How to Cook a Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
How to cook a whole chicken in an Instant Pot. This rotisserie-style Instant Pot whole chicken recipe is easy to make, even if you are a beginner with using your pressure cooker. It’s perfect for Sunday dinner or to make ahead for quick meals throughout the week! Cook from fresh or frozen.
Out of all of the recipes that I’ve cooked in my Instant Pot, this whole roast chicken might be my favorite. It’s become a part of my weekly routine to make an Instant Pot whole chicken for dinner. Then I use the leftover chicken to make the best quick meals throughout the week! You can use your leftover chicken in salads, pastas, casseroles or sandwiches.
Cooking a whole chicken in the Instant Pot is fast, simple and budget-friendly. Instead of buying a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken at the store, you can make this Instant Pot whole chicken recipe with just minutes of prep time. Your homemade chicken will taste so much better than store-bought, and you can control the ingredients that you use.
This pressure cooker chicken recipe makes the best tender, moist and juicy chicken. Cooking the whole bird gives you both white and dark meat, so everyone in the family can have what they enjoy. Just wait until you try the homemade rotisserie rub in this recipe – it is the best!
Why Make a Roast Chicken in the Instant Pot?
- It is faster than cooking a whole chicken in the oven. You can make roast chicken for dinner on a weeknight!
- Pressure cooking makes the chicken so juicy, tender and flavorful!
- You can safely cook a frozen whole chicken in your Instant Pot – no thawing required!
For all of you Instant Pot fans, I have more delicious recipes and resources to help you get quick and healthy meals on your table! If you are just getting started with your pressure cooker, read my Instant Pot manual. Then check out these easy Instant Pot recipes to help you meal plan:
- 28+ Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken (great for meal prep)
- How to cook Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
- Juicy Instant Pot Chicken Breast with gravy
- 29 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes
How to Cook a Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot
With just a few simple steps, you can have a delicious homemade roast chicken on your dinner table. This recipe takes about 15 minutes of active prep time, and about an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish.
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps to cook a fresh chicken in your Instant Pot. After the list, I’ll give you a few cooking tips to make the best Instant Pot roast chicken.
- Rub the chicken with olive oil and seasonings.
- Brown the chicken on both sides.
- Fill the cavity with fresh lemon, onion and herbs (optional). Rub more spices on the chicken.
- Put 1 cup water and the trivet in the Instant Pot. Put chicken on top of the trivet.
- Pressure cook the chicken, 6 minutes per pound.
- Natural release the pressure for 15 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
Cooking Tips for the BEST Instant Pot Roast Chicken
- Use a dry rub to season the chicken before cooking, and try to get some of the rub under the skin on the chicken breasts. The spice rub in this whole chicken recipe is a simple blend of seasonings and it is so good! My kids cannot get enough of it! You can easily use your favorite seasonings if you prefer.
- Sear the chicken before pressure cooking. You can do this right in your Instant Pot using sauté mode! Browning the chicken adds so much flavor!
- The easiest way to flip the chicken. Turning the chicken over in the Instant Pot after browning it on the first side can be a little tricky. Here’s what I’ve found works best: stick a long handled spoon or tongs into the cavity and then use another long spoon to turn the chicken first onto its side and then flip it over. The smaller your chicken, the easier it will be to flip over in the pot. The chicken in the photos in this post was 5.5 pounds and it just barely fit in my Instant Pot. Flipping it was not easy but I got it done!
- Flavor from the inside out. After searing the chicken, fill the cavity with half of a fresh lemon, half an onion, and fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme. While this is optional, it will infuse your chicken with extra flavor as it cooks!
- Broil for crispy skin. You can put your chicken under the broiler in your oven for 4-5 minutes after it is done cooking to crisp up the skin. Honestly, I don’t bother with this because we don’t eat the skin but it is up to you!
How long to cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
- Cook a fresh chicken for 6 minutes per pound. This means that a 4 pound chicken will take 24 minutes to cook, a 4.5 pound chicken will take 27 minutes, and a 5 pound bird will take 30 minutes, at high pressure.
