Make a delicious rotisserie-style whole chicken in the Instant Pot! Just season the bird with savory spices and stuff it with fresh herbs so each bite is fragrant and flavorful. To add crispy golden skin, you can optionally broil the chicken in the oven for just a few minutes while you make a tasty gravy.
Cooking chicken in the Instant Pot adds a convenient method to your culinary repertoire. Typically, a complete oven-roasted chicken takes more than an hour to make, and you can check out that recipe here if you like. However, the benefit of an electric pressure cooker is that the elevated temperatures inside cut the traditional cook time in almost half!
This meal is easy to prepare any day of the week. And just like rotisserie chicken you’d find at the store, this recipe uses a mixture of dried herbs, paprika, and savory seasoning to coat the skin. But not all stores sell chickens with these flavorful ingredients stuffed inside the cavity.
With a 6-quart standard size Instant Pot, a smaller bird works best. Select a 4 to 5-pound chicken as anything bigger will not easily fit in the pot nor allow enough room for the hot air to properly circulate.
Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken, although if desired, it can be used to make giblet gravy or stock later.
Combine seasonings and butter to make a paste
Make a seasoned butter (aka compound butter) with a paste-consistency to evenly coat and infuse into the chicken. I use a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and herbes de Provence that dissolve in the butter.
I like the specific herb mix because it contains lavender, basil, fennel, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme all in one. Although, Italian seasonings or any green herbs you have in the pantry will work.
Cooking a whole chicken in the Instant Pot
Massage the cavity of the bird with the butter and seasoning paste, as well as all over the skin, and underneath the breast and thighs. Add fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, rosemary and lemon wedges inside the cavity. As the chicken cooks, the drippings will flavor the stock, making for a deep, rich gravy.
Make sure to cook the chicken breast-side up and placed on top of the trivet that comes with the Instant Pot. This elevates the bird so that moist-heat can circulate and efficiently cook the meat. It also makes removing the chicken later easier too. Add chicken stock to the pot.
How to tell when the chicken is done cooking
To check for doneness, use an instant-read thermometer. Check the thickest part of the breast near the center, it should register between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). You can also test the thickest part of the thigh, it should register at least 175ºF (79ºC).
Pressure cooking is tricky because you can’t take temperature while food is cooking. If the target temperatures are lower than mentioned above, add 1-minute for every 5 degrees under the target breast temperature, then quick release.
An optional quick broil makes for crispy skin
For those who love crunchy skin, broil the chicken in the oven after pressure cooking. Place the bird on top of a wire rack set in a sheet pan. Brush melted butter or olive oil on the surface to accelerate the color and texture change.
It can be challenging to brown a chicken using the pot insert, especially trying to flip it over without making a mess. It’s also impossible to make the skin crispy in the Instant Pot. This step can be skipped if desired.
Make a flavorful gravy
One big advantage of the multi-cooker is the ability to use the saute function to make a gravy. The residual liquid left in the pot is packed with juices, drippings, seasoning, and gelatin, great for making a flavorful sauce to serve alongside your meal.
Remove the liquid from the vessel and defat so that the gravy is less greasy. Make a roux with butter and flour then whisk in the reserved stock to create pan gravy thick enough to coat a spoon. I recommend not skipping this step, as there’s so much incredible flavor in the liquid.
Ways to use this recipe
- Cut into cubes or shred for a chicken salad sandwich
- Drizzle or toss with homemade barbecue sauce
- Add some protein to tortilla soup or butternut squash soup
How chicken size affects cook time
Pressure cooking a whole chicken takes about 7 minutes per pound. If using a frozen chicken, add an additional 5 minutes per pound. The ice needs time to defrost, which prolongs the cooking time.
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Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
- 4 pound whole chicken, giblets and neck removed
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 5 sage leaves
- 2 lemon wedges, plus more for serving
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock, or chicken broth, plus more for gravy
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons softened butter, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and herbes de Provence.
- To prepare the chicken, remove the neck and giblets. Dry the outside and inside of the cavity with paper towels.
- Rub in ½ teaspoon of the butter mixture in the cavity. Stuff thyme, rosemary, sage, two lemon wedges, and crushed garlic into the cavity.
- Rub the remaining butter mixture on the outside of the chicken and underneath the skin of the breast and thighs. There may be extra seasoned butter.
- Place the trivet inside of a 6-quart Instant Pot. Place the seasoned chicken on top of the trivet, breast side facing up. Pour the chicken stock into the pot.
- Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, turn and lock.
- Press the "Manual" button on high pressure, and then set the timer to 28 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons.
- It will take about 15 minutes for the pot to heat up and build pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
- Once the cooking time is complete, immediately release the pressure by covering the valve with a kitchen towel. Use an oven mitt or towel to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to the "Venting" position. The initial release may spray some moisture so be careful.
- Carefully remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam will be released.
- Lift the chicken from the pot by holding the handles on the sides of the trivet, use towels if the metal is hot. Slightly tilt the chicken to drain any liquid inside the cavity into the pot.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
- Alternatively, for a crispy and browned skin, place the chicken on a sheet pan topped with a wire rack. Brush the breast, legs, thighs, and wings with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Broil the chicken about 6-inches away from the upper heating element until golden brown and lightly crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure to keep a close eye on the color change, it can burn easily.
- Transfer the chicken stock in the pot to a fat separator, large measuring cup, or medium bowl.
- Allow the fat to come to the surface, about 10 minutes. If using a cup or bowl, use a spoon to skim off the fat from the surface. There should be about 2 cups of stock. If not, add extra chicken stock until it reaches that volume.
- Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the pot, add flour and whisk until the roux turns light brown in color, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly and continuously whisk in 2 cups of the chicken stock until the gravy is smooth and thickened. It should be able to coat the back of a spoon.
- Taste the gravy and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
- Carve the chicken and serve with hot gravy.
- If the chicken is undercooked, cook on high pressure another 1 minute for every 5ºF that it's under the target temperature of 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) in the thickest part of the breast. Quick-release the pressure.
- Make it GLUTEN-FREE: Substitute cassava flour for all-purpose flour. Alternatively, dissolve 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of water to make a cornstarch slurry. Heat 2 cups of chicken stock on the “saute” function, slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry and cook the gravy until thickened.
- Make it WHOLE30: Substitute Ghee for butter, and sea salt for kosher salt.
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