Instant Pot Chicken in a creamy tomato sauce with juicy chicken thighs, is incredibly delicious and takes less than 30 minutes to make.
This Instant Pot Chicken recipe is going to blow your mind. The tomato sauce is so creamy, buttery, tangy with a hint of sweetness to it. The sauce is perfect to toss some pasta in it or keep it simple and serve the chicken with a side of greens.
I can't have enough chicken recipes, no one can. It is one of the most frequently eaten protein at home and there is always a demand for new chicken dishes. I have tons of chicken recipes on the blog and I keep adding more and more to the collection. Like most of my recipes, this recipe is also done entirely in the instant pot. It is quick, easy and so so delicious.
Tips For Making Instant Pot Chicken In Tomato Sauce
The ingredients for this recipe is really simple and available in most of the kitchens. All you need is butter, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, Tomato sauce, cream, to make this luxurious tomato cream sauce.
- I prefer to use chicken thighs with bone-in and w/o skin. I remain juicy and soaks up all the flavours well. Roasting the chicken thighs first helps to build up the flavour. So first season the chicken thighs and roast each side for 2-3 minutes until little brown spot start appearing.
- The next thing we need to keep in mind is the cooking time for chicken thighs in the instant pot. Because we have already roasted the chicken for about 4-5 minutes, the chicken is partially cooked. So instead of the usual cooking time of 8 mins, we are going to cook the chicken for only 5 minutes. This ensures the chicken is not overcooked and still juicy.
- Butter makes the sauce rich and also adds flavour. A dash of oil along with butter keeps the butter from burning.
- Mince onion and garlic really fine, so that the sauce has a smooth texture to it. While sauteing in butter make sure the garlic and Onion are aromatic and start to brown a little bit. Slightly caramelized onion and garlic give the depth of flavour.
- Now the important step is when to add the cream. One of the most common issues I hear is the cream splits and makes the sauce grainy. So here is a little tip, make sure the gas is off while adding the cream to the pan ( in this case the Instant Pot should be off). After adding the cream mix everything well and don't boil the sauce. So it is always recommended to add cream to the end.
Can I Use Frozen Chicken Thighs?
One of the beauties of the instant pot is, it lets you cook chicken directly from the freezer. There are a couple of factors when it comes to cooking frozen chicken in the instant pot. First, the cooking time increases from 10 mins to 15 minutes and with a natural pressure release of 10 minutes.
Second, cooking frozen chicken in Instant pot tends to release more liquid than the fresh one. To adjust the total amount of liquid in the recipe.
In this recipe, you can alternatively use frozen chicken thighs. The only step that you need to skip is the browning of the chicken. If using frozen chicken thighs with skin, once the chicken is cooked take the skin off (because No browning of chicken thigs = rubbery skin when cooked).
So start with browning the onion and garlic in butter in saute mode. Then add wine to deglaze the pot, followed by tomato sauce and seasoning ( I would add a teaspoon more because the chicken is without seasoning). Add frozen chicken thighs and cook on high ( full pressure) for 15 minutes, followed by natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Release any remaining pressure manually and open the lid.
If the amount of liquid is more, put the pot back to saute mode. Cook for 5 minutes more to evaporate the extra liquid and get the desired consistency. Switch off the instant pot and add cream to it. Mix everything well.
Can I Use Chicken Breast Instead?
Chicken breast cooks beautifully moist in Instant Pot. You can use chicken breast instead of chicken thigh in this recipe as well with minor changes to the recipe. Chicken breast gets cooked in fairly less time. I have tried this recipe with chicken breast with a couple of variations.
Browning chicken breast and then cooking it on high pressure(reduced it to 4 minutes) resulted in dry rubbery chicken. The chicken also didn't absorb any flavours.
On the second try, I skipped browning the chicken and cooked on high pressure for 7 minutes, followed by natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Chicken breast turned out to be moist and flavourful.
To Avoid Burn Notification In Instant Pot?
Getting burn notice while cooking on instant pot is quite annoying, especially while you have a hungry family to feed.
First of all, every time the pot is giving a burn notice doesn't mean something has burned. It might be an indication that the bottom layer of the pot has some brown bits stuck. So it is very important to deglaze the pot to release any brown patches from the bottom. Like in the above recipe, White wine is added to deglaze the pan.
