Chicken wings are one of those well-loved, crowd-pleasing appetizers that work for pretty much any occasion. Whether it's a smaller gathering or a big buffet, a plate of chicken wings is usually the first thing to go.
And so they should be! They’re simple to eat, tasty, and feel more substantial than a bowl of chips or a veggie platter.
One of my favorite wing recipes is for sweet and sticky Japanese-inspired teriyaki chicken wings cooked in the pressure cooker.
How to Make Chicken Wings in the Pressure Cooker
Making chicken wings in a pressure cooker, such as the Instant Pot, simplifies the process. Prep is quick and easy, as you just place all the teriyaki sauce ingredients in the Instant Pot, then add the wings, and toss to coat.
To cook, seal the pot and press the “Poultry” button. Reduce the time to 10 minutes and make sure the pressure is high. Once the cooking is done, you do a quick release of the steam vent.
The high-pressure cooking leads to a more flavorful wing in less time, as you can skip marinating the wings in the sauce. The Instant Pot high-pressure poaches the wings in the marinade, infusing them with flavor.
- New to the Instant Pot? Check out our post How To Use an Instant Pot: A First-Timer’s Guide.
Crispy Wings? Use the Broiler!
Once the wings are cooked in the Instant Pot, they are then quickly broiled to give their skin a nice char.
While that happens, thicken the sauce using the “sauté” button on the Instant Pot, thus maximizing kitchen time. The resulting sauce has all the residual chicken juices that come from cooking in the pot, which means the final glaze has a punch of chicken umami as well.
Traditionally, teriyaki sauce is left to slowly cook down and thicken, resulting in an intense flavor. To expedite the process, I’ve used cornstarch to thicken the glaze so it still clings to the wings, eliminating the time it would take to reduce the sauce down to a glaze.
From start to finish, you can have flavorful teriyaki chicken wings on the table in 45 minutes with minimal effort.
How to Break Down Chicken Wings
You can buy “Party Wings” at the grocery store which are wings that have already been broken down into their parts: the drumette and the flat. But I often buy whole wings because breaking them down is easy and it’s cheaper. (Save the wing tips in a freezer bag for making chicken stock!)
Here's how to break down whole wings:
- Find where the joint is between each piece by wiggling the wing—where it moves is where you cut. There's one joint where the tip connects to the wing and another where the drummet and the flat connect to each other.
- Cut right down between these joints to separate the wing parts. You can also “feel” for the knuckle between the wing parts. Cut directly between the knuckle to separate the wings.
What Are the Ingredients for Teriyaki Sauce?
Here in the United States, teriyaki is associated with a sweet soy-based sauce, but in Japan, teriyaki tends to refer to the manner the food is cooked: Teri refers to the shiny or glossy coating that comes from the sweetened glaze that is brushed on the food as it cooks. Yaki refers to the grilling or broiling of the food.
Making teriyaki sauce from scratch means buying some Asian ingredients that you might not have in your pantry:
- Soy sauce is a pretty common ingredient for most folks. I highly recommend you purchase one that does not have caramel coloring or any artificial flavors or ingredients. If you want, you can use reduced soy sauce in this recipe.
- Mirin is a mildly sweetened, low alcohol rice wine and a key ingredient to teriyaki sauce. You might find a bottle on the shelf that is labelled “aji-mirin” which translated to “tastes like mirin” which will work fine (it is slightly sweeter than traditional mirin). If you can’t or don’t wish to get mirin, you can substitute dry sherry or white wine in its place, though the flavor won't be as good.
- Sake is a rice wine. I use it in this teriyaki sauce because of the complexity it adds to the sauce. If you prefer, you can substitute a dry white wine. If you are avoiding alcohol, you can just use water in its place.
- A touch of rice vinegar keeps the sauce from getting too sweet. The acidity of the vinegar cuts through the salt and sweetness, creating a balanced sauce. If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar in its place.
