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California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Oregano Instant Pot Chicken Recipe

When I first moved to the beautiful state of California, I dreamed of having a citrus tree in my backyard. Today, not only do I have a thriving lemon tree, but also a burgeoning garden home to a myriad of herbs and vegetables.

One of the highlights of this garden is my robust oregano plant. These homegrown treasures have inspired this recipe, a dish that sings the culinary song of California and tells a story of my backyard garden.

Oregano from my backyard garden

Scroll down for a printable recipe.

Backyard Bounty

Living in California, we are blessed with a Mediterranean climate that encourages a bounty of lush produce all year round. The recipe I am sharing today is an ode to these natural gifts and the vibrant Mediterranean flavors they bring to our plates.

Imagine tender chicken thighs marinated in a mixture of zesty lemons plucked straight from my tree, aromatic homegrown oregano, and a drizzle of the finest California arbequina olive oil.

Amazing California Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This recipe wouldn’t be complete without a key ingredient – Extra Virgin olive oil. I had the good fortune to sample some that was sent over by the California Olive Oil Council. The arbequina olive oil adds a delightful buttery and fruity note that enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

California olive oil

The great news is, no matter where you are, you can indulge in the unique taste of California by sourcing CA olive oil, which is available worldwide.

Making the Dish

Now, let’s dive into the heart of the recipe. The dish may seem sophisticated, but its simplicity is what makes it a winner. It begins with fresh lemon zest, inspired by my tree.

Start by zesting

The chicken thighs are marinated in the vibrant California-inspired marinade with zested citrus, infusing them with a rich, deep flavor.

Chicken thighs marinating

They are then seared in the Instant Pot until they gain a beautiful golden-brown hue. This browning process not only locks in the flavors but adds a delectable crust to the chicken.

Saute setting adds a nice browned crust

The marinated and browned chicken thighs are then pressure cooked in the Instant Pot, resulting in succulent, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of chicken. The final flourish is the reduction of the marinade into a heavenly lemon and oregano sauce that’s optionally thickened to your liking.

The resulting sauce is bursting with the tangy notes of lemon and the earthy hint of oregano, all tied together with the rich undertones of the Extra Virgin olive oil.

The finished chicken, garnished with parsley

Full Recipe

Yield: 4-6 servings

California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Oregano Instant Pot Chicken

California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Oregano Instant Pot Chicken

Experience the best of California's culinary heritage with this sumptuous Instant Pot Chicken, infused with the aromatic splendor of fresh oregano and a tangy zest of lemon. Enhanced by the richness of locally-sourced California Extra Virgin olive oil and delicately spiced with black pepper, this dish is a symphony of vibrant flavors that will transport your taste buds to the sunny landscapes of the West Coast.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons California olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leave, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic, locally sourced and minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
  • Fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Start with washing the chicken thighs and patting them dry.

    Combine the fresh lemon zest and juice, oregano, black pepper, and minced garlic, creating a vibrant marinade that echoes the rich, local flavors of California.

    Immerse the chicken thighs in this mixture, ensuring they're fully coated. For a more profound flavor, let them marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or even overnight in your fridge.

    Activate the 'Sauté' mode on your Instant Pot. Once it's heated, add the CA olive oil.

    Add your marinated chicken thighs to the pot. Sear each side for approximately 3 minutes until they gain a beautiful, golden-brown hue. Do this in batches if necessary. Once browned, remove the chicken and set aside.

    Now, deglaze your pot by pouring in the chicken broth, making sure to dislodge any flavorful bits that are stuck to the bottom.

    Place the chicken thighs back in the pot, secure the lid, and adjust the valve to 'Sealing'.

    Using 'Manual' or 'Pressure Cook' mode, set your Instant Pot to high pressure for a duration of 9 minutes.

    After the Instant Pot finishes, let the pressure naturally dissipate for about 10 minutes. Then, carefully switch the valve to 'Venting' to release any residual pressure.

    Optional: If a thicker sauce suits your preference, take out the chicken and engage the 'Sauté' mode on your Instant Pot. Make a slurry with cornstarch and cold water, stirring it into the broth. Allow it to simmer and thicken for a few minutes.

    Immerse the chicken back in the pot for a final coating of the sauce, or simply pour the sauce over the chicken when you're ready to serve.

    Use fresh parsley as garnish before serving.


For an extra tasty sauce, swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter at the end of cooking. You can substitute other olive oils if needed, but California is the best!

This California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Oregano Instant Pot Chicken has become a favorite in my home. My children adore it, and it’s effortless to prepare. Even better, the Instant Pot allows me to keep it warm until we’re ready to dig in, making it a perfect solution for those busy weeknight dinners or relaxed weekend meals.

With each bite of this chicken, you’re not just tasting a meal; you’re embarking on a flavorful journey through California’s Mediterranean-inspired culinary landscape, while also getting a taste of my backyard garden. I hope this dish brings as much joy to your table as it does to mine.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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