Another reason for the burn notice could be because of very little liquid in the pot. In the recipe, the amount of tomato sauce is enough for the chicken. Also when the chicken thigh gets cooked it releases liquid.
The last reason could be the Inner pot is very hot, while setting it to manual high-pressure mode. In this recipe, first, chicken thighs are being sauteed followed by onion and garlic. If you tend to get frequent burn notification in your IP, then after you saute the chicken thighs, switch off the IP and let it cool down a bit. Then again switch to saute mode and start cooking onion and garlic.
Other Instant Pot recipes you might like
Instant Pot Garlic Herb Chicken & Rice
Instant Pot Creamy Balsamic Chicken & Potatoes
Instant Pot Chicken in Creamy tomato Sauce
- 6 chicken thighs with bone
- 2 teaspoon Unsalted Butter
- 1 teaspoon Oil
- 1 Medium Onion Chopped
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Minced
- ¼ cup white wine (Refer note 2)
- 2 cup tomato sauce (without salt)
- 1.5 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt (Refer note 1)
- ½ cup cream
For seasoning Chicken
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Garlic powder
- In a mixing bowl add all the ingredients mentioned under seasoning. Mix well.
- Add Chicken thighs to the above seasoning and toss to coat the chicken.
- Turn on the Instant Pot to saute mode.
- Once the pot is hot enough, add 1 teaspoon butter and oil.
- Place the seasoned chicken thigh skin side down and let it brown for 2 minutes.
- Flip the chicken and let it brown for another 2 minutes. Remove the chicken and keep aside.
- Add rest of the butter to the pot, followed by chopped onion and garlic.
- Saute onion and garlic for about 1-2 minutes, until it has softened and not smelling raw anymore.
- De-glaze the pan with wine. Scrap the bottom of the pot well to release any stuck brown bits.
- Add tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir well.
- Place the browned chicken thighs in a single layer.
- Cover the lid. Switch to manual mode. Cook on high (full pressure) for 5 mins.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Then do a quick release for any remaining pressure.
- Switch back to Saute mode.
- Stir in the cream and mix everything well to coat the chicken with the sauce.
- Once the sauce looks creamy and chickens are coated well, switch off the pot. ( Cream will split and the sauce will look grainy if the sauce is cooked for too long after adding the cream).
- Serve the chicken with creamy tomato sauce over pasta or sides of greens.
- Don't miss the step by step detailed video down after the recipe.
- Many readers who have tried the recipe has reported that the amount of salt was a bit more for their taste. I have mentioned the amount of salt that I have used as per my taste. Please use ½ teaspoon salt to season chicken and add ¼ teaspoon to the sauce later. Once the Chicken is done, Check the seasoning again and add more salt if required.
- Wine definitely adds a lot of flavours and when added it deglazes the pot. You can substitute the wine with low sodium chicken stock as well. If using Chicken stock instead of wine, adjust the amount of salt accordingly.
Can I use evaporated milk instead of cream?
evaporated milk might make the sauce a little watery (not that creamy) but it will work
Made a Dairy free, toddler friendly version tonight for the family. Substituted butter for dairy free spread, wine for Knorr Zero salt chicken stock and didn't add any salt. And used Alpro Soya cream instead. Very tasty, but sauce a bit thin. Possibly due to the soya cream not thickening it enough. But daughter ate it all so its a thumbs up from us! now I know its a bit thinner than I'd like, I can work on improving that next time!
Very good. Did not put wine and replaced with water. Still great flavours.
If I need to use frozen boneless, skinless thighs, would it be 8 minutes and skip the saute step? Thank you!
For boneless chicken thighs, skip the saute step. Then cook for 10 minutes with natural pressure release.
I made this last night with almost no variation to the original recipe and it is fantastic! I did not expect the depth of flavor with the limited ingredients and I was happily surprised. Even my picky eaters loved it!
Cream = heavy cream?
it is heavy cream.
Delicious, I used both frozen breast and frozen bone-in thigh. I defrosted them a bit first, so still half frozen but I did the browning step anyway. Also added a bit of sour cream at the end with cream because I didn't have much. I immersion blended it at the end too to make it smooth. Served over rice. Will make again it was good!
I had 10 thighs, chose not to sear first, had to cook 10 min. Some were large.
Didn’t have cream, sub’d Greek yogurt.
It came out great. Made no other changes.
Thank you so much!
Unused chicken breasts because it was what I had in hand. So flavorful and simple. I love recipes that have basic pantry items. Served with cauliflower rice.
