Instant Pot Whole Tandoori Chicken

November 20, 2019 (Updated: November 24, 2019) By Aneesha |

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see disclosures.

Tender, juicy and packed with flavor, here’s a fail-proof pressure cooker recipe for Whole Tandoori Chicken, a classic Indian style Roasted Chicken. Enjoy this low-carb, keto-friendly and gluten-free recipe which gives amazing results with very little effort.

A whole roasted Tandoori Chicken on a grey platter

Delicious Low-Carb, High-Protein Entree

One thing that I have learnt in my journey of eating low-carb food, is that FLAVOR is king. I have noticed that if I have a dish that is oozing with flavor, I don’t miss the carbs at all, and feel completely content at the end of a meal.

Thanks to marination and pressure cooking, this Tandoori chicken turns out extremely juicy and flavorful. It’s not only low-carb, but ALSO high in protein, which makes it ideal for a low-carb or Keto diet.

The Tandoori marinade calls for 3 tablespoons of yogurt for the whole chicken, so, if you’re following a strict Keto diet, feel free to skip that, or, replace it with coconut cream, which is the top creamy layer in an unshaken coconut milk can.

What is Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori (pronounced Tun-Doori) chicken is an Indian spiced Roast Chicken, in which chicken is marinated with yogurt, aromatics, and assorted warm spices.

It is then roasted in the oven, or in a traditional clay oven, called Tandoor, which gives this dish its name.

Crisp Tandoori Chicken served with lime and cilantro on the side

Why Cook a Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot

When I first thought of making a whole chicken in the Instant Pot, I hesitated thinking I’ll have to brown it later in the oven anyway so why not make it in the oven.

BUT, when I tried it and compared the results, I was more than convinced.

Here are a few reasons why I love to cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot, or any comparable electric pressure cooker, like Mealthy Multipot.

  • Perfectly Moist and Juicy Chicken: This is the most compelling reason to pressure cook a whole chicken. Since the chicken cooks by steaming, the flavors of the marinade infuse in the meat, it retains all the moisture, and turns out super juicy.
  • Evenly Cooked: Even though a thermometer reading is recommended to ensure that the chicken has cooked through, a pressure cooker cooks the chicken very evenly in the same time, whether it’s breast meat or thighs.
  • Fail-proof recipe: If you follow the correct cooking time for the size of your bird, this is a fail-proof way of ensuring that chicken doesn’t come out dry, especially the breast.
  • No Monitoring Needed: This recipe is pretty hands-off and doesn’t need much monitoring. Once you put the chicken in the Instant Pot, you can forget about it and do other chores. Unlike the oven, where you have to tent the chicken, flip it mid-way, then brown it.

How Long Does a Whole Chicken Take to Cook in the Instant Pot

The actual cooking time for a whole chicken will vary based on its size. A rule of thumb that I follow is to cook the chicken 6 minutes per pound, and let it naturally release pressure for 15-20 minutes. This ensures moist and juicy chicken.

This rule applies to most other birds like Turkey, Cornish Hens, Duck etc.

Cooking time for Instant Pot Fresh Whole Chicken:

A table of cooking time of Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot

How to Cook Whole Roast Tandoori Chicken in the Instant Pot

Ingredients

Tandoori Marinade

These ingredients go in a classic Tandoori marinade, and can be used to flavor any meat or vegetables.

  • Plain or Greek Yogurt
  • Olive or Avocado oil
  • Ginger, grated or ground
  • Garlic, grated or ground
  • Lime juice, fresh is preferred
  • Spices- Salt, turmeric, Kashmiri Red Chili, Garam Masala, Ground Coriander, Ground Cumin (left to right in the picture)

Stuffing

These aromatics flavor the chicken from the inside.

  • 2 tablespoons of the marinade
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • Rinds of lime used for juice
  • Cilantro stems, washed and dried
Ingredients for making Whole Tandoori Chicken spread out on a black cutting board

Step by Step Instructions and Photos for Instant Pot Whole Tandoori Chicken

Prepare the Marinade and Prep the Chicken

  • In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, oil, lime juice, ginger, garlic and all the spices, and mix the marinade well. Keep aside.
  • If you are using food handling gloves, put them on. I highly recommend it, as not only does it keeps the whole process hygienic and mess-free, it also prevents the orange color from the turmeric and chili to get on your hands.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up. Lay the chicken on that and using paper towels, pat it dry.
  • Remove the bag of giblets from the chicken cavity. You can reserve it for making stock or gravy, I toss them away.
  • Using kitchen shears, trim the excess fat chunks around the cavity of the chicken. (pic 1)
  • Using a pastry brush, spread about 2 tbsp of the marinade in the cavity of the chicken. Then, stuff onions, used lime rinds and cilantro stems in there. (pic 2)
Trimming excess fat and stuffing chicken with onion, lime and cilantro

