Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Posted on August 6, 2017

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

We recently celebrated a birthday. With it in the rear view mirror, we’re trying to eat healthier. See, we celebrated quite merrily. For, like, the whole month. A section of our closet no longer fits. This is not a diet, more of a respite. A deep breath. So, we made this kung pao chicken in the Instant Pot.

We used a little trick that gives the chicken a crispy, fried-like texture. Make no mistake; you’ll know that it isn’t fried. For one, you cooked it, obviously. Secondly, the Instant Pot cooks via steam pressure, which, of course, leaves the chicken a bit soggy. It reminds us of ordering Chinese takeout then eating it at home: during transit, the sauce soaks into the breading.

This sauce tastes incredible. It’s bold and spicy. The Instant Pot does yeoman’s work. It develops a rich, layered flavors in mere minutes. We did not use rice because we were avoiding carbohydrates, but rice—even whole grain rice—would be delicious with this meal. We’ll definitely add this to the rotation.

Here is our recipe for Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken.

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken



  • Two large (or three small) skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • Two tablespoons of baking soda
  • 2/3 cup of corn starch
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • One tablespoon of olive olive, split into two 1/2 tablespoons
  • One red bell pepper, chopped coarsely
  • One zucchini, cut in half, then sliced
  • Half of a red onion, chopped coarsely
  • Three to five dried Thai chili peppers


  • Three tablespoons of agave nectar
  • Three tablespoons of hoisin sauce
  • One teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
  • Three cloves of garlic, pressed
  • One teaspoon of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • One tablespoon of corn starch
  • One tablespoon of hot water


  • 2/3 cups of roasted cashews
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish


To tenderize the chicken, combine chicken and baking soda in a plastic bag, and toss. Place bag in the refrigerator. Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Afterwards, rinse chicken in water, then pat chicken completely dry.

In a bowl, mix agave nectar, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator.

Turn pressure cooker to “Saute” function. Add one-half tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add bell pepper, zucchini, and onion. After onions become translucent, remove vegetables from the Instant Pot, place in separate bowl, and set aside.

Add one-half tablespoon of olive oil into the Instant Pot. Toss chicken in corn starch, salt and pepper. Sauté in Instant Pot, turning every two minutes until all sides of the chicken have been browned. Turn off pressure cooker. Pour in sauce. Add dried peppers. Cook on “high pressure” for five minutes.

When complete, manually release pressure. Stir in vegetables. Cook on “high pressure” for one minute. Manually release pressure. Pour everything through a strainer to separate sauce. Return sauce to pressure cooker, and set to “Sauté” function.

In a small bowl, mix corn starch and hot water. Slowly pour mixture into sauce while stirring vigorously.

Serve in a shallow bowl. Garnish with cashews and sesame seeds.

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