How to Effortlessly Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker Recipe)

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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?


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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
5 from 4 votes
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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
Keyword Instant Pot, Whole Chicken
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 25-30 minutes (30 minutes if the bird is large and on the 4lb side). 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. 

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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36 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.

      • Ah! That makes so much sense now. I just made this, and I was wondering why it was not falling off the bone. It was tender and lovely, but I did have to pull it off. Turns out, I have a pasture-raised bird this time. Ha! What a difference a bird makes? 🙂

  • 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 :).

  • I am going to attempt the whole chicken recipe, today, 4/24. How do I add potatoes, or veggies, or do I not? I have heard the ‘whole meal’ can be cooked in one pot. I do not have an insta pot, but I have an Elite Platinum by Maxi-Matic.. the huge one… there are 6 people in the house!

  • Hey, I usually roast a hockey in the oven upright in a cast iron pan with half a can of beer in the cavity of the bird-beer can chicken. Do you think I can modify it that way- use a can of beer rather than the broth or water in the bottom? I usually use the drippings plus flour to make a roux, then add the leftover beer to make an AMAZING gravy. (I usually use Heineken)
    Thanks!

    • Meryl, you don’t actually put the can in the bird, do you? Or do you! I’ve heard of beer can chicken, etc. but have no idea how it’s made. I’m assuming you put the beer, sans can, in the pot, right?

    • Beer can chicken is an OPEN can of beer, standing upright, filling the cavity of the whole chicken as it cooks. As it cooks the boiling beer releases steam and subtle flavor into the standing chicken. If the OPEN beer can and chicken won’t fit in the pot, ditch the can and try pouring 1 cup of the beer into the pot instead of water or broth. I will try 1/2 cup wine and 1/2 cup broth in mine tonight.

  • Have you tried making broth with the leftover liquid from this recipe in the Insta Pot? Basically putting the bones/skin back in the pot with the leftover liquid, adding fresh veggies and more water, then making broth on the slow cooker setting? I’m curious how it would turn out.


  • This was far better than any rotisserie chicken I have purchased and it was SO easy! If I had known how easy this was, I wouldn’t have done it so much much sooner. Adding this this recipe to my weekly meal rotation – husband loved it too! Served it with roasted cauliflower rice and Brussels sprouts. Thanks so much for this recipe!

  • Id like to try this recipe in a brand new Instant Pot which arrived this morning.
    How long does the “natural steam release” take, and thus add on to the time taken from beginning prep to serving please?

    • Hey Gill, Congrats on your new Instant Pot. I cant’ provide a definite amount of time for the natural release. Somewhere in the 15-20 minute range. So you’ll want to add that on to the cooking time.

    • Hey Gill, For a 6 quart pot, they would need to be very small chickens. I’m not sure about cooking time, but I would think if they equal 3 lbs (together), the cooking time wouldn’t be too different.

  • Hey Kristin! I am trying this recipe tomorrow and the smallest chicken I could find at my store was 5lb. Should I add a few minutes of cooking time? Or would 30 do the trick? I certainly don’t want to dry it out! Let me know if you have any tips! Thanks!!

  • This was so.good! I had a 4.5lb pasture bird and adjusted the IP cook time to 32 minutes. It came out tender and delicious, as did the leftover broth/dressing reduced down with butter. I love the simple mix of spices with the oil. I’ve tried many different whole chicken recipes, and this one was magic! Thanks, Kristin!

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