Instant Pot Whole Chicken

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This recipe originally appeared on A Food Lover’s Kitchen.

Cooking a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot is a breeze – way faster than cooking it in the oven – and it turns out perfectly plump and juicy. Give this Instant Pot Whole Chicken recipe a try and you’ll see why it’s so popular.

» See more Chicken Dishes to make in the Instant Pot and try this Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe.

instant pot whole chicken

One of the things I used to make the most in the oven was a whole roasted chicken. But it takes quite a while to cook a whole chicken in the oven. So when I got my Instant Pot, a whole chicken was one of the first things I made.

Whole chicken not only provides a delicious meal, it also ensures we have left over chicken for sandwiches and salads throughout the week.

You will likely be very surprised by how little time it takes to make a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. The first time I did it, I was more than a little skeptical that it would actually get cooked all the way through in such a short time. But it worked a charm.

butcher box meat

Ingredients You’ll Need

For this recipe, you’ll need the chicken plus a few spices to season it and as always you’ll need water to put in the bottom of the pot.

  • 2.5-5 pound whole chicken – Be mindful of the size of your Instant Pot when purchasing a chicken. Typically a 3-pound chicken will fill a 6-quart IP. For a larger chicken, you’ll need an 8+-quart Instant Pot.
  • Olive Oil or melted butter – You’ll mix this with the spices to make a wet rub to put on the chicken.
  • Seasonings – salt, paprika, garlic powder dried rosemary, ground black pepper
  • Water – 1 cup for a 6-quart, 1.5 cups for an 8 quart

Equipment Needed

  • Instant Pot – I use a 6-quart Instant Pot Plus to make all of my recipes. If you’re using an 8-quart pot, you will need to adjust the amount of liquid accordingly, as it requires more than the 6 quart to build steam.
  • Trivet – If you don’t have a trivet, you can use a steamer basket. It just needs to be raised up out of the water.
  • Meat thermometer: The only way to tell if meat is fully cooked to the right temperature is to use a meat thermometer. I use this Instant Read thermometer.

Timings (Fresh & Frozen)

For a fresh chicken that is not frozen, it takes approximately 6 minutes per pound to cook. I usually cook a 3 pound chicken, so it’s a total of 18 minutes. Be sure to check the weight of your chicken before setting the timer.

18 minutes! That’s a HUGE time savings over roasting a chicken in the oven, which takes at least 45 minutes. Here are some typical times for sizes. Be sure to weigh your chicken so you know how long to cook it.

  • 2 pound chicken = 12 minutes
  • 2.5 pound chicken = 15 minutes
  • 3 pound chicken = 18 minutes
  • 3.5 pound chicken = 21 minutes
  • 5 pound chicken = 30 minutes (usually only fits in an 8-quart size IP)

For a frozen chicken, it will take around 8.5 minutes per pound. That means if you have a typically sized 3 pound chicken, it will only need to cook for 26 minutes in the Instant Pot.

  • 2 pound frozen chicken = 17 minutes
  • 2.5 pound frozen chicken = @ 22 minutes
  • 3 pound frozen chicken = @ 26 minutes
  • 3.5 pound frozen chicken = 30 minutes
  • 5 pound frozen chicken = 43 minutes

How to Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot

There are three steps to making a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. It’s actually very, very simple. It consists of seasoning the chicken, putting it into the Instant Pot, turning it on, and removing it to slice and eat. See? Super simple.


raw chicken

Before you begin, make sure that your chicken fits in your Instant Pot. As you know, Instant Pots come in different sizes. If you have the smallest one – the 3qt version – you will only be able to fit a very small chicken in the pot.

With the largest version – an 8-qt – you can likely fit a chicken up to 6 or 7 pounds. A 6-quart Instant Pot, like the one I have, can fit up to a 5-lb chicken, as long as it’s more plump than long.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Mix up your wet rub and brush it all over the chicken’s exterior, making sure to get inside the leg and wings.


instant pot chicken

The Instant Pot comes with a metal trivet that you can place at the bottom of the metal pot to raise the food up off the bottom. This is an occasion where you will want to use the trivet. Place it in the bottom of the pot.

Pour one cup of water into the bottom of the pot. You may need to use 1.5 or 2 cups if you have an 8-quart pot. The water should just come up to the top of the trivet.

Place the seasoned chicken on top of the trivet and close the lid of the Instant Pot. Make sure the valve is on seal. Set the pressure cooker to the appropriate number of minutes needed for your size of chicken. (See above)


cooked chicken

When the cooking time is over, the pressure cooker will still need around 15 – 30 minutes to depressurize. It’s best to allow the pressure to release naturally. This will help seal in the juices and make the chicken super tender and delicious.

The whole process should take around 40 minutes, for an average size chicken. Once you’ve opened up the pot, check the chicken with a meat thermometer, like the instant-read Thermapen, to be sure it’s reached the proper internal temperature of 165° F.


