These buffalo sauce Instant Pot chicken leg quarters are the perfect balance between tender juicy meat and delicious flavor.
Chicken leg quarters are an economical cut that cook wonderfully in the pressure cooker and make for an incredibly easy dinner.
We need to talk about chicken legs.
And no, I’m not talking about drumsticks like I used in this maple miso chicken recipe but actual entire chicken legs.
Aka chicken leg quarters.
I don’t really understand why drumsticks and legs became one in the same because truthfully, they’re not.
A drumstick is like half of the chicken leg. Why we have to say “chicken leg quarters” when we’re talking about the whole leg and not just “chicken leg” makes zero sense to me.
But alas, that seems to be how the entire population understands it.
So, I’ll acquiesce to this strange chicken vocabulary today even though I don’t agree with it and would’ve preferred to just call these “chicken legs” without the “quarters” part at all.
Any who…point being, this is an underrated cut of chicken.
Chicken leg quarters are incredibly economical compared to chicken breasts or thighs and they’re really no different or more difficult to cook.
They’re also a fun deviation from the typical weeknight boneless chicken breast recipe, especially if you prefer dark meat.
Today’s recipe uses the Instant Pot to achieve incredibly tender and juicy bone-in chicken legs before slathering them in buffalo sauce for an easy crowd-pleasing flavor.
If you prefer, however, you can make these air fryer chicken leg quarters instead. Both recipes are great, just depends on which kitchen appliance you want to drag out!
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE INSTANT POT CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS
- 2 chicken leg quarters (total of about 1.5-2 pounds)
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- buffalo sauce
- water (or chicken broth/chicken stock)
Buffalo sauce is a great seasoning approach when you want flavor without having to pull out a million spices. Plus, since it’s Super Bowl season, it’s kind of a no brainer.
Buffalo sauce is to football what gingerbread is to Christmas basically.
HOW TO COOK CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS IN THE INSTANT POT
To make this super easy chicken leg recipe, start by trimming any little bit of excess fat from the chicken legs.
Season both sides of the chicken with a dry rub of salt, garlic powder and onion powder.
Place the metal trivet inside the Instant Pot and arrange the chicken on the rack skin side up in a single layer.
Pour the cup of water into the bottom of the pot (make sure to pour down the side of the insert so you don’t wash the seasoning off the chicken!) and affix the lid.
Set the valve to the sealing position and cook on the poultry setting for 15 minutes. If your Instant Pot doesn’t have a poultry setting, simply do manual cook on high pressure for the same amount of time.
Once the chicken legs are done cooking, let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes then quick release the remaining pressure until the valve drops and it’s safe to open the lid.
Remove the chicken leg quarters from the Instant Pot using tongs.
At this point you have two choices: toss in the buffalo sauce and serve or, as a last step: broil for a few minutes to crisp up the skin.
I personally prefer broiling although the chicken can definitely be eaten straight out of the Instant Pot if preferred.
To broil, place the chicken leg quarters on a baking sheet skin side up and brush with half the buffalo sauce. Broil on high heat for 3-4 minutes until the skin turns golden brown and crispy.
Remove from the oven and brush with remaining buffalo sauce to serve.
Serve as desired. It’s fun to treat the chicken legs as you would wings with some celery and carrot sticks and a ranch dipping sauce.
IS BROILING NECESSARY?
It’s not. Pressure cooking the chicken leg quarters will completely cook the chicken and if you don’t mind pale looking chicken, it’s totally fine to stop here and just toss with the buffalo sauce and serve.
However, if you live for crispy chicken skin (and who doesn’t?) and love recipes like this coconut lime baked chicken because of that perfectly browned crunchy skin, then I recommend the extra 3-4 minutes under the broiler for best results.
Broiling the chicken leg quarters will just crisp up the skin, it won’t overcook the chicken. Inside will still be juicy and tender meat!
If you prefer not to use the broiler, the same crispy skin result can be achieved on the grill, in an air fryer or with the Instant Pot air fryer lid.
Most chicken leg quarters are sold with the skin on.
