This Instant Pot Whole Chicken recipe can be made with fresh or frozen chicken! Slathered in garlic butter and classic seasonings, the result is a juicy, flavourful, and fall-off-the-bone tender main course.
A Rotisserie-Style Instant Pot Chicken Recipe
This chicken, you guys. So easy. Soooo juicy.
I know, you probably all saw it coming: the Instant Pot is winning me over. Way back in January, I decided to dust off my Instant Pot and really give it a shot. (Until that point, I had only used it a couple of times!) Since then, I’ve worked on quite a few Instant Pot recipes, and the results have been pretty gratifying. I guess you could say I’m a believer!
In this recipe, I’m making a whole chicken. Yep, the whole bird. While I usually go for convenient lean and boneless cuts, whole chickens are great for a traditional Sunday dinner with all the trimmings, or just for meal prep! Take the meat off of the bones and you have the makings of delicious sandwiches, tacos, salads, wraps, soups, casseroles… the choices are endless, honestly.
If you’re not quite ready to go for the whole chicken, check out my post on How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot.
Why Use the Instant Pot?
So, what specifically is so great about making a whole chicken in the Instant Pot? Well, there are actually quite a few great reasons to love this method. Here are just a few:
- Convenience: Using the Instant Pot allows you to cook the chicken without babysitting it. That means there’s no need to peek into the oven and make sure it’s not getting overdone, no basting, no worrying that the meat will dry out. Because the Instant Pot does all the work, you can just set the timer and walk away. Perfection!
- Cost-Effectiveness: Per pound, whole chickens are one of the most economical protein options out there. It’s not uncommon to pay twice as much for thighs, wings, or breasts! This recipe makes it easy to take advantage of those savings.
- Quality: Pressure cooking allows you to fully cook both the dark meat and white meat, without losing moisture. That’s because pressure cookers actually trap steam and moisture inside, rather than letting it evaporate. As a result, you get tenderized food without losing any of the juices.
- Time: Of course, this is the main attraction of the Instant Pot—it’s in the name! For this recipe, you’ll only need a short time for the IP to heat up, and then about 8 minutes per pound (fresh) or 13 minutes per pound (frozen).
What You’ll Need
I’m taking it back to basics, here! Each ingredient is a simple pantry staple, which makes this a great recipe for busy cooks! And the mouthwatering rotisserie flavors will make it seem like you slaved over it for hours.
- Chicken: This recipe makes one chicken, approximately four pounds in weight.
- Butter: You’ll need ¼ cup of unsalted butter at room temperature, for rubbing all over the chicken. I’ll be honest, I don’t love manhandling raw meat, so sometimes I enlist my husband’s help with this! Anyone else?
- Parsley: It might seem boring, but dried parsley is my secret weapon. It really helps to create that classic herbal flavor profile that I associate with a good roast chicken.
- Seasoned Salt: Seriously, why are we not shaking this all over everything? Seasoned salt packs so much flavor into one versatile ingredient. I use Lawry’s.
- Garlic Powder: I add about ¾ teaspoon of garlic powder to this spice blend.
- Black Pepper: Don’t forget the pepper! Together with the lemon, pepper adds a little bite and pungency to this dish, balancing out the richer ingredients.
- Paprika: Just a bit—¼ teaspoon will do it.
- Chicken Broth: I use 1 ½ cups of low sodium chicken broth to add flavor while building pressure in the Instant Pot. You can also use water, if you prefer.
- Onion: Quarter one onion and toss it in.
- Lemon: This is optional, but a quartered lemon adds a nice fragrance and flavor.
How to Roast a Chicken in the Instant Pot
Pressure-cooking chicken is literally as simple as opening the chicken, adding whatever flavorings you’re planning to use, and letting the Instant Pot do the rest! You can use the cook time to prep side dishes, if you’re making them.
- Prep the Chicken. Unwrap your chicken, and if there are giblets included, remove those from the inner cavity. (You can discard them, or save them for another recipe, like broth.) Next, Gently loosen the skin over the chicken breast, but don’t remove it. We’re going to keep it in place so the breast meat stays moist.
- Rub the Chicken with Seasoned Butter. In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, parsley, seasoned salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika. Lift the skin of the chicken slightly, and spread this butter mixture evenly over the meat. Smooth the skin back over the butter.
- Arrange the Chicken in the Instant Pot. While you can cook a chicken in the Instant Pot without a trivet, I like to use one. Place your trivet in the Instant Pot, and pour the chicken broth in as well. Gently lower the whole chicken onto the trivet, and place onion and lemon quarters around and the chicken if you want to use them. If you do add lemon, keep in mind that the lower pieces of chicken will absorb that lemon flavour, so don’t use it if you don’t want that.
