Today, I’m sharing a recipe from The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook, as well as some of the best Instant Pot accessories to get the job done. The recipe is printed here with a couple twists: 1.) I’ve adapted it for the 8-quart Instant Pot, and 2.) when I made it, I didn’t have caramelized onions on hand. I used the variation that starts with a whole onion, instead. If you’re more of a last-minute type, this is the version for you!
A whole chicken is simply seasoned, and it’s seared so it gets nice and brown and also contributes lots of savory flavor to the onion gravy that cooks at the same time.
The best part of this recipe (and the best reason for using the Instant Pot) is the gravy. It’s flavored with thyme and a splash of wine, with subtle sweetness from the onions. Ladle some of it on top of the chicken before serving, and use the extra to top mashed potatoes or stuffing. If you have any gravy left over, it makes a delicious addition to soups and stews.
With a 6-quart Instant Pot, you can definitely cook a whole chicken, but you’ll want to keep it on the small side — the chicken should be 4 pounds or less for the best results. That size is referred to as a broiler-fryer. If you have an 8-quart pot, you can cook a whole chicken that’s up to 6 pounds, also known as a roaster. If all I can find at the supermarket are bigger chickens, I bust out my bigger Instant Pot!
You’ll need a few tools to get the job done:
Tongs — A pair of tongs are the best tool for flipping the bird when you’re giving it that initial sear. Either a plain stainless steel or silicone-coated pair will work well.
Sautéing Spatula — I imagine you’ve got some of these around already! Any spatula that’s sturdy enough to scrape browned bits off the bottom of the pot will work.
Pressure Cooker Sling — You can use the wire metal steam rack that comes with your Instant Pot, or to make things even easier, get the one from OXO! It’s the best sling I’ve found for lifting pans and dishes out of the pot, and it acts as a steam rack too, since it keeps the food about an inch off of the pot bottom. This way, you can have your gravy cooking right under the chicken, then easily lift out the bird when it’s done.
Instant Read Thermometer — Once you open the pot, for safety’s sake, it’s most prudent to take the chicken’s temperature to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. Most sources say to cook poultry to at least 165ºF, though I’ve seen packaging that says 185ºF, too. If the bird has not reached a safe temperature, put it back in and let it cook under pressure for another few minutes.
Fat Separator — Having one of these is key for recipes where you’re cooking any meat or poultry that will render out some fat. My favorite OXO model was actually inspired by medical device, and the technology is so well-suited for this super-cool kitchen tool. You squeeze the handle to release the cooking liquid from a valve on the bottom, and release your grip to close it again.
Immersion Blender — for the smoothest, most lump-free gravy, I blend in the flour rather than whisking it. An immersion blender comes in handy for all kinds of other sauces, too. I use mine to make mayonnaise, aioli, and vinaigrettes.
Now that you know which tools you’ll need for cooking a whole chicken in the Instant Pot, let’s talk a little bit about this recipe! Since it’s adapted for the 8-quart pot, I added an extra 3/4 cup of broth, as well as another ½ tablespoon of flour. I also shortened some of the sauté times — the larger surface area of the biggest Instant Pot makes ingredients cook a bit more quickly. If you want to make it in a 6-quart pot, look at the recipe note for a couple of modifications.
Instant Pot Whole Chicken with Onion Gravy
- 5 lb Chicken
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ¼ teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral oil with high smoke point
- 1 large yellow onion sliced
- ½ cup dry red or white wine
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Tuck the wing tips under the wings, 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.
- Place the pressure cooker sling on a dish with the handles unclasped and set aside.
- Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil for about 2 minutes, until shimmering. Swirl the oil around to make sure it coats the bottom of the pot. Using tongs, lower the chicken, back-side down, into the pot and sear for about 5 minutes, until browned. (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. And hey, even if the skin on the breast side tears, I like to carve the chicken before serving so it’ll look great either way!) Flip the chicken onto its breast side and sear for about 5 minutes more, until browned. Use the tongs to transfer the chicken to the pressure cooker sling on the dish and set aside.
- Add the onion to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes, until it softened.
- Add the wine and thyme to the pot and use a wooden spoon to nudge loose any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the chicken broth and tomato paste. Clasp the handles of the pressure cooker sling together and use it to lower the chicken into the pot.
- Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Poultry,Pressure Cook, or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 20 minutes at high pressure. (The pot will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)
- When the cooking program ends, perform a quick pressure release by moving the Pressure Release to Venting. Open the pot and, wearing heat-resistant mitts, grab the handles of the sling and lift the chicken out of the pot. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest.
- Wearing the mitts, lift out the inner pot and pour the cooking liquid into a fat separator or a bowl. Pour the liquid from the fat separator back into the inner pot, or, if using a bowl, skim off the fat with a ladle or spoon, then pour the liquid back into the inner pot. Discard the fat. Add the flour to the inner pot and, using an immersion blender, blend until no flour lumps remain. You may need to tilt the pot so the blender head is fully submerged in the liquid.
- Return the inner pot to the housing, then stir the caramelized onions into the cooking liquid. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Sauté setting. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes, until thickened. Immediately press the Cancel button to turn off the pot. Taste the gravy and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.
- Carve the chicken, arrange on a platter, and spoon the gravy over the top. Serve immediately.
Thank you so much to OXO for sponsoring this post today!