Yes, it's true. You can cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. Just keep in mind a couple of things: The chicken must weigh four pounds or less (essentially a broiler-fryer), and it won't come out with a crispy, crackling skin like it would from the oven. I find that the convenience and the speed of the Instant Pot make up for those two differences, as does the delicious mushroom sauce this chicken is served with.
Instant Pot Chicken & the Gift of Mushroom Sauce
Instant Pot chicken isn't trying to moonlight as roast chicken — and since it's so juicy and tender, there's no reason it needs to. Instead, we can have both. This recipes yields a generous amount of mushroom sauce, which is a good thing. Made from the baby portobello mushrooms and onions cooked in the rendered chicken fat, the sauce is great for spooning on mashed potatoes (which you can, of course, make in the Instant Pot as well).
Get the recipe: Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
Instant Pot Chicken with Mushroom Sauce
(3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken
freshly ground black pepper
avocado oil or other neutral oil with high smoke point
yellow onion, sliced
cremini mushrooms, sliced
clove garlic, chopped
low-sodium chicken broth
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Tuck the wings tips under, so they sit flat against the chicken, tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string, then season the chicken all over with the salt, pepper, and paprika.
Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil for 2 minutes. Swirl the oil around to make sure it coats the center of the pot. Using tongs, place the chicken into the pot breast-side up and sear undisturbed until browned, about 5 minutes. Some of the chicken skin may stick to the pot bottom, and that’s fine. This happens to me about half the time, which is why I sear it on the back side first. The sticking helps to form a protective layer on the pot so the skin on the breast side stays intact. Flip the chicken onto its breast side and sear until browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer it to a plate and set it aside.
Add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic to the pot and sauté until the onion has softened and the mushrooms have wilted and given up some of their liquid, about about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, thyme, and oregano and sauté for 2 minutes more to blend the flavors. Add the broth and stir well with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits from the pot bottom.
Place the trivet in the Instant Pot on top of the onions and mushrooms. Using the tongs, carefully place the chicken breast-side up onto the trivet. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Poultry setting and set the cooking time for 20 minutes at high pressure.
Perform a quick release by moving the Pressure Release to Venting. Open the pot and, wearing heat-resistant mitts, grab the arms of the trivet and lift the trivet with the chicken out of the pot. Transfer the chicken to a carving board to rest while you finish making the sauce.
Still wearing the mitts, lift the inner pot out of the Instant Pot and strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator or bowl. Set the mushrooms and onions aside. Pour the cooking liquid back into the inner pot and discard the fat, or scoop off the fat from the surface with a ladle or large spoon and discard.
Add the flour to the cooking liquid and, using an immersion blender, blend the flour into the cooking liquid, tilting the pot so the head of the blender is fully submerged in the liquid, until no lumps remain. (Alternatively, whisk the flour with 2 tablespoons of water until dissolved, then whisk into the cooking liquid until no lumps remain.) Stir the onions and mushrooms into the blended sauce.
Return the inner pot to the Instant Pot housing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Sauté setting. Let the sauce come to a boil and then cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Immediately press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot so the sauce does not overcook. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.
Carve the chicken and arrange on a platter. Spoon the mushroom sauce over the top and serve immediately.
Using frozen chicken: If you want to use a frozen chicken, thaw it fully before you try this method. People regularly ask me if they can cook a whole frozen chicken in the Instant Pot, and I always tell them they should plan on something else for dinner that night. They need to put the frozen bird in the fridge to defrost and then try this recipe in a day or two when the chicken is no longer frozen solid.
Salt levels: If you are using a brined chicken, you may want to use less salt (or none if you’re sensitive to sodium) when seasoning the chicken.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Reprinted with permission from The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook, by Coco Morante, copyright ©2017, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Images copyright © Colin Price, 2017.