Thermapen ONE (read our review)

» Reading in one second or less
» Accuracy of ± 0.5°
» 5-year warranty
» Auto-rotate display; motion-sensing
» Insanely long battery life (2000 hrs)

If your chicken did not reach the right temperature, you’ll need to put it back on for a few minutes. 2-3 minutes should be enough. You may also wish to finish its cooking process in the oven – especially if you intend to crispy up the skin in the oven anyway.

Finish the chicken by allowing it to rest on a cutting board for 10-20 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the chicken, which will make sure it’s perfectly juicy and fully cooked through to the bone. Don’t skip the resting!

» You might also like this Instant Pot Bourbon Chicken.

Will the Chicken Have Crispy Skin?

When you take the chicken out of the Instant Pot, it won’t have crispy skin. The skin will be thin and translucent. If you really want a crispy exterior, you should roast the chicken in the oven instead of the Instant Pot.

However, you can add a bit of crispiness and color to the top of the chicken by putting it in the oven on broil for around 8 minutes. Watch it closely so you don’t over do it. Take it out as soon as color begins to form.

If you like crispy skin chicken, you should consider making air fryer whole chicken. We also like making frozen chicken wings in the air fryer. They turn out with perfect crispy skin.

whole chicken

What If the Chicken is Frozen?

It’s absolutely possible to cook a frozen chicken in the Instant Pot. It just takes a bit more time. You can even still apply the wet rub seasoning to a frozen chicken.

Just make sure the chicken has already been properly cleaned, with the gizzards removed, before you put it in the Instant Pot. If it happens to have anything stuffed into the cavity – some come with a bag of seasoning stuffed inside – you can’t cook it.

Cook times differ for frozen chicken. Instead of 6 minutes, it will take 8.5 minutes per pound.

» Check out this information for cooking frozen chicken thighs in the Instant Pot.

Side Dishes to Serve With A Whole Chicken

You can serve this dish with any side dish you like. That’s the best part – they go with everything.

Try serving them with these sides that you can also make in the Instant Pot:

Why Use An Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.

If you don’t have one yet, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big of a chicken can I cook in a 6 quart Instant Pot?

A 6-quart Instant Pot can fit up to a 5-lb chicken, as long as it’s more plump than long.

How do you check the temperature of a whole chicken?

Once you’ve opened up the pot, check the chicken with a meat thermometer, like the instant-read Thermapen, to be sure it’s reached the proper internal temperature of 165° F. Insert the temperature probe deep into the breast of the chicken or the innermost part of the thigh, making sure it isn’t resting against a bone.

Should I brine the chicken before cooking it?

If you have the time, sure! Brining a chicken is just one extra step, but it really takes the chicken to another level. A simple brine will result in a more juicy, tender chicken with little only a little extra effort.


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instant pot chicken

Instant Pot Whole Chicken

This Instant Pot Whole Chicken is so easy to make and it turns out tender and juicy.

Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot

4.97 from 52 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Pressurizing Time 11 minutes
Total Time 34 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 278 kcal


  • 3 pounds whole chicken
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Mix together the olive oil and spices in a small bowl.
  • Prepare the chicken by removing any gizzards from the cavity, rinsing in cold water, and patting dry.
  • Brush the wet rub onto the exterior of the chicken.
  • Place the metal trivet into the base of the Instant Pot. Add 1 cup of water. Place the chicken on top of the trivet. Secure the lid and set the valve sealing.
  • Push the Pressure Cook button and set the time for 18 minutes (see guide in post for other sizes).
  • Allow the pressure to naturally release. Test the internal temperature to be sure it has reached 165° F. Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and serve.


  • You should cook the chicken for 6 minutes per pound, so if you have a chicken that’s larger than 3lbs, be sure to set the temp properly.
  • If your chicken is frozen, cook for 8.5 minutes per pound and always check that it’s up to the proper temp after cooking.
  • Rest the chicken for 10-20 minutes before slicing.
  • You can crisp up the skin of the chicken under the broiler for 5 minutes.


Calories: 278kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 20gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 273mgPotassium: 212mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 170IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Chicken
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whole chicken

6 thoughts on “Instant Pot Whole Chicken

  1. Patricia Morris says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for the primer as I’ve never done a chicken in the Instant Pot however I have one tiny correction. The 8 qt Instant Pot is not the largest. I believe the 10 qt owns that distinction.

  2. Arnold says:

    What size of Instant Pot should I use for this whole chicken recipe? I have a 6-quart, but I’m not sure if it will accommodate a whole chicken.

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Arnold, this is a great question. You don’t want to buy a chicken and find out it won’t fit in your Instant Pot! Typically a 3-pound chicken will fill a 6-quart IP. For a larger chicken, you’ll need an 8+-quart Instant Pot.

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