This easy Instant Pot whole chicken recipe makes juicy, fall-off-the-bone pieces. Using the multi-cooker, you can brown the skin and get tender rotisserie-style chicken all in one pot! Plus, I’ll show you how to make a flavorful gravy to drizzle on top.
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I’m a big fan of making chicken for dinner because it’s just so versatile. I simply cook it in the oven on most days, but using the Instant Pot multi-cooker allows you to brown the skin and yields tender results with minimal effort. For those busy weeknights, that’s something we can all appreciate!
For the most flavor, I season the bird with a spiced herb paste. Salting and stuffing the cavity with fresh herbs and lemon adds lovely aromatics to the taste. After cooking, don’t let those pan drippings go to waste! Whisk together a quick roux, then let the juices make a luxurious gravy as the meat rests.
This recipe has been designed for a 6-quart Instant Pot. Choose a whole chicken that weighs between 4 to 5 pounds, no larger, or it won’t fit. Keep in mind that after removing the giblets and trimming off excess skin, the weight always drops about 5 to 10%. So factor that into the cooking time.
I recommend using a digital kitchen scale if you have one to weigh the chicken before cooking. This meal is just the perfect amount for four people or two with leftovers. It’s also wonderful to use for meal prep to make soup, chicken enchiladas, or chicken salad for lunch.
Make sure that the surface of the skin is thoroughly dried. I pat it with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Residual water will cause the skin to steam instead of sear. A great feature of the Instant Pot is that you can use the saute function to brown the skin, which means more flavor.
Season the cavity and surface
You can keep the seasoning simple with just salt and pepper, but feel free to switch it up for variety. If desired, you can add the mixture underneath the skin for an even more savory flavor. I tend to do this for my roast turkey, and it gets rave reviews.
Place fresh sprigs of rosemary, thyme, garlic, and lemon wedges into the cavity to infuse more aromatics. It makes the pan drippings, which we’ll use later, tastier too! I like to tuck the wings back and truss the legs together with butcher’s twine for a prettier presentation, but you can leave it untied. Mix the olive oil, kosher salt, onion and garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper, then brush it on the surface.
Browning the skin adds more flavor
Using the highest saute setting (it’s labeled as “more”), sear the chicken breast-side down. I gently press the bird down for direct contact with the hot surface. Then flip it over using metal tongs or a large wooden spoon inserted in the cavity. If the latter, then use another spoon on the outside or use your free hand to hoist and flip.
Sear each side for about 5 to 6 minutes to enhance the flavor of the skin. You can ultimately skip this step, but pressure cooking will not develop a deep golden hue. Alternatively, after cooking, you can brush oil on the skin then broil until lightly browned.
If needed, clean the pot after sauteing if the spices get charred. You don’t want that flavor to transfer to the gravy. There will be further pan drippings after pressure cooking the chicken. The Instant Pot requires at least 1 cup of liquid in the vessel to generate steam. I prefer to use unsalted chicken stock to complement the poultry taste and to control the salt level. Chicken broth works well too.
Add the stock and then place the metal trivet inside to raise the chicken so the heat can circulate below the underside. Cook on manual high pressure based on weight (see chart below), then naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes. The trapped heat helps to gently finish the cooking process while preventing splatter from the release valve with liquid in the vessel.
A general rule of thumb is 6 minutes of high-pressure cooking per 1 pound of chicken, then natural release for 10 minutes. I recommend weighing the chicken after removing the giblets for the most accurate cook time.
|Chicken Weight||Cook Time|
|3 ½ pounds||21 minutes|
|3 ¾ pounds||23 minutes|
|4 pounds||24 minutes|
|4 ½ pounds||26 minutes|
|4 ¾ pounds||29 minutes|
|5 pounds||30 minutes|
Let the meat rest
It’s essential to rest the chicken for 10 minutes before slicing. This duration allows some of the flavorful juices to redistribute into the meat and not all drip out on the cutting board. In the meantime, it’s the perfect time to make the gravy. When you’re ready to serve, carve the chicken just like a turkey into white meat slices and dark meat sections.
Make the gravy
After cooking the chicken, don’t let the flavorful juices, fat drippings, and the stock on the vessel’s bottom go to waste. Remove everything from the pot, then use my go-to gravy recipe.
