Instant Pot Korean Chicken Soup is the most simple, hearty and yummy soup that’s also good for you. A whole chicken is cooked with aromatics in the pressure cooker until perfect tenderness. Ready in 30 minutes with just 5 ingredients! Low carb and gluten-free.
I have been making Baeksuk (Korean chicken soup) in the pressure cooker (instant pot) for some time now but I just have never gotten around to taking pictures and fine-tuning it for a recipe so I am soo excited that I am finally able to share it with you! 😍👍
BTW, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, here’s a regular Baeksuk recipe,- ready in 40 minutes. I have made this recipe for almost 30 years!
Sooo.. before we get to the recipe, just we are clear.. let’s just clarify a few things… 😉 As far as I know, this is how each are different.
Korean Chicken Soup variations
In the old old days (when Korea was poor), chicken was a luxury food for most and a whole chicken was cooked only when there was a big celebration like birthdays or when a son-in-law comes to visit.
- Young gye baeksuk(영계백숙) – soup made with young chicken usually without any additional herbs, chicken is served whole to be torn and eaten at the table.
- Dak baeksuk (닭백숙) – the same soup as above but made with adult chicken without any additional herbs, chicken is served whole to be torn and eaten at the table
- Hanbang Baeksuk (한방백숙) – it’s still baeksuk but different herbs are added but not ginseng.
- Samgyetang(삼계탕) – soup made with young chicken using ginseng, jujube dates and sweet rice stuffing. Chicken is served with the broth and the sweet rice is enjoyed along with the soup.
- Dakgomtang (닭곰탕) – some say this soup was made mainly to make a cheaper version of Baeksuk where old and tough chickens are cooked for hours until meat falls off the bone. The meat is shredded then seasoned with either just salt, pepper, garlic and sesame oil OR made SPICY by adding red chili powder in addition.
- Black Garlic or Heukmaneul Baeksuk (흑마늘 백숙) – this is not a hugely common dish but I started making it recently and I just fell in love so I have to share. Please read more below.
What’s the difference between Baeksuk 백숙 vs Young-gye baeksuk 영계백숙 vs Samgyetang 삼계탕 vs Dakgomtang 닭곰탕?
Common properties – they are all clear soup made with whole chicken by boiling them in water with some aromatics. And rice is added to the soup to make porridge after eating the chicken or they are just enjoyed with rice as a soup.
Differences (these are typical traditional differences, you can certainly use whatever chicken and seasonings you’d like):
- young chicken (Young-gye Baeksuk) vs adult chicken (Baeksuk) vs old tough chicken (Dakgomtang), Samgyetang is made with both young or adult chicken
- non-spicy (all Baeksuk and Samgyetang) vs spicy (Dakgomtang – sometimes)
- no herbs (baeksuk – although sometimes ppl add herbs like jujube dates but never ginseng) vs herbs (samgyetang – ginseng is a must) – by herbs I mean, things like jujube dates, ginseng, etc.
Tips for perfect Instant Pot Korean Chicken Soup
- Don’t overcook the chicken by leaving the chicken too long in the Instant Pot after it is done cooking. You can always reheat later but please follow instructions for releasing pressure at the right time.
- Trim fat BEFORE you cook so you don’t have to skim any fat from the soup later. When I use a cornish hen with fat trimmed, soup comes out with very little fat.
- Use flavorful sea salt (please don’t use table salt) to season the soup and also for dipping. I use good quality Korean sea salt or Fleur de Sel sea salt for the best flavor.
- What to do with Leftover Chicken Soup – use the leftover broth to make Tteokguk or Dak Kalguksu. But my most favorite is to make Dakjuk (Chicken Porridge). Recipe for that coming next!!
- Additions – you can certainly add herbs like jujube dates to add more flavor. I’ve also added Black Garlic in addition which adds a surprising burst of sweet garlic flavor.
It has become one of our top favorites now.💕 And here’s a picture of what I bought from our local Korean grocery store – love that it’s Jinjoo Black Garlic.. haha.. since JinJoo 진주 means Pearl in Korean so it makes sense!! Maybe that’s why I love it so much.. HAHAHA.. You can buy black pearl garlic online (also one in my store) and just add about 4 garlic pearls per chicken in the pot before cooking.
Best Seoul Restaurant for Baeksuk or Jjimdak
Bakesuk is something I always enjoyed eating as a kid and we had it often in our house growing up. And it’s something both my mom and I really enjoy eating to this day. When I visited her in Seoul during my grad school days in the US, we always made a trip to a Baeksuk restaurant in Jangchungdong 장충동 – I forget the name now and I believe they closed years ago…
In more recent years, my family in Korea found this awesome Jjimdak (찜닭) restaurant in Yaksudong 약수동 (near Namsan Seoul) called Jinnampo Myeonok 진남포면옥. And it’s a place my mom, sister, brother and I usually went together whenever I was in Seoul.
As with many restaurants that I love, this one has been there for over 50 years and the taste has never changed and neither has the decor.. haha.. Actually, there’s no such thing as decor in many of these restaurants!
North Korean style restaurants are often not the friendliest or prettiest restaurants. All they really care about is the food and only the food. ‘And if you don’t like it, you don’t need to come‘.. haha.. is their attitude. I mean, they are not rude or anything like that – I’ve never had a bad experience. It’s just they are just no non-sense, no-frills kind of people that’s all.
BTW, this Jjimdak (means steamed chicken) is similar to Baeksuk but a slightly different in that it’s steamed, not boiled. This is Yibuksik 이북식 (North Korean style – as my parents lived in North Korea before the war) and here’s a picture I took a few years ago. It is usually served with a bunch of cooked chives and a spicy red pepper + green onion Dadaegi 다대기 sauce.
