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If you’re finding fall days to be overcast and dreary, bring in some sunshine with this Instant Pot Lemon Chicken! Boasting tender chicken thighs drizzled in a decadent, creamy, lemon sauce, this Instant Pot Lemon Chicken is delicious and comforting yet light due to the abundance of citrusy flavour. Quick and easy to prepare and perfect for a weeknight dinner at any time of year, this recipe is also Paleo, Whole30 and low FODMAP.
Instant Pot Lemon Chicken: Light, Economical Comfort Food
I developed this Instant Pot Lemon Chicken recipe awhile ago but have been making it for dinner almost weekly since my dad passed away. Due to its richness, it’s comfort food but doesn’t leave you feeling heavy due to the citrus. It also makes me feel lighter just to make it, having to work with lemons. The aroma of citrus lightens my mood, which makes preparing this recipe so enjoyable. It’s also pretty easy to prepare, so it’s ideal for a quick weeknight dinner.
Due to its rich, creamy sauce, this recipe is somewhat similar to my Instant Pot Chicken Fricassee recipe, which has a sauce that I also make creamy using coconut cream and balanced using lemon juice, albeit a much smaller amount. If you loved that recipe, you should love this one, too.
It’s also a rather economical recipe, chicken being the cheapest type of meat we can get here at the moment. Meat is expensive in BC at the best of times but particularly now during the pandemic. I’ve actually written certain recipes originally for beef (like my recent Grilled Chicken Fajita Salad, which I originally wrote for steak) and switched to chicken due to how expensive certain cuts of beef are right now. It’s not that we can’t afford to eat beef, I just don’t feel it makes sense to spend tons of money on it when chicken is so much cheaper.
This isn’t to say that we never eat anything but chicken, but since chicken is so economical and versatile, it has definitely been my focus in terms of recipe development during the last 6 months. Needless to say, you can expect a lot more chicken recipes coming to the blog in the near future.
Paleo, Whole30 and Low FODMAP
This Instant Pot Lemon Chicken recipe is Paleo and Whole30 compliant as well as low FODMAP. I love cooking with citrus as you don’t need much to create tons of flavour, and most citrus fruits are low in FODMAPs.
The equipment I use to make this Instant Pot Lemon Chicken recipe include:
Instant Pot Lemon Chicken: Ingredients and Tips for Success
For this recipe, I typically use eight bone-in, skin on chicken thighs. You may notice, however, that I only have seven thighs on the platter in these photos (I screwed up when taking them out of the freezer–oops). If you think 8 thighs will be too many for you, you can use as few as 6.
Herbs & Spices
First, I make a spice rub for the chicken by adding 1 tsp of the salt, dry or fresh rosemary, thyme, and ground black pepper to a small bowl and whisking to combine. I originally wrote this recipe using dried herbs as it’s the most convenient, but if you have fresh handy, feel free to use them.
I coat the skin side of the chicken with half of the spice rub, reserving the other half to sprinkle on the reverse side while the skin side is searing. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, just sprinkle both sides before you start searing. I do it this way to try to keep as much spice on the chicken as possible, but it isn’t 100% necessary.
Ghee & Garlic-Infused Olive Oil
Then, I press “Sauté” on the Instant Pot and add ghee and garlic-infused olive oil. Once the display on the Instant Pot reads “Hot,” I ensure the bottom of the pot is evenly coated with ghee and oil. Then, I sear the chicken in two batches, starting with the skin side first for 5 minutes. While the skin side is searing, I carefully season the reverse side of the chicken with half of the remaining spice rub.
Once the skin side has seared for 5 minutes and the skin releases easily from the bottom of the pot, I slowly flip the chicken and sear the other side for 2 minutes. Flipping the chicken slowly prevents the skin from tearing. If the skin does not readily release from the pot, wait another 30-60 seconds and try again. You do not want to hastily rip the skin off the pot or it will look awful and may rip off the thigh completely.
Once the chicken is done searing, remove it to a plate and repeat the same steps for the remaining thighs.
Lemon Juice & Chicken Bone Broth
After removing the seared chicken to a plate, I hit “Cancel” on the Instant Pot and pour in lemon juice and chicken bone broth. Pro tip: If you pour in the lemon juice first, it is likely to clean the bottom of the Instant Pot for you without having to do any scraping! Check to make sure the bottom of the pot is clean before pressure cooking, however, as it is not a fool proof method. I have not found this to be the case deglazing the Instant Pot using other citrus juices, such as lime, pineapple, or orange; only the lemon juice has had this cool, cleaning effect for me so far.
For the chicken broth, I use Imagine Chicken Bone Broth, which is low FODMAP as well as Paleo and Whole30 compliant. If you can’t find that one near you, this post on Fun Without FODMAPs offers a homemade recipe plus a number of other store-bought options.
Lemon Zest & Salt
Once I’ve added the liquid and scraped the pot clean, I add the lemon zest and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt to the liquid in the pot and stir. Then, I add all the chicken thighs back to the pot in 1 layer, skin side up. If you use 8 thighs, this will be a tight fit, especially if they’re big, but you can do it!
Before closing the lid, I scrape the plate the chicken thighs were resting on with a spatula to get all the juices and spices into the pot. As I always say, leave no flavour behind!
Then, I close the lid and set the pressure release valve to “Sealing.” I press “Pressure Cook” on the Instant Pot (which is the “Manual” button on certain models), and set the timer to 10 minutes. As there is not a ton of food in the pot, it doesn’t take long for the pot to get up to pressure – only about 10 minutes.
Thicken the Sauce
Once the cooking cycle has completed, I quick release the pressure and open the lid. Using a fresh set of tongs, I remove the chicken to a platter. Then I add the coconut cream to the liquid in the pot and stir. To thicken the sauce, I whisk together 2 tsp of tapoica flour in 2 tsp of cold water to make a slurry. Then, I hit “Sauté” on the Instant Pot and wait for the liquid to start boiling (this should only take a few seconds, so don’t run away!). I start to gently stir the liquid with a whisk, and while doing so, slowly add the slurry to the boiling liquid. I continue to gently stir until the liquid thickens, about 1 minute.
Once the sauce is thickened to your liking, hit the “Cancel” button on the Instant Pot and remove the inner pot to a hot pad. Pour the sauce into a gravy boat or measuring cup to drizzle on top of the chicken.
You will ideally want to serve this Instant Pot Lemon Chicken on top of a starch component, such as mashed potatoes (like my Instant Pot “Garlic” Mashed Potatoes, which are Paleo and Whole30 with a low FODMAP option), white rice (which is low FODMAP but not Paleo/Whole30), or cauliflower rice (which is Paleo/Whole30 but not low FODMAP). I find that white rice is my preferred starch for this recipe as the flavour combination with the creamy lemon sauce is just divine.
Place the chicken on top of your selected starch and pour the sauce on top. Garnish with lemon slices and thyme sprigs if desired and enjoy!
In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp of the salt, rosemary, thyme, and pepper and whisk to combine. Dry chicken thighs well with paper towels and sprinkle the skin side with half of the spice mixture.
Press the “Sauté” button on your 6-quart Instant Pot, 8-quart Instant Pot, or comparable pressure cooker. Add the ghee and garlic-infused olive oil to the pot. Once the display reads “Hot,” ensure the oil and ghee have completely coated the bottom of the pot. Using tongs, add half of the thighs, skin side down, and sear for 5 minutes or until the chicken skin releases easily from the pot (do not rip). While the chicken is searing, carefully sprinkle the side of the chicken that is not searing with half of the remaining spice mixture. Flip and sear on the other side for 2 minutes. Remove seared chicken to a plate and follow the same steps for the remaining thighs. If you’re in a hurry, you can sear all 8 thighs at the same time in a large skillet on medium high heat on the stove.
After all the chicken thighs are seared on both sides, press “Cancel” on the Instant Pot. Pour in lemon juice and chicken bone broth and scrape the bottom of the pot clean with a plastic spoon.
Add the lemon zest and remaining ½ tsp salt to the liquid in the pot and stir. Lay the chicken in one layer (it will be tight, but you can do it!), skin side up, in the liquid. Using a spatula, scrape any juices left from the chicken on the plate into the pot (leave no flavour behind!). Close the lid, set the pressure release valve to “Sealing,” hit the “Pressure Cook” or “Manual” button, and set the timer for 10 minutes.
Once the cooking cycle has completed, quick release the pressure. Using a fresh set of tongs, remove the chicken to a platter. Check the temperature of the thickest piece of chicken (without touching the bone) with an instant read thermometer. Chicken must be at least 165° F (75° C) to be safely consumed.
Add coconut cream to the broth in the Instant Pot and stir. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as desired. If the sauce tastes too coconutty, add more salt and pepper until the coconut flavour dissipates to your liking.
To thicken the sauce, whisk 2 tsp tapioca flour with 2 tsp of cold water in a small bowl or measuring cup to make a slurry. Hit “Sauté” on the Instant Pot and wait until the broth begins to boil (this should only take a few seconds). While gently whisking the broth constantly, slowly add the slurry to the broth and whisk until the sauce is to your desired thickness (about 1 minute). Hit Cancel on the Instant Pot; pour the sauce in a measuring cup or gravy boat to pour on top of the chicken.
Serve Instant Pot Lemon Chicken with a starch component like potatoes, such as my Instant Pot “Garlic” Mashed Potatoes (Paleo, Whole30, low FODMAP), white rice (low FODMAP), or cauliflower rice (Paleo, Whole30). Place the chicken on top of the starch and pour the sauce on top. Garnish with lemon slices and thyme if desired.