Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken – the perfect easy pressure cooker recipe to curb that takeout craving for busy weeknights. Best of all, this popular favorite is healthier, low carb, keto and paleo friendly with the same classic sweet & spicy flavors as your local Chinese restaurant.
Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁 Gong Bao Ji Ding) has got to be one of the most popular Chinese takeout favorites. But did you also know it’s an authentic and much-loved recipe in Szechuan (Sichuan), China as well. My husband is a huge fan of anything spicy so this is one of his favorite takeout dishes.
Since we already have this easy Kung Pao Chicken Stir-Fry, Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken and Sheet Pan Kung Pao Chicken, I thought it was time to share an Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken for those of you that just got this pressure cooker.
HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT KUNG PAO CHICKEN:
- You’re going to start by lightly sauteing the chicken in the Instant Pot. This helps to give the chicken a nice brown coating and seal in the flavors.
- