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Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

April 26, 2020

Ready for a quick, 1-pot dinner recipe? Look no further than this healthy Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken made with simple ingredients, delicious and juicy chicken and your daily serving of veggies! This one-pot wonder will wow the whole family.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty slow to jump on food trends. I think I was the last person to buy a spiralizer and I’m still holding out on an air fryer. My skepticism holds me back and truthfully, C isn’t all that thrilled with another kitchen gadget taking up space in our already cramped kitchen. The Instant Pot is no exception. I figured, I already have a slow cooker, why do I need an Instant Pot?! If this Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken is any indication, I clearly gave in.

We’ve actually had our Instant Pot for over two years. After hearing enough friends rave about theirs and trying some pretty delicious recipes (Lee is the queen of Instant Pot!) I decided to add it to our wedding registry. For the first few months I basically used it as a fancy rice cooker but it became pretty clear to me that while people may claim that it makes cooking faster, it certainly isn’t speeding it up by much. What would normally take me 40 minutes to cook short grain brown rice on the stove top now took me 30 minutes. I’ll take an extra 10 minutes any day, but let me be clear: the Instant Pot is not always a huge time saver.

So Why Use The Instant Pot?

So if it isn’t saving you time, why use the Instant Pot? C and I were having this discussion the other night (while eating this Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken!) and we came up with a few reasons:

  1. It may not always be quicker than the stovetop BUT but it has the flavor of something that was slow cooked for hours. The benefit of the slow cooker is how flavorful it can make your dishes and the Instant Pot gives you that flavor in a 1/4 of the time
  2. Easy clean up! C loves how easy the clean up is with the Instant Pot. You cook everything in one pot which makes clean up so easy!
  3. Set it and forget it. Like a slow cooker, you really don’t have to think much about your meal while it’s cooking. You can even set it on a timer to cook while you’re out.

So after I got over my initial fears of thinking my Instant Pot was going to blow up my house (it won’t!) I started to experiment with dishes and honestly, we use our Instant Pot at least 3 times a week. As someone who may be hesitant to jump on food trends, I am now fully engaged with the Instant Pot and won’t be looking back!

 

What Ingredients Do You Need:

  • garlic cloves
  • fresh ginger
  • tamari (or soy sauce)
  • hoisin sauce (use gluten-free hoisin sauce, if necessary)
  • raw honey
  • sweet chili sauce
  • rice wine vinegar
  • sesame oil
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • bell pepper
  • green beans
  • tapioca starch (or cornstarch or arrowroot)

How to Make Kung Pao Chicken in the Instant Pot

As with anything, learned to cook in your Instant Pot takes a bit of practice. Hopefully these step-by-step instructions can make this a bit easier for you.

STEP 1: Mix all of your ingredients (except chicken, veggies and tapioca starch) in the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot). Place your chicken on top and then flip so it’s coated on both sides. Set to pressure cook for 10 minutes on high and close the valve.

STEP 2: While chicken is cooking, chop up your veggies and set aside.

STEP 3: As soon as chicken is done, quick release to relieve all steam. Remove chicken and cut into cubes.

STEP 4: Set Instant Pot to saute mode and add veggies. Cook in sauce for 5 minutes or until fully cooked through. Meanwhile mix together 1 tbsp of tapioca flower (or cornstarch or arrowroot powder) with 2 tbsp of warm water and mix together to form a “slurry”. Add slurry to your sauce and veggies. Sauce should start to thicken.

STEP 5: Add your chicken back in and stir to coat with sauce. Serve with rice and optional toppings like peanuts, cilantro, red chili flakes and scallions.

Can You Cook Your Vegetables with the Chicken?

I have tried and tried and tried to figure out how to pressure cook vegetables in the Instant Pot, but I’m here to say it once and for all: It is not possible. No matter how many dishes I’ve tried to throw a few serving of veggies into, they will always end up as mush. So here’s the hack: Cook your meat on pressure cook and then switch to saute mode to cook your veggies. Yes, it’s an extra step but keep in mind, it’s one-pot cooking and will make sure your veggies don’t get mushy.

Easy Swaps You Can Make

  • Swap out different veggies based on what you have. You may need to adjust your cooking time but any veggies will work here
  • Gluten-free? Be sure to use gluten-free tamari and gluten-free hoisin sauce
  • I like to serve this pressure cooker kung pao chicken with brown rice but feel free to serve it with any type of grain or even cauliflower rice
  • Use frozen chicken! No fresh chicken in the house? Just adjust your pressure cooker time from 10 minutes to 12 minutes for frozen chicken breasts.
  • You can use any pressure cooker! Obviously the Instant Pot has gained tons of traction in the last couple of years but any pressure cooker by any brand will work here.

Can You Make This Kung Pao Chicken on the Stovetop?

Yes you can! So the actual cook and prep time on this is 20 minutes (with an additional 5-10 minutes for pressure to build) but if you don’t have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you can absolutely make this Kung Pao Chicken on the stove top.

My suggestion is to saute the chicken whole for roughly 5-6 minutes per side to cook all the way through. Remove from stovetop and chop into pieces. Then add all of your ingredients (except chicken, veggies and tapioca) and cook for a few minutes until it all comes together. Then add your veggies and follow the same instructions as indicated below for the Pressure Cooker Kung Pao Chicken version. You’ll add your slurry, chicken etc…It will probably take the same amount of time but the flavors just won’t be as rich. It will still taste delicious!

Print

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Ready for a quick, 1-pot dinner recipe? Look no further than this healthy Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken made with simple ingredients, delicious and juicy chicken and your daily serving of veggies! This one-pot wonder will wow the whole family.

  • Author: Davida Lederle
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce (use gluten-free hoisin sauce, if necessary)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch (or cornstarch or arrowroot)
  • optional toppings: peanuts, cilantro, red pepper flakes, scallions etc…

Instructions

  1. Mix all of your ingredients (except chicken, veggies and tapioca starch) in the Instant Pot.
  2. Place your chicken on top and then flip so it’s coated on both sides.
  3. Set to pressure cook on high for 10 minutes and make sure valve is set to close.
  4. While chicken is cooking, chop up your veggies and set aside.
  5. As soon as chicken is done, quick release to relieve all steam. Remove chicken and cut into cubes.
  6. Set Instant Pot to saute mode and add veggies. Cook in sauce for 5 minutes or until fully cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile mix together 1 tbsp of tapioca flower (or cornstarch or arrowroot powder) with 2 tbsp of warm water and mix together to form a “slurry”.
  8. Add slurry to your sauce and veggies. Sauce should start to thicken (1-2 minutes)
  9. Once sauce has thickened, add your chicken back in and stir to coat with sauce.
  10. Serve with rice and optional toppings like peanuts, cilantro and scallions.

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  • Reply
    Albertina Geller
    April 28, 2020 at 3:59 am

    Hey Davida,
    How different would the taste be on a stove pot than on an instant pot?

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