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Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken 

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Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken 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

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

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.

Recipe Ingredients

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

  • Chicken Breasts: The main ingredient, providing lean, high-quality protein that’s versatile and absorbs flavors well.
  • Bell Pepper: Adds a sweet, slightly tangy flavor and a pop of color, enhancing the visual appeal of the dish.
  • Zucchini: Contributes a mild flavor and a crunchy texture, making the stir-fry more hearty and balanced.
  • Roasted Peanuts: Give the dish a delightful crunch and nutty flavor, a signature aspect of Kung Pao Chicken.
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce: Infuses the dish with umami depth and a touch of saltiness without being overpowering.
  • Honey: Balances out the salty and spicy flavors with its natural sweetness, creating a pleasing flavor contrast.
  • Minced Garlic: Provides a robust, aromatic undertone that’s essential in many Asian dishes.
  • Olive Oil: Used for sautéing, it ensures the chicken is well-cooked and adds a subtle richness to the dish.
  • Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes: Basic seasonings that enhance the chicken’s flavor and add a hint of heat.
  • Chinese Five Spice Powder: A unique blend of spices that brings a warm, complex flavor profile, adding authenticity to the dish.
  • Dried Red Chili Peppers: Add a significant heat kick, making the dish spicy and exciting, but can be adjusted according to personal preference.
Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

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

Cooking Tips

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Storage & Reheating Instructions

  • Fridge: Allow the Kung Pao chicken to cool before transferring it to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator and consume within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.
  • Freeze: For extended storage, freeze the cooled Kung Pao chicken in a freezer-safe container or bag. Label with the freezing date and store for up to 2-3 months.
  • Reheat: Gently reheat the refrigerated dish in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through. If frozen, thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight before reheating using your preferred method.

What To Serve With This Recipe?

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:

  • Steamed Jasmine Rice: The classic choice to complement the bold flavors of Kung Pao chicken.
  • Vegetable Fried Rice: Add an extra layer of flavor with a side of fried rice loaded with colorful vegetables.
  • Chow Mein or Lo Mein: Stir-fried noodles with vegetables provide a satisfying and noodle-filled pairing.
  • Sesame Noodles: Serve cold sesame noodles for a delightful and nutty side dish.
  • Asian Slaw: A cabbage-based slaw with an Asian-inspired dressing offers a crunchy and tangy option.
  • Edamame: Steamed edamame sprinkled with sea salt provides a protein-rich and satisfying side.
  • Egg Drop Soup: A simple and soothing egg drop soup complements the spiciness of Kung Pao chicken.

FAQ’S

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.

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.

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.

Kung Pao Chicken

Instant pot Kung Pao chicken

Yield: 2-4
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
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1/3 Cups Roasted Peanuts
  • 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt,
  • 1 Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 4 Dried Red Chili peppers
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Hit the sear or sauté button on your Instant Pot, add the oil, and let it heat up.
  2. While it’s heating, season your chicken with salt and diced bell peppers. Then, cook it on each side for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Once the chicken is browned on both sides, hit cancel to turn off the sauté function.
  4. Next, add the soy sauce, honey, Chinese five spice powder, minced garlic, and red pepper chili flakes. Mix well.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Sauté these for about three minutes until your bell pepper and zucchini become tender.
  9. 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.
  10. Garnish your chicken dish with chopped scallions and serve on rice or noodles.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 593Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 1888mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 4gSugar: 24gProtein: 48g

Did you make this recipe?

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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.

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