Start by making a roux from equal parts melted butter and flour. Cook them for a few minutes to take out the raw taste of the grain. Then gradually whisk in the juices and simmer until a thick, smooth texture forms. You should be able to make about 2 cups, plenty to pour over several slices of meat.
Ways to use leftovers
Serve this with
The cooking time is estimated to be 6 minutes per 1 pound of chicken, with a natural release time of 10 minutes. That’s 24 minutes of high-pressure cooking for a 4-pound chicken.
Yes! Increase the cooking time to 13 minutes per pound, with a natural release time of 10 minutes. That’s 52 minutes of high-pressure for a 4-pound chicken. Note, you won’t be able to get any of the spice rub underneath the skin.
Place the chicken breast-side up on a foil-lined sheet pan. Brush the skin with olive oil or melted butter. Broil in the lower middle of the oven until the surface is crispy, about 5 to 8 minutes. You can skip searing the skin inside the pot and broil after pressure cooking if desired.
How does pressure cooking keep the meat moist?
The pressure cooker completely encloses the chicken in an airtight container to steam the meat. Poultry will have no problem cooking all the way through. The pressure elevates the temperature, cooking it in a fraction of the time compared to roasting in the oven. It’s similar to a French moist-heat cooking method called en cocotte, developing tender meat and a built-in savory sauce.
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Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- 4 pound whole chicken, see note for other sizes
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided, plus more for seasoning
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 2 lemon wedges
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, 45ml, divided
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
- 1 teaspoon chopped oregano, or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock, or broth, plus more as needed
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Remove the giblets from the chicken and discard them. Dry the inside and outside with paper towels. Massage the cavity with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add sprigs of rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, and lemon wedges to the cavity. Tuck the wings back and tie the legs together with butcher's twine (optional).
- In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, thyme, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
- Place the chicken on a plate breast-side down. Brush the seasoning mixture over the bottom. Flip and brush the breast, wings, and thighs. If desired, rub additional salt (¼ teaspoon) and pepper (⅛ teaspoon) under the skin of each breast
- In a 6-quart Instant Pot, select the highest “Saute” setting. Allow to heat and it will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add the chicken breast-side down and cook until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Use tongs or a wooden spoon inserted in the cavity to flip the chicken over. Using another spoon on the other side, or your free hand, is helpful for flipping. Cook until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Press "Keep/ Warm/Cancel".
- If there are any charred spices on the bottom of the pot insert, carefully wash and dry before moving forward. Then pour in the chicken stock, scrape the bottom to remove any browned bits, if needed. Place the metal trivet inside and place the chicken on top, breast-side up.
- Make sure that the release valve is in the “Sealing” position. Place the lid on, turn and lock.
- Press the “Manual” button to high pressure, and then set the timer to 24 minutes using the “+” or “-” controls. See notes on adjusting time per pound.
- It will take about 10 minutes for the pot to heat up and build pressure. You will see steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
- Once cooking time is complete, allow the pressure to release for 10 minutes naturally.
- Use an oven mitt or towel to gently twist the steam release handle on the lid to the “Venting” position. The initial release will spray some moisture around, so be careful.
- Remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam releases from the pot.
- The thickest part of the breast should reach 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), and thighs 170ºF (74ºC). If it needs more time, cook for another 3 minutes, or until fully cooked.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Transfer drippings to a measuring cup. Add additional chicken stock until the volume reaches 2 cups.
- To make the gravy, select the normal "Saute" setting. Add the butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk and cook until pale yellow roux forms, about 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in 2 cups of the drippings. Continuously whisk until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. If desired, add more chicken stock to thin the sauce, although it will thicken more as it cools—season with salt and pepper.
- Once the chicken has rested, carve it into smaller pieces and slices. Serve with lemon wedges and gravy on the side.
- Quicker Preparation: Omit the step on sauteing the skin.
- Chicken Cook Time: 6 minutes per pound.
- For Crispy Skin (optional): Place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet after pressure cooking. Brush the surface with olive oil. Set in the lower middle of the oven and broil, for about 5 to 8 minutes. Keep a close eye to prevent burning!
- Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute cassava flour or cornstarch for all-purpose flour. If using cornstarch, dissolve 2 tablespoons in a ¼ cup of water. Add to chicken stock and then stir and cook on the saute function until the liquid thickens.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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