Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken

Well, happy Thursday! I’m checking in with an ultra fast pressure cooker action item: how to cook a whole chicken in the pressure cooker. It’s a mimic of delicious roasted chicken. Except it isn’t roasted, it’s pressure cooked. And dare I say, it might be the most tender, tastiest chicken you’ll ever eat.

I love cooking whole chickens in the pressure cooker because: a) it’s an inexpensive way to get your chicken fix, b) it can be faster than oven-roasting and c) you can reuse the bones for some ridiculously easy pressure cooker chicken broth.

The presentation on a pressure cooker whole chicken isn’t as pretty as other traditionally roasted chickens but if you’re all about utilitarian instead of gourmet presentation and want or need juicy, cooked chicken for an upcoming recipe (a bazillion of my favorite recipes that use cooked chicken here), you’ll love this.

Start with a whole chicken (shocker, I know)! And go ahead and salt and pepper that chicken like crazy. This adds a ton of flavor and you don’t want to skimp on the s + p.

Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken

I’m using my InstantPot for our little demo today but this obviously works great in a stovetop pressure cooker, too (and cooks a bit faster – details below). Heat some oil until hot and rippling, using the Saute function on the InstantPot, and add the seasoned chicken breast-side down. You can skip this browning step but I think it adds a little boost of flavor and while you won’t get crispy skin like in a traditional rotisserie chicken, it will add a bit of nice browning action on the top of the chicken.

Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken

After it browns for 5 or so minutes. Carefully take it out and stuff the inside of the chicken with some fresh parsley, half a lemon, and fresh garlic.

Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken

Put the chicken back in the pressure cooker, breast-side up, lock the lid and cook on high pressure for about 8 minutes per pound of chicken. Let the pressure cooker naturally release for 15 minutes and then quick release the rest of the pressure.

Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken

Don’t forget to save those chicken bones for super fast pressure cooker chicken broth!

As I mention below in the recipe, I’ve found that my stovetop Kuhn-Rikon pressure cooker, since it gets to a higher psi, cooks the chicken faster – I plan on about 6 minutes per pound of chicken (versus the 8 minutes per pound for the InstantPot). Adapt as needed depending on your pressure cooker. A good test is to use an instant-read thermometer and make sure the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees F. If not, crank that pressure cooker back up to high pressure and cook a few minutes longer.

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Pressure Cooker “Roasted” Whole Chicken

Pressure Cooker “Roasted” Whole Chicken

I've detailed this below but a good rule of thumb for whole chickens is to cook them 6 minutes per pound in a stovetop pressure cooker and about 8 minutes per pound in an InstantPot (or other electric pressure cooker). Naturally release the steam for 15 minutes (meaning, let it sit off the heat or unplugged) and then quick release the remaining pressure.


  • 3-5 pound whole chicken
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Coarse black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • Half of a fresh lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth


  1. Remove anything from inside the cavity of the chicken. Liberally salt and pepper the inside and outside of the chicken. I use about 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1/2 tablespoon coarse pepper but you may want to use more or less than that depending on the size of the chicken or how seasoned you want it.
  2. In a stovetop or InstantPot (using the Saute function), heat the oil until rippling and hot. Place the chicken, breast-side down in the hot oil and let it brown for 5-6 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and put the parsley, lemon and cloves inside the chicken.
  3. Place the chicken breast-side up into the pressure cooker and add the broth.
  4. Secure the lid on the pressure cooker. For the InstantPot, select Manual and set the appropriate time for high pressure, about 8 minutes per pound of chicken (for instance, a 5-pound chicken will cook for 40 minutes). For a stovetop pressure cooker, start timing once high pressure is reached. Cook for 6 minutes per pound of chicken (for example, a 5-pound chicken will cook for 30 minutes).
  5. Remove the stovetop pressure cooker from heat once the time is finished - for the InstantPot, hit the cancel button.
  6. Let the pressure cooker naturally release for 15 minutes then quick release the remaining pressure. You can test the internal temperature of the chicken (at its thickest part) to make sure it registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer. If not, simply secure the lid and bring it up to high pressure again for a few minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the chicken from the pressure cooker and when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Remember to save the bones for quick pressure cooker chicken broth!

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

{Disclaimer: this post contains a few Amazon affiliate links.}

39 Responses to Pressure Cooker “Roasted” Whole Chicken

  1. Hilary says:

    I am soo excited about this one! I just got my instantpot and have 2 frozen chickens in my deep-freeze. I have a question…do you recommend thawing them first ( I know you can cook frozen meats, just didn’t know if that also meant a whole chicken) or can I pressure cook them frozen? Looking forward to trying them with this method!! (Your salt rock chicken is my daughters favorite!!!) and my next question, if I were going to make broth from the bones (which I typically do in the slow cooker), how long would I cook those for?? Thank you so much for all of your awesome hard work…you ROCK!!!!

