Before you decide on take-out, save yourself some money and try this sweet and savory Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken with a spicy kick! It has the perfect amount of sweet, the perfect amount of crunch, and the perfect amount of heat in every bite.
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Why We Love Kung Pao Chicken
With a sauce that offers the perfect punch of heat, crunchy peanuts, fresh veggies, and sweet spices, this is the best kung pao chicken recipe I’ve ever made. We all love a good Asian dish, but I think this recipe is one of my favorites, and 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 Asian dishes like Cashew Chicken or General Tso Chicken.
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:
- Chicken breasts– Use boneless skinless chicken breasts cut and diced into bite-sized cubes.
- Bell pepper– For this recipe, I used a green bell pepper, but yellow or red would add even more flavor and color to your dish.
- Zucchini– You can’t have a Chinese stir fry without zucchini.
- Peanuts– Nuts give your kung pao chicken a nutty flavor, and a crunchy texture.
- Soy sauce– Sweet and salty, this adds another layer of flavor to your chicken.
- Honey– Use real honey for this recipe to really bring out the sweet along with the heat.
- Minced garlic– To save time mincing your own garlic, I get minced garlic in a jar.
- Olive oil– I used olive oil to sauté my chicken but you can use vegetable oil, canola oil, or even butter if you choose.
- Seasonings– All recipes need a few spices. For this one you’ll need salt, pepper, and red pepper chili flakes.
- 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.
- Red chili peppers– These really amp up the heat, but if you don’t want it too spicy, you can leave them out.
Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom for a full list of exact 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 pepper. 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. Then, 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, bell pepper, 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 sauté mode, add your chicken back to the pot, and cook for another two minutes so that the chicken warms up alongside the remaining ingredients.
Serve and Enjoy!
Kung Poa Chicken Recipe 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 chili pepper flakes out.
Are You Supposed to Eat the Peppers?
No, the peppers are just there for flavoring not necessarily to be eaten. However, if you like it when your mouth is on fire, it won’t hurt you to eat them.
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.
Add your kung pao chicken to a bowl or 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:
- Instant Pot Chinese Lo Mein
- Instant Pot Chicken Chow Mein
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- The Best Instant Pot Hibachi Fried Rice
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 lb. chicken breasts (about 2-3 breasts)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 dried red chili peppers
- 2/3 cup peanuts (I prefer unsalted)
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 zucchini, sliced and then in halves
- ½ cup soy sauce, low sodium
- ½ cup of water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon red pepper chili flakes, dried
- Turn your instant pot on to sauté. While you are allowing your instant pot to heat up, season both sides with your salt and pepper. Cut and dice your chicken.
- Add your chicken into instant pot and cook each side for about 3 to 4 minutes. 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.
- Once you have finished cooking your chicken for 3 to 4 minutes, add in your soy sauce, honey, Chinese five spice powder, minced garlic, red pepper chili flakes. Mix together.
- Close the lid on your instant pot and close the ceiling valve by it pushing it away from you. Pressure cook for four minutes.
- Once your instant pot has released pressure, do a quick release by releasing the steam valve by bringing the valve toward you. Remove the chicken from your instant pot and set aside.
- Turn your instant pot on to sauté mode one more time and add any more oil if needed. Add in your zucchini, bell pepper, red chili peppers, and peanuts. Sauté these for about three minutes until your bell pepper and zucchini become tender.
- With your instant pot still on sauté mode, add your chicken back to the pot, and cook for another two minutes so that the chicken warms up alongside the remaining ingredients.
- Add your Kung Pao chicken to a bowl or rice. It is perfect over white or brown rice, and top with green onions or sesame seeds!
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
More Asian Dishes You’ll Love
- Instant Pot Chinese Pork
- Instant Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken
- Fire Cracker Chicken in the Instant Pot
- Instant Pot Orange Chicken
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About Angela Milnes
Angela Milnes is a Qualified Teacher who has specialised in Preschool and Kindergarten teaching. She has studied nutrition for children and has also taught cooking skills to adults. Angela loves to share family meals and easy instant pot recipes here on The Inspiration Edit. Follow her on Pinterest!