Even for people who are squeamish about raw chicken, cooking chicken in the Instant Pot is so simple and must become part of your routine.
Over at Kids Cook Real Food, we even have a video showing kids how to make shredded barbecue chicken in the Instant Pot as part of our Instant Pot Thematic SkillLab, and they never have to touch the chicken. It’s awesome.
How to Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot
Back when I was switching to real food, I realized that organic chicken breasts were just too expensive, so I had to learn how to make all of my chicken recipes using whole chickens.
Since whole chickens also result in awesome, budget-friendly chicken broth, it’s really a good idea to add whole chickens to your repertoire. And the Instant Pot makes it so easy and almost no-touch.
RELATED: Making chicken broth in the Instant Pot!
Here’s one method to cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot.Print
I have made a lot of easy chicken meals in my slow cooker in the past – but for those days when I didn’t get it started in the morning…the Instant Pot has saved me! Getting a whole bird cooked in 60 minutes total? Priceless.
- Prepare your whole chicken if necessary (remove insides, pat dry)
- Press the Saute button and add some oil (avocado oil makes a great choice) to the Instant Pot.
- When it’s hot, put in the bird, breast side down, and brown for 5-7 minutes.
- Add a cup of water to help the chicken release from the bottom.
- Carefully flip over.
- Add any desired seasonings (like this turmeric chicken recipe.)
- Press cancel and then cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. You can set this manually or just use the Meat/Stew button (Poultry defaults to only 15 minutes, which isn’t quite long enough).
- Let the pressure release naturally, which is easy – just set a timer for another 15-20 minutes after the 35 minutes are up.
You can skip the sauteing if you’re pressed for time, but including that step adds extra flavor. Cooking the whole bird will basically make your first batch of broth, and you can do that on the slow-cook function for 4 to 8 hours, or use the meat/stew button.
If you really want great broth, you can also use the soup button, which is about 70 minutes. Your chicken will be completely falling apart, so make sure that your recipe calls for shredded chicken if you go that long.
- Serving Size: 3.5 oz
- Calories: 167
- Sugar: 0g
- Sodium: 75mg
- Fat: 6g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Unsaturated Fat: 4g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 25g
- Cholesterol: 75mg
Keywords: Whole Chicken, Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot, Instant Pot Whole Chicken, Cooking Chicken in the Instant Pot
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Where to Buy an Instant Pot
This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!
If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. My full Instant Pot review and buying guide for features, size, and model.
If you’re still on the fence about adding an Instant Pot to your kitchen appliance arsenal here are my Instant Pot pros and cons.
Shredded Chicken Breasts or Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot
Once I got a little more wiggle room in my grocery budget, I did start buying organic chicken breasts again. But, because they are less expensive and more tender, I tend to use chicken thighs when I want shredded chicken, which is what is best in the Instant Pot.
In my book, chicken breasts are better for sauteing or baking and chicken thighs for grilling or shredding. Whether you’re using breasts or thighs, however, when you’re cooking them in the Instant Pot, the instructions are the same.
Keep in mind that this will result in very well-cooked chicken breasts that are best for shredding. Not necessarily something you would set on top of some pasta. For that, I recommend baking them.
Shredded chicken makes a great addition to salads, sandwiches, and soups and is great for meal prep. Making shredded chicken in the Instant Pot is a simple technique, is quick, and makes clean up super easy.
How to Make Shredded Chicken in the Instant Pot
Add 1-3 pounds of chicken breasts or thighs, 1 cup of water and 1/2 tsp of salt into your Instant Pot, including seasonings if desired.
Cook for 30 minutes on high pressure and release with a quick release.
Remove the chicken and shred, or shred right in the pot. The juices will increase, so if you don’t want a lot of juice, pull that chicken out to a plate.
Tip: Use the broth for other recipes like this homemade Chicken Rice-a-Roni.
To cook chicken breast or thighs but not quite get them all the way to the shredding point, you can use the poultry button. For four pieces of meat, you’ll need 15 minutes on high pressure. If you have more meat than that, I would bump it up to 20 minutes.
Cooking Frozen Chicken Breasts or Thighs in the Instant Pot
One of the beauties of the Instant Pot is that it can cook frozen meat, like taking frozen ground beef to done in just over 30 minutes.
If you have frozen chicken breasts or thighs, it takes 30 minutes with a quick release just to get them all the way cooked. These might not be quite falling apart enough to shred, however, so if you want shredded chicken, go for 40-45 minutes on high pressure with a quick release.
Always remember to have at least one cup of water or broth in the bottom of your Instant Pot, and allow time for the IP to get up to pressure, meaning that shredded chicken from frozen still takes about an hour total time.
Use the Instant Pot to Meal Prep Chicken
One reason I love chicken in the Instant Pot is that shredding chicken after the fact is so much less work than cutting the chicken up into bite-sized pieces when it’s raw.
I can just tear the package open and dump the chicken right into the Instant Pot. Saves time and gross factor. It’s also fabulous to batch cook and/or meal prep chicken with the Instant Pot, cooking up a bunch of meat at the beginning of the week, and using it in cold salads, wraps, sandwiches, soups, or stir-fries as the week goes on.
Even if you miss your meal prep day, the Instant Pot can help you save dinner from the drive-thru window with its quick or from frozen cooking!
Other Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
Put your shredded chicken to use or make something completely new with these recipes.
- Instant Pot Curried Lemon Coconut Chicken
- Smoky Mexican Chicken Soup
- Instant Pot Turmeric Chicken
- Keto Spicy Chicken Curry
- Easy BBQ Chicken in the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker
- Gluten-Free Instant Pot Lentil Lasagna
- Pressure Cooker Mexican Rice and Lentils
- Spicy Cheesy Chicken Dip
- White Chicken Chili with Lime
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
I won’t tell if your Instant Pot is still in its box, pinky swear. 😉
I left mine abandoned in the basement for almost a YEAR because I have a new-thing-instructions phobia, but now I have TWO Instant Pots and they’re both in constant use!
Turns out it’s so easy, a kid can do it — I’ll send you a quick video of my children unboxing and setting it up when you grab your FREE download mini eBook:
Get the Instant Pot Guidebook for FREE!
What’s in the Guidebook?
You’ll love the simplicity of your Instant Pot, and the free downloadable guidebook will help you:
- Adapt your own favorite recipes from the slow cooker
- Cook FROZEN ground beef
- Hard boil eggs perfectly
- Cook squash, steam veggies, and make applesauce in your IP
- Make dry beans in an hour and perfect rice without boiling over
- Steam veggies al dente and make Paleo cauli rice in minutes
- Cook a whole chicken and make FAST bone broth
Whether yours is still in the box or you’ve used it a little but want to know more about those techniques, or if you’re still pining for an IP on your wish list, I can’t wait to give you these simple baby steps to success!
Once you’ve mastered cooking chicken in the Instant Pot, check out this 10 Basic Instant Pot techniques post for even more ways to put your Instant Pot to work for you.
Some Favorite Instant Pot Recipes: