How to Make the BEST Instant Pot Whole Chicken!

It’s so EASY to cook a whole rotisserie-style chicken in your Instant Pot. This family favorite recipe cooks hands-free (no basting required!) in a fraction of the time it would take to roast in the oven. Plus, it creates a moist, fall-off-the-bone chicken every time.

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Is Roasting a Whole Chicken Really Worth the Effort?

A roasted whole chicken, surrounded by piles of mashed potatoes and steaming ladles full of gravy is the iconic Sunday night dinner. Practically the definition of comfort food.

But, does it ever really live up to the hype?

In total transparency, a whole roasted chicken has never come out of the oven in my house that lived up to the time and effort it took to prepare. They are either dry or bland or both.

And, when I can pick up a perfect rotisserie chicken for $6 at my local grocery store, why try to beat that?

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The Whole Chicken that Made Me Want to Try Again

Typically, I wouldn’t. I am totally willing to let the grocery store win. But, this weekend, I found myself staring at the fresh, organic, whole chicken that was included in my CSA bag.

Fresh. Organic. Whole chicken raised within 70 miles of my house. It seemed wrong to stuff it in the back of my freezer and forget about it.

The Instant Pot Whole Chicken Recipe that Converted Me

So, I decided to consult the directions for cooking a whole chicken in my electric pressure cooker. I didn’t add a ton of fancy ingredients, I just kept it simple and followed the directions that came with my Instant Pot.

The results were AMaaaazing!  This chicken was moist, fall off the bone deliciousness.  I’ve got a completely new outlook on whole chicken now.  And, with the leftovers, I threw together this Easy Chicken Pesto Pasta Dinner the next night!

If your chicken is still frozen, check out this post on how to cook a frozen whole chicken in an Instant Pot.

What You’ll Need to Make an Instant Pot Whole Chicken

Prepared  whole chicken on a plate
  • Whole Chicken – size will vary, just make sure that it fits in your instant pot.  This recipe was tested using a 4 lb chicken in an 8-quart Instant Pot.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 8-Quart Instant Pot
  • Optional – Instant Pot Sling

If you’re new to or still considering buying an Instant Pot, check out this post for everything you need to know about the Instant Pot.

How to Make Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken

Step One

First, mix the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and 2 tbsp of oil together in a small bowl.

Next, rub half of the seasoning mixture over the top of the chicken.

Step Two

Turn on the “brown/saute” feature on your Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker. Carefully add one tsp of oil to the Instant Pot and allow it to heat up for about 30 seconds.

Place the chicken into your pre-heated cooker, breast side down for 4-5 minutes, allowing the skin to get crispy.  While the chicken is in the cooker, rub the remaining spice mixture over the bottom of the chicken.

Using a large pair of tongs, carefully flip the chicken over to the other side and allow the bottom to crisp for about 4-5 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a large platter.

Step Three

Add 2 cups chicken broth to the instant pot.

Place metal instant pot trivet into the pot and carefully place your chicken on the trivet.

Optional Step – If you’re using a sling, simply place your chicken into the sling, secure the handles, and place it on top of the raised trivet.

Next, secure the lid on the instant pot and make sure that it is locked in place.

Using whatever settings your machine designates for meat, set the timer for the appropriate amount of time, depending upon the size of your chicken:

  • 3 pounds: 18 minutes
  • 4 pounds: 24 minutes 
  • 5 pounds: 30 minutes
  • For every additional pound add 6 minutes (or 3 minutes for every half pound) to the total cooking time 

Step Four

Once the cooking time is up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, you should be able to open the lid without performing a manual release. If it’s not opening on it’s own, you can open the valve to release the rest of the pressure.

Do NOT be impatient with this step. The chicken does need to finish cooking and, if you do not allow the Instant Pot to naturally release, there is a good chance your chicken will still be raw.

Very carefully remove chicken to a platter.  It will be very tender and likely to begin falling apart! This is when having an Instant Pot Sling comes in VERY handy!

