| | |

Best Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken 

Sharing is caring!

Are you a fan of Kung Pao chicken? If you’re tired of waiting for Chinese food to be delivered, try making your own delicious version of Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken.

This unique twist on this classic dish is perfect for busy weeknights and will impress all your dinner guests. With juicy chunks of chicken swimming in savory sauce combined with crunchy vegetables and spicy chili peppers, your taste buds will thank you after the first bite!

Get ready to whip up some mind-blowing flavor that is sure to become your favorite go-to dinner recipe.

KUNG PAO CHICKEN

I use affiliate links in this post. If you buy anything from my links I will earn a small commission*

What Is Kung Pao Chicken?

The traditional version of Kung Pao Chicken is a spicy and savory stir-fry dish that has its origins in the Sichuan province of China.

This popular dish typically includes diced chicken or tofu, vegetables like celery and bell peppers, and chili peppers for added heat and flavor.

Is Kung Pao Chicken Healthy?

This popular take-out Chinese dish may not be as healthy as you think. Many versions that you find at restaurants include added brown sugar, salt, and preservatives to make it taste better.

However, with a few modifications, this recipe can be made much more nutritious by swapping out less healthy ingredients like high-sodium soy sauce for low-sodium and swapping out added sugar for a natural sweetener like honey.

If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious stir-fry dish to add to your weekly meal plan, try this Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken recipe! It will be sure to satisfy your taste buds, no take-out required.

What Does Kung Pao Chicken Taste Like?

Kung Pao Chicken is typically made with spicy, sweet, and savory flavors, depending on the ingredients used.

It’s also often topped with crunchy peanuts for added texture and flavor.

This version of Kung Pao Chicken uses a variety of vegetables like bell peppers and onions to help balance out the heat from the chili peppers, creating a well-balanced dish that is sure to please all your dinner guests.

Is Kung Pao Chicken Spicy?

Yes Kung Pao chicken does have a spicy kick and can vary in heat depending on the type and amount of chili peppers used.

If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, feel free to reduce or omit the chili peppers completely from this dish.

This recipe also includes honey as a natural sweetener that can help balance out the heat and make it more palatable for those who don’t enjoy spicy foods.

Why We Love Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

With a sauce that offers the perfect punch of heat, crunchy peanuts, fresh veggies, and sweet spices, this is the best Instant Pot kung pao chicken recipe I’ve ever made. Here’s why:

  • Complex flavors. The glistening dark spicy sauce, crunchy peanuts, whole red chili peppers, and fresh veggies add a variety of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors that just can’t be beat.
  • Simple Ingredients. Other recipes for kung pao chicken use hard-to-find ingredients, but all the ingredients for this recipe can easily be found at your local grocery store, and it tastes just as good.
  • It’s versatile. Like most Asian dishes, this one can be paired with rice or you can make it with other Chinese recipes like Cashew Chicken or General Tso Chicken.

What Peppers Are Used In Kung Pao Chicken?

In traditional versions of Kung Pao chicken, Sichuan peppercorns and dried red chili peppers are typically used to give the dish its signature spicy heat.

However, you can use any type of pepper that makes your mouth happy!

Some options include:

– Red or green bell peppers

– Jalapeno peppers

– Serrano peppers

– Fresno peppers

– Thai bird chilis

– Habanero peppers

Just be sure to taste your dish after adding the chili peppers and adjust the spice level as needed.

If you prefer a milder flavor, feel free to omit or reduce the amount of chili peppers in this recipe.

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Ingredients

Kung Pao Chicken is a Chinese stir fry with chicken, veggies, and a sweet yet spicy sauce. Here’s what you will need:

  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts– Use boneless skinless chicken breasts cut and diced into bite-sized cubes.
  • 1 Bell Pepper– For this recipe, I used red bell pepper, but yellow or green bell pepper would add more flavor and color to your dish.
  • 1 Zucchini– You can’t have a Chinese stir fry without zucchini.
  • 1/3 Cups Roasted Peanuts– Nuts give your kung pao chicken a nutty flavor, and a crunchy texture.
  • 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy sauce– Sweet and salty, this adds another layer of flavor to your chicken.
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey– Use real honey for this recipe to really bring out the sweet along with the heat.
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic– To save time mincing your own garlic, I get minced garlic in a jar.
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil– I used olive oil to sauté my chicken but you can use toasted sesame oil, canola oil, or even butter if you choose.
  • Seasonings– All recipes need a few spices. For this one you’ll need 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.
  • 1 Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder– Along with the normal spices, you’ll also want this 5-spice powder which is a blend of star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon, cumin, and sichuan pepper.
  • 4 Dried Red Chili peppers– These really amp up the heat, but if you don’t want it too spicy, you can leave them out.
Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Ingredients

How to Make Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Before you begin, gather all your ingredients, dice your chicken, and cut up your veggies so they are ready to go!

Step 1: Sauté the Chicken

Hit the sear or sauté button on your Instant Pot, add the oil, and let it heat up.

While it’s heating, season your chicken with salt and diced bell peppers. Then, cook it on each side for 3-4 minutes.

DSC 2505

Step 2: Add Seasonings

Once the chicken is browned on both sides, hit cancel to turn off the sauté function.

Next, add the soy sauce, honey, Chinese five spice powder, minced garlic, and red pepper chili flakes. Mix well.

Step 3: Pressure Cook

Next, close the lid on your Instant Pot, move the pressure valve to the sealing position, hit pressure cook or manual, and set the time for 4 minutes.

DSC 2507

Step 4: Quick Release

After the Instant Pot beeps, do a quick release by putting the pressure valve on the lid into the venting position. Remove the chicken and set it to the side.