  2. Yummy! I love my pressure cooker!

  3. Jill says:

    Quick question– when you put the chicken back in after browning do you use the rack that comes with the instantpot?

  4. Jen says:

    Thank you so much! This is fantastic, I need some help learning to use my Instant Pot. I would totally make this and look forward to doing so as soon as possible.

  5. Brenda says:

    YUM! I made a roast and veggies in my electric pressure cooker last night for the first time and couldn’t believe how it was so moist and just fell apart. Looking forward to roasting a whole chicken in my pressure cooker this weekend! Such a time saver – and so delicious.

  6. Sue in CO says:

    Any idea if this can be used for split chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken? Maybe even a turkey breast?

    • Mel says:

      Yes, I think it could definitely work. For smaller pieces of meat like that, you’ll want to adapt the cooking time (less time for sure). And I’m going to be cooking a turkey breast soon so I’ll report back when I figure out the timing in the pressure cooker.

  7. Verity says:

    THANK YOU! I got an Instant Pot a couple weeks ago and I’m excited about all the possibilities. I was amazed at how quickly I got over my fear of it! Looking forward to all you can throw at us on pressure cooking and recipes. I was less than impressed with the cookbook that came with my appliance–Purple Yam Barley Porridge just ain’t gonna happen in this household. 😉

  8. Kathy Roger says:

    I bought an Instant Pot based on your post the other day (electric pressure cooking had not even been on my radar until that post) and I have had some great successes and some not so great successes but what I love most about it is the convenience of the whole chicken. I no longer need to worry about getting to the store to pick up a deli chicken for my son’s lunches; I simply buy a chicken during my weekly shopping and then cook it on whatever day I need it. The chicken is always incredibly moist and great for salads and sandwiches, so I rarely have to buy deli meat anymore (yay for healthier choices!) I also found a great recipe for making a gravy right in the pot with the chicken and I have done that a number of times now. So thanks for saving me time and money Mel.

  9. Alison says:

    Future post suggestion-
    Any chance your shredded ham recipe that boils in vinegar can be made into a pressure-cooked meal?

    • Mel says:

      I think there’s definitely a possibility – the trick (for me) is finding a pressure cooker big enough to fit the ham in. I’ve never been able to find a ham that could fit in my stovetop pressure cooker and haven’t wanted to drag out my huge pressure canner.

  10. Jamie says:

    My favorite pressure cooker recipe is about 3 pounds of boneless pork sirloin cooked with 1 jar of salsa verde and about 1/4 jar of water. The first night we have it with the juice over rice. Then I reduce the rest of the juice with the browning setting on my pressure cooker and add it back to the shredded meat. Then I use the rest of the shredded pork for tacos, quesadillas, or enchilada casserole. Our Winco has boneless pork sirloin for less than $2 a pound at least once a month.

  11. Erin says:

    You are quickly convincing me that I need to give this pressure cooking thing a try!

  12. Cara says:

    Hello Mel! I bought an instant pot thanks to you and am loving it! This weekend I attempted to adapt your rock salt roasted chicken to an instant pot recipe. I did something very similar to you here, but I used 2 cups of broth. It was swimming in the broth when it was done! It was more like soup!Afterwards I read somewhere you don’t need extra liquid when cooking a chicken in a pressure cooker, because there is already a lot of water in the chicken. So now I’m not sure what to do! Did you think the broth helped? Added flavor? Thanks so much for all of you wonderful recipes!!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Cara – I still like to add a little broth to help with flavor but sounds like you could definitely try leaving it out (I always get nervous not putting any liquid in the pressure cooker but that’s just me).

  13. Terry A. says:

    I was under the impression you always need at least 1 c. of liquid in order for it to come up to pressure, but since the liquid doesn’t evaporate, you don’t need more than that.

    I’m always excited to see a pressure cooker recipe on your site! Thanks!!

  14. Joyce Day says:

    I HAVE to comment on the butter syrup. Oh. my. goodness. Sooooo good. That is a staple in this house from now on.

  15. I use my stove top pressure cooker to do whole chickens. So fast and so moist.

  16. Lisa says:

    Just tried it tonight with a 5.5 pound chicken. Set the timer for 45 minutes, forgot to add any liquid, but it was delicious. So tender and juicy. This is now my new way to get shredded chicken for recipes.

  17. Nicole says:

    I just made it this morning (the store only had 6+ lb chickens, so mine was 6.5. The timing was still accurate. And it was soo delicious, my 5 year-old and I could probably have eaten the whole thing. This will be a weekly recipe around our house! My parents just got me the instant pot for my birthday two weeks ago, and I have loved using it so far. Please keep posting recipes!