- Follow the cook time with a 15 minute natural release. This means just leave your Instant Pot alone for 15 minutes and then quick release any remaining pressure by turning the steam release valve to the venting position before opening the lid.
- Always use an instant read thermometer to check that your chicken has reached a safe internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. You want to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the leg, not touching the bone. Using the Instant Pot to cook a whole chicken is pretty foolproof, and mine has always been perfectly cooked and juicy after pressure cooking for 6 minutes per pound.
Instant Pot Whole Chicken from Frozen
- You can safely cook a whole frozen chicken in your Instant Pot. I have included full instructions for cooking a frozen chicken in the recipe below. I prefer to cook my chicken from fresh, but in a pinch (when you forget to defrost your meat) this method works well.
- You will need to skip the step of browning the chicken, since you can’t sear frozen meat.
- You will only need half of the amount of spice rub called for in the recipe.
- Pressure cook a frozen chicken for 13 minutes per pound at high pressure, plus 15 minutes natural release.
- A 4 pound frozen chicken will take 52 minutes, a 4.5 pound frozen chicken will take 59 minutes and a 5 pound frozen chicken will take 65 minutes.
- Check that the chicken has reached a safe internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the leg, not touching the bone.
What to serve with Instant Pot Whole Chicken
Ways to Use Leftover Chicken
Cooking a whole chicken is one of my favorite ways to meal prep for the week. Here are just a few ideas for meals that you can make with your chicken.
- Slice the chicken for roast chicken sandwiches or make this easy chicken salad recipe.
- Use it in casseroles, chicken pot pie, or pesto pasta with chicken.
- Make some chicken taquitos.
- Make this chicken and rice salad or add it to mason jar salads.
- Save the chicken bones and carcass to make homemade Instant Pot bone broth or chicken stock.
Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
For the Chicken:
- 4 pound whole chicken, see note
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- half of a lemon, half of an onion, fresh herb sprigs, optional
- 1 cup water
- In a small bowl, stir together the spice rub ingredients.
- Place the chicken in a baking dish to catch any excess juices. If there is a bag of innards in the cavity of the chicken, remove it and discard.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Rub 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and then half of the spice rub over the chicken, trying to get some under the skin on the breasts if possible.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the Instant Pot and turn on saute mode. When the pot is hot, carefully put the chicken in, breast-side up. Brown for 5-7 minutes, without moving.
- Then flip the chicken over to brown it on the breast side. When turning the chicken, be careful to not put your face over the Instant Pot since there is hot oil and steam. I find the easiest way to flip the chicken is to stick a long handled spoon or tongs into the cavity and then use another long spoon to turn the chicken first onto its side and then flip it over.
- Brown the chicken for 5-7 minutes on the second side and then use the two long handled spoons/tongs to carefully remove it to a clean plate. Press “cancel” to turn off saute mode.
- Add 1 cup of water to the instant pot and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Place a handled trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot. (If you do not have a handled trivet, you can use a regular trivet with a foil sling to make it easier to remove the cooked chicken.)
- If desired, place half a lemon, half an onion and/or fresh herbs in the cavity of the chicken. Rub the remaining seasoning rub over the chicken.
- Place the chicken on top of the trivet in the Instant Pot, breast side up. Close the lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position.
- Use the Pressure Cook/Manual setting and set the cook time on high pressure for 6 minutes per pound for a fresh chicken. A 4 pound fresh chicken will need to cook for 24 minutes, a 4.5 pound chicken will cook for 27 minutes, and a 5 pound fresh chicken will cook for 30 minutes, for example.
- After you set the cook time, the Instant Pot will take some time to reach pressure and then the cook time will begin counting down. When the cook time ends, allow the pot to release naturally for 15 minutes by leaving the pot alone. After 15 minutes, carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position to release any remaining pressure and steam. When the pin drops down, carefully open the Instant Pot lid.
- Use an instant read thermometer to check that the temperature of the chicken has reached at least 165 degrees F at the thickest part of the leg, not touching the bone.
