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Last updated on May 29th, 2024 at 03:53 pm

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Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken [VIDEO]

Juicy and tender chunks of chicken cooked in a sweet and sour sauce made with pineapple juice make this Instant Pot sweet and sour chicken a quick and easy dinner that tastes incredible. Using chicken thighs instead of breasts gives this dish a more tender bite with a more intense flavor, and the pineapples add a nice sweetness to this savory dish.

You can make this tasty Sweet and Sour Chicken for dinner in about 30 minutes, any night of the week, but it is perfect for busy nights when you need something fast. You will love the thick sauce that clings to every bite, giving every forkful a variety of flavors. Although I usually use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, in this meal, I use thighs for a meatier taste.

The sweet and sour flavors mix well with the dark meat, making it much more enjoyable. Served with rice or noodles and various side dishes, you can turn this meal into a fun dinner party for the family or friends. Serve with different sauces like orange, Szechuan, and general tso sauce. That way, everyone can add what they like.

The kids love this dish because of its sweetness, but I love it too because of the blend of flavors that turns every bite into an experience. Serve it with some white rice or brown rice on the side.

Why you will love this recipe

  • It’s quick and simple: In approximately 30 minutes, you can have this delicious dish ready to eat.
  • One pot: Using the instant pot for everything means you only have one to clean.
  • Full of protein: Chicken is full of lean protein and vitamins for a healthy meal.
  • Excellent taste: This sweet and sour chicken is bursting with flavors.

What you’ll need to make instant pot sweet and sour chicken

Special items:

  • An instant pot – you can use any instant pot model.
  • Wooden spoon – For stirring and serving.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken – I use boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into two-inch chunks.
  • Pineapple chunks – Canned pineapple works fine for me, packed in pineapple juice.
  • Pineapple juice – Use a half cup of juice from the canned pineapple.
  • Bell peppers – I prefer organic red bell peppers cut into one-and-a-half-inch chunks.
  • Ginger – Fresh minced ginger gives this dish the best flavor.
  • Ketchup – Adds a nice color and extra sweetness.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Perfect to add to the tanginess and sourness of the chicken.
  • Soy sauce – I use reduced-sodium sauce, so it is not too salty.
  • Sugar – White granulated sugar is just what this dish needs for the right flavor and texture.
  • Garlic – I recommend freshly minced garlic cloves for a lovely garlicky taste without bitterness.
  • Red chili flakes – Add just a touch of spiciness.
  • Canola oil – Any cooking oil will work for this dish.
  • Cornstarch – Mix with extra pineapple juice for slurry.

For the garnish:

  • Green onions – Chopped into small pieces.
  • Sesame seeds – I like to toast mine to make them crunchier and nuttier.
  • Red pepper flakes – Just a bit for a touch of heat.

How to make instant pot sweet and sour chicken?

  1. Chop and sauté chicken: First, chop the chicken into chunks while the pot heats on the sauté more setting. When the light clicks on hot, add the oil and wait a minute before adding the chicken. Sauté for three minutes until golden brown, stirring a few times.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients: Next, add the garlic, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Stir and add the pineapples and bell peppers.
  3. Cook the chicken: Close the lid and cook for five minutes on high. Then, let it naturally release for 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure. Stir gently.
  4. Make the sauce: Set your pot to sauté again and mix the cornstarch and juice while you wait. After it is hot, stir in the slurry and cook for another five minutes on sauté until the sauce thickens.
  5. Let it rest: After, turn off the pot and let it rest for five to seven minutes. It will thicken even more as it sits. Serve with green onions, sesame seeds, and red peppers sprinkled on top.

Expert tip

Making sure your instant pot is ready

Before you start cooking this delicious dish, it is essential to check your instant pot to make sure it is ready. First, make sure the sealing ring is settled in place. That is what keeps the pressure in as it cooks. Wiggle it around to ensure it has some room for expansion and keep it from getting stuck. Also, be sure there is at least one cup of liquid in the pot.

Then, after you set it on high, be sure the lid is closed, and the steam release valve is sealed. The pot will pressurize now, which can take a while. The pot will say “on” while it builds pressure. When it is ready, the floating valve will pop up, and the timer will start counting down to whatever you set it on.

With this recipe, you will let the cooker release the pressure on its own for 10 minutes before you move the steam release valve to the vent. Be careful to keep your hand out of the way because the steam is scalding. It can also help if you scrape the bottom of the pot before you close it to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom. That will cause a burn error.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Other juices: I have made this with apple juice, orange juice, and even lemon juice for a more sour taste.
  • More fruit: Add extra fruits like mango, chopped apples, mandarin oranges, and cherries for more sweet and sour flavors.
  • Extra toppings: To make this even more filling, top it with edamame, microgreens, shredded purple cabbage, cucumber slices, and shredded carrots.
  • Spicier chicken: Marinate your chicken in a spicy marinade made with sriracha, honey, hot sauce, and red chili paste.
  • Herbs and spices: Take the flavor to the next level by adding your favorite herbs and spices. I suggest cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, star anise, and cloves.

Serving suggestions:

Try some of these ideas for serving this tasty meal.

