How To Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot (for easy meal prep!)
Do you know how to cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot? If not, I’m going to teach you how! Once you do this as part of your meal prep, you can add the meat to soups, use it for chicken salad or topping salads, have chicken tacos, and more!
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I realize this post may seem like a no-brainer. I mean, c’mon… who doesn’t know how to cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot?
But, you might not. And that’s ok. 😉
I talk about cooking whole chickens in the Instant Pot A LOT. Many of my best Instant Pot soup recipes start with a whole chicken cooked, then de-boned.
I talk about cooking whole chickens as part of using your Instant Pot to meal prep.
Wouldn’t you say it’s high time I showed you how?
Why Cooking A Whole Chicken Is Such a Big Deal…
It’s just a whole chicken… Nothing to sing and dance about, right?
Yet, that whole chicken is the start of many things:
- Use the broth as a meat broth to make a soup or drink.
- Take the meat off the bones, then cook the bones to make bone broth.
- That de-boned meat can become a chicken salad or the chicken you add to a leafy green salad.
- Season that meat for chicken tacos or add it at the end of cooking a stir-fry.
- Add it to soups, too.
And that’s a big deal. 😉
When you’ve got that broth and meat cooked and in your fridge, the possibilities are endless, Momma.
Your life just got a whole lot easier!
How To Prep a Whole Chicken for Cooking
It goes without saying that using an organic, pastured chicken is best. That sort of bird is going to be the most nourishing and flavorful.
Free-range chicken is second best, and it’s fine if that’s what you can find or afford.
Your chicken should be completely thawed before cooking. (At least, I’m giving directions for a completely thawed bird. If your chicken isn’t completely thawed, you will likely need to increase the cooking time so that it cooks all the way through.)
Many whole chickens come with a small plastic bag inside the cavity of the bird. This bag contains the neck, giblets, and sometimes, the liver.
You can discard these items, or you can add them to your cooking process. It’s up to you. (FYI: I typically discard it.)
Before placing the whole chicken in the stainless steel insert of your Instant Pot, it’s a good idea to give it a quick rinse under running water.
And, that’s it! No cutting or anything else involved. The whole thing just goes right into the pot!
Should You Add Veggies or Herbs?
I don’t. 🙂 The point of this is to cook the chicken, and the bonus is that you also get some meat broth out of the deal.
Unless you have veggie scraps that you’re dying to use in some way, it’s not necessary to add veggies or herbs when cooking a whole chicken in the Instant Pot.
In fact, I don’t even add veggies or herbs to my water when making bone broth!
How To Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot
Once the bird is inside the stainless steel insert, simply add water to the pot.
Use enough water to almost submerge the chicken.
I’m not going to give you exact measurements here, because it doesn’t really matter how much water you use. Make sure you don’t add so much water that you over-fill the pot, however.
This prevents it from coming to pressure and/or you might have a sputtering mess on your hands when you release the pressure valve.
Make sure your sealing ring is in place before putting the lid on the Instant Pot.
When the lid is on, seal the vent.
Press the “Manual” (or “Pressure Cook” on newer models) button.
Then, adjust the time to 40 minutes on high pressure.
It may take up to 20 minutes for the pot to pressurize. This is normal. Go put your feet up, read a book, take a nap. 🙂
As soon as the pot beeps to let you know that the cooking time has come to an end, immediately release the pressure.
Very carefully open your Instant Pot.
It is helpful to have some tongs and a plate or baking dish ready to remove the chicken from the meat broth.
Remove the chicken, all skin, and bones from the meat broth.
You may find it helpful to go through the broth a few times with a fine mesh strainer to get out any fat bits, bones, small pieces of skin, or sediment.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, take the meat off the bones.
How To Use Meat Broth
A meat broth differs from bone broth.
First, it’s obviously the water that you cooked your whole chicken in, but you didn’t cook it for as long as a bone broth.
This meat broth is very flavorful and should be used, not discarded.
You can immediately use it to make a soup. Or, you can wait until it’s cooled and transfer it to jars and refrigerate for later.
You can definitely drink it just as you would bone broth.
Second, because of the shorter cooking time, your meat broth will likely not “gel” like a typical bone broth. It doesn’t contain as much gelatin as bone broth.
But, sometimes, mine gels and that’s cool!
Again, you should still use it!
What to Do With the Bones After You’ve De-Boned the Chicken?
That’s easy! Save them and make bone broth, of course!
The bones of one chicken won’t make a lot of bone broth because you’ll need to use only enough water to cover the bones and no more.
Or, you can save the bones — like in your freezer — until you’ve cooked a few whole chickens, and then make a larger batch of bone broth.
Finally, you can use the one carcass and add chicken feet to make a lovely, gelatinous broth that’s so nourishing and yummy.
Here are my 6 Tips for Bone Broth That Gels Every Time!
Well, that’s it!
Pretty quick and painless, huh? 😉
Now that you know how to cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot, you can do it once a week as part of your meal prep.
Remember, when you’ve got that cooked chicken at your fingertips, you’re one step closer to a faster, easier dinner!
Here are a few of my favorite recipes that start with cooked and de-boned chicken:
- Nourishing Mexican Chicken Soup
- Chicken, Bacon, & Kale Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Instant Pot Green Chile Chicken Chowder (This recipe calls for whole chicken thighs, but you can omit the thighs and add the cooked whole chicken after the rest of the chowder has cooked.)
Use your cooked, de-boned chicken for chicken salad, topping a salad, flavor it for chicken tacos or enchiladas, toss it in any soup!
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