To Cook a Frozen Chicken:
- Make sure that your chicken does not have a bag of innards in the cavity. If it does, you may not be able to cook the chicken from frozen because you won't be able to remove the bag from the frozen chicken.
- Place 1 cup of water in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place a handled trivet in the bottom of the pot.
- Put the frozen chicken, breast side up, on top of the trivet. Sprinkle the spice rub over the chicken (you will only need half of the spice rub amount called for in the recipe). Close the Instant Pot lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position.
- Use the Pressure Cook/Manual setting and set the cook time on high pressure for 13 minutes per pound. A 4 pound frozen chicken will need to pressure cook for 52 minutes, a 4.5 pound chicken will cook for 59 minutes, and a 5 pound chicken will cook for 65 minutes.
- After the cook time ends, allow the pot to naturally release for 15 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure and, once the pin has dropped, open the lid.
- Use an instant read thermometer to check that the temperature of the chicken has reached at least 165 degrees F at the thickest part of the leg, not touching the bone.
- If desired, brown the chicken under the broiler for 4-5 minutes to brown the skin.
- You can fit a chicken of up to 5.5 pounds in a 6 quart Instant Pot.
- If cooking a frozen chicken, you will not need the olive oil since you won't be browning the chicken. You will only need to make half of the spice rub recipe.
- Cooked chicken will last in your refrigerator for up to 4 days.
I’m going to give this a shot this weekend! I have never cooked an entire chicken before so I am putting my complete faith in your recipe because it seems flawless! Is searing before pressure cooking the chicken absolutely necessary? Could I just put it under the broiler after it came out of the instantpot? I will report back on how it went for this whole-chicken-cooking novice.
Hi Erica, It’s going to turn out great! You can skip the searing step if you want. It just helps to brown the skin and adds some flavor, but if you pop it under the broiler for a few minutes after it’s cooked in the instant pot it will be delicious! Let me know how it turns out! 🙂
I did it! I even did the beginning searing step! Used my gloved hands to flip it over. I had a 4.3 lb. chicken and put it in the instant pot for 26 minutes. It was falling apart as I took it out after the 15 minute release….literally, the wings fell off as I lifted it because it was so tender! Great, delicious success! Thank you!
Yay!! You did it! I am so happy that you had success with this recipe! Thank you for taking the time to let me know. 🙂 Isn’t the chicken the absolute best? I love using the leftovers to make sandwiches and salads.
It is very difficult to brown a whole chicken. There are only a few points which touch the heat. It is much better to broil after it is cooked.
Do you have any recommendations for if we want to cook vegetables with our chicken? Or do you suggest keeping them separate? My friend has had an instant pot for awhile, and she says she has trouble cooking meat and vegetables together; when she does chicken fajitas, she says the veggies almost melt!
If you are cooking a whole chicken, I recommend cooking the veggies separate. I usually roast the veggies. I have found that veggies cook so quickly in the Instant Pot, it is hard to cook them at the same time without the veggies turning to mush.
I made this for my very first Instant Pot recipe, and it seriously turned out SO good. I even made gravy with the au jus left and my teenage son woofed it down. He said, “mom – do you feel like you are winning at life?” HAHA omg, yes. Yes, I do. Thank you for this amazing recipe. Keeper!
This is the best comment ever! What a quote! I’m so glad that this recipe was a hit. Thanks for taking the time to let me know. 🙂
I just love your what your teenage son said! Made my night as I’m sure it did yours when he said it! ?
That is the best thing I have ever heard! It sounds like you have a wonderful son. I hope my boys are just as great at being encouraging with their words as yours was. ❤️
This recipe was absolutely perfect. I don’t know why, but never cooked a whole chicken in The Instapot. I seared it which I think is key to this recipe and used my turkey lifters to flip over. I made a cornstarch slurry with a little half and half to thicken up the gravy. My husband loved it. He was still talking about it this morning! Thank you for a great recipe.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.
planning on making this today. I appreciate you having the “from frozen” option too as I am going to take advantage of the sale, buy one get one free going on at my grocery store. If we are not planning to eat the skin is searing the chicken really that important for flavor? can I take the skin off before cooking or will that remove alot of the juiciness it brings when cooking. also do you cook it breast up or down?