PLEASE READ These Tips If It’s Your First Time Cooking a Whole Chicken In an Instant Pot

How Important is Browning the Chicken First?

The short answer: SUPER important if you want browned chicken skin.

Cooking a whole chicken in an Instant Pot isn’t the same as roasting one in the oven. The only browning that will occur is the browning you do before you seal the lid and begin pressure cooking.

For the absolute best results, I make sure that the chicken is nice and crispy before I even think about beginning to pressure cook it. If you’re not getting the results you want from the oil and seasoning rub you put on the chicken, feel free to add a little extra olive oil to the Instant Pot while you are sauteing it.

If your chicken comes out with soggy, waterlogged skin, the issue is almost always that it wasn’t browned enough before you pressure cooked it.

Will a Whole Chicken Roasted in an Instant Pot Have Crispy Skin?

Even though you browned the chicken really well and it was nice and crispy going into the Instant Pot, do not expect it to come out just as crispy.

Remember that you are cooking the chicken with steam and there is no hot air circulating around the chicken.

While I LOVE using my Instant Pot to cook a whole chicken because it produces a moist chicken (and is “hands-off” so I can do other things while it cooks!) you do sacrifice crispy skin by using this method.

Do I Need to Use a Trivet When Roasting a Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot?

If you want to be able to carve and serve your chicken rotisserie-style, you will need to use a trivet in your Instant Pot.

Essentially, you are ensuring that your chicken isn’t sitting in the broth, other-wise it will fall completely apart and you risk having it stick to the bottom of your Instant Pot.

Below is an example (outside of the Instant Pot so you have a better visual) of how I set my whole chicken on the trivet to cook.

Whole Chicken on Instant Pot trivet

Will the Whole Chicken Fall Apart When I Remove it From the Instant Pot?

If you are not using an Instant Pot Sling or a very large spatula to secure the bottom of the chicken, it will very likely begin falling apart when you remove it from the Instant Pot.

I’ve only recently discovered the sling and have had more than my fair share of chicken break in half or lose a leg or wing on its way out of the Instant Pot.

Should I use a Natural Release for this Recipe?

Allow the chicken to naturally release for about 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes have passed, you should be able to open the lid of the Instant Pot without performing a valve release. If you do a quick release, your chicken will NOT be completely cooked and you risk having the inside of your chicken partially raw!

A Few Tips for Making This Recipe

  • Better than Bouillon is my favorite way to create a cooking broth and I always have chicken, beef, and lobster (perfect for any seafood base) on hand. It’s so easy to mix up a cup or two instead of opening a container of broth.
  • If you want to make a quick gravy, this one over at Genius Kitchen is my favorite. 
    • Just use 2 1/2 cups of the broth/drippings combo leftover in your Instant Pot and you’ll have a pan full of delicious, homemade gravy in about 5 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Instant Pot Whole Chicken

Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Cooking a Whole Chicken?

Usually, whole chickens contain a bag of giblets stuffed into the cavity. In the case of an organic or fresh chicken, you’ll generally find the giblets and neck in the cavity without a bag.

REMOVE the neck/giblets/bag before you cook the chicken. After you’ve removed them, rinse the cavity out with cold water.

Should I cook the Chicken Breast Side Up or Breast Side Down?

Breast side up all the way!

Can I Cook a Whole Chicken Frozen in the Instant Pot?

Yes! Check out this post on how to cook a frozen chicken in an Instant Pot.

Other Instant Pot Recipes You Will LOVE!

Make this AMAZINGLY Moist Rotisserie-Style Chicken at Home Tonight!

