Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner, Uncategorized
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Instant Pot Whole Chicken with Cajun Spice Rub

A whole chicken sprinkled with Cajun Spice Rub, on a plate, with more spice rub and some parsley in the background
Instant Pot Whole Chicken with Cajun Spice Rub

Instant Pot Whole Chicken with Cajun Spice Rub. Pressure cooking a whole chicken, with a spice rub to give it some kick. Bam!

How do I pressure cook a whole chicken?

I get this question from time to time, and I’ve always struggled to answer it. It’s hard to cook a whole chicken well. It’s the classic white meat vs dark meat conflict – white meat is lean and overcooks easily; dark meat is tough and needs to be cooked past well done to tenderize it.

That’s why my go-to pressure cooker chicken recipes use thighs, drumsticks, or the whole leg. They want to be pressure cooked. The breast meat, though? Not so much.

And yet, “a chicken in the pot” is tempting. After some tests, I realize that a whole chicken is not as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, the breast meat is overcooked – not a perfect, juicy 160°F. It’s a borderline 175°F. But the chicken is…good? The sealed environment of the pressure cooker traps liquid, which I think keeps the breast meat from completely drying out. And the legs and drumsticks are amazing – but I’m always a dark meat fan, so I may be biased.

Also, this recipe gives you a couple of cups of chicken broth in the bottom of the pot; perfect for drizzling on the chicken breast to moisten it.

Since I can’t make The Perfect Roast Chicken, I’m going with a simple chicken in a pot with a spice rub. Yes, the rub has a lot of ingredients – it’s worth it. But, if it seems like too much, look for a pre-mixed jar of “Cajun Seasoning” in your local grocery store.

Also, I’m taking the easy way out and skipping any sort of browning; check the notes if you want to add some finesse to the recipe by running it under the broiler.

Chicken in the Instant Pot – it’s not bad? It’s…good? And easy. And a convenient way to cook a whole chicken on a busy day. OK, it’s not the Perfect Roast Chicken…but I’m not going to turn it down, either.

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A whole chicken sprinkled with Cajun Spice Rub, on a plate, with more spice rub and some parsley in the background

Instant Pot Whole Chicken with Cajun Spice Rub

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 1 whole chicken 1x


Instant Pot Whole Chicken with Cajun Spice Rub. Pressure cooking a whole chicken, with a spice rub to give it some kick. Bam!


  • 1 (4-pound) whole chicken, giblets removed from the cavity
  • 1 cup water

Cajun Spice Rub (or 1 ½ tablespoons store-bought Cajun Seasoning)

  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cup granulated onion
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Mix the spices and season the chicken: Mix the Cajun Spice Rub spices in a small bowl until completely combined. Set 1 teaspoon of the rub aside for later, and sprinkle the remaining rub evenly over the chicken, inside and out. (My recipe for a big batch of this seasoning is here: Cajun Spice Rub)
  2. Chicken in the pot: Pour a cup of water into an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, then add the pressure cooker rack. Set the chicken on the rack, breast and legs up, backbone down.
  3. Pressure cook the chicken for 24 minutes with a 10 minute Natural Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook at high pressure for 24 minutes in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker, or for 20 minutes in a stovetop PC. (Use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot). Let the pressure come down naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure. Check the temperature of the chicken with an instant read thermometer – it needs to be be at least 160°F in the thickest part of the breast, and will probably be closer to 175°F. (If the chicken is not 160°F in the thickest part of the breast meat, lock the lid again and pressure cook at high pressure for 1 minute.)
  4. Carve and serve: Carefully lift the chicken out of the pot and transfer it to a cutting board. Let it rest for up to 5 minutes to cool down, then carve the chicken. (I cut it into 8 pieces – I cut the legs away from the bird, then cut them into drumsticks and thighs, then I cut the wings away from the bird, and finally I remove the breast meat from the carcass). Sprinkle the chicken with the 1 teaspoon of rub we set aside, serve, and enjoy!


Different sized birds: 6 minutes at high pressure per pound of chicken is a good rule of thumb. My 18 minutes/3 pound birds and 30 minutes/5 pound birds turned out well.

Optional step: Broil the chicken to brown the skin. The chicken skin will be pale straight out of the pressure cooker. If you want some browning on the skin, transfer the chicken to an oven safe frypan or a roasting pan, and slide it under your oven’s broiler. Broil until it is golden brown in spots, about 5 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler.

Broth: The liquid in the bottom of the pot is a light chicken broth. A trick is drizzling some of the broth over the chicken pieces, right before adding the last sprinkling of rub. 


  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot Whole Chicken with Cajun Spice Rub, Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken with Cajun Spice Rub

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts

Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
Instant Pot Quick Chicken Thighs
Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner, Uncategorized


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Vinnie Rochon says

    Hi Mike
    I love your receipies. My parents were from Louisiana and some of your receipies remind me of my Creole mother’s cooking. Of course she didn’t use a pressure cooker. 😉
    First of all, I have cooked a whole chicken in my Instant Pot a number of times and it always comes out delicious. One way I prevent the white meat from drying out or having an overcooked taste is to use a meat syringe and inject some of the seasonings combined with some broth into the breast using my largest needle then I add the rub all over the bird. This results in the meat being juicy and very tasty. My husband is a dark meat eater but he devoured the chicken, including the white meat. I served this with your pinto bean recipe, rice and instant Pot yams.
    Absolutelyy wonderful Sunday dinner.
    Thank you for sharing your receipies.

  2. KatJoe says

    Thank you for your honesty! IP whole chicken is not as good as roasted in the oven chicken. Yet, in late July, it is a welcome compromise to running the oven for hours. The spices in your recipe make all the difference. Agree with you that the IP seals in the moisture, so the breast meat is still quite good, if a bit “over”.

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