We don’t eat the skin, but still sear the chicken because it does add a lot of flavor. I would recommend following the recipe, searing the chicken and leaving the skin on while cooking. Cook it breast side up. Enjoy!
going to try this tonight! Have you ever tried this recipe with BBQ sauce??
I haven’t tried this with BBQ sauce, but I think it would be good served with BBQ sauce.
Can you cook the bag of giblets in the instant pot along with the chicken in this and in other recipes? Is it safe? If yes, how do we do this correctly? I have a Duo Plus 6 Quart Instant Pot. This will be my 1st time using my Instant pot and am scared, intimidated, have a mental block about it and am disoriented about how to use it. Thanks.
I’ve never tried cooking the giblets in my Instant Pot. I do know that you cannot cook a plastic bag in your Instant Pot. You might find my Instant Pot Beginner’s Guide helpful.
I found the 6 minutes per pound and 15 release too long, the result for me was breast meat at 170, well above the the 165 and well above the lower temp Serious Eats recommends. Add going into the oven to crisp the skin and the breast went from moist to dry. Overall, I knew going into it that it would really need to be brined to infuse flavor but even with great dry rub it just can’t beat oven roasted chicken flavor (that is not a critique here as the two methods are so different). I think I’ll stick to shredded chicken in the instapot which works really well.
Do you need to increase the amount of water if cooking a 5 lb chicken, because of the longer cooking time using the pressure cooking method?
1 cup of water is fine for a 5 pound chicken. The chicken will also release some juices as it cooks, adding more liquid to the pot. If you are using an 8 quart Instant Pot, you could increase the water to 1.5 cups.
And its’s ok that with the trivet the chicken sits high in the pot??? I always worry becaUse the instant pot instructions say never fill past a certain point?
Yes, it’s fine. The concern with not going past the fill line is if food expands while cooking the pot could become overfilled. That is not a concern with cooking a whole chicken as nothing will expand. As long as the top of the chicken is below the top of the instant pot inner pot, it will be fine. 🙂
How do you mean “natural release” for the steam? Turn the valve and don’t open the top, or leave to cool? I’m going to be doing Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo this weekend, all but the pasta will be done from scratch (no space to make and such for the pasta) and am planning to cook off a whole chicken I have, keeping the rest for chicken salad and such, and the carcass will be used to make some chicken stock, and I want to get it right so I can treat my parents, who love chicken and pasta.
A natural release means that without moving the steam release valve or doing anything else to the Instant Pot, you just let it rest after the cook time ends. The pressure will slowly dissipate naturally.
This recipe was a hit with my family. I am pleased to leave a five star review! Thank You Kristine!
This is the only way I cook a chicken, because it comes out so tender. But first, I remove the skin from the whole thing (except wings, which is more trouble than it’s worth), and I don’t brown it. I’m not sure it’s much quicker than the oven, if you add in the time up to pressure, cook time, natural release, then a couple minutes to release pressure. Then I let it sit for another 10 min to redistribute juices. So probably not quicker, but it’s so moist and tender, the mess is contained to the pot, and the whole house isn’t heated up.
Great recipe!! I seared the chicken on the stove top first bc I had a 5.5 lb chicken. Thought it might be harder in the instapot. The chicken came out great!! Ive cooked all kinds of things in the instapot but this was the first time I cooked a whole chicken. 33min’s pressure cooking and about 15 min’s for the natural release. Flavor of the chicken went perfect with rice and beans 🙂
I do the same thing – I almost never brown in the IP itself because I just don’t think it gets hot enough and it’s hard to flip a whole bird! So, brown everything in the trusty cast iron on the stove, and then transfer to the IP. I usually try to dump my cup of water/stock into the cast iron to deglaze it, and then pour that back in with the chicken. Works like a charm!