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Instant Pot Roasted Whole Chicken

Print Recipe
This chicken is incredibly moist and juicy.  Literally the best whole chicken you'll ever make, all thanks to your Instant Pot/Electric Pressure Cooker!
Rule of thumb - cook the whole chicken 6 minutes for every pound, and then add an addtional 3-4 minutes to the time for good measure!
Prep Time:5 mins
Cook Time:1 hr 10 mins
Total Time:1 hr 15 mins

Ingredients

  • Whole Chicken – size will vary just make sure that it fits in your instant pot. This recipe was tested using a 4 lb chicken in an 8-quart Instant Pot.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Step One
  • First, mix the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and 2 tbsp of oil together in a small bowl.
  • Next, rub half of the seasoning mixture over the top of the chicken.
  • Step Two
  • Turn on the “brown/saute” feature on your Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker. Carefully add one tsp of oil to the Instant Pot and allow it to heat up for about 30 seconds.
  • Place the chicken into your pre-heated cooker, breast side down for 4-5 minutes, allowing the skin to get crispy.  While the chicken is in the cooker, rub the remaining spice mixture over the bottom of the chicken.
  • Using a large pair of tongs, carefully flip the chicken over to the other side and allow the bottom to crisp for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a large platter.
  • Step Three
  • Add 2 cups chicken broth to the instant pot.
  • Place metal instant pot trivet into the pot and carefully place your chicken on the trivet.
  • Optional Step – If you’re using a sling, simply place your chicken into the sling, secure the handles, and place it on top of the raised trivet.
  • Next, secure the lid on the instant pot and make sure that it is locked in place.

Using whatever settings your machine designates for meat, set the timer for the appropriate amount of time, depending upon the size of your chicken:

  • 3 pounds: 18 minutes
  • 4 pounds: 24 minutes 
  • 5 pounds: 30 minutes
  • For every additional pound add 6 minutes (or 3 minutes for every half pound) to the total cooking time 
  • Step Four
  • Once the cooking time is up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, you should be able to open the lid without performing a manual release. If it's still "sticking" though, you can open the valve to release the rest of the pressure.
  • Do NOT be impatient with this step. The chicken does need to finish cooking and, if you do not allow the Instant Pot to naturally release, there is a good chance your chicken will still be raw.
  • Very carefully remove chicken to a platter.  It will be very tender and likely to begin falling apart!

Video

Not Available
Course: Chicken
Author: Snug and Cozy Life

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37 Comments

  1. Is that natural release, or do I open the steam vent?

    1. You’re going to want to use a natural release. It takes about 10 minutes and is worth the wait! This is the only way I cook a whole chicken anymore. 🙂

      1. Mary Vipond says:

        I use a 10 or 15 min nr for most of my meats. Read somewhere that it’s best with meats.

  2. Laurie Wisecup says:

    When you put the chicken on the trivet, do you put it breast side up or down?

    1. Hi, I always place the breast side up in the Instant Pot. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

      1. Is the meat setting the same as my button that says poultry?

        1. Hi Ellen, My assumption is that it’s pretty similar. One other thing you could do is use the manual button, high pressure and the amount of time required for your chicken. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Does anything change if the chicken is frozen?

  4. Margaret Dibling says:

    Do you set on “meat” or “chicken” for 40 minutes. My first try with IP. I set on “chicken”. Hope it turns out ok.

    1. I believe “chicken” and “meat” are just preset times and, if you changed one of them to 40, you should be all set. Let me know how it turned out!

  5. Mary Strobel says:

    Can you broil the chicken in the oven first, then into the instant pot to cook instead of sautĂ© in pot? Did pot roast in hot oil sautĂ© and had oil spattered all over cabinets, counter and popping into my face. Next time I brown my meat on stove…

    1. I’ve never done it that way, but broiling the chicken for a bit or browning it in a large pan should work. The goal is to make sure that the skin is super brown and crispy so it doesn’t get “water-logged” during pressure cooking, so I think those are both good ideas if you do not want to brown meat in the Instant Pot.

