How to Effortlessly Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot

It seems like everywhere I look–from blogs to social media–people are declaring the praises of the Instant Pot.

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour.

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour.

I purchased an Instant Pot a couple of years ago on the very first Amazon Prime Day. At the time, the pots were about $200+, which just seemed outrageous for an appliance that I didn’t even know how to use. But on Amazon Prime Day, the price dropped as low as $70. $70 was justifiable.

I received my Instant Pot within a couple of days (Amazon, you’ve forever spoiled me with your super fast shipping speed). I remember just looking at the box, and wondering what in the world I was going to do with this new appliance. I understood the slow cooker function, but the idea of a pressure cooker freaked me out.

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour.

For a good two years, my Instant Pot was only used as a slow cooker. I was terrified to touch any other button. What if this thing blows up in my kitchen? What if it catches on fire? What if mini aliens are born inside my pot?

I’m obviously kidding about the alien thing, but in all seriousness, I was TERRIFIED of what might happen if I tried the pressure cooker function. And really, who can blame me? We’ve all heard the old-fashioned pressure-cooker horror stories from our grandmothers and mothers.

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour.

A few months ago, Helen, from the Live Simply Team, approached me about an Instant Pot Salisbury Steak recipe she created in her Instant Pot, using the pressure cooker function. My heart skipped a few beats at the thought of having to make a recipe using the pressure cooker function (to test and photograph), but despite my anxiety, I responded, “YES! Let’s do it!”

Friend, I feel like Helen deserves some type of award. Thanks to her, I’ve gained the confidence needed to use the pressure cooker function on the Instant Pot. In fact, if you follow me over on Instagram, then you know I’m slowly becoming an Instant Pot Guru. Okay, okay, maybe I’m not ready for the “guru” status just yet, but I’m definitely using my Instant Pot more.

And in case you’re curious, I no longer wonder if my Instant Pot is a mini alien factory. Confidence is a beautiful thing.

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour.

Today’s recipe/tutorial, which was perfected by Helen, uses the saute and pressure functions of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook a whole chicken in under an hour. I asked Helen to develop this recipe, which is now a staple recipe in my kitchen, because I regularly cook a whole chicken and shred the meat to use throughout the week in sandwiches, salads, quesadillas, soup, and enchiladas. I know many of you do the same thing. The Instant Pot offers a very quick and easy way to do exactly that.

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour.

Now, I absolutely love slowing down and cooking slow meals in the kitchen. I truly believe that’s something we need to get back to as a culture–even if it’s just once a week. You know, the act of using a stove to make a roasted chicken, a pot of soup, or some crusty bread. But, I also have two kids and work full-time on the blog and freelance recipe/photography projects. There are days–many days–when I just need to get dinner on the table quickly, with as little effort and mess as possible. That, my friend, is when the Instant Pot shines. Being able to cook a whole chicken in under an hour, with only one pot, is a huge blessing for this mom.

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour.

How to Effortlessly Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot
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Instant Pot Whole Chicken

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 1 whole chicken
Calories 1728 kcal
Author Kristin Marr

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lb whole chicken

Cavity of the Chicken:

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Spice Blend:*

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika see substitution ideas under "Recipe Notes"
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 TB avocado oil or olive oil

Liquid:

Instructions

  1. Remove the giblets and neck if they are included (save to make broth). Remove any twine or plastic that may be holding together the legs, etc.

  2. Set the Instant Pot to Saute, Normal Temp.

  3. Add ½ of a lemon, ½ of an onion (cut in half to fit, if needed), 3 garlic cloves, and fresh thyme, to the cavity of the chicken.

  4. In a small bowl, mix together the oil and spices/seasonings.

  5. Rub the oil and spice mixture over the breast of chicken, under the skin. Also rub the spice and oil blend on the outside of the skin.

  6. Carefully add the chicken to the hot Instant Pot, breast side down. Carefully rub the remaining seasoning on the back side of the chicken.

  7. Brown the chicken for 2-3 minutes on the breast side. Using a set of tongs or two wooden utensils, carefully flip the chicken. Let the chicken brown for 3 more minutes.

