Instant Pot Whole Chicken
Chicken is wonderful. Growing up, I only liked eating white meat chicken. I found thighs, legs, and backs to be entirely too much for me. Besides, my mother always made the juiciest chicken breast whenever she roasted her chicken. Someday, I’ll do a pollo al horno (oven-roasted chicken) recipe to post here. Hopefully it’ll be just as good.
When I bought my Instant Pot years ago, one of the things that intrigued me was the fact that it could cook a five- to six-pound whole chicken in about an hour. This is insane to me, because I normally oven-roast my chickens for 20-25 minutes per pound. The Instant Pot does it at about 5.5 minutes per pound. So, for a five pound chicken, the traditional oven method takes an hour and forty minutes to two hours and five minutes. However, the Instant Pot cooks the same sized bird in about 63 minutes from start to finish! That’s about 4 minutes each side of browning, 2 minutes to deglaze the bottom of the pot, 10 minutes to build pressure, 28 minutes (rounded up) for cooking, and about 15 minutes for a natural pressure release.
On top of this, the oven method does not produce much by the way of drippings, whereas the Instant Pot creates a delicious broth that you can freeze to use for later. My recipe below will create a delicious, juicy, tender, fall-off-the bone chicken with a flavorful broth. This chicken is great for meal prep, simple dinners with picky children, chicken salad, cheesy chicken alfredo (a hit with the kids!), chicken for salads, or anything else your heart desires.
Jump to the Equipment List. Jump to the Ingredient List. Jump to the Recipe Instructions.
I bought my Instant Pot in 2016 for about $69 from Amazon. At the time, having newly bought a house, extra expenditures were not on the list. We were going to have a simple Thanksgiving and Christmas and start to save money again. That meant not just spending money on the newest, flashy things. I’ll admit that I have a bit of a thing for kitchen gadgets. Toaster ovens, waffle makers, slow cookers, blenders, choppers, you name it. If it was a new gimmicky thing, you can bet your bottom dollar I at least considered buying it.
One of my best friends wanted to get me an Instant Pot as a house-warming gift. She sang its praises from top to bottom and said I had to have one. Well, when I saw it on sale on Amazon at such a deeply discounted price (it used to sell for over $100), I couldn’t NOT get it. My friend was a little disappointed and got us a deep fryer instead. That poor deep fryer has now been collecting dust on the patio since we can’t really have high fat food anymore.
In the meantime, the Instant Pot has almost never failed me. Within a couple of weeks of getting the Instant Pot, I finally took it out of the box and wondered what I was going to make first. I decided that a whole chicken would be the first experiment to see if this appliance was all that it was hyped up to be.
I seasoned it liberally with salt and a poultry seasoning I used for my roasted chicken, sauteed it on all sides, and set the cook time based on the 5.5 minutes per pound calculation. Folks, let me tell you that my husband keeps telling people how much luckier he is than I am because he married a woman who can cook.
I’ll say that Pinterest helped me along.
- 6-quart Instant Pot
- Trivet (I used the one that came with the pot)
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Measuring spoons and cup
- Oven-safe casserole dish to place the chicken in after cooking
- Gloves (I use them to handle raw meat and minimize the chance of cross-contamination)
- Wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits
- Plate to place browned chicken prior to pressure cooking
- Small bowl for the squeezed lemon juice
- Broiler or fryer chicken.* (*See note below)
- Desired amount of preferred seasoning. I used my own homemade Adobo seasoning.
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt*
- 2-4 tablespoons of preferred fat (I use bacon grease), divided
- 1 cup of water
*Note #1: Make sure the chicken you get isn’t too big for your pot. I can easily get a six-pound chicken into this pot, but that’s about the largest I’d go in a 6-quart. If you have an 8-quart, you could probably go for a seven- or possibly eight-pound bird. If you have a 3-quart, I recommend you stick to Cornish hens, since you can handle them pretty easily in the 3-quart. If you go for the 3-quart, reduce the water to about 1/2 a cup if you don’t want a ton of broth.
*Note #2: You can certainly omit the salt if you want to watch sodium intake. I only used salt for the cavity of the bird since my Adobo seasoning already has salt in it.
- Don’t skip this step!: Take note of how much your chicken weighs, rounded to the nearest half pound! You will need this number when you calculate how long to cook the chicken for under pressure.
- (Optional step) Wash your chicken. I know, there is a lot of information regarding whether you should wash your chicken. Does it need to be washed in the first place? Won’t it make the germs fly all over the kitchen? Does it really need the gamey taste washed out? I grew up in a Dominican home where you wash the chicken to make sure you get at all of the leftover pin feathers from the processing, peel off any outer skin, and wash off the accumulated blood. I usually just use plain water. My mother would wash the chicken with white vinegar.
- Whether you wash your chicken or not, pat the bird dry inside and out with paper towels. This will help to ensure the seasoning sticks to the bird and you get as even of a sear as possible.
- (Optional step) Season the cavity of the bird with salt.
- Season the outside of the bird liberally.
- Tuck the wingtips back behind the bird. Even though you don’t run the risk of burning the wing tips, tucking them back provides for better presentation and also gives you the option of broiling the bird for a crispy skin later!
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and higher for a hotter pot.
- Once the display reads “HOT,” drop in two tablespoons of your grease or oil. Swirl it around the inner pot to coat the bottom.
- Sear the chicken on both sides, starting breast-side down. Sear for about three to four minutes a side.
- Meanwhile, cut your lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Do not discard the lemon.
- Place your trivet, with the handles out, on a clean plate.
- Remove your chicken and set on the trivet atop the plate to rest a moment. Stuff with the squeezed lemon halves.
- Deglaze the bottom of the pot with a little bit of the water from the measuring cup and a squeeze from half the lemon. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up those flavorful bits from the bottom of the pot. (My mouth is watering right now.)
- Once the pot is deglazed, push the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button to stop the saute mode.
- Pour the remaining water into the pot.
- Carefully lower the trivet with the browned chicken into the inner pot.
- Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken.
- Set and lock the lid onto the pot. Turn the sealing valve to sealing.
- Pull out the calculator or ask Google or Siri to calculate the weight of your chicken by 5.5. Round UP to the nearest minute. (Example, a 5.5 pound chicken times 5.5 minutes is 30.25 minutes. I set this for 31 minutes of cook time.)
- Press the poultry button and adjust the time to the calculated number (or you can use the manual button. It’s all the same). The pot should be on high pressure.
- Walk away.
- After the cook cycle is over, wait at least 10 minutes of natural pressure release prior to quick releasing any remaining pressure.
- Remove the chicken and place into an oven safe dish. At this point, you can broil the chicken for a few minutes to get some delicious crispy skin.
When I pulled this chicken out, I lost the thighs, legs, and wings. It was super juicy and flavorful. I had it in an oven-safe casserole dish and I probably could have popped it in the oven for some browning, but I could hardly take this picture without gnawing at some breast meat!
Like I mentioned earlier, this chicken is so versatile for anything you want. Think BBQ chicken sliders, salad-topping, tacos, enchiladas… the possibilities are endless.
What do you like to use your chicken for? Hit me up in the comments!
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Buen provecho! – Sami B.
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