  18. judi says:

    Ok…after reading your blog on the pressure cookers…and this one with the chicken…consulting with many friends…..I took the plunge and am going to just get over my fear of pressure cookers….ordered the InstantPot……looking forward to seeing pressure cooking recipes from you… always have the best recipes here…thank you

  19. Carrie says:

    So, I’m late to the party but am so excited that you’re doing the pressure-cooker Thursday posts! I will be checking back often for yet another reason. We have a very nice Fagor stovetop set and have had a lot of successes with it. But I am eager to learn more recipes to add to my repertoire given your tests and best practices. The dulche de leche post was riveting! (yes, I’m a nerd like that)

  20. Heidy A says:

    YAY! I’ve been using my Instant Pot for 2 weeks now! LOVE it. I made the whole chicken and then chicken stock last night and now I’m working on your Classic Chicken Noodle soup. Yum! Looking forward to adapting more recipes for my pressure cooker. Loving the savings in time it makes.

  21. Liz says:

    I make a LOT of chicken as my older dog with an iffy stomach does best with chicken (and premium grain free kibble 🙂 !! ). My fav organic free range chicken typically is on sale in some form. So far, I’ve done several whole chickens per your instruction less the browning step which doesn’t seem to affect flavor to me. It seems so much easier in the Instant Pot than roasting maybe because the cleanup is easier – the stainless steel insert always cleans easily compared to a roasting pan.

    This morning I did 5 large boneless, skinless breasts. I added 1 cup water, 2 T olive oil, oregano, lemon pepper and turmeric. I had about 4 pounds of meat so did manual and then 30 minutes with natural release and the meat was perfect (internal temp at 182 on release so probably could have gone with 20 minutes ? ). I put the entire insert in the frig, covered with foil. When I went to shred the meat about an hour later, it fell apart in my hands, i.e. I hand shredded it easily. And it tastes good! Again, easy clean up. I usually oven poach the breasts and shredding is a hated task, but this was so quick and easy.

    • Mel says:

      I love this, Liz! Thanks for including such detail about cooking the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I was sitting here figuring out how I’m going to get chicken cooked for a chicken chile lasagna I’m making tonight and you just saved me. Thank you! 🙂

      • Liz says:

        I thought someone might want to know about doing boneless, skinless chicken but I didn’t think it would be you – glad it was timely!! Also glad it worked … I had a moment of panic after loading the cooker thinking maybe I should have tried just 1 to start. All’s well that ends well.

  22. Kristi says:

    Just finished making this and am so excited to try it. Dumb question. Do you just dump the liquid that’s left after cooking the chicken or do you save it?

    • Mel says:

      Yes, I usually dump it (I’m sure that will rile some people up) although you could probably keep it and use it for chicken broth in a recipe.

  23. Jill says:

    Mel! I’ve been petrified of pressure cookers my whole life…I witnessed a small accident involving my grandma…my cousin…AND beans…he probably deserved it! You convinced me to give the Insta pot a try AND is amazing…just made your chicken chili AND I can’t believe beans cooked in 20 little minutes…because if you I continue to rock in the kitchen…just in less time tonight! Thanks so much…me and my sisters…and my nieces and friends really LOVE you so much! And my relief society…hahaha! You know..homemaking DAY!

    • Mel says:

      I’m so happy to know you are a pressure cooker covert, Jill (although, yikes, that childhood incident sounds scary). Thanks so much for your sweetness!

  24. John L. says:

    Instead of using a lot of salt and pepper try “Old Bay Seasoning” it will add a little kick to the bird,

  25. Sarah Shohet says:

    This post prompted me to ask for a pressure cooker for my birthday. I specifically asked for an InstantPot, but my sweet husband went a little fancier and got me one from Williams-Sonoma, the “Breville Fast Slow Pro Pressure Cooker.” While I appreciated the gesture, the machine intimidates me and I’m not sure I understand it completely. Specifically, is it normal for an electric pressure cooker to take so long to preheat? I love that it took me only 20 some minutes to cook a chicken (I LOVE the above method/recipe), but is it normal that it took my machine at least 15 minutes to preheat? I feel like that kind of detracts from the concept of speedy pressure cooking. Does the InstantPot take so long to preheat, for both pressure cooking and sauteing? Or is something potentially wrong with my machine? Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Sarah – that’s a great question! Yes, the InstantPot also takes some time to preheat, also. That’s probably the one downfall (as opposed to a stovetop pressure cooker which I have which heats MUCH faster on the stovetop) because a recipe that calls for 20 minutes cooking time will obviously take longer if you consider the preheating and the cool down. I think the model you have is acting “normally” for an electric pressure cooker. One way to combat that is to add ingredients to the pot that are already simmering or hot (which isn’t possible in all recipe). I had to get used to the fact that seeing a recipe that says 3-minute steel cut oats does not mean those oats will be ready in 3 minutes. The appeal comes from being able to still cook it faster than the traditional method without having to keep your eyes on the pot the whole time.

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