  8. Press Cancel on the Instant Pot to turn off the saute mode. Add 1 cup of broth (or water) around the chicken. 

  9. Close and lock the lid in place, then turn on Manual/High Pressure for 25 minutes. The valve on top should be set to Sealed.

  10. Let the pressure release naturally. Once the pressure has released you'll be able to open the lid--the lid won't open when there's pressure still in the pot. 

  11. Carefully remove the chicken from the Instant Pot. The chicken may fall apart. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle (a few minutes), shred or cut the chicken. 

If you used broth and want to make a jus...

  1. While the chicken rests, turn the pot back on to Saute, normal and add a pat of butter to make pan sauce. Saute to desired thickness as au jus (a thin gravy). Serve the jus/gravy over the chicken, if serving as a meal. 

Recipe Notes

*If you're planning to shred the chicken for other meals, then I recommend skipping the paprika in this recipe. If you do this, you can also reduce the oil just a bit--try 1 1/2 tablespoons. The oil is used to keep the chicken skin from sticking to the pot during the saute step. Another option is to replace the paprika with dried thyme (1 teaspoon). If you do this, you could also skip the fresh thyme, if desired. 

**If you're not planning to use the liquid left behind in the pot to make a jus/gravy, stick with water for the liquid. 

How to effortlessly cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. This method results in flavorful, fall-of-the-bone chicken in under an hour.

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If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #LIVESIMPLYBLOG. I'd love to see what you make!



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12 Comments

  • Thank Heaven for Helen!!☺️ The Salisbury steak recipe was delish … So easy and so yummy. Can’t wait to try this chicken recipe….. If it’s anything like the Salisbury steak recipe it will be so good. Thank you all for these wholesome and every-time -delicious recipes!

  • Hey Kristin – once done, is the texture of this chicken similar to that of one done in a slower cooker or one that was roasted?

    • Hey Katie, I’ve found that it depends on the chicken. When I use chickens from Whole Foods (or another store), the chicken falls apart in the Instant Pot–just like the slow cooker method. When I use a 100% pasture-raised bird from our local farmer, the meat is still tender and delicious, but I have to cut the meat from the bones–just like the roasted method.

      • I actually totally understand what you are saying. It is amazing the difference in the taste and texture of poultry from the grocery store verses a bird that was slaughtered the same day you are eating it. You understand why people starting eating poultry in the first place, it’s that much of a difference, at least to us! Thanks for the response and understanding why I was even asking the question in the first place.

  • Such good feed back. I’m glad I found this site. My husband is stepping out and using our insta pot tonight for the first time. We had another brand and I felt the same way using it the first time that you did. I laughed reading that. LOL. Our other one actually only made 1 meal and we had to return it. Now to try this one. Crossing fingers and pleading the blood over the insta pot because God knows how much I need fast, fresh and healthy in this busy mamma’s life. It’s a season right? One we are to enjoy!! This is going to make is so much easier. Thank you so much and I am excited to read through your stuff. We are doing the same thing you have done. It seems once God starts revealing some of this stuff to you it comes like a fire hydrant. I’m thankful for people like you who have walked the path and paved the way before me.

    Oh and last question… Does the bird taste worst same day kill vs. buying in the store? I ask because we are literally in the stages of packing, moving and buying our first home with a little over an acre YEAH LAND no more HOA (another story another day, man that buying process was intense) but I’m questioned getting chickens for eggs and food. Just wondering about your comments above. Thank you amazing ladies!!!!

    In Him,
    Kim Hamby

    • Hey Kim, Lol, I’m so glad I’m not alone with the pressure cooker thoughts ;).

      I’ve noticed that pasture-raised chicken is usually leaner (doesn’t have the extra fat around the skin, etc.). It also doesn’t fall apart as easily in the Instant Pot as a more conventionally-raised chicken. As far as taste, both are good. I personally don’t notice a huge taste difference between the two.

  • I’ve made a chicken in the pot came out good a little dry as I’m not sure how much time to set it for? I out a little dressing with it turned out okay.

    • Hey Wanda, Did you try this particular recipe? We’re setting the pot to manual high pressure for 25 minutes. Also, I deleted the other comment since you were able to post without giving a star rating :).

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