Cooking a frozen whole chicken in the Instant Pot in under an hour is one of my absolute favourite Instant Pot uses!
It’s 4 pm and the whole chicken you planned on using for dinner is still in the freezer. Do you panic? Get takeout? Whip up a hasty spaghetti sauce instead (for the 4th time this month)?
Nope, because thanks to your Instant Pot you’ve totally got this. Throw that solidly frozen whole chicken in the Instant Pot and you’ve got dinner in less than an hour. Whip up some sour cream mashed potatoes to go with it and dinner is in the bag.
Or, Instant Pot, we should say. (And yes, this little wonder is officially in the running for A Few of My Favorite Things – along with leggings, coffee, and dry shampoo.)
P.S. This entire post may or may not be autobiographical in nature. 😉
Instant Pot Frozen Whole Chicken
In my pre Instant Pot days, cooking a whole roast chicken from frozen took at least 48 hours of planning ahead.
- Take the chicken out of the freezer
- Defrost in the fridge for a few days
- Make sure to start roasting the chicken by early afternoon so it was done by suppertime.
Thankfully I can throw that list out the window now!
Whole Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot? For real?!
The Instant Pot can cook a whole chicken that’s frozen solid in less than an hour. It’s a dadgum miracle, I tell you. And this recipe is super handy since I typically make a whole chicken every week so I’m stocked up on homemade bone broth.
Not only is this recipe a time saver, it’s delicious to boot. The fact it’s healthy and full of protein, nourishing fats, and joint, hair, and nail supporting collagen is icing on the cake.
You’ll also find high amounts of selenium, B vitamins, zinc, phosphorous, and vitamin A.
How Long to Bake a Whole Chicken Frozen
It depends on the size of the bird, but a frozen whole chicken in the oven can take well over 2 hours. According to the USDA it’s safe to cook a frozen bird low and slow, like in a slow cooker, but there’s a catch. The end result can be on the rubbery side.
Cooking it in the Instant Pot, though, is not only faster, but you get amazing results every time! The meat is perfectly tender every single time.
Can I Cook a Frozen Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot Without Thawing?
Yes, you certainly can! Fresh chicken cook time is about 6-7 minutes per pound in the Instant Pot. For each pound of frozen chicken you’ll add an extra 5 minutes.
How Do You Cook a Frozen Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot?
One delicious step at a time.
It helps to rinse the chicken first so the spices stick to the skin. You can also rub the skin with a generous helping of butter or oil first, but it’s not necessary.
I also use a trivet in the bottom of the pot here and a natural release instead of a quick release. This helps the frozen whole chicken in the Instant Pot stay tender and juicy! Pressure cooking really is a great way to cook meat, but you need to remember to always do a natural release to lock those juices in.
You will be using the Manual or Pressure Cook setting on your Instant Pot, which defaults to High Pressure. Just keep that in mind when recipes mention high pressure that if you are using Manual, you are all set!
How long should you cook frozen chicken in the instant pot?
My rule of thumb is about 10 minutes per pound.
- 3 lbs frozen whole chicken, 30 minutes.
- 4 lbs frozen whole chicken, 40 minutes.
- 5 lbs frozen whole chicken, 50 minutes.
Just be sure the chicken isn’t too big to fit into your inner pot! You can also reheat frozen rotisserie chicken in the Instant Pot.
- Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of the Instant Pot and then put a trivet in. (You always need liquid for Instant Pot cooking!)
- Place the leftover rotisserie chicken on the trivet, seal and steam for 5 minutes. Do a quick pressure release.
How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot if it’s Pieces Instead of Whole?
If you don’t have a full chicken, but you have other cuts of meat, here’s how to cook frozen chicken cuts. Keep in mind this is only the actual countdown timer, and not the coming up and release of the total time.
- Frozen whole chicken 10 minutes per pound, 15 minutes natural pressure release.
- Frozen chicken breasts 15-20 minutes for 1-2 pounds, quick release.
- Frozen chicken cuts bone in (legs, thighs, etc.) 15-20 minutes for 1-2 pounds, quick release.
- Frozen chicken cuts bone in (legs, thighs, etc.) 17-22 minutes for 2.5-3 pounds, quick release.
How to Store Instant Pot Whole Chicken Leftovers
Any leftovers can safely be stashed in the refrigerator for 5-6 days in a tightly-covered container. You can also put the leftover chicken meat in the freezer for up to 3 months.
I don’t let any part of this chicken go to waste. Once my family is done eating the meat (we can down a whole bird in one meal), I throw the carcass back in the Instant Pot to make chicken broth.
If your family doesn’t eat quite as much chicken, the leftovers make great shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches. Add it to Easy Chicken Noodle Soup or make chicken salad.
Get Crispy Skin!
The only downside to the electric pressure cooker method is the chicken skin doesn’t get nice and crispy like it does in the oven. However, there’s an easy fix for that.
After your chicken is done transfer it to a glass baking dish or a baking sheet. Apply a layer of olive oil or melted butter to the top of the chicken and broil until golden brown. It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it if you’re a crispy skin fan.
I also know you can get an air fryer lid for several Instant Pot models, but I haven’t tried that. After cooking and pressure release, you simply swap lids and brown the chicken right there!
Supplies Needed for Cooking Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot
Obviously for an Instant Pot Chicken recipe you’ll need an Instant Pot. I also recommend using a trivet at the bottom (my instant pot came with one), plus a meat thermometer to check the final temp. The USDA recommends meat that’s cooked to 165 degrees.
Here’s what I recommend:
I absolutely love my 8 quart for our family of 6. (But if you have a smaller household, the 6qt is the most popular option!)
I love this meat thermometer, and use it several times a week! The probe can go into the oven with the meat, while the display sits outside of the oven and beeps at your target temp.
Bottom line? Cooking frozen chicken in the Instant Pot is totally doable and totally delicious!
What To Serve With an Instant Pot Chicken
Chicken goes with just about anything, but here are a few family favorite side dishes.
- Sour cream mashed potatoes
- Perfect homemade French fries
- Maple baked beans
- Thai mango salad with cashew ginger dressing
- Air Fryer Broccoli (Crispy and Perfect)
Looking for more posts like this one? Check these out:
- 19 Easy (Real Food) Instant Pot Recipes for Hesitant Beginners
- 4 Things I Learned About My Instant Pot in the First 6 Months
- Quick Healthy Meals Ultimate Guide (101 Tips, Recipes, and Strategies)
How to Cook a Frozen Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot
Instant Pot Whole Chicken (from frozen)
- 1 whole chicken, frozen
- salt & pepper
- herbs and spices of your choice dried or fresh
- My rule of thumb with frozen whole chicken in the instant pot is 10 minutes per pound, so I’d cook a 3-pound chicken for 30 minutes, a 4-pounder for 40 minutes, and so on. (For a fresh chicken, I’d do 6-7 minutes per pound.)
- Place frozen whole chicken in the instant pot on the trivet. (You don’t need to bother cooking the meat in the liquid, as I typically do in the oven, because the Instant Pot makes perfectly moist chicken every time.)
- Add salt and pepper, seasonings of choice.
- Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup water (depending on the size of your chicken. Minimum half a cup is important in order for the instant pot to function correctly.).
- Set timer to appropriate time on manual mode (see first instruction above). Allow pressure to NPR (natural pressure release), and serve.
- Use the remaining liquid for gravy.
5 minutes hands on time for a super delicious, tender bird. I served with a savory homemade barbecue sauce and potatoes and salad… so much better than a recipe I did a month ago that had fresh herbs and butter under the skin and had to be pre-browned and took ~25 minutes prep time. Go figure! Thank you!
I don’t know what happened but I put a 3 pound chicken in for 30 minutes and it wasn’t even close to cooked. I’ve seen other recipes that say 50 minutes for a 3 pound bird. I should have gone with that! Anyway, I put it in for another 20 minutes.
Thank you for the recipe. Which way do you put the chicken in the instant pot?
I can’t find if this is to be cooked on high pressure?