If I’m doing 12 thighs do I just double the time and ingredients?
Only ingredients. Time remains the same. Because of doubled ingredients the total time take for the IP to come to full pressure would be more.
Sue Stockman says
Excellent! The only change I made was I used half and half instead of cream! Less calories but no less perfectly creamy. I will definitely make this again!
This was fantastic! I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. I seared them 3 minutes on sauté, flipped, then sautéed 3 mins on the other side. I pressure cooked for 10 mins and natural release for 10 then release the rest of the pressure. I also only added 1tsp of salt to the recipe. I thought the other amount was way too much. Everything else I followed accordingly! The only reason I did that cooking time and method is because I made a similar chicken the day before and it turned out so good! The key to good chicken I find is cutting the chicken and putting it back in the sauce. Makes it so juicy and tender!!
debby malcolm says
Can u use cream cheese instead of cream?
Yes you can but you need to adjust the consistency by adding more stock. And I can't say how much cream cheese as I haven't tried myself.
Don’t have an instant pot. Can I use something else, like a Dutch oven
Hi Lee, definitely. You can do this over stope-top.
Omg this was sooooo good! We tweaked just a little. Used a full 29 oz tomato sauce can (about 3 cups) and the full half pint cream. Ended up using about 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic and. little extra of the seasonings to make up for extra sauce. Boiled a pound of pasta very adente and mixed it in to everything else as our final step and let set for a few minutes. Pasta soaks up the sauce thickening it. We don't cook with salt but it tasted fantastic without. Plenty of salt from other ingredients. Will be making again.
Happy for you, Jason. Thanks for the comment.
Two meals in one!
The sauce was so good that I didn't want to waste any of it, so I took all the leftovers from our meal (3 shredded chicken thighs, mixed veg, and brown rice) and added them to the sauce to make a soup. Im super excited to warm it up for lunch tomorrow.
Lulu Goodwin says
Outstanding recipe. Just brilliant. Also your instructions and notes were fabulous. I used breasts and skipped the browning stage And cooked for the 7 minutes you suggested. Got the burn warning, as you said and opened the pot, have a quick stir and was sorted. I’m super impressed and will make this often. Leftover breast has been shredded and left with all that amazing sauce and it will be pasta sauce for tomorrow night. I’m really impressed with the caliber of content on this blog. Thank you.
Thank you very much for such kind words. So happy that it came out great.
Omggg this was delicious. I don’t typically write reviews but I had to for this one. Thanks for posting it!
Thank you very much for the review. So glad that you liked it.
This sounds delicious, but my husband isn't a huge chicken thigh fan. If I use boneless/skinless chicken breasts, what cook time would you recommend? Thank you!
For Chicken breast 2 minutes followed by 10 minutes of natural pressure release.
You note here that you would cook chicken breast fro 2 minutes but in your blog post, you say 7 minutes each followed by 10 minutes of natural pressure release. Which is correct?
If your are using chicken thighs then sauté both side for 2 minutes each followed by 5mins high pressure. But if using chicken breast skip sautéing and cook directly in high pressure for 7 mins followed by 10 mins of natural pressure release. Hope I clarified your doubt here .
This recipe was soooooo good!! My husband and son were complimenting me just from the smell while I was cooking. They love the chicken, the sauce and and me for cooking it!! Lol. Thank you!!!
Katherine Lambert says
What I have on hand is skinless boneless chicken thighs. Should I skip the saute part? They are fairly small (pastured from a farm) so what time would you recommend if I skip the saute? I'm thinking 8 minutes?
Thank you for the tip on the "burn" signal!
yes, 8 mins should work.
Very good! My husband loved it.
I had to fiddle with the ingredients because of food intolerances (no onions, garlic-infused oil instead of garlic, lactose-free cream), but it still turned out really well! I'll definitely be making this again.
Yum! This hit the spot. I had 2 chicken breasts I wanted to use and I was craving some creamy tomato pasta. I followed the directions starting with sauteing the onions and garlic. I used chicken stock instead of wine and then let it process while I boiled some noodles. I then shredded the chicken and put it back in and added the cream. We served it on rotini with parmesan cheese but I wouldn't mind straight up drinking it.
roni lett says
do you leave the skinn on when roasting the thighs? when do you take the skin off?
I keep the skin on. You can also use skinless thighs instead.