Ever wondered if you could cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot? You can! This Instant Pot Whole Chicken recipe makes tender and juicy chicken that can be enjoyed in SO many ways. Say Hello to your new favorite way to cook a whole chicken!
Cook an Entire Chicken in Your Instant Pot!
If you often find yourself picking up a rotisserie chicken, then this recipe might be one that you really lean into. It’s an easy and delicious way to make a whole chicken in your Instant Pot. 😮 YEP!
The result is a wonderfully healthy and comforting dinner, and you can use the leftover chicken in all kinds of ways! Salad, sandwiches, burritos, you name it!
Making a chicken like this is very helpful at the beginning of the week, so that you can have some easy protein on hand when you need it. I also like to cook whole chickens regularly (see this amazing easy Roast Chicken Recipe), because they are usually a really good deal, price-wise, compared to chicken pieces! And, you can reserve the bones to make good, homemade stock. 🥘
Maybe you’re already on the whole-roast-chicken bandwagon, but you usually use your crock pot. Hey, I’m with ya – check it 👉 CROCK POT Honey Lemon Chicken! But, if you haven’t tried making one in your Instant Pot, I really have to recommend it! Pressure-cooked chicken is tasty, tender, and of course, quick! And, like, really, really juicy.
To make this tasty chicken, I first make a delicious herbal compound butter with fresh basil. The sweet and fresh flavor of basil gives the whole dish an awesome flavor and fragrance that can’t be beat. We’ll also be rubbing a nice blend of herbs and spices into the chicken, and adding some aromatic ingredients to the cavity. Flavor, baby!
- Chicken: You’ll need a 3 to 3.5 pound whole chicken. Chickens this size are usually labeled “fryer” or “broiler/fryer.”
For the Compound Butter
- Olive Oil: I use a teaspoon of olive oil for the compound butter, but you could substitute your favorite oil here.
- Basil: You’ll need 2 cups of fresh basil leaves.
- Butter: This recipe uses 3 tablespoons of butter, salted or unsalted is fine.
- Garlic: You can use as much or as little garlic as you prefer. I think about 2 cloves works well.
- Lemon Zest: Grate zest from one whole lemon. Make sure to wash the lemon well first.
- Salt: I use a teaspoon of salt, divided, for this recipe.
For the Seasoning Rub
- Italian Seasoning and Dried Marjoram: I use half a teaspoon of each to make this flavorful rub.
- Paprika: You can use sweet paprika or smoked, whichever you prefer, and measure it to your taste. Around ¼ to ½ teaspoon is a good amount.
For the Chicken Cavity
- Lemon: Quarter a lemon. You can use the same lemon that you zested for this.
- Garlic: Peel four or five garlic cloves to place in the chicken cavity. It’s not necessary to chop or smash this garlic.
For the Instant Pot
- Broth: I use about 1 ½ cups chicken broth to build pressure in the Instant Pot. Vegetable broth or even water will also work just fine.
Can I Use Frozen Chicken?
- Yes, you definitely can use a frozen chicken. The only change you need to make for frozen is to increase the cooking time, which I’ll discuss below!
- You may also want to rinse the frozen chicken and pat it dry, because seasonings don’t cling to icy chicken skin very well. Rinse the ice away with a bit of warm water, pat dry, and keep going!
- Finally, keep in mind that the chicken cannot have giblets, metal or plastic ties, etc. in the Instant Pot. So if those are difficult or impossible to remove from your frozen chicken, you will have to wait for it to thaw first.
How to Make Instant Pot Whole Chicken
Making this chicken is really simple! Basically, we’re going to rub it with compound butter and seasonings, stuff it with lemon and garlic, and then place it on a trivet in the Instant Pot. No trivet? No problem! Just roll up about 5 pieces of aluminum foil in to balls the size of golf balls, and place them in the bottom of the instant pot. The chicken will sit on top of them and cook really well.
- Prep the Chicken. Remove any giblets and ties from the chicken, and discard them (you can save the giblets to make gravy or stock, if you like). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and set it aside.
- Make the Compound Butter. Heat your olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the two cups of fresh basil leaves to the hot oil, and cook until wilted; remove from heat. Using a food processor, blend the wilted basil leaves, butter, garlic, lemon zest, and ½ teaspoon salt until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the wilted basil and the garlic, soften the butter, and mash it all together with a fork, as I almost always do.
- Season the Chicken. Rub the compound butter all over the chicken, including under the skin. Just get it all under there, and everywhere around the chicken. Then, wash and dry your hands. Next, combine the other ½ teaspoon of salt, the Italian seasoning, the marjoram, and the paprika; rub this seasoning blend onto the chicken. Finally, lightly salt the chicken cavity and stuff it with lemon wedges and garlic.
- Cook the Chicken. Pour your chicken broth into the Instant Pot, and set the trivet (or the foil balls) inside. Put the chicken on top, close and lock the lid, and cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 20 minutes (or six minutes per pound, fresh; 11 minutes per pound, if frozen).
- Release the Pressure. Once the cooking is done and the timer sounds, press Cancel, but don’t open the lid. Let the pressure release naturally. When pressure has released, and the pressure pin has dropped, you can open the lid.
- Crisp Up the Skin. To make the skin of your chicken crispy, heat your oven to BROIL. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet, and broil the chicken for five or six minutes. The skin should turn golden brown, just as you see it in these pictures. Watch it closely to prevent it from burning! Remove from the oven, and let stand 10 minutes before cutting into it.
What is Natural Pressure Release?
- As you probably know, Instant Pots cook quickly because steam builds up inside of the pot, and all of that steamy pressure cooks food faster than conventional methods. So, when the food is done cooking, you have to safely release all that steam.
