How to Pressure Cook a Whole Chicken

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Wondering how to pressure cook a whole chicken? This is our favorite method, using a rich garlic butter, onions, and your favorite seasonings. Crisp up the skin at the end for an impressive meal that’s tender, juicy, and a crowd favorite. 

An Instant Pot whole chicken on a wooden cutting board, with fresh parsley used as a garnish.

Why You’ll Love Making a Whole Chicken in a Pressure Cooker

This is a mostly hands-off way to cook a whole chicken that’s juicy, moist, and full of flavor. It’s great for weeknights or for entertaining!

We’ve been developing and making chicken recipes in various Instant Pot models for years, and we’ve tested all kinds of ways to cook a whole chicken. This is by far the best method we found, and it produces reliably juicy and delicious white and dark meat every time.

We love cooking chicken in the Instant Pot for quick weeknight dinners. If you’re looking for more inspiration, try our Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) BBQ Wings, Instant Pot Chicken Pot Pie and Pressure Cooker Creamy Chicken and Broccoli over Rice.

If you love roast chicken but don’t want to turn on the oven or babysit it as it cooks, this simple hands-off Instant Pot whole chicken recipe is the solution you’re looking for. With one extra step at the end, you can still get the golden crispy skin you love. 

Ingredients for an Instant Pot whole chicken, including chicken, garlic butter, seasoning, onion, chicken broth and parsley.

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED

Here’s what you need for this flavorful one-pot chicken recipe:

  • Chicken. Use a whole 5-pound chicken for this recipe.
  • Garlic butter. This is an easy way to infuse your chicken with extra flavor as it cooks. 
  • Seasonings. Flavor your chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika. 
  • Onion. This is a great flavor base for chicken. 
  • Broth. You can use store-bought chicken broth or make your own in the Instant Pot
A whole chicken seasoned and placed on a cutting board waiting to be placed in an Instant Pot.

How to Make Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot

This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

Start by seasoning your chicken. Coat the bird in the garlic butter, rubbing it under the skin of the chicken. Then combine the salt, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl and cover the buttery chicken with the seasoning blend. 

Place the onion and chicken broth in the pressure cooking pot, then place your trivet on top. Place the seasoned chicken on top of the trivet (it shouldn’t block your lid from closing). Lock on your lid and cook on high pressure for 32 minutes. 

Overhead picture of a whole cooked chicken inside an Instant Pot.

When the cooking items ends, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Finish with a quick pressure release, then remove the lid once the pressure valve drops. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the chicken. It should be 180°F, but if not, simply resecure the lid and cook for another few minutes. 

When your chicken is fully cooked, carefully transfer it from the pressure cooker to a cutting board. You can strain the juices left in the pressure cooking pot to make gravy or simply discard them. 

If you’d like, for crispy skin, you can use an air fryer lid or place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes until it’s golden and crisp. To serve, slice the meat off the bones and enjoy!

What should I serve with Instant Pot whole chicken?

We like to serve this chicken dish with Creamy Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes, Instant Pot Green Beans, or a green salad. 

Overhead picture of an Instant Pot whole chicken on a wooden cutting board, with fresh parsley used as a garnish.

Important Tips for Making Instant Pot Whole Chicken 

  • The general rule of thumb for cooking chicken in a pressure cooker has been 6 minutes of cooking time per pound. However, I’ve always had better luck adding a few more minutes to this cooking time in general. 
  • The broth is essential for cooking your chicken without burning anything, so don’t leave it out! In a pinch, you can substitute water, juice, or even wine. 
  • If you use the broiler to crisp your chicken skin, keep a close eye on it, as all ovens differ and things can go from crisp and golden to burnt in seconds!

Products 

Though you can use any brand of pressure cooker for this chicken, you’ll need at least a 6-quart pot for a 5-pound chicken. You will also need a trivet to pressure cook the chicken. And if you love crispy skin, you can use an air fryer lid attached to your Instant Pot (we love the DuoCrisp for that), or place the chicken on a baking sheet under the broiler. 

Instant Pot whole chicken on a white plate with fresh parsley.

Frequently Asked Questions about Instant Pot Chicken

Can I use a smaller chicken?

Yes, if your chicken is less than five pounds, you can follow the same cooking instructions. You can follow the rule of thumb of 6 minutes of cooking time per pound, but note that I prefer to add a few extra minutes anyway. 

How should I store leftover Instant Pot chicken?

Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. It makes delicious sandwiches, or you can toss it on a salad or grain bowl. If you don’t plan to use within that time, it freezes well too.

Can I use different seasonings for my chicken?

This is a very flexible recipe, so feel free to season your chicken however you like. You can use hot pepper flakes for some heat or an Italian or Greek seasoning blend would be great too.

A whole chicken seasoned and cooked on a white plate, with fresh parsley and an Instant Pot in the background.

MORE Instant Pot Chicken Recipes

Try these other easy chicken dinner recipes in the Instant Pot next:


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Instant Pot whole chicken on a white plate with fresh parsley.

How to Pressure Cook a Whole Chicken | Instant Pot & Ninja recipe

Yield: 1 chicken (about 5 pounds)

Use this foolproof method to pressure cook a whole chicken in an Instant Pot that’s flavored with garlic, paprika, and onion. 

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup garlic butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Rub the garlic butter underneath the skin of the chicken, all over.
  2. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, and paprika. Rub evenly over the chicken.
  3. In the bottom of the pressure cooking pot, add the onion and broth. Place a trivet over the onion in the cooking pot, then carefully lower the chicken on top. Make sure the chicken does not interfere with closing the lid.
  4. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 32 minutes cook time.*
  5. When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to release naturally, then finish with a 10 minute release. 
  6. Remove the lid. Check the temperature of the chicken in the breast and drumsticks, which it should be at least 180F. If not, lock the lid in place and cook a few minutes more. Once the chicken is cooked through, carefully remove it from the cooking pot and place on a cutting board. 
  7. If desired, strain the juices in the pot to make a gravy. Otherwise, discard.  
  8. If desired, you can use an air fryer lid or the oven broiler to crisp up the skin. Remove the meat from the bones and serve hot.

Notes

*We like to add a little more than 6 minutes per pound of chicken. 

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