If you know you don’t want to take the additional step to broil the chicken after it comes out of the Instant Pot though, you can remove the skin altogether before pressure cooking or just buy skinless chicken leg quarters if you can find them.
CAN I USE CHICKEN THIGHS INSTEAD?
If you’re having trouble finding chicken leg quarters at the grocery store, bone-in thighs can be substituted and cooked for the same amount of time.
Make sure they’re bone-in versus boneless chicken thighs as cooking time would be much less without the bone.
Chicken quarters are actually the thigh and drumstick of the chicken together as one piece instead of separating them into distinct cuts. If you love dark meat, this is the cut for you!
This recipe can be made with either the whole chicken leg quarter, just thighs or, just drumsticks if preferred.
Quarters are just substantially cheaper than buying thighs or drumsticks since it’s less work for the butcher to break the meat down.
It’s the same reason buying a whole chicken is more economical than buying individual cuts.
Need a whole chicken recipe? I really love this simple apple butter roasted chicken!
CAN I USE FROZEN CHICKEN QUARTERS?
One of the great things about the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) is it allows you to easily cook meat from a frozen state.
If you didn’t have the foresight to defrost the chicken, this recipe can also be made from frozen.
You’ll have to increase the cooking time from 15 minutes to about 20 minutes (cooked chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F) and seasoning the chicken becomes a little more complicated.
Since a dry rub won’t stick to frozen chicken legs, I recommend cooking the chicken quarters in the Instant Pot unseasoned and then seasoning once removed and using the 3-4 minutes in the broiler to let the seasonings sort of bake into the chicken.
Toss the broiled chicken in buffalo sauce at the end if using this method.
HOW TO SERVE BUFFALO CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS
If you don’t want to play up the buffalo sauce angle with celery, carrots and ranch or blue cheese, just treat these chicken legs like any other chicken dinner and pick your favorite sides!
Any roasted vegetable, baked potato or rice will do nicely with an easy chicken leg recipe like this.
OTHER SEASONINGS FOR CHICKEN LEGS
Besides buffalo sauce, BBQ sauce would also be an easy way to bring great flavor to the chicken legs. This BBQ roasted chicken with cherry jalapeño sauce is one of my all-time favorite BBQ sauce recipes.
Or, pick another favorite sauce (like teriyaki, sweet chili, etc.) for an easy approach to seasoning.
Garlic, lemon and herbs are another route with a Mediterranean flair if that’s more preferable.
Honestly, the seasonings are up to you.
With this easy Instant Pot method, you can cook moist and juicy chicken leg quarters with whatever seasonings speak to you.
Buffalo sauce is easy and typically a crowd-pleaser but, any sauce or spice blend can be used instead.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVERS
Leftover chicken can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. It can also be frozen if preferred for up to 3 months.
To reheat, I suggest warming in the oven and using the broiler at the end to re-crisp the skin.
While the oven is preferable, a microwave can also be used for convenience.
MORE DELICIOUS INSTANT POT RECIPES TO TRY:
- 1.5 pounds chicken leg quarters (about 2 legs)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
- 1 cup water
- Combine the salt, garlic powder and onion powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle over all sides of the chicken leg quarters to season.
- Place the trivet inside the Instant Pot and arrange the chicken legs on top of the trivet skin side up.
- Pour the water into the bottom of the Instant Pot careful to not wash off the seasoning on the chicken.
- Set the valve to the "sealing" position and cook on "poultry" setting for 15 minutes. If your Instant Pot doesn't have a poultry setting, use "manual" for the same amount of time.
- Let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes then manually release the remaining pressure until the valve drops.
- Place the pressure cooked chicken leg quarters skin side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with half the buffalo sauce. (*see notes)
- Broil the chicken on high for 3-4 minutes until the skin starts to crisp and turn golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and brush or toss with remaining buffalo sauce before serving.
*Broiling is optional but recommended for crispy golden skin. If you want to skip this step, simply toss the chicken with all the buffalo sauce after it comes out of the Instant Pot and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 317Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 216mgSodium: 1075mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 41g
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.