Yes, high pressure! Sorry I didn’t specify (I didn’t think to, since high is default). I’ll update the post to be more specific for anyone else wondering. 🙂
This post made me laugh! I can totally relate… I’ve been doing frozen legs, frozen ground beef, frozen thighs and even some thinner frozen roasts in the IP for awhile now, and you’re right, it’s like a freaking miracle! I can’t believe how my forgetfulness can still manage to produce a moist, tender dinner in short order thanks to my Instant Pot. But, I have always been afraid to try a frozen whole chicken. This post has encouraged me to give it a try!
It really is so easy!! I hope it goes well for you. Let me know! 🙂
How do yo get the bag of organs out of the cavity before cooking it if it’s frozen?
Love this simple recipe! 6 lb frozen chicken in 60 minutes manual…came out so tender and juicy. Thank you!
Hurray! Glad it worked for you. Gotta love the Instant Pot!
I’m using Old Bay Crab Boil seasoning on my whole chicken. Wonder if it’ll be good…
Cooked my frozen 4.75lb chicken for fifty minutes. It wasn’t quite done so I put it back for twenty minutes longer. It was amazing! After eating I took the rest of the chicken off the plate and there was a little puddle of blood. Is that normal? No one is sick.
Hi Debbie! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! To answer your question, as long as your temps were good, you’re good! I’m guessing the puddle wasn’t blood but a watery red liquid which actually comes from the meat’s myoglobin. If you let the meat rest for about 10 minutes after coming out of the Instant Pot, you’re less likely to see an unsightly puddle as the moisture will get reabsorbed into the meat and make it even juicier. Hope that helps!
Thank you so much! My husband loved the chicken. That was my first time using a pressure cooker. I’m hooked!
I did your recipe tonight and couldn’t believe how much flavour there was to a frozen chicken that wasn’t seasoned until ready for the Instant Pot. I did use other spices and garlic and since my chicken was small, I used the trivet. I just wanted to offer an additional step. Put the chicken on a foil-lined or parchment lined baking sheet and put it in the oven under the broiler for 3 minutes or so (mine started to sizzle). That makes the skin a little crispy and better tasting.
I’m so glad you enjoyed, Sue! Thanks for the comment. 🙂
I read somewhere that if the water you put into the Instantpot is already hot/boiling, it will go faster to come to pressure. I have used this tip many times whenever I am to add water while using the trivet in the IP. I just turn on my electric tpot while I am prepping ingredients, and once it boils, I sneak it down under the trivet by pouring it along side the chicken I have already put on the trivet.
Kim Vander Helm
I have a chicken that is just under 6 pounds. Is that to big for the smaller Instant Pot (I think my is a 7 quart)?
Hmm. It might be. A 4-5 pound chicken is usually recommended. You could always leave the packaging on and check it. If it won’t fit, the store should exchange it for another.
I know this post is old, but in case someone else is needing the same info, there’s no 7 quart Instant Pot. There’s a 6 and 8. Someone just posted on another site she did a turkey that was a little over 7 lbs. in her 6 qt.
UPDATE to my previous post. I bought a 7+ lb. turkey because I heard it could be done in an IP. Not only wouldn’t it fit in the IP, but wouldn’t fit in my slow cooker either. I was so disappointed. Asked for help from both my IP and slow cooker communities and ended up doing a spatchcock (looks like it’s been run over, lol) method in the oven. It turned out fantastic. When I posted about the size problem, I had someone reply who cooked a 6.5 lb turkey breast in a 6 qt. IP without a problem. That’s what I’ll try next.
What about the giblets? They are usually in a bag inside, how do you get them out if the chicken is frozen?
There are several brands that don’t come with giblets. It should say right on the packaging.
Turned out perfect, with all giblets inside, it was falling off & so tender, moist. Love this machine!
hi tonya, that’s what i was thinking, just leave the giblet bag in…it’s paper, right, so how how could it hurt? it probably makes the broth more flavorful anyways, just like at Thanksgiving making stuffing and gravy, right? 🙂 thanks for posting, it put my mind at ease!
That’s what I want to know. Most come with that andit doesn’t always state that on the packaging. I don’t want to cook a bag of organs.
Reach in and pull it out.