Marinate Chicken

  • Using the back of a tea spoon, loosen the skin from the meat creating a gap between the skin and meat. (pic 3)
  • Using the same spoon, insert and spread the marinade under the skin of the chicken, going under the breast and around the chicken legs. Invert the chicken and repeat on this side. (pic 4)
Inserting the marinade under the skin of the chicken
  • Now, using a pastry brush, liberally brush the tandoori marinade all over the chicken. Slather the chicken with leftover marinade. Invert the chicken and repeat on this side. (pic 5)
  • Using kitchen twine, tie together the legs of the chicken. This step is optional and makes for easy handling of the chicken. (pic 6)
Brush marinade liberally over the chicken and tie the legs with kitchen twine

Pressure Cook

  • Turn on the Instant Pot and pour 1 cup of water in the inner pot (2 cups for 8qt). Add onion, lime rinds and cilantro stems in the water. (Pic 7)
  • Place the chicken on the trivet and lower the trivet in the pot. I can easily fit a 4-6 lbs. bird in my 6 qt. I do not recommend a 3 qt for this recipe. (Pic 8)
Adding water in the Instant pot, inserting chicken placed on a trivet
  • Close the lid and set to manual or pressure cook for 30 mins (6 mins X weight of chicken). Ensure that the vent is at sealing position. (pic 9 & 10)
  • Once cooking is done, wait for the pressure to release for 15-20 mins, after which release remaining pressure manually. To do that in Duo models, simply turn the pressure vent to ‘venting’ position. In Ultra, press down on the pressure knob.
  • The chicken is fully cooked and can be served at this point. However, if you want to crisp the skin, follow this quick extra step.
Pressure cooking the whole chicken in Instant Pot

How to Get a Crispy Skin on Whole Tandoori Chicken

After pressure cooking and releasing pressure, the chicken is cooked and can be served as-is. BUT, if you’re a fan of crispy skin, you may want to do this extra step.

  • Place the cooked chicken on a lined baking tray. Turn on the oven on BROIL and adjust the top rack of the oven such that the chicken is about 2 inches under the broiler plates.
  • Using a fresh pastry brush, spread some oil, or melted butter, all over the chicken and broil for 3-5 mins, till most of the skin is browned.
  • If you’re cooking a small bird using an 8qt cooker, you can even use the Mealthy Crisplid to crisp the skin. I wouldn’t recommend using it in a 6qt cooker since the distance between the chicken and crisplid’s heating element won’t be enough.
Broiling the cooked chicken under the broiler for crisping the skin

How to Know When Chicken is Done

To ensure that the chicken is cooked through, insert a digital meat thermometer  in the meat near the inner thigh (between the leg and the breast), not touching the bone. If the thermometer reads >165°F, the chicken is done.

If it is below 165 degrees, place lid back on the pressure cooker and cook for additional time based on the time-chart above.

Whole Roasted Chicken on a black plate

What to Serve with Instant Pot Whole Tandoori Chicken

These are some of the dishes that pair really well with Whole Tandoori Chicken:

  • Cilantro Chutney mixed with plain or Greek yogurt (1:0.5 ratio).
  • Saffron Rice, saffron infused basmati rice.
  • Lemon Rice, lemony and nutty basmati rice dish.
  • Quinoa Tabbouleh, even though it’s not Indian, the refreshing flavors of this side compliment the chicken really well.
  • Green Beans Almondine, crisp vibrant green beans lightly sautéed, seasoned and garnished with toasted almond chips.
  • Honey Glazed carrots, this citrusy and slightly sweet carrots are a nice contrast to the spicy Tandoori flavors.
  • Cucumber Raita, a diced cucumber and yogurt relish that adds a cooling contrast to the warm spices in the chicken.

You Might Also Like: Tandoori Chicken Sliders

A plate of sliced tandoori Chicken with chutney and potatoes

Why is my Tandoori Chicken not Red

This is the most common question I get for my Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks recipe. Tandoori Chicken that is served in most Indian restaurants has a few drops of red food coloring in it, which gives it the red or dark orange hue.

