EASY Pressure Cooker Chicken - whole!

Here’s another really easy  low prep pressure cooker recipe that doesn’t even require a knife.  The pressure cooked chicken barely stays together and it comes out not just tender, but juicy and more nutritious as well.

See Also: Pressure Cooked Chicken Tops Roasting, Microwave on Protein!

We first showed you how to pressure cook a whole bird five years ago, with the humorous pressure cooker beer can chicken.  Many readers tried it and shared their own variations to this recipe in the comments.  Although this was fun to do on occasions, it’s not how I typically cook chicken for my family – though I do sit-up larger birds and I do braise them as in that recipe.

Keeping it Whole

As more people made our first whole chicken recipe it became evident that people were having problems getting the chicken out of the pressure cooker to remain whole.  It is so tender that if you grab any one piece of the chicken to pull up that part will just come off. Readers tried tongs, slings, racks and more – but there is an easier way.

As you’ll see in the video, I actually pour out the cooking liquid in one vessel (to turn into gravy or to drizzle on when serving) and then you can just slowly wiggle and shimmy the chicken out of the pressure cooker base  and onto a serving dish. Don’t forget to cover it and let it cool for a few minutes more before serving!
Whole Pressure Cooker Chicken Recipe

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger none 20-25 min. High(2) Natural

4.8 from 10 reviews
Video: Easy Whole Pressure Cooker Chicken
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Pressure Cooker
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lemon, zested (about 1.5 tablespoons of zest)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 3-4 pound (15-2k) chicken
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 sprigs thyme (about 1 tablespoon of leaves)
spice rub:
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a small bowl mix the ingredients for the spice rub, with the lemon zest and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat the pressure cooker using saute' or brown mode.
  3. Rub the chicken with about half the olive oil, and pat the spice rub all around the chicken, also inside the skin above the chicken breasts and thighs. Use all of the rub, patting it on all around the chicken.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining olive oil in the base of the pressure cooker, and place the chicken breast-side down to brown - about 5 minutes.
  5. Then, turn the chicken around to breast-side up (it's OK if the chicken is diagonal in narrower pressure cookers) and pour in the stock to the side of the chicken so as not to dislodge any of the rub.
  6. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
    Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 25 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 20 minutes pressure cooking time.
  7. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural pressure release.
    Electric pressure cookers: Disengage the “keep warm” mode, or unplug the cooker, and open the lid when the pressure indicator/lid-lock has gone down (about 15-20 minutes).
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes).
  8. Pour out the cooking liquid in a heat-proof cup, and set aside or use to make a gravy, and then shake, shimmy and wiggle the chicken out of the base and into the serving dish (see video).
  9. Cover with foil immediately and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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49 Comments

  1. I didn’t see you remove the giblet packet. Maybe chickens in Italy don’t have the neck, liver, gizzards, etc inside but ours do! New cooks may forget (or not even know) to remove that packet unless reminded…

    1. Actually, after un-wrapping the chicken you’ll note that I lift and look between the legs. But you’re right, it would have been nice to remind people to check for and remove giblets.

      Generally, in they do not include them since they sell packages of livers and necks separately.But I learned to cook from my mother while in America so I always check. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  2. I do chicken this way with just salt and pepper….then, Strip off all the meat and use the same pot (stove top pressure cooker) to make the most delicious chicken and dumplings. It takes longer to make the dumplings than cook the chicken. I make old fashioned Southern “slicks”….rolled dumplings, not the dropped kind. I believe other cultures would consider this chicken and broad noodles….regardless what you call it, it’s real comfort food!!

    When is your next book coming? I love the first one so much!

    1. Hi Carla, what a great way to serve your chicken!

      Hahah…. the next book is taking a while, I keep wanting to add new stuff to it. There is no ETA but it is being worked-on on the back burner. Also, there will be lots of meat recipes and it takes me an absolute lifetime to test them since we only eat meat once, maybe twice a week. ; ) But low number of meat recipes was a big criticism of the first book – one of the challenges of being Italian and writing a book for American cooks! Many people do not see a vegetable dish, as complete as it may be, as “dinner” so they felt like there were not enough “everyday meals” for them.

      So glad to read you enjoyed the first book! Don’t forget to leave a review on amazon!

      Ciao,

      L

      1. We only have meat at dinner, eggs for breakfast, nutbutter or beans for lunch. Maybe thats why it seems like not a dinner if no meat, to many americans.

    2. Recipe for dumplings please!

  3. Question for you, or somebody. You say to do a natural release, which in an electric p/c is 15-20 mins, but a stove top p/c is only 10 mins. Why do you have to wait the additional 10 mins in an electric p/c? What would it matter if after 10 mins you did a quick release? Is there something different between the two? I’ve never used a stove top p/c, so I was just wondering. Thanks!

    1. Actually, you do not have to time “Natural Release” it’s as long as it takes for your pressure cooker to lower pressure on its own. The recipe text is there to give you a guideline. The reason the stovetop and electric pressure cooker releases take a different amount of time has to do with the construction of electric pressure cookers. They have a thermos-like outer body and the heating element remains hot even after the cooker has been turned off. This keeps everything in there warmer longer which means that pressure will go down slower.

      If you’d like to learn more about pressure release, the why’s and how’s take a look at my article about it…
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/now-release-pressure/

      Ciao,

      L

  4. I can’t buy 3-4 lb chickens. I can only find 5 lb and up. How long should I cook the 5 lb bird?

    1. If you can fit a larger bird your the pressure cooker, yes! I would try 30 minutes in an electric or 25 in a stovetop – then check with a thermometer or cut into a thigh bone to see if the meat is fully cooked before serving.

      Ciao,

      L

    2. In my experience, European chickens tend to be smaller and less meaty than American chickens, but Euro chickens make up for their smaller size with more flavor.

      While I’ve read of people regularly cooking 6 lb chickens in a 6 qt Instant Pot, I think it’s a really tight squeeze. I try to buy chickens in the 5 lbs range for my Instant Pot. I cook a 5 lb chicken in my 6qt Instant Pot for 25 minutes, NPR. It’s always cooked through.

  5. Is it possible to put stuffing in the chicken?

    1. We have not tested the cooking time for a stuffed chicken – stuffing it would slow down the cooking from the steam going inside the cavity so the cooking time would need to be increased.

      If you want to try it, use fully-cooked stuffing, and then use a thermometer or cut down to the inner thigh bone to ensure the chicken is fully cooked before serving.

      Ciao,

      L

  6. I am brand new to pressure cooking. I was given an electric model (Power Pressure Cooker XL PRO). It came with a completely inadequate cook booklet. I tried cooking a whole chicken in it according to their directions, but it wasn’t done when the time was up, so I moved it to my slow cooker to finish and we ate it the next day instead.

    Anyway, I’m curious if the chicken stock is really necessary or is it just there for flavor? Doesn’t the chicken itself give off enough liquid

    1. Welcome Sharon,
      All pressure cookers need a minimum amount of liquid in order to work. It is the steam generated from the liquid that produces the pressure. You could replace the stock with water, but you cannot leave it out. If there is not liquid at the start, pressure will not build and you will end up with a burnt exterior and a raw interior.

      Different brands of pressure cookers have different minimum liquid requirements. Most electrics need a minimum of 1.5 cups of liquid. Laura is actually shaving it a little fine here. She is probably relying on a little liquid in the chicken.

      As for the recipe you followed, I cannot comment. However, I would trust Laura’s recipes over pretty much any other source. She uses a pressure cooker every day, and tests every single one of her recipes multiple times in different models. Other sources often just apply a generic conversion without even testing. You might like to get her book. It is very worthwhile. It should also be noted that pressure cooking is different to every other method of cooking. You really cannot just wing it. I would also recommend you work through at least a few of Laura’s lesson recipes. You will learn a lot.

      1. Thank you SO MUCH! This was very helpful. I do plan to work through her Lessons, just haven’t had the time yet. The failed attempt mentioned in my comment is what sent me searching fopr help, which led me to Hip Pressure Cooking. I have a birthday coming up and requested her cookbook! :D

        1. What Greg Said. : ) And, yes, I confirm that I cut down the liquid a bit to make-up for the fact that most American chickens are brined before sale. Although Italian ones are not, they can still release enough liquid by the time the 1 cup is boiling for the cooker to maintain pressure.

