Heat instant pot on "sauté" setting. Add oil, then brown chicken for 3-4 minutes on both sides (it doesn't have to cook through yet). Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
Pour broth into pot, scratching any browned bits off the bottom. Insert metal trivet and set chicken on top. Close lid and set valve to "sealing".
Pressure cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, then do a 5 minute natural release (just switch off the instant pot and leave it alone). Manually release any remaining pressure, open lid and carefully remove chicken and trivet (hot!).
To thicken gravy, whisk cornstarch into 2 tablespoons cool water. Stir into juices in instant pot, then bring to a simmer using "sauté" setting. Stir and simmer 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Serve gravy over chicken.
Chicken thighs: I used skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. I find they stay the juiciest. But feel free to use boneless, skinless thighs instead – just reduce the pressure cooking time to 8 minutes.
Frozen chicken: You can cook chicken thighs from frozen in the instant pot. Do not brown the chicken, just place the broth and trivet in the instant pot, then place the frozen chicken on the trivet. Sprinkle with the seasoning, then seal the lid. Pressure cook on high pressure for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of chicken thighs (and how tightly they are frozen together).
Broth: Just water is fine, too. It yields a little less flavorful gravy, so you may need to adjust the seasoning.
Brown sugar: Feel free to leave out the sugar, if you prefer.
Cornstarch: Please do use actual cornstarch, do not substitute regular flour.
Season the chicken with just salt and pepper before browning it – the other seasoning must go on after browning! Otherwise, it will just fall off and burn at the bottom of the instant pot.
The chicken doesn’t need to cook through yet when you’re browning it, you just want to get some color on the outside (it improves the flavor of the chicken and the gravy).
I just use the standard trivet that came with my instant pot, no need to get fancy!
If you don’t want to bother with the gravy, feel free to leave out those final steps.
I make this recipe in my oldie 6-quart Instant Pot Duo. If you have a different model, your outcome may slightly vary. If you have a different size pressure cooker, please check your manufacturer’s minimum liquid requirement and make adjustments in case your appliance needs more than 1 cup of liquid.