You don’t have to live in the South to love fried chicken. This crispy dish, which is beloved all around the world, is served at some popular fast food chain restaurants, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Popeyes. Or, you can skip the takeout – KFC isn’t exactly healthy, anyway – and make your own fried chicken at home. You’re halfway there if you already own a pressure cooker of some kind, including the famous Instant Pot. Nothing can be more rewarding than releasing that delicious smell of steam from your pot and discovering what awaits after all your hard work.

A Pressure Cooker Is Not the Same as a Pressure Fryer

Keep in mind, though, that pressure cookers are not pressure fryers, so you’ll need to take a few extra steps to get it right. This means that you can’t completely recreate KFC’s famous fried chicken recipe at home; you’d need an actual deep fryer for that. Pressure cookers cannot generate the temperatures needed to boil oil: Common oils, such as vegetable oil and peanut oil, reach their boiling point at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit; pressure cookers can only get to around 250 degrees F.

Some recipes do give directions for making fried chicken in a pressure cooker, but it’s not advised. The results can be disappointing. Instead, learn to work with the pressure cooker, not against it. The secret is to focus on making crispy chicken instead of fried chicken.

How to Make Crispy Chicken With a Pressure Cooker

Since you’re unable to make fried chicken in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you have to rely on a few other methods to achieve that crispy skin. This includes using the pressure cooker or Instant Pot to tenderize the chicken, infuse flavors and render the fat as much as possible.

Additional Pressure Cooker Crispy Chicken Tips

Another tip is to cook only a few pieces of chicken at a time, ideally two. This helps prevent overcrowding, which leads to better results.

  1. When you’re ready to cook, add the chicken to the pressure cooker or Instant Pot and pressure cook on “max” for 10 minutes. 
  2. Once it’s done, do a quick release, making sure to be careful of the steam, and remove the chicken.
  3. In a frying pan on the stovetop on medium-high heat, add your choice of oil (peanut oil is best for frying chicken). When the oil is hot enough, finish the chicken in the oil to achieve a crispy skin.

Instant Pot Crispy Chicken Wings Recipe

In this recipe by The Big Apple Mama, use a wire rack or the trivet that comes with the Instant Pot to make crispy chicken wings. The key to making them crispy is using this trivet; then broil the chicken in the oven afterwards without sauce.

  1. Start by sautéing the wings in the Instant Pot for around 5 minutes each side.
  2. Remove the wings and add the wire rack or trivet inside.
  3. Place the wings on top and add 1 cup of water or chicken broth to the Instant Pot.
  4. Secure the lid and turn the valve to seal.
  5. Using the manual setting, cook for 9 minutes on high pressure.
  6. When done, do a quick release.
  7. Finish off the unsauced wings in the broiler on high broil (about 500–550 degrees F), broiling them for 7 minutes each side.
  8. Add the sauce, either homemade or store-bought buffalo sauce. Honey barbecue sauce works really well, too!

About the Author

Sarah Kester

Sarah is a writer, editor and cat mom. Lover of wine, rom-coms, and all things self-care, she’s inspired by mindfulness and helping others feel balanced in their lives through meditation, self-love and self-care. After all, what's balance without Saturday morning yoga and green juice and a glass of rosé later that evening? She has written for The Greatest, Elite Daily, YourTango, Vital Proteins, among others. To learn more, you can find her at her website sarahkester.com.