          That being said, I did see a method going around having people putting a chicken in their pressure cooker without liquid and going – I don’t know if that’s what you are referring to. I do not recommend it because although it might work SOME of the time for SOME, the the pressure will heat up too much prematurely ageing the gasket and heating the electronics the components which will eventually damage them. Besides that, as Greg mentioned, if the bird does not release enough liquid for the cooker to eventually create steam and build pressure you’re going to have an under-cooked bird.

          My techniques work because I want them to work EVERY time for you without damaging your pressure cooker or burning the ingredients.

          Welcome Sharon!

          Ciao,

          L

  7. Hi Laura, when a recipe says 10 minutes then Natural Release in the Electric PC do you shut it off first or let it continue to count up in warm mode? I never know if I should hit the off button first,thanks for your help

    1. You can do either. The element will not cut back in until pressure is well and truly gone.

      However, many people report ruined meals by leaving the keep warm function on and leaving it too long. Personally I never use it.

    2. Sally, although the actual “heating” of keep-warm won’t actually kick-in until the cooker has lost pressure for Natural Release I just turn it off. Since I’m often doing other things if I’m not nearby hearing the “click” of the lid release keep-warm will turn on and keep cooking the chicken beyond what I wanted.

      Instead, for the 10-Min Natural I leave it on so I can use the timer.

      Ciao,

      L

  8. Hi Laura :)

    Although I roast a mean chicken I was inspired to give this a go! Some tweaking for me, using a room temp chicken 25 minutes was too long. I shut the heat off at 20, let it maintain pressure for another 5, released, and it was still on the verge of falling apart. But that’s fine, it’s still delicious, and I only used salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

    The best part was that I was able to use the quality of chicken of my choice, it was fast, minimal clean up, but best yet I used only 1/2 c. water and came away with over 1 c. of stock, and about 1/4 c fat! I used the fat to sauté some onion, celery and mushrooms, added some wild and brown rice, along with the stock and 2 c. water, and 15 minutes later we had soup for this week’s lunches! Two for one in less than 1 hour. And the chicken meat was delicious too!

    1. Tracy the swinging fitness guru!! So glad to read you gave this technique a shot and shared the photo with us, too! Your bird looks GORGEOUS!!

      Ciao,

      L

    2. Starting with a room temperature chicken would definitely reduce the time needed to cook the chicken. The pressure cooker will heat up and reach pressure much faster than with a chilled chicken. Maybe only 16-18 minutes would be enough pressure cook time for a room temperature chicken.

      Most people in the US probably start with a chilled chicken, though, so 20-25 minutes sounds about right, IME.

  9. In the U.S., even from our health food stores, the chickens are chilled in water rather than air chilled. This makes them release quite a bit of liquid during cooking. Will this affect the finished chicken? Every time I have tried to cook chicken in the PC, it comes out rubbery because it ends up boiling in all the liquid. I need your help, LOL!!

    1. Ann, this recipe accounts for a brined chicken – we’re under-shooting the minimum liquid requirement of 1 1/2 cups for electric to 1 cup. If you have a stove top pressure cooker (which requires less liquid to come to pressure), you can under-shoot a little more. But don’t leave the liquid out completely! See my reply to Sharon, above, for details.

      Ciao,

      L

      1. Thank you. I have an electric PC so I would use the 1 cup that is listed in the recipe. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

  10. Could you use a silicone “rack” with handles – remove the chicken after browning, place the silicone in the PC and then proceed? Dealing with a weak left hand and looking for alternatives until it is better!

    I get so much info from your website and your book!

    Thanks, Debby

    1. You could use a rack, but I would increase the cooking liquid until it can reach the bottom of the chicken so you can braise instead of steam it. : )

      Ciao,

      L

  11. Made as per the recipe tonight. Worked brilliantly. Except my Brevilee has started losing pressure. Not sure what is going on yet, but the pressure bar was reporting mid level (~50kPa) pressure throughout the cook. Yes I set it to 80kPa and it came to that level briefly. It was losing steam around the central flange. Not the main gasket. I will examing it more closely in the morning.

    Still the meal was cooked fine. And delicious. I suspect the longer time to pressure compensated for the lower pressure.

    This is quite a liberating recipe. I love the Beer Can Chicken but it is not easy to see how to change it up. This one allows taking it in lots of directions simply by changing the spice rub. Want Moroccan? Use Ras el Hanout. Want Indian? Use Garam Marsala. Want French? try butter, garlic and Thyme.

    1. Greg, so glad to hear you enjoyed this technique!

      The taking forever to reach pressure happens to my Breville when I don’t have the lid perfectly lined-up with the pin on the lid. I always forget to check and realize when the cooker is taking forever to reach pressure because the pin that cannot rise fully since the housing is offset from the hole. How hard is it to make is so these things line up every time?!?.. SHEESH!

      Ciao,

      L

      1. Yes it would be nice to have a detent or similar, but that it not the problem in this case. I always check.

        It took a long time time reach pressure, and once it did, pressure dropped from 80kPa (mine is the Aussie version and it reports in metric) to about 50kPa – where I set it for pasta – and hovered there for the rest of the cook. It was leaking considerable steam from under the plastic moulding on the lid. All I can think of to cause it is the o-ring on the nut holding the metal part of the lid to the moulding, but it looks OK. I will look more carefully later today. It is less than a year old, So should be under warranty. But I am not sure I can find the receipt.

  12. Recipe worked great for me! When I first opened the cooker the chicken wasn’t completely cooked, then I realized it was a 6lb Bird so 25 minutes wasn’t enough time. Put it back under pressure for 5 more minutes with a second NPR and it was fully cooked and juicy. It did take longer than I anticipated with having to come to pressure twice (2nd time of course was faster since liquid was already hot), but it was easy and delicious. Had about 2 cups of lovely helped broth which I used for chicken noodle soup, and still had chicken left for salad. Yum!

  13. Another question: Is there a guide somewhere for adjusting time. I rarely find a 3-4 lb chicken here. Their usually in the 5.5-6.5 lb range. I’m trying to figure out how much to adjust the time. I looked at the Meat & Poultry Pressure Cooking Times, but didn’t find adjustment figures. Maybe I’m not looking in the right place.

    1. In general there is no need to increase time as usually when you increase servings, you add more pieces and each piece takes the same time to cook.

      HOWEVER a whole chicken is a special case as it is a single large piece. And it is hollow, so you cannot just apply the minutes per inch formula you can with a beef roast for example.

      Trouble is each region tends to have a particular size of bird that is normal. I know here it is 1.5Kg (about 3lb) It is very rare to see even one as big as 1.8Kg (3.5lb) That makes it very hard to do the experiment. Clearly where you are, a much larger bird is the norm.

      However, if you look at Sherry’s comment immediately above yours, you will see she cooked her 6lb bird for 25 minutes which wasn’t enough, so she added an extra five minutes under pressure. Now that adds more time as there is the extra time to pressure as well, but maybe try 30 minutes as a starting point. You can always close the lid again and cook some more if it is not quite done. Once you work it out, report back here. I am sure Laura will add your information to the timing chart.

  14. I made this tonight with a chicken that was just barely over 3 lbs. I used smoked paprika and granulated garlic for the rub. The chicken was super moist and literally fell off the bones. However, I ended up with 2 cups of liquid when I opened the pressure cooker. So, the chicken was about half submerged in the liquid. I used a tiny bit less than the 1 cup of stock when I poured it into the pressure cooker before closing it up. Since the chicken released so much liquid, would it be OK if I only put in 1/2 cup of stock to begin with? I have a 6 qt. Cuisinart pressure cooker.

    1. I had a quick look at a Cuisinart Pressure cooker manual (Model CPC-610A). That one specifies minimum liquid as 1/2 cup so if yours is the same it should be fine. The main thing is to have enough liquid to generate pressure until the bird starts to release its own juices. However, there is also the side effect that braising in stock will increase the flavour of the bird. Try it and find out.

      Don’t forget that remaining liquid can be kept for future stock/soup or made into gravy (what I did) so it is not really wasted.

  15. Thank you, Greg. Mine is the CPC-600, so I’m not sure it is the same as the 610. In one place my manual says to use 1 cup for meats cooking 45 or less but it has a chicken recipe in the cookbook that came with it that only uses 1/2 cup of liquid. It says to use 1/2 for all vegetables. So, it is rather confusing.

