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How to Cook a Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot

whole chicken instant potIf you don’t have an Instant Pot yet, all I can say is, well, you should! This is truly my favorite kitchen appliance ever. Why? Because I can make a delicious one-pot dinner—even starting with dried beans or frozen meat—in well under an hour. I can also use it as a slow cooker, to make rice, to make Homemade Chicken Broth, and even yogurt. But my very favorite thing to do is to cook a whole chicken in an Instant Pot. I use the meat as the basis for other dishes—my Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie, chicken enchiladas, chicken tacos, chicken salads, or my son’s very matzoh ball soup. Then I use the bones and cooking juices as a base for a rich, delicious Homemade Chicken Broth (great for matzoh ball soup!), which is also cooked in the Instant Pot.

By the way, if you don’t know what an Instant Pot is, the technical answer is that it is a multi-function electric pressure cooker. It is extremely safe and easy to use and a huge time-saver for busy cooks. The non-technical answer is that it is a magical kitchen appliance that you will absolutely fall in love with the first time you use it.

Here is my super easy method for how to cook a whole chicken in an Instant Pot. I use a very simple spice mixture that adds some nice color to both the chicken and the broth without adding super strong flavors that may not work in the recipes I’ll use the chicken for later, but you should feel free to use whatever spice mixture you like best.

spice rubbed whole chickenOne thing to note is that although other bloggers will show you photos of their stunning Instant Pot cooked whole chickens that look as beautiful as a slow-roasted bird, I will tell you right now that yours will undoubtedly not come out of the pot looking like that. The chicken becomes so tender during pressure cooking that it more or less falls apart when you lift it out of the pot. That’s okay, though! Because the tenderness is what makes this chicken so great. It’s not the kind of bird that you present on a platter at the table and then carve into serving pieces. But it is the perfect chicken to shred and use as a filling for tacos, burritos, or enchiladas; toss into salads or pasta dishes; or make into soups and stews. I usually use half for a meal straightaway and freeze the other half for a later meal.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to the company that makes the Instant Pot and have not been compensated in any way for this post. The post does contain affilliate links that will earn me a small commission if you should click on them to buy an Instant Pot. All opinions are my own











Yield: Serves 6

Instant Pot Whole Chicken

cook a whole chicken in an instant pot

I love cooking a whole chicken in my Instant Pot. The meat gets turned into all sorts of dishes—Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie, chicken enchiladas, chicken tacos, chicken salads, or my son’s favorite matzoh ball soup. I also use the carcass and cooking juices to make the most delicious homemade chicken broth, also cooked in the Instant Pot, of course!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 2 tablespoons oil (I use safflower oil, but any neutral, high-smoke-point oil is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 lemon, halved


  1. Turn the instant pot on and heat it up using the Saute function. Add the oil and let that heat for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the paprika(s), salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, breast-side down and cook until nicely browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over using large, sturdy tongs, and cook on the second side for another few minutes until browned. Add the water or broth, garlic, and lemon halves. Cover the instant pot, turn the knob to “sealing,” and set on “manual” for 25 minutes.
  4. When the 25-minute cooking cycle is done, turn the Instant Pot off and let the pressure release naturally for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pot, but reserve the juices.
  6. This is when I generally pick all of the chicken from the bones and return the bones to the juices in the pot to make Homemade Chicken Broth.


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By on May 4th, 2017

About Robin Donovan

Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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