You can find all of these ingredients at a grocery stores with a good selection of Asian ingredients, or look for them at Asian grocery stores or online.
I also used brown sugar in this teriyaki sauce as the sweetener. It's not traditional, but I like how the molasses in the brown sugar adds a little bit of caramel flavor and darkens the color of the final sauce.
If you’d like, you can use six tablespoons of honey in place of the brown sugar for a different twist! Just keep in mind that the resulting sauce will be lighter in color and have a different flavor.
Ways to Use up Extra Teriyaki Sauce
This recipe produces extra teriyaki sauce, which is gold in the kitchen! Serve the wings with the extra sauce, but also save any leftover sauce for a quick seasoning to use for weeknight meals.
Here are some more ideas:
- Marinade for meat: Use for chicken thighs, meatballs, salmon, pork ribs or vegetable skewers. Marinate overnight in a bag with half the leftover sauce, or cook on a grill or in a skillet on low heat
- Grain Bowls! You can also make a quick grain bowl by drizzling some of the leftover sauce over steamed vegetables and cooked protein of your choice over whatever your favorite grain is.
Make the Sauce Ahead
You can also make the sauce ahead of time and marinate the wings overnight if you’d like to save time the day of your party.
Just combine all the sauce ingredients together in a gallon zip-top bag and then add the wings then refrigerate overnight. Then carefully place the contents of the zip-top bag into the Instant Pot and cook as directed. The wings will be even more flavorful after marinating!
Want More Great Chicken Wing Recipes?
Pressure Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Wings
You can buy “Party Wings” at the grocery store which are wings that have already been broken down into their parts: the drumette and the flat. But I often buy whole wings because breaking them down is easy and it’s cheaper. See headnotes for more instructions on breaking down chicken wings.
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons mirin
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 medium garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, from about a 1-inch knob
- 3 pounds chicken wing drumettes and flats
- To thicken sauce:
- 4 to 5 teaspoons cornstarch
- 4 to 5 teaspoons soy sauce
- To serve:
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
Make the teriyaki sauce:
Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger. Stir to mix in the sugar (it won’t completely dissolve and that’s OK).
Pressure cook the wings:
Combine the teriyaki sauce and wings in the pressure cooker. Toss the wings to coat. Seal the pressure cooker and make sure the steam valve is set to “sealing”.
Press the “Poultry” button and adjust the time to 10 minutes. Make sure it is set to “high pressure.”
The pressure cooker will come to pressure in 15 minutes, then cook for 10 minutes.
Vent the pressure:
Once the pressure cooker is done cooking, do a quick release of the pressure by carefully moving the steam valve to the “venting” setting. (I wear an oven mitt and use a wooden spoon to flick the valve because I’m overly cautious.)
Get ready for broiling:
While the steam is being released, turn your oven broiler on. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat the foil with cooking oil spray.
Broil the chicken wings:
Once the steam has been released, open the pressure cooker. Using tongs, move the wings to the prepared baking sheet and place under the broiler for 4 to 5 minutes or until the chicken skin is starting to char.
Flip all the wings and repeat to char the other side.
Reduce the teriyaki sauce:
While the chicken wings are broiling, thicken the teriyaki sauce. Start by pressing the “sauté” button on the pressure cooker.
If you plan on serving the wings at room temperature, stir together 4 teaspoons of cornstarch and 4 teaspoons of soy sauce in a small bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved, then add to the simmering teriyaki sauce.
If you plan on serving the wings hot, use all 5 teaspoons of both ingredients.
Cook the sauce until it starts to boil, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. The sauce should start to thicken a bit and look like maple syrup, but won’t look super thick. Don’t worry, it will thicken further as it cools.
Toss the broiled wings with the teriyaki sauce:
Turn the pressure cooker off. Once the wings are done in the broiler, transfer them back to the pressure cooker with the thickened sauce.
Toss to coat the wings, then move them to a serving platter.
Sprinkle wings with sesame seeds and sliced green onions and serve hot or room temperature.