Instant Pot BBQ Chicken: why and how

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Instant Pot BBQ Chicken. Juicy, sweet and sour and totally delish, this dish is made from scratch and it makes you look good with little effort. But why would you make this traditional barbecue dish in the Instant Pot?

I remember when I first came across a BBQ Chicken recipe for the Instant Pot. My first thought was – “what a pointless exercise!” Pressure cooking doesn’t get the caramelization needed to make a good barbecue, I thought!

For a change, I was right but only about the caramelization. What the Instant Pot does really well is to cook the chicken to perfect juiciness. Caramelization can be added, if needed, with a quick baste and grill.

That brings me to my cheat’s version of BBQ chicken drumsticks. With this recipe, you end up with juicy barbecue chicken made faster and easier with all the feel of a relaxed summer’s day….. on a crazy Thursday night!

How to Make BBQ Chicken in the Instant Pot


Sauté whole spices. Add onions and chicken along with the powdered spices and salt


Cook chicken at Manual for 15 mins, 10 NPR

Step 3

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. See the ingredients below.

Step 4

If you’re making a small number of legs for your family, transfer the chicken drumsticks to a hot pan, pour the sauce on top, toss and coat and let it all caramelize.

If you’re making a big pot like I often do, toss the cooked drumsticks with the sauce in a bowl. Grill for 4 mins each side.

Jump to Recipe

Why Make BBQ Chicken in the Instant Pot?

This is the 64 million dollar question isn’t it? It was for me.

The quick answer – it saves time.

The long answer – BBQ chicken legs in the oven are also good but they take a while. Further, if I’m not ready to flip them at the right time or baste enough, they dry out. When I cook drumsticks in the Instant Pot I can make a big batch beforehand and they cook consistently and remain juicy. I can also cook them from frozen. Just add 5 mins to cook time in the Instant Pot.

I would never consider cooking chicken from frozen on the barbecue!

Pro Tips from My Kitchen

Meal Prep Tips from my kitchen | Maple and Marigold
  • Make as many as you can fit in your Instant Pot. These go fast.
  • I cook till Step. 2 on Sundays and then caramelize during the week.
  • This Instant Pot BBQ Chicken dish is a hit during the summer as well when I make a big pot beforehand. The grilling can be done outside.
Instant Pot BBQ Chicken recipe | Barbecue Chicken in the Instant Pot | Cheat's version of BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

BBQ Chicken Instant Pot Recipe

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks – a dish that is juicy, sweet, sticky, sour and totally delish, and with my meal prep tips easy enough to turn around on a crazy weeknight!

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken recipe | Barbecue Chicken in the Instant Pot | Cheat's version of BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Print Recipe
Servings 4
Author Puneeta


For cooking the chicken

  • 10 Chicken Legs
  • 1 tbsp Canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds (zeera)
  • Two Black Cardamoms
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • Two Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • Salt
  • 1 cup sliced red onions you can use any onion you like or have on hand

For Sauce

  • 1 tsp Orange Marmalade
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 tbsp Mustard
  • 1 cup Chopped Shallots
  • 2 Garlic cloves


  • Turn the Instant Pot to Saute.
    Add Oil and add whole spices. 
  • Add Onions and toss in oil.
  • Add Chicken and saute. Add 1/2 cup of water.
    Close the lid of the Instant Pot.
    Switch to manual 15 High Pressure. 
    NPR for 10

For Sauce.

  • In a comfortably sized pan, add onions and sticky ingredients and toss.
    Add the juice and stir.
    Cook together for 20 minutes
  • Toss drumsticks and sauce together.
    Grill in a hot pan or under the broiler for 4 minutes each side.
  • Reserve any remaining liquid from the Instant Pot and the sauce. Mix it together and offer it to your guests as liquid gold. It is.
  • Serve with rice or salad or naan. Or all 3, I won’t judge.

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About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, Food Writer, Climate Advocate, New cookbook - Good Food, Healthy Planet - out April 2024
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Diana Muresan
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