  6. Maureen F. says:

    First thing ever I cooked in my new instant pot! I didn’t have some of the ingredients, so I improvised! Olive oil over the whole chicken with some TJ freshly grated lemon pepper. Two cups chicken stock with the juice of a whole lime ( didn’t have lemons). Put what was left of the lime into the chicken cavity. 35 minutes later…. OMG! Juicy, lemony/Lime flavor, and the gravy was to die for! I wasn’t worried about the skin, I don’t eat it anyway so just discarded it! Thank you for getting me started on this instant pot journey!

  7. I cooked for 35 minutes for a 4.5 lb chicken and the natural release was still not done 20 minutes later so I did a manual release for the last bit. It was extremely juicy. I discarded the skin because trying to brown it before only resulted in pieces of skin sticking to the pot and I used plenty of oil. Not worth it in my opinion. I used water that I had added my favorite spices and some worchestershire sauce to about half an hour earlier (warmed the water first so I basically steeped the spices) instead of stock. After I took the chicken out (it was literally falling off the bone), I saved the liquid. It will be used to make risotto, also in the instant pot. Good basic recipe but I am glad I added extra time.

  8. LOVE this recipe & the leftover possibilities are endless!

  9. Followed the recipe without making any changes. It was perfect. Thank you for sharing it with us. I used a 4 lb chicken, and it was pretty easy to sauteed. Thank you again!!

    1. I have no stock on hand can I just use water?

      1. Yes, as long as you aren’t planning on making gravy with the liquid afterward, this should be fine.

  10. This was the first time I used my Instant Pot and I decided on this recipe. My husband and teenage grandson loved it. The gravy really makes it.

  11. Can I put carrots in with the chicken while it’s cooking? Same time frame?

    1. Hi, I have cooked carrots (and potatoes) in the instant pot with the chicken. It does work but keep in mind that they will be VERY soft and, because they are cooking in the chicken broth, have a strong “chicken soup” flavor.

  12. I was so afraid to try a whole chicken in my pressure cooker. Injected garlic power, onion powder, salt, complete seasoning and butter into my chicken. After injecting seasoning mixture I bagged my chicken for 24 hours. Cooked for 40min. BAM! What favor. I will never buy a roasted chicken again. Thank for you recipe.

    1. Just for clarification my chicken shld not be sitting in the broth when cooking correct?-

      1. Yes, that is correct, you should have the chicken sitting on a trivet, above the broth.

  13. Anyone else have trouble turning it? I have some large tongs but maybe not the right kind? It’s the only thing that keeps me from doing this more. It’s so good and tenders in the instant pot but getting it out is tricky!!

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Yes, the chicken is SUPER tender and removing it from the Instant Pot can get tricky. (I’ve lost a wing or two trying to do this myself.) One of the best ways I’ve found is to hold a large spatula under the chicken to lift it from the bottom while inserting a pair of tongs into the cavity to hold it steady.

  14. Will a thawed chicken be cooked the same length of time or is using frozen preferred?

  15. I have made this several times. Each time perfection. Very moist and the taste is so good. Than you for sharing this recipe.

    1. Thank you so much, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!

  16. Nicole Grettenberg says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was the first thing I tried in my instapot two days ago and it turned out fantastic.

  17. I just got my Insta pot!! Can’t wait to make this! But, it didn’t come with a trivet!! What else can I use, and where would I get a trivet for it??

    1. Hi – you can purchase a trivet at Amazon. I’m not sure if there’s anything else that is safe to use/fits properly?

  18. Step three states “frozen chicken”. I believe that this recipe is for a thawed chicken, correct?

    1. I corrected that – thank you for pointing it out!

  19. I just tried this for the first time. The chicken was very tender. When I do it again, I will sauté both sides of the chicken in a pan on the stove. I used plenty of oil but it still didn’t brown like I had hoped. I also use the amount of salt that it suggested, but I think it needed a little bit more.
    I will definitely use this recipe again.

  20. Well this was my first try with the instant pot. Only problem was I put the chicken in breast side down. When I went to remove it it just fell apart. Tomorrow I’ll try corn beef.

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