At home, I don’t like to add any food coloring, so I rely on the color from Kashmiri Red Chili powder, or Paprika. The age and composition of a particular chili powder influences the color of the final dish.

But, if you absolutely want that picture-perfect color in your tandoori chicken, simply add 2-3 drops of red food coloring to this marinade.

Recipe Tips

  • Before starting with the recipe, make sure the chicken fits in your pot by placing the sealed chicken in the cooking pot.  It should not be poking out at all. 
  • I highly recommend using food handling gloves for the marination process. It not only keeps the whole process hygienic and mess-free, it also prevents the orange color from the turmeric and chili to get on your hands.
  • Marinating the chicken for an hour helps it develop more flavors and stay moist during cooking.  If you have the time, I highly recommend this step. You can marinate the chicken overnight too.
  • Brush the marinade in the cavity of the chicken, it results in a more flavorful chicken.
  • Using a spoon, loosen the skin from the meat and insert the marinade.  This adds to the taste and keeps the chicken juicy.
  • A natural release time of 15-20 minutes is recommended for a moist and juicy chicken.
  • For a crispy skin, broil the chicken in the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  • Chicken is done when the inner thigh temperature (between the leg and the breast), not touching the bone, reads >165°F.
  • If it is below the 165 degrees, place lid back on the pressure cooker and cook for additional time based on the time-chart above.
  • Homemade Tandoori Chicken never comes out ‘red’. If you want that picture-perfect color , simply add 2-3 drops of red food coloring to this marinade.
  • This recipe can easily be adapted for other poultry like Cornish Hens, Duck, Turkey or similar. Refer to the section below: “How to Adapt this Recipe for Other Poultry”

How to Adapt this Recipe for Other Poultry: Turkey, Cornish Hens, Duck

It is very easy to adapt this recipe for other poultry like Turkey, Cornish Hens, Duck or similar by adjusting the quantity of marinade, and pressure cooking time. Here is a little cheat-sheet for you.

Remember this marinade is for about 5 lbs. of chicken. Adjust it to match the size of whatever you choose to cook, whether it’s turkey, cornish hens or duck.

For cooking time follow this rule of thumb = 6 mins per pound

Instant Pot Turkey

The 6 qt can fit up to 6 lbs. A whole turkey won’t fit in a 6qt, but you maybe able to fit a young turkey in an 8qt. Always check if the turkey fits in your pot without poking out, before you start cooking.

Turkey breast (thawed): 4lbs

Use the same marinade, just reduce the salt by 1 tsp. Pressure Cook time= 24 mins, NPR 15-20 mins.

Turkey breast (thawed): 5lbs

Same quantity of marinade, Pressure Cook time= 30 mins, NPR 15-20 mins.

Whole Turkey (8qt only): 8 lbs

Double quantity of marinade but reduce salt by 1 tsp. Pressure Cook time= 48 mins, NPR 30 mins

Instant Pot Cornish Hens

Cornish hens are about 2lbs. each give or take. Reduce this marinade in half, Pressure cook time = 12 mins, NPR 15 mins. Adjust the time according to size, 6 mins per pound.

Instant Pot Duck

The average weight of duck is around 5 lbs. Same quantity of marinade is good for that. Pressure Cook time= 30 mins, NPR 15-20 mins. Adjust the quantity of marinade and cook time based on size.

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below! For more quick & easy recipes, FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram,  Pinterest and Youtube.

A whole roasted Tandoori Chicken on a grey platter

Instant Pot Tandoori Whole Chicken

Tender, juicy and packed with flavor, here's a fail-proof pressure cooker recipe for Whole Tandoori Chicken, a classic Indian style Roasted Chicken. Enjoy this low-carb, keto-friendly and gluten-free recipe which gives amazing results with very little effort.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Marinate: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 486kcal
Author: Aneesha

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs Whole Chicken 4.5-5.5 lbs. whole chicken

Marinate

  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt can use greek
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
  • ¼ cup lime juice fresh, juice of 2 limes (save rinds for stuffing)
  • 2 tbsp garlic crushed or grated fine (about 7-8 cloves)
  • 2 tbsp ginger grated or pulsed fine (about 2 inch piece)
  • tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • tbsp kashmiri red chili (or 2 tbsp paprika + 1 tsp cayenne)