  16. I looked up the CPC-610 and it is different from mine. I guess I’d better stick with the one cup of liquid. Thank you for your help.

    1. Ann, if you’re up to the adventure you can try using 1/2 cup. And what I mean for “adventure” is getting something not perfectly ready for dinner at the expected time. Generally, I do recommend calculating some liquid from meat or veggies as part of the cooking liquid for a recipe. However, it depends on how quickly that liquid is released. I have tested this with various cuts of meat and nearly every vegetable imaginable but I have not tested this on a whole chicken (mainly because brined chickens are not available in Italy). BUT don’t do the chicken without any liquid at all – you still need a little something to get the pressure party started. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  17. Thank you, Laura. I may try a chicken from a different source. I just don’t remember chickens releasing this much water in the past, but this has happened in the last couple of years, no matter whether I cook it in the oven or pressure cooker.

    Is there a difference in the chicken if you have a larger amount of liquid in the PC? In other words, will the chicken cook differently if there is 2 cups of liquid instead of 1 cup of liquid? I really could not believe that the liquid had more than doubled when I opened the PC.

  18. I have a Fagor Lux 8 qt. pressure cooker, so I don’t really have a problem getting a 6 lb. chicken to fit. I do a couple of things to make getting the beast out of the cooker easily, though. I use a rack and cooking twine. I put my veg in the pot, add my liquid then I take the chicken and tie it loosely to the cooking rack with cooking twine and put that on top of the veg. When it’s time to take it out, all I need to do is pick it up by the “easy carry handles” and plop it on my cutting board. Since the rack is supporting the bottom of the chicken, it doesn’t fall apart, and since the handles are twine, they aren’t hot. Then I cover it with foil for about 10 to 15 minutes while I make my pan sauce. No muss, no fuss!

    1. Thanks for sharing your chicken technique and welcome, Snafoo!

      Ciao,

      L

  19. Perfect! I need to buy a smaller chicken next time and add a little less liquid.

    Do you happen to know of a good butter chicken pressure cooker recipe as well? My go-to recipe right now is the Chicken and Rice one-pot-meal.

    1. I’m working on one for the next cookbook – but in the meanwhile this might be worth a shot…
      http://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/pressure-cooker-indian-butter-chicken/

      Leave a comment to let us know which other recipes you try!

      Ciao,

      L

  20. How do you adjust timings for a bigger chicken?

  21. Actually, I just kinda “wing it”. (Since it’s chicken, please excuse the pun) Laura’s instructions for a 4 lb. chicken are cooking it for 25 minutes. I’d guesstimate maybe 5 minutes per pound extra. I usually cook my 6 lb. beasts for 35-40 minutes, so that’s about right. If it seems like it’s not done enough, you can always put it in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes whilst you make your gravy/pan sauce and it should be fine. It would also help to crisp up the skin! It’s basically what ever works THAT DAY with THAT CHICKEN because there are so many variables like “how cold was the chicken when you put it in the cooker” or “what’s the weather like today”. Cooking isn’t an exact science and what works one day doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the same the next day.

  22. Hi Laura I made this recipe tonight and found that I had to cook it 5 extra minutes and it was perfect.

    I left out the lemon juice and zest and instead of using your spice rub I used a rub similar to Mrs. Dash since I was going to be making gravy with the liquid(after removing the fat).

    I made your recipe for mashed potatoes(which I must say came out delicious). I used the water from the potatoes and the chicken liquid and added a bit of corn starch and presto great tasting gravy. I also pressure cooked a pepper squash to add to our dinner.

    I shredded the chicken and placed it on top of the mashed potatoes and poured the great tasting gravy and wow what a great dinner. My husband prefers his shredded chicken on a slice of white bread and then pour on the gravy. Either way everything turned out delicious.

    Hot chicken sandwiches thanks to you. Thanks again for sharing.

    Mil

    1. Hi Mil, what a delicious dinner. Yes, this recipe is designed to keep the chicken from falling apart so it is just-cooked. For fall-off-the-bone chicken to shred you did *exactly* the right thing. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Ciao,

      L

  23. Hi Laura. Thanks for replying. I like to give credit where credit is due. I won’t feel as confident as I do if it wasn’t for you. From your food recipes to your desserts everything is right on. Thank you.

    Mil

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