Wow.. my mouth is watering just looking at this picture..anyway, with my soup recipe, you can actually enjoy not just a similar chicken but also the soup and rice which makes it a wonderfully hearty and balanced meal.
Well, let’s start making some awesome Korean Baeksuk or Chicken Soup using the IP!
- Rinse chicken and trim off fat. I used a cornish hen here but you can use a regular young chicken too. Just double my recipe for a 2 lb regular chicken AND INCREASE COOK TIME. I cut the tail off (it has a lot of unhealthy fat), trim off fat around the bottom area and also trim fat off the shoulder area.
- Peel 5-6 cloves of garlic and onion.
Since we are going to discard the garlic, an easy way to peel the garlic is to just smash it with a knife like this – then the peel comes off really easy.
- Rinse 2-3 green onions. For one, add whole green onion to soup pot. Cut off root ends or include the root end (if it’s an organic green onion). Chop the rest of the green onions (for garnish later).
- In the Instant Pot or your Pressure Cooker, add water, onion, garlic and one whole green onion. I use about 5-6 cups water for one small cornish hen. If you want to add jujube dates or black garlic, you add it now.
- Cover and close the lid and the valve. Set Manual function, Low pressure for 18 minutes for cornish hen. For regular 2 to 3 lb chicken, increase time to 20 to 25 min.
- While chicken is cooking, chop green onions and prepare either one or both dipping sauce and/or salt.
- Soy Vinegar sauce – 1 Tbs soy sauce + 1/2 Tbs rice vinegar
- Sesame salt – 1 tsp Sea salt + 1/4 tsp Black pepper + 1/2 tsp crushed sesame seeds
- When Instant Pot is done, let it Natural Release for 5 minutes and then open the vent manually for Quick Release. For more tender chicken, you can NR longer, up to 10 min. I personally prefer not leaving it that long because I like my chicken not to be overcooked. But some like it that way so try different resting times. Because it’s cooked at low pressure, it should quick release easily without too much splatter but I usually cover the vent with a kitchen towel before I do QR so it just wets the towel and the splatter doesn’t go all over the place.
Let people tear up the pieces of chicken and enjoy by dipping in sauce or in salt.
- To finish the meal, serve HOT soup, season with salt and pepper. Also with some rice and lots of green onions on top!
And of course, add kimchi in every bite!
Serving Suggestions to pair with soup
Great sides that go well with the soup are: Myeolchi Bokkeum, Hobak Buchimgae, Maleun Saewoo Bokkeum and of course Kimchi!
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Instant Pot Korean Chicken Soup (Baeksuk)
- 1 each cornish hen (about 1 lb / 453.59 g)
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1/2 yellow onion (large)
- 2 green onions (1 chopped and 1 whole in soup)
- 5 cups water
Soy Dipping Sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce (jin ganjang)
- 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Sesame Sea Salt
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sesame seeds (crushed and roasted)
- Clean green onions, cut off roots and peel garlic cloves and yellow onion. Since we are going to discard the garlic, an easy way to peel the garlic is to just smash it with a knife like this - then the peel comes off really easy.
- Chop one green onion. Leave the other green onion whole to add to soup pot to cook with chicken.
- Clean whole cornish hen or whole chicken by cutting off the tail end, wing tips and extra fat around the bottom and on the shoulders. See picture.
- To the pot, add water, chicken, garlic, onion and a green onion.
- Close the lid and vent, cook at Manual Low pressure for 18 min. Natural Release (just leave it alone) 5 minutes then Quick Release (open vent and release steam manually) . NR for 10 minutes for really tender chicken. FOR regular 2-3lb chicken, increase cook time to 20 to 25 min and then NR for 15 min.
- While chicken is cooking, make either the soy dipping sauce or seseam salt (see ingredients) by mixing the ingredients. Serve with the chicken for everyone to dip in.
- Take the whole chicken out, let it cool for few minutes. You can either serve the chicken as whole on the table for everyone to just dig in and tear their favorite pieces OR you can tear the meat with your hands and add some meat to each bowl of soup and top with chopped green onions before serving.
- Serve with some rice and some side dishes. See Notes for suggestions. Allow everyone to season their soup with salt and black pepper. You can also just pre-season the soup with some salt and pepper before serving - to make things simpler or if you have kids.
Spicy Dakgomtang Variation!
- In addition to enjoying the whole Korean chicken soup, you can make things spicy and yummy by seasoning the chicken meat with the following (for 1 cornish hen meat):- 1 Tbs or more Gochukauru (Korean Red Chili Powder), 1/2 to 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1 chopped green onion, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp Guk Ganjang(Korean soup soy sauce) and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Mix with hands to allow seasoning to be evenly coated.Then, either add this to your broth again and boil for 2-3 minutes (this will soften the raw garlic flavor) or just add it to your soup as a topping (you can maximize strong garlic flavor this way) to the soup bowl.
- Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker
Tips & Notes:
- I used 1 lb cornish game hen but you can use regular junior young chicken (2 lbs or so) instead - just double the recipe for water and aromatics. Cook time is the same - 18 min.
- Because it's cooked at low pressure, it should quick release easily without too much splatter but I usually cover the vent with a kitchen towel before I do QR so it just wets the towel and the splatter doesn't go all over the place.
- Additions - you can certainly add herbs like jujube dates to add more flavor. I've also added Black Garlic in addition which adds a surprising burst of sweet garlic flavor. Add about 4 black Pearl garlic per chicken in the pot with other aromatics.
- Great sides that go well with the soup are: Myeolchi Bokkeum, Hobak Buchimgae, Maleun Saewoo Bokkeum and of course Kimchi!
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