noodles. Don't forget a loaf of Easy Crusty Bread to soak up all the broth!

Turn leftovers into an easy soup: Shred the chicken, add a splash of heavy cream or extra chicken stock, and serve as a light soup (similar to our favorite tortellini sausage soup!) Add potatoes, tortellini, orzo, or extra veggies to make it heartier and stretch it farther.

Save extra broth. Instant Pot recipes need liquid to help the cooker come to pressure, which means this recipe makes quite a bit of broth. If you're serving the chicken with something that soaks up the broth (like potatoes, pasta, or grains) you may not have any left over, but if you're serving the chicken on its own we recommend saving extra broth for soups, pasta sauces, pot pies - basically anything you'd use regular chicken stock for!

About the Instant Pot. We have tested this recipe with a 6-qt. Instant Pot Duo60 and a 6-qt. Instant Pot Lux. We like them both! This recipe has not been tested with other pressure cooker brands or with alternative Instant Pot sizes (but we're working on it!) If you have an 8-qt. Instant Pot you may need to double the recipe (or at least the chicken stock) to ensure you have enough liquid to reach full pressure. As always, please use your best judgment and follow the care instructions for your own equipment.

Keywords: pressure cooker, meal prep