  • Instead of rice or pasta, serve your sweet and sour chicken on lo mein noodles or soba noodles.
  • Skip the traditional rice and use cauliflower rice for fewer carbohydrates and calories.
  • You could skip the rice entirely and serve it on top of a bed of lettuce.
  • Add on the side vegetables such as steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, or oven roasted bok choy.
  • Another way to serve this is with tofu or tempeh instead of chicken for a vegan meal.
  • Make it a whole Asian meal with egg rolls, dumplings, and crab rangoon on the side. For a different taste, try my cheeseburger eggrolls.
  • Serve the kids pineapple lemonade while the adults enjoy pina coladas or pineapple mojitos.

Frequently asked questions

Why is my instant pot chicken rubbery and tough?

The most common reason you have rubbery and tough meat when cooking it in the instant pot is that it is overcooked. This is especially important when using smaller chunks of chicken. I prefer to cut the chicken into two-inch chunks rather than one-inch. On the other hand, if you do not cook it long enough, it can also be rubbery. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it is 165 degrees F before removing it.

How long does it take to cook chicken in the instant pot?

Since cutting your chunks larger than usual, check them after the pressure is released. If they are under 163 degrees F, close them and cook them for another minute. Then release the pressure and check them again. When they reach 163 or 164, you can let them stand for five minutes, and they will continue to cook during that time. Just make sure the chunks are 165 degrees F before serving.

How do I know when my instant pot is done?

When the timer beeps, that does not mean it is finished, and it is time to open the pot. You must let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before turning the release valve to the vent. Then, wait for the floating valve to be ultimately in the down position before carefully opening the lid. It should make a clicking sound when the pressure is gone, and no more steam will come out of the vent.

Is it better to slow cook or pressure cook chicken?

Slow cookers take longer than instant pots, so if you need your chicken fast, you can get the same juicy results in the instant pot in minutes instead of hours. However, if you want to let your meat simmer for hours in the sauce while you go about your day, you can use a slow cooker or crock pot. Either way, the temperature has to be 165 degrees F with a meat thermometer before serving.

How to store leftovers:

  • Refrigerate: Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.   
  • Freezing: If you need to store it longer, place it in a freezer bag, and you can freeze it for up to three months.   
  • Defrost: Let your frozen leftovers thaw overnight in the fridge to get the best texture and taste.
  • Reheating: You can reheat your chicken in the oven for 15 minutes, in the microwave for one or two minutes, or stir-fry it in a skillet.

Instant pot Asian recipes:

Recipe tips:

  • You can use a skillet if your instant pot does not have a sauté setting.
  • You can use canned or fresh pineapple but don’t use frozen, as this will add water to the sauce and make it too runny.
  • If the sauce is runny, mix one or two tablespoons of cornstarch with pineapple juice and add it to your pot.
  • Be sure to use cornstarch. Flour does not work the same in this silky sauce.
  • Skip the red pepper flakes or replace it with paprika if you do not like spicy food.
  • Add at least one cup of liquid to the pot for the pressure to build.

Watch Recipe Video:

YouTube video

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Instant Pot sweet and sour chicken is a quick, easy, better-than-takeout dinner that tastes incredible and is ready in 30 minutes!

  • Prep Time10 MIN
  • Cook Time20 MIN
  • Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs cut into 1” chunks
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice from the canned pineapple
  • 1 10 ounces can pineapple chunks reserve juice
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1.5” chunks

Cornstarch Slurry:

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons pineapple juice

Garnish:

  • Red pepper flakes
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Green onions chopped

Instructions

  • Cut the chicken into 2-3 inch chunks. I prefer to leave them a bit larger as the pressure cooker tends to make the chicken very moist, which helps to avoid breaking the chicken pieces.
  • Heat up your pressure cooker: press Sauté, click on the Adjust button, and select More to activate the Sauté More function. This 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, wait one minute for the oil to heat up, and add the chicken. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times, until it just starts to get golden. This step can also be done on the stove if you want a more browned chicken, as the Instant Pot doesn't really brown the chicken too well.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the pot: ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and pineapple juice. Stir to combine.
  • Add pineapple chunks and chopped bell pepper.
  • Close the lid, select the Poultry function, and adjust the time to 5 minutes. If your IP does not have the poultry function, cook on Manual, select High Pressure, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Use a 10-minute Natural Release. Turn off the heat. Release the remaining pressure. Open the lid. Gently stir, being careful not to crush the chicken.

Cornstarch Slurry:

  • Select the Sauté function again. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with the juice and whisk until all is combined with no lumps. Add the mixture to the Instant Pot and gently stir to combine. Cook on Sauté function for five more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. This way, you can make the sauce thicker. You can add more if you want to make the sauce even thicker; please note that it thickens as it cools, too.
  • Turn off the Instant Pot and let the Sweet and Sour Chicken stand for 5-7 minutes; the sauce will thicken more.
  • Serve over rice with broccoli and garnish with fresh chopped green onions, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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Comments

(59)
Keli

Keli

Could you use chicken breasts cut into chunks instead of thighs?


Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

Connie

Connie

I made this starting this morning and just finished at 9 cst. But, it was well worth it. I'm 70 w/arthritis from head to toe, so alot was done sitting down. Plus, all the veggies needed cutting and there were a few errors, but it is not going to stop me from making it again. Just about to sit down and eat. I used broccoli, asparagus, red pepper, mushrooms.

Scott

Scott

I've made this so many times and is so good. Can we double the recipe in the 6qt instant pot? Not quite sure how to assess that.

Jill Richardson

Jill Richardson

This is the best sweet and sour recipe I've ever made. Others have always had this odd taste I couldn't place, but this one is perfect. It's my new go to!

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