- Cook! Lock the lid into place, and make sure the valve is set to sealing. Set the Instant Pot to manual, high pressure (the default), and 32 minutes (or 8 minutes per pound of chicken). It will take about 15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and start counting down. If you’re m
- Release Pressure and Finish the Dish. When the chicken is done cooking, turn the Instant Pot off and let pressure release naturally for 5-10 minutes. Then slide the valve to venting, and quick-release the remaining pressure. Open the lid, and use a meat thermometer to check 3 or 4 places where the meat is the thickest. Be sure that it reaches 165in all places. Peel the skin off the chicken, or place it under the broiler for a few minutes (see the Tips and Tricks section for more info!).
- Serve/Store. Your chicken is done! Serve it up with your favorite side dishes, or take the meat off of the bones and refrigerate it or freeze it for another time!
Can I Use Frozen Chicken?
Great news! Even if you forgot to thaw your chicken, you can still make this easy recipe. Just follow the recipe as written, but cook the chicken for 13 minutes per pound.
How to easily unpack frozen chicken: Hold the wrapped chicken under cool running water to defrost the packaging, and make it easier to remove.
Check for giblets: If the frozen chicken contains giblets, they may be difficult to get out of the cavity. I’ve done it with no problem, but I’ve also had issues where they were just impossible to get out. Womp, womp. If that happens, you’ll need to cover the chicken, thaw it in the refrigerator, and cook it another time. Cooking a chicken with the package of giblets inside is not recommended!
Tips for Success
So what else should you know about making this recipe? Glad you asked! Here are my favorite tips for making this dish fabulous, every time.
- Adjust the Seasonings. You can absolutely customize the seasonings to suit your tastes on this one. Don’t like garlic? Leave it out. Want a little more spice? Throw in some cayenne (but, please, start slowly!). Want to add in fresh herbs from the garden? Perfect!
- Make It Crispy. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer to cook the chicken with the skin on, for extra flavor and juiciness. Then I remove the skin before serving. If you want to keep the skin and crisp it up, just brush the cooked chicken with oil, transfer it to the oven on a baking sheet, and broil it until golden!
- Cook It Upside Down. If you aren’t going for beauty, you can flip the chicken upside down so that the breasts will cook in the juices — this will give you the juiciest white meat!
- Save It for Later: You can also follow the recipe through step 2, rubbing the chicken with seasoned butter, and then wrap and freeze it to cook another time! Use within 6 months for the best flavor.
- Pretty Presentation: For the prettiest presentation, I recommend separating the chicken pieces and serving them on a large serving platter as pictured. The chicken comes out so tender that it usually won’t hold up in one piece when you remove it from the Instant Pot. But the pieces look great arranged on a platter, especially with some of the cooking juices drizzled over.
When it comes to side dishes, you can’t go wrong with some tasty traditional options. Here are a few family favorites!
- Peas: Springlike and sweet, these Easy Creamed Peas make a great side dish with just about everything, including rotisserie seasoned chicken.
- Potatoes: The crispy outside and fluffy inside of my No Fail Roasted Potatoes will add the perfect contrast to your tender chicken!
- Pasta: A colorful pasta salad goes perfectly with chicken. This Creamy Ranch Bowtie Pasta Salad not only tastes great, it’s super easy to whip up.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store leftover chicken in the fridge, remove it from the bones and seal in food storage containers or bags. Place in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Properly stored, it will keep for up to 4 days.
- To freeze, remove the chicken from the bones and place in freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible. Mark the date, and freeze the chicken for up to three months.
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Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- 4 lb whole chicken see additional cook times below
- ¼ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt I use Lawry’s
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 onion quartered
- 1 lemon quartered, optional
- Unwrap your chicken and remove any bag from the inner cavity if there is one. Gently loosen the skin but do not remove it.
- In a small bowl, combine butter, parsley, seasoning salt, garlic powder, pepper, and paprika. Spread butter evenly under the skin of the chicken.
- *At this point, you can cook or freeze. To freeze, wrap in plastic wrap and place chicken in a large freezer bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. Follow cook times in recipe notes to cook from frozen, or thaw before cooking and follow remaining steps.
- Place the trivet in the Instant Pot and add chicken broth. Add chicken and place onion and lemon quarters around and under the chicken if desired (the lower pieces of chicken will absorb the lemon flavour, so don’t use it if you don’t want that).
- Put the lid on and set the valve to sealing. Set the Instant Pot to manual, high pressure (the default), and 32 minutes (or 8 minutes per pound of chicken). It will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure and begin counting down.
- When it is done cooking, turn the Instant Pot off and let pressure release naturally for 5-10 minutes before moving the valve to venting and releasing remaining pressure.
- Open the lid and insert a meat thermometer into 3 or 4 places where the meat is the thickest. Be sure that it reaches 165 degrees F in all places. Peel the skin off the chicken (or move to a broiler to brown if desired). Serve.
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