The beauty of Instant pot Kung Pao chicken is that you can make it as spicy as you like it.
It’s also quick and fairly easy to put together.
This version has minimal spice with suggestions to spice it up your way.
What’s funny is that as popular as Kung Pao chicken is in the US, it’s not as beloved in China.
US versus China Kung Pao views
One of the things I find most interesting when I research the dishes I make is how different the dish can be in its place of origin.
While researching Kung Pao chicken, I found out a few things.
One is that both Kung Pao chicken and General Tso’s chicken are named after Chinese generals.
The other is that one of the dishes is nowhere to be found in China.
One of those things is obviously not a shock.
What might be a shock is learning you will not find General Tso’s chicken in China.
In fact, many see General Tso’s chicken as an abomination because of its bold flavors and syrupy sweetness.
But, back to the star of this article.
Kung Pao chicken is not embraced in China as it is in the US.
There are many reasons for that, including the fact that chicken breast is not a favorite meat in China because chicken breast tends to be tough and dry.
In addition, Chinese diners prefer more subtle flavors, and Kung Pao chicken’s sauce packs a pretty big culinary punch of flavor.
You can read more about the history and complicated relationship the Chinese have with the dish here.
So, how do we make this American favorite dish?
Tips for Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Success
Gather your ingredients before you start cooking, especially when you have as many ingredients as this recipe does.
Do not let this recipe intimidate you, though.
Chinese sauces tend to use several ingredients to create wonderful flavors.
This meal is fairly easy to make even though it has a bit more prep time than other meals.
Be sure to see the notes in the recipe about making rice for this dish.
Here are a some extra tips to make this dish as easy as possible.
- Assemble all of your ingredients in the order that you will use them.
- Peel and dice your onion.
- Mince the garlic.
- Check out the pictures below if you’ve never grated fresh ginger before and my post about How to chop a bell pepper so you don’t get seeds all over the place.
- Chop your chicken into bite sized pieces
- If possible, cook with someone and have them read the recipe to you as you cook because cooking is more fun with people and then you won’t skip any steps, not that I’ve ever done that (cough cough yes I have).
- If you’re cooking this on your own, read through the entire recipe before you start cooking. There are not that many steps, and I write recipes as if people are brand new cooking.
- Have fun. Cooking is a skill I believe anyone can learn and master with practice. Everyone who cooks well has messed up and thrown a meal in the garbage. If you mess up, there’s always delivery and take out, but if you follow the steps here, you shouldn’t need those, at least tonight.
Some people prefer to use a spoon to scrape the outside of the ginger with a spoon.
I prefer using a knife and then using a grater.
It takes a bit of work, and honestly, you can use prepared ginger to avoid this step if you don’t want to go through this.
Let’s get cooking!
- 2 tbs dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tbs Hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast and/or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 cup sliced carrots
- 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup Peanuts
- 2 chopped green onions
- Combine the dry sherry, black bean garlic sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, sesame oil and red pepper flakes in a bowl and set aside.
- Mix chicken pieces with cornstarch.
- Select Saute on your Instant Pot and add the vegetable oil.
- When the oil begins to shimmer/gets hot, add the garlic and ginger.
- Saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Stir in chicken and saute for an additional 3 minutes.
- Add the onions and carrots and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.
- Press Cancel/Keep Warm, place the lid on the Instant Pot making sure the vent is closed, and set the Instant Pot on Manual for 2 minutes.
- At the end of the cooking cycle, let the Instant Pot naturally pressure release for 5 minutes.
- Release the remaining pressure and open the Instant Pot.
- Sir in the peanuts and serve over rice with the green onions as a garnish.
To make the rice ahead of time in your Instant Pot, put equal amounts of rice and water or broth in the pot, secure the lid and press the Rice button. That's it!
To up the level of spice in this recipe, you can add Chinese chilies to the pot before adding the lid. How many you add is up to you.
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Holland House Cooking Wine, Sherry, 16 oz
Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce - 8 oz.
Marukan Genuine Brewed Rice Vinegar, 12 Fl Oz
Domino Light Brown Sugar 1 Lb 2 Pack
San-J Organic Gluten Free Soy Sauce Tamari -- 10 fl oz - 2 pc
Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce, 36 Ounce
Kadoya Sesame Oil, 22.10 Fluid Ounce
McCormick Crushed Red Pepper, 1.5 oz
Rumford Non-Gmo Corn Starch, 6.5 Ounce
Bombay Market Basmati White Rice - 4 Pound Bag
Accmor 11 Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons Cups Set, Premium Stackable Tablespoons Measuring Set for Gift Dry Liquid Ingredients Cooking Baking
Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup Set (4-Piece, Microwave and Oven Safe ),Clear
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, and Warmer, 6 Quart, 14 One-Touch Programs
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, and Warmer, 8 Quart, 14 One-Touch Programs
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 533Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 913mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 50g
All nutrition information is approximate and for informational use only. Your serving sizes and nutrition information may differ.
I share pictures of the cooking process whenever I can and hope they help you to see how things look as you make them.
For this recipe, my son helped with the photography.
Neither of us is a professional photographer but hopefully you get an idea of how the recipe should look.
Even if our photos aren’t the greatest, I hope they’re still helpful.
Follow along with pictures of the cooking process.
Homemade Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken
All original image in this article by Christopher Bemmes.
Additional Instant Pot recipes you might like
Final notes about this dish
You can easily adapt this recipe for beef or pork.