- There are two ways to do this. The “Quick Release” option lets you open a valve or turn a knob and steam will shoot out quickly (this can burn, so be sure not to get in the way). The “Natural Release” method just lets the Instant Pot do the work! The Instant Pot will gradually release pressure on its own, which also allows the food to cook just a bit longer.
Cooking Times Based Upon Chicken Weight
The general rule for cooking a fresh or fully-thawed whole chicken in an Instant Pot is six minutes per pound. Frozen chicken is a little bit different, because you have to take into account the size of your Instant Pot. Basically…
- If you have a 6-quart Instant Pot, and you’re making a frozen whole chicken, you’ll need to cook the frozen chicken at about 15 minutes per pound.
- If you have an 8-quart Instant Pot, 10 minutes per pound is better. More steamy pressure can build up in a larger pot, so you don’t need to cook quite as long.
Tips for Success
There are a few little pointers that I’d like to share when it comes to Instant Pot chicken! These easy tips will help you turn out delicious, moist, and healthy chicken, time after time.
- Smaller Pot, Smaller Chicken: I find that it’s best to keep your chickens under 5 pounds, if you’re using a 6-quart Instant Pot. That way, there’s enough room for the pressure to build well. If you need to cook a larger chicken, I advise using an 8-quart Instant Pot, or using a different method like oven roasting.
- Lift Carefully: This chicken may be falling-off-the-bone tender when done, so you’ll need to lift it carefully out of the Instant Pot to avoid having a leg portion fall back into the hot broth! You can use the Instant Pot sling for this, or separate the chicken into portions and lift them out one by one.
- Temperature Test: If your chicken isn’t obviously tender and fully done, you may want to use an instant read thermometer to test for doneness. Whole chicken is fully done at 185°F, so if yours is underdone then you may need to close the lid and pressure cook it for another minute per pound.
Ways to Use Cooked Chicken
There are so many delicious ways to use your cooked chicken! Of course, the most obvious way is probably just to put its gorgeous crispiness on a platter, and serve it up with some veggies and a side of darn good mashed potatoes. Then, you can save the leftovers for another purpose. You can also debone the whole chicken, and set the meat aside to use later. Here are some ideas for using cooked chicken meat:
- Chicken Tacos, Burritos, and Quesadillas
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Shredded Chicken with BBQ Sauce
- Chicken Salad
- Caesar or Other Green Salad with Chicken
- Spring or Summer Rolls
- Quick Chicken Soup
- Chicken Tetrazzini
- Homemade Pizza with Chicken
What Goes With This Recipe?
Okay, so back to the chicken as-is, fresh out of your Instant Pot, fragrant with herbs and garlic, and broiled nice and crispy. What should you serve with this savory entree? Glad you asked! Here are some of my favorite ideas.
- A Creamy Casserole: Try serving your tender Instant Pot chicken with my Creamy Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Casserole. It’s so warm and cozy, and packed with healthy veggies!
- Salad: A light, refreshing salad is perfect with chicken. My Heirloom Tomato Salad is bright, beautiful, and super easy to make!
- Carrots: A side of these Maple Roasted Carrots is always a winning idea! They’re so simple to roast, and the sweet flavor of maple really adds warmth to an ordinary dinner.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store your leftover chicken, place in food storage bags or airtight containers and refrigerate for three to four days.
- To reheat, place chicken in a covered skillet on low heat until it is completely heated through. Avoid overcooking, as the chicken may dry out.
Can I Freeze Cooked Chicken?
- Definitely! To freeze, place the chicken into freezer bags or airtight containers. Try to leave as little air as possible, so that the chicken will freeze well and avoid freezer burn.
- Leftovers will keep in the freezer for up to 4 months.
INSTANT POT WHOLE CHICKEN
- 3 to 3.5 pound whole broiler-fryer chicken
For the Compound Butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
For the Seasoning Rub
For the Chicken Cavity
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
For the Instant Pot
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- Remove giblets from the chicken cavity; pat dry the chicken with paper towels and set it aside.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat.
- Add fresh basil leaves to the hot oil and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes; remove from heat.
- In a small food processor combine basil leaves, butter, garlic, lemon zest, and ½ teaspoon salt; whiz until smooth. If you do not have a food processor, chop the basil after cooking, soften the butter and mince the garlic; using the back of a fork, mash and combine all the ingredients.
- Rub the compound butter all over the chicken and under the skin.
- In a small bowl combine ½ teaspoon salt, italian seasoning, marjoram, and paprika; rub the seasoning onto the chicken.
- Lightly salt the chicken cavity and stuff it with lemon wedges and garlic.
- Add chicken broth to the Instant Pot.
- Set the trivet inside the Instant Pot and place the chicken on the trivet. If you do not have a trivet, you can make 5 to 6 balls with aluminum foil. Balls should be the size of a golf-ball.
- Close and lock the lid.
- Set Instant Pot to cook on HIGH PRESSURE and set the timer to 20 minutes. It is suggested to cook a whole chicken at 6 minutes PER POUND.
- Once the cooking is done and the timer sounds, press Cancel, but don’t open the lid. Let pressure release naturally.
- When pressure is released and the pressure pin drops, open the lid.
- Heat your oven to BROIL.
- Remove chicken from the Instant Pot and transfer it to a baking sheet.
- Pop the chicken under the broiler for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure to watch closely so to prevent burning.
- Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board; let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting.
- NET CARBS: 3 g (per serving)
- WW POINTS: If you are following a Weight Watchers Plan, to reduce points, remove the skin after cooking and discard, and try to consume only the white parts of the chicken.