Stuffing for Chicken

  • 2 tbsp marinade from above (brush it in the cavity before stuffing)
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 4 lime rinds
  • 1 bunch cilantro stems washed

Equipment

Instructions

Prepare Marinade and Prep the Chicken

  • In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, oil, lime juice, ginger, garlic and all the spices, and mix the marinade well. Keep aside.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up. Lay the chicken on that and using paper towels, pat it dry.
  • Remove the bag of giblets from the chicken cavity. You can reserve it for making stock or gravy, I toss them away.
  • Using kitchen shears, trim the excess fat chunks around the cavity of the chicken
  • Using a pastry brush, spread about 2 tbsp of the marinade in the cavity of the chicken. Then, stuff onions, used lime rinds and cilantro stems in there.

Marinate Chicken

  • Then, using the back of a tea spoon, loosen the skin from the meat creating a gap between the skin and meat. Using the same spoon, insert and spread the marinade under the skin of the chicken, going under the breast and around the chicken legs. Invert the chicken and repeat on this side.
  • Now, using a pastry brush, liberally brush the tandoori marinade all over the chicken. Slather the chicken with leftover marinade. Invert the chicken and repeat on this side.
  • Using kitchen twine, tie together the legs of the chicken. This step is optional and makes for easy handling of the chicken.

Pressure Cook

  • Turn on the Instant Pot and pour 1 cup of water in the inner pot (2 cups for 8qt). Add onion, lime rinds and cilantro stems in the water. 
  • Place the chicken on the trivet and lower the trivet in the pot. I can easily fit a 4-6 lbs. bird in my 6 qt. I do not recommend a 3 qt for this recipe.
  • Close the lid and set to manual or pressure cook for 30 mins (6 mins X weight of chicken). Ensure that the vent is at sealing position.
  • Once cooking is done, wait for the pressure to release for 15-20 mins, after which release remaining pressure manually. To do that in Duo models, simply turn the pressure vent to 'venting' position. In Ultra, press down on the pressure knob.
  • The chicken is fully cooked and can be served at this point. However, if you want to crisp the skin, follow this quick extra step.

Crisp the Skin (optional step)

  • Place the cooked chicken on a lined baking tray. Adjust the top rack of the oven such that the chicken is about 2 inches under the broiler plates.
  • Using a fresh pastry brush, spread some oil all over the chicken and broil for 3-5 mins, till most of the skin is browned.
  • If you’re cooking a small bird using an 8qt cooker, you can even use the Mealthy Crisplid to crisp the skin. I wouldn’t recommend using it in a 6qt cooker since the distance between the chicken and crisplid’s heating element won’t be enough.
  • Carve the chicken starting with the legs first, breast and then the remaining bird. Serve with your favorite sides and Good Eatings!

Video

Notes

Tips for a Moist and Delicious Whole Tandoori Chicken in an Instant Pot:

  • Before starting with the recipe, make sure the chicken fits in your pot by placing the sealed chicken in the cooking pot.  It should not be poking out at all. 
  • Marinating the chicken for an hour helps it develop more flavors and stay moist during cooking.  If you have the time, I highly recommend this step. You can marinate the chicken overnight too.
  • Brush the marinade in the cavity of the chicken, it results in a more flavorful chicken.
  • Using a spoon, loosen the skin from the meat and insert the marinade.  This adds to the taste and keeps the chicken juicy.
  • A natural release time of 15-20 minutes is recommended for a moist and juicy chicken.
  • For a crispy skin, broil the chicken in the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  • Chicken is done when the inner thigh temperature (between the leg and the breast), not touching the bone, reads >165°F.
  • If it is below the 165 degrees, place lid back on the pressure cooker and cook for additional time based on the time-chart above.
  • Homemade Tandoori Chicken never comes out ‘red’. If you want that picture-perfect color , simply add 2-3 drops of red food coloring to this marinade.
  • This recipe can easily be adapted for other poultry like Cornish Hens, Duck, Turkey or similar. Refer to the section: “How to Adapt this Recipe for Other Poultry”
Total time includes prep, marination, pressure cooking and broiling. 
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 486kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 1881mg | Potassium: 495mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1178IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Indian
Keyword: Instant Pot whole chicken, Instant pot Whole Tandoori Chicken, Whole roasted chicken, Whole Tandoori Chicken
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

Never miss a recipe

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply