Instant Pot Orange Chicken is healthier than takeout and easy to make using your Instant Pot. Made with fresh orange juice and orange zest for great flavor.
We love using Instant Pot to make easy and delicious dishes. Our Pressure Cooker Orange Chicken is the most popular recipe on the blog. Other readers’ favorite dishes are Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta, Instant Pot Mongolian Beef, and Instant Pot Mongolia Chicken.
The Best Instant Pot Orange Chicken
Instant Pot Orange Chicken is one of the easiest and most flavorful dishes that you can make in just 30 minutes. Forget about takeout, this easy Chinese dinner made with easy to find ingredients is so good that it will become a staple in your house.
The Orange Chicken is made entirely in the Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot, so fewer dishes for you to clean. Made with orange juice and orange zest gives the dish an amazingly fresh aroma. Sweet and hearty, served over brown rice, this dinner is so much healthier than takeout and also budget-friendly, as you will have leftovers that taste great.
We will also share how to make the copycat version of Panda Express Orange Chicken below. In addition, this recipe can be made in the crockpot just as easily. Give it a try, and you will see why this is one of the best Asian dishes you can make in the Pressure Cooker.
Why You’ll Enjoy This Instant Pot Orange Chicken:
- It is easy to make and it takes only around 30 minutes!
- Only one pot to clean and that is the Instant Pot.
- The dish is packed with amazing flavors and lean protein.
- It is perfect for busy weeknights and also for entertaining guests.
- You will have delicious leftovers that can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
How to make Instant Pot Orange Chicken?
This is a super easy recipe to make and ready in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. For exact ingredient measures, please see the recipe card below. Also, watch the short video tutorial to guide you with the cooking process. But the general cooking steps are as follows:
- Saute the Chicken in the Pressure Cooker: Turn the Instant Pot ON and select “sauté” mode, adjust heat to more. Then, add the oil to the hot pot, and add the chicken and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times. Cook until it just starts to get golden. It is important when sautéing it, to stir constantly so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. NOTE: You can also sauté the meat in a skillet over the stove.
- Make the sauce and add it to the meat: Once the meat is browned, add all the sauce ingredients to it in the pot along with the tomato sauce. Stir gently, and close the lid. Select manual, and select 5 minutes on High Pressure. Make sure the vent is closed. After, allow a 10-minute natural pressure release.
- Add the cornstarch and cook for a few more minutes: Evenly add the cornstarch to the mix, and gently stir, until all the ingredients are combined, and there are no lumps. Close the lid, and cook on Sauté function for a few more minutes, stirring gently, until the sauce thickens.
- Serve: Enjoy it warm with some white or brown rice.
How to avoid the “burn notice”?
In some cases, you might end up getting the “burn notice” while sauteeing the meat. To avoid this issue in the Pressure Cooker, ensure that there are no browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan after sautéeing food. Also, I love to deglaze it with some liquid and gently scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.
What is best to serve with Orange Chicken?
- We love serving it with Instant Pot white rice or any type of brown rice
- Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus or bok choy
Can Orange Chicken be made in your Crockpot?
This dish can also be made in your Crockpot or in the Instant Pot using the Slow Cooker function. Add browned chicken to the Slow Cooker, add the orange mixture except for the slurry. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
Make the slurry, gently stir it in and cook on high for 20 more minutes. Serve and enjoy!
How to make Stir Fried Orange Chicken?
If you like to make this Chinese inspired dish the traditional way, you could easily make it on the stovetop. We have the crispy Panda Express Orange Chicken version of this recipe as well and can be found by clicking this link.
How to make Orange Zest?
- Rinse the orange.
- Set your tool over a cutting board. A microplane produces a very fine zest, perfect for baking and cooking. If you don’t have a microplane, use the smallest holes on an ordinary grater.
- Grate the skin of the orange only. Grate just enough to get through the orange skin, this way you can avoid the bitter white pith underneath.
- Rotate the orange and repeat. Once the white pith is exposed, rotate the orange and zest the next strip of peel. Repeat until most of the peel is removed, or until you have enough zest for your recipe.
What is a 10 Minutes Natural Pressure Release?
A Natural Pressure Release means that the pressure is released gradually. For a Natural Pressure Release, you click on Keep Warm, and wait 10 minutes, after which you open the valve and let any leftover pressure to release. Another option is to Turn Off/Unplug the pressure cooker, wait 10 minutes and after that open the valve.
A natural release is usually used when cooking soups, meat in a large amount of sauce, pasta or steel-cut oats. This method prevents any foam from the dish to shoot out through the valve, which can happen during a Quick Pressure Release.
Looking for more Instant Pot Recipes? Check my collection here:
- I always say this, but a good meat centered meal starts with quality meat, so use organic chicken breasts.
- I used No Sugar Added Orange juice since the recipe already asks for sugar. If you want to use sweetened orange juice I would say to reduce the added sugar, taste and adjust.
- The tomato sauce is optional, it adds a nice tangy flavor if you prefer that.
- Using fresh orange zest is key and please don’t skip this step, it will add amazing flavor.
- Cornstarch is a key ingredient in here, do not try to replace it with flour, the results will not be the same.
- When it comes to adding the cornstarch, I recommend mixing the cornstarch with orange juice until dissolved and add the slurry to the Instant Pot at the end to thicken the sauce.
- If the sauce is too runny, mix another 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch with water and add it to the Instant Pot. Please note, that the sauce will get thicker with time, so definitely wait a bit before adding more cornstarch.
- You can also taste and adjust the sugar in this recipe, I like my Orange Chicken on the sweeter side, but you can use less.
- Sriracha sauce is optional, I like the nice kick of heat that it adds, you can add more or less as you please.
- For extra flavor add 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger!
Tools/Ingredients I used to make the Instant Pot Orange Chicken Recipe:
- Instant Pot – I use it all the time, either the Pressure Cooker function or the Slow Cooker function, I also like that I can just sauté / brown the meat and veggies directly in the pot using the Sauté function.
- Cornstarch – I prefer using cornstarch instead of flour to thicken sauces, and this organic brand is my favorite.
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Total time: 30 mins
- 2 lbs chicken breast or thighs (cut into 1-2 inch pieces)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup orange juice (no sugar added)
- 1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
- 6 cloves garlic* (minced)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine (or dry white wine**)
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (optional)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup lite soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha***
- zest from 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 4 green onions (sliced)
- extra orange zest
It is important for the chicken not to have any extra moisture, dry it with a few paper towels and after that cut the chicken into 1-2 inch chunks.
Heat up your pressure cooker: press Sauté -> click on the Adjust button -> select More to get the Sauté More function, which means that the food will be sautéed over medium-high heat. Wait for the Instant Pot indicator to read HOT.
Add the oil to the hot Instant Pot, add the chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times. Cook until it just starts to get golden. When sautéing it, stir constantly so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Also, after you sauté the chicken, check if bits stuck to the bottom, in that case, deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup orange juice and scrape them with a wooden spoon. If you leave the bits stuck to the bottom, they may burn or cause the pot not to come to pressure.
If you want a truly golden-brown chicken, brown it on the stove top, as the Instant Pot isn't really good for that.
Add the Sauce ingredients to the pot: remaining 3/4 cups of orange juice, minced garlic, ginger, soy sauce, white sugar, brown sugar, rice wine, orange zest and Sriracha sauce. You can skip the Sriracha sauce or add more if you prefer your food on the spicier side.
Add the tomato sauce if you are using it. The tomato sauce adds a tanginess to the overall sweet recipe, and it makes it taste more savory. It is based on your own preference. I like it both ways: with and without the sauce. You can use less, or completely leave it out if you want a pure orange aroma.
Stir gently until all the ingredients are combined and coated in sauce.
Close lid, select Manual, and select 5 minutes on High Pressure. Make sure the vent is closed.
Use a 10 minute Natural Release. Turn off the heat. Release the remaining pressure by opening the vent. Open the lid.
Select again the Sauté function, on LOW. In a medium bowl combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with the orange juice, whisk until all combined with no lumps.
Add the mixture to the Instant Pot and gently stir to combine. Cook on Sauté function for a few more minutes, stirring gently, until the sauce thickens. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
If you want the sauce even thicker, mix one more tablespoon of cornstarch with orange juice and add it to the pot.
Let the Orange Chicken stand for 5-7 minutes, the sauce will thicken more.
Serve over rice and garnish with fresh chopped green onions and extra orange zest.
*I love the extra garlic in this dish, for some people it may be too much, you can use 3-4 cloves only, if you are not a huge garlic fan.
**You can also skip it if you don't have any on hand.
***You can add more or less Sriracha or skip it entirely, based on preference or use red pepper flakes.