I made this last night with a 3 lb chicken and it was so easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. This will definitely be in my favorites section of recipes.
I made this chicken exactly as your recipe called for. I had a 5.4 chicken and cooked it for 32 minutes. It was literally falling off the bone. My husband said he didn’t even have to carve it, the meat just fell off. I had made garlic mashed potatoes, but I had so much juice in the pot I made gravy using cornstarch and it was to die for!! We even put the gravy on the garlic mashed potatoes. The whole meal was delicious! This is the only way we will cook a roast chicken!! It was so Easy too!
I love this recipe!! Made it today gain, for the 3rd time. I get my chicken fresh from the farm, cut them in half so I cook a half at the time. Still use the 6 min per lb. The rub makes it really tasty. I always brown in the IP, I eat the skin as well. I stopped lifting it onto a trivet after browning, I add the water (3/4 – 1 cup), squeeze fresh lemon juice and then throw onion, two lemon wedges and fresh herbs from the garden into the liquid. The jus is so delicious over a side dish.
My biggest challenge?
To not eat all that chicken at once… haha.
My friends always wonder what makes my chicken so juicy and tender? They are surprised when I say IP…
Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
Making it now! Excited to try it. I wish InstaPots made more sense. I did really enjoy the pot roast I made last time.
came out moist and tender.. like braised chicken or crock pot chicken just in a much shorter amount of time.. ty for sharing =) glad to see there’s instructions for how to do it from frozen!
How long did you cook the 3lb chicken for?
As stated in step 10 of the recipe, you cook at high pressure for 6 minutes per pound. So a 3 pound chicken would need 18 minutes of pressure cooking time, followed by a 15 minute natural release.
trying this now for my thanksgiving meal. i know it will be great!
This was the best “roasted” chicken I have ever had. It was so easy and came out so moist and delicious. I am new to the instant pot and was pretty skeptical but it was a winner.
Wow. Thanx Kristine. Had a three pound chicken sitting in the fridge and couldn’t think of a new way to prepare it. Found your site and we had the juiciest, delicious chicken dinner tonite. Love the extra flavour added by the lemon. Great IP recipe. Definitely a keeper.
Has anyone tried to brown it with the air fryer lid?
Really great recipe. I cooked this yesterday and the meat was so tender and cooked all the way through. I used fresh rosemary and fresh sage with half an onion and the taste of the chicken was great. The bones in the leg literally fell off when touched. So glad I tried this.
This is a great recipe and so easy, quick and delicious. The chicken was very juicy
This is the most tender chicken. Literally seemed to melt in my mouth. Even the white meat was juicy and delicious. Easy to prepare. Left overs. Thank you!
I’m planning to make this tomorrow (Thaw time) but I’m confused about using the spice rub. It says to use 1/2 the spice rub with 1 TBSP olive oil but I can’t figure out where the other half is to go?
It’s in step 8 of the recipe. You put the remaining seasoning rub on the chicken before you return it to the Instant Pot for pressure cooking, after browning.
WOWWOWOWOWOWO! This was SOOO easy and delicious. My 3 year old asked for thirds and loved it 😍. All the meat was melting off the bone that it was hard to get it out of the pot. The spices were amazing and it makes for perfect leftovers do do whatever with! Thanks so much for this amazing recipe I see us making this many more times.
Made this tonight with a baking hen which are usually tough. It was so tender! I made gravy as well and will be making bone broth. Thank you!
My new go-to whole chicken recipe!! Thank you for this fantastic recipe. I didn’t realize how easy it was to make a fall-off-the-bone chicken in the instant pot!! It reminded me of a Costco rotisserie chicken, but organic and clean!
I have cooked 2 or 3 whole chickens in the instant pot, and this recipe is by far the best I’ve tried. It was very easy to follow, and my 4 lb. chicken turned out perfectly – fully cooked, juicy, flavorful, and fall-off-the-bone tender. I am definitely saving this recipe to make again!