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BBQ Instant Pot Whole Chicken

5 Reviews

Ready in less than an hour, this Instant Pot whole chicken recipe is a life saver on busy weeknights. It’s great as is, but you can also shred the bbq chicken to enjoy atop sandwiches, salads, and more!

A red and white checkered napkin under a grey plate with a bbq instant pot whole chicken on top!

Instant Pot Whole Chicken Recipe

Cade and I have been so busy finishing our basement that it’s been really difficult to fix dinner, and especially to want to take pictures of it and then write out a blog post.

This BBQ Instant Pot whole chicken has been such a lifesaver because it makes 2-3 meals for us from just one day of cooking and a recipe that usually takes hours will now only take you 45 min. That’s like running to the store for a rotisserie chicken without ever leaving the house! 

Our Smoky BBQ Rub from Cade’s World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork is making another appearance in this pressure cooker whole chicken recipe, and you really should just go ahead and keep some in a jar at all times, just like you do our Homemade Taco Seasoning. We use it all the time and we don’t have to go through the hassle of mixing it all up again.

A red and white checkered napkin under a grey plate with a bbq instant pot whole chicken on top!

Instant Pot Whole Chicken Ingredients

This bbq whole chicken requires just four ingredients. We love having simple recipes like this on hand for busy workweeks! Here’s what we used to make this Instant Pot whole chicken:

What Size Whole Chicken Should I Use?

The size and weight of your whole chicken will largely depend upon the size of Instant Pot you have. Because we have the Instant Pot 7 in 1 6 Qt, we use around a 4-pound bird.

How to Cook a Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot

Cooking a whole chicken in an Instant Pot seriously couldn’t be simpler! Here’s how we make this pressure cooker whole chicken on busy weeknights:

  1. Start your chicken by rubbing it all over, and under the skin, with the BBQ Dry Rub.
  2. Drizzle some oil in your Instant Pot. Turn it to the sauté function and allow it to heat up.
  3. Place the whole chicken in the Instant Pot.
  4. Cook for a few minutes until golden and turn over, browning the other side.
  5. Pour in the liquids and close the lid.
  6. Set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure and cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Allow the pot to do a release for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Where to Check the Temperature on a Whole Chicken

We’ve seen too many cooks plunge a thermometer into the breast of a chicken to not talk about where to check the temperature on a whole chicken. Check the temperature of a whole chicken by placing a thermometer into the meatiest section of the leg. The leg should register 165 degrees F, though thigh meat can handle being a little more overcooked — in fact, it gets more tender when it’s 160 degrees F versus 155.

The breast should be at 160 degrees F if you do check it there.

A red and white checkered napkin under a grey plate with a bbq instant pot whole chicken on top!

How to Defrost a Whole Chicken

You can defrost frozen chicken in cool water in a dish as long as it’s moved to the fridge within two hours. Because I don’t want to set a reminder I usually put it on a plate in the fridge a couple days ahead of time. It’s really just the easiest way.

Can a Whole Chicken be Defrosted in the Microwave?

NO. Please, please don’t defrost any meat at all in a microwave no matter what the settings say that they can do. The meat will start to defrost in some places while the others are frozen solid which means that as it continues to spin in the microwave it will now begin to cook as well, and that’s just asking for food poisoning.

I have had food poisoning twice. It’s no bueno. I literally wanted to curl up and die. Cade has a stomach of steel and nothing phases him so he has no empathy.

How Long to Defrost a Whole Chicken

Alright, we know what not to do, but how do you defrost a whole chicken? You stick that sucker in the fridge for like 2 days. And I’m serious.

Well, there’s more to it than that. Those fryer chickens, the ones that are smaller, those can actually defrost in as little as 24 hours. A bigger roaster chicken can take up to 3 days. That’s when planning ahead is a must. Remember, no one wants to be in the fetal position on a nasty bathroom floor with food poisoning.

Tips for Making an Instant Pot Whole Chicken

First, remember to well season the bird both under and over the skin as a pressure cooker is cooking things fast, but it’s not changing the flavor so make sure you season well.

Second, brown the skin a little before cooking it, not for texture but for color, otherwise the bird looks pale.

Now be warned, an Instant Pot will not create crispy chicken skin, so if that’s something you like you’ll have to pop that bird under a broiler to crisp the skin.

And if you want an awesome resource for making all the basics in the Instant Pot, check out our Instant Pot Cheat Sheet!

BBQ Instant Pot Whole Chicken

A red and white checkered napkin under a grey plate with a bbq instant pot whole chicken on top!

BBQ Instant Pot Whole Chicken

4.41 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Ready in less than an hour, this Instant Pot whole chicken recipe is a life saver on busy weeknights. It's great as is, but you can also shred the bbq chicken to enjoy atop sandwiches, salads, and more!

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Prepare the bbq rub and massage it both under and over the skin.
  • Drizzle some oil in your Instant Pot.
  • Turn it on to the saute function and allow it to heat up.
  • Place the whole chicken, breast side down, in the Instant Pot. If it is too big to lay down flat you'll have to brown the skin on the stove top in a large skillet.
  • Cook for a few minutes until golden and turn over, browning the other side.
  • You can leave the chicken in the pot, or we like to use the Trivet so it isn't sitting in the liquid.
  • Pour in the liquids and close the lid.
  • Set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Allow the Instant Pot to do a slow release for 5-10 minutes and then remove the lid and enjoy!

Notes

  • If you're using a chicken bigger than 4 pounds you may need up to 10 minutes more of cooking time. Watch the internal temperature by watching the instant read thermometer after the initial cook time and make sure the thigh hits the correct temperature according to the information in the post above.
Nutrition Facts
BBQ Instant Pot Whole Chicken
Amount Per Serving (4 ounces)
Calories 318 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 109mg36%
Sodium 102mg4%
Potassium 288mg8%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 27g54%
Vitamin A 203IU4%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 16mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

A red and white checkered napkin under a grey plate with a bbq instant pot whole chicken on top!

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About the authors

Cheney Family

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

Leave a comment

8 comments

  • The chicken was seasoned to perfection and the meat was just falling off of the bones. It was delicious! I made a wonderful gravy from the drippings/apple juice as well. Thank you!

    • Reply
    • Yay! Love to hear this! So glad you enjoyed it!

      • Reply
  • Hello, Is 1/3 cup of apple juice (or broth) enough liquid? I thought 1 cup is the minimum for any instapot recipe?

    Thank you

    • Reply
    • Yep, that’s all you need! You’ll get a lot of liquid that comes off the chicken too while it cooks.

      • Reply
  • Hi Carrian, looking forward to trying this recipe. If I don’t have applejuice, what other liquid would you recommend using?

    • Reply
    • Hey Carrie! Chicken broth will work great! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • Step 7 says “pour in the liquids”, yet the recipe does not list any liquids. What gets added?

    • Reply
  • I’ve never used my instant pot before now. You keep saying add liquids but don’t say what liquid or how much?!? I don’t understand how I can make it without all the information?

    • Reply

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