Step 5: Sauté the Veggies

Hit cancel and then hit your sauté or sear button again. Add the zucchini, chopped bell peppers, red chili peppers, and peanuts to the Instant Pot.

Sauté these for about three minutes until your bell pepper and zucchini become tender.

DSC 2511

Step 6: Add the Chicken

With your Instant Pot still on saute mode, place chicken back in the pot, and cook for another two minutes so that the chicken warms up alongside the remaining ingredients.

Step 7: Garnish And Serve

Garnish your chicken dish with chopped scallions and serve on rice or noodles.

kung pao chicken instant pot in a bowl

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Tips

  1. Just sear the chicken. You just want the outside to get brown. It’s OK if some of the insides are raw as you’ll be pressure-cooking the remaining raw chicken.
  2. Deglaze the pot. Once you’ve finished searing the chicken, add a few tablespoons of water to the pot and scrape the debris off the bottom.
  3. Leave the chili peppers out. This dish is spicy, so if you only like a little spice, leave the chili peppers and red pepper flakes out.

Do I Have To Use Chicken Breast?

No. You can use any cut of chicken for this recipe. The bite-sized chicken pieces can be made from chicken breasts, chicken tenders or skinless chicken thighs. All cuts make juicy chicken perfect for this Instant Pot recipe.

Can I Add Rice Vinegar Or Cooking Sherry?

Yes. If you like a stronger soy sauce flavor, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar or cooking sherry to your dish. You could also add a tablespoon of hoisin sauce if you fancy a sweeter flavor.

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Do I Need Chicken Broth For This Recipe?

No. Many Instant Pot recipes require water or chicken broth, however, the liquids in this Kung Pao recipe are sufficient for the pressure cooker to come to pressure.

How to Store Leftover Kung Pao Chicken

Allow your chicken to completely cool. Then, you can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Chicken should be eaten within 3-5 days.

What To Serve With Kung Pao Chicken

Add your kung pao chicken to a bowl of rice. It is perfect over white or brown rice, and top with green onions or sesame seeds!

You can also serve it with some of these delicious Chinese sides:

Does Kung Pao Chicken Have Mushrooms?

Depending on the recipe, you may find mushrooms as an ingredient in kung pao chicken. Many recipes include wood ear mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms for added flavor and texture. However, you can leave out any mushroom ingredients if you prefer a more traditional dish.

Can I Cook Kung Pao Chicken In The Slow Cooker?

Yes, you can! Simply transfer your cooked chicken and veggies to a slow cooker, add the remaining ingredients, and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

More Instant Pot Recipes You’ll Love:

If you love Chinese food then you’ll like these super tasty Asian Instant Pot recipes:

Kung Pao Chicken
Yield: 2-4

Instant pot Kung Pao chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Delicious Instant Pot kung pao chicken is a delightful dish full of flavor and protein

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts– Use boneless skinless chicken breasts cut and diced into bite-sized cubes.
  • 1 Bell Pepper– For this recipe, I used red bell pepper, but yellow or green bell pepper would add more flavor and color to your dish.
  • 1 Zucchini– You can’t have a Chinese stir fry without zucchini.
  • 1/3 Cups Roasted Peanuts– Nuts give your kung pao chicken a nutty flavor, and a crunchy texture.
  • 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy sauce– Sweet and salty, this adds another layer of flavor to your chicken.
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey– Use real honey for this recipe to really bring out the sweet along with the heat.
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic– To save time mincing your own garlic, I get minced garlic in a jar.
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil– I used olive oil to sauté my chicken but you can use toasted sesame oil, canola oil, or even butter if you choose.
  • Seasonings– All recipes need a few spices. For this one you’ll need 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.
  • 1 Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder– Along with the normal spices, you’ll also want this 5-spice powder which is a blend of star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon, cumin, and sichuan pepper.
  • 4 Dried Red Chili peppers– These really amp up the heat, but if you don’t want it too spicy, you can leave them out.

Instructions

Step 1: Sauté the Chicken

Hit the sear or sauté button on your Instant Pot, add the oil, and let it heat up.

While it’s heating, season your chicken with salt and diced bell peppers. Then, cook it on each side for 3-4 minutes.

Step 2: Add Seasonings

Once the chicken is browned on both sides, hit cancel to turn off the sauté function.

Next, add the soy sauce, honey, Chinese five spice powder, minced garlic, and red pepper chili flakes. Mix well.

Step 3: Pressure Cook

Next, close the lid on your Instant Pot, move the pressure valve to the sealing position, hit pressure cook or manual, and set the time for 4 minutes.

Step 4: Quick Release

After the Instant Pot beeps, do a quick release by putting the pressure valve on the lid into the venting position. Remove the chicken and set it to the side.

Step 5: Sauté the Veggies

Hit cancel and then hit your sauté or sear button again. Add the zucchini, chopped bell peppers, red chili peppers, and peanuts to the Instant Pot.

Sauté these for about three minutes until your bell pepper and zucchini become tender.

Step 6: Add the Chicken

With your Instant Pot still on saute mode, place chicken back in the pot, and cook for another two minutes so that the chicken warms up alongside the remaining ingredients.

Step 7: Garnish And Serve

Garnish your chicken dish with chopped scallions and serve on rice or noodles.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 743Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 1981mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 6gSugar: 25gProtein: 61g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Similar Posts

2 Comments

  1. This was delicious- I needed an easy weeknight dinner to use up some zucchini and green peppers I had from our garden. I left out the chili peppers because my kids don’t love spice, so I used hot honey to add a little bang back. I also threw all the veggies in with the sauce and chicken at the end instead of sautéing them separately. Finally, I added a slurry of 1 tbsp each of cornstarch and water at the end to thicken the sauce because I forgot to buy rice to serve it over. Everyone loved it- we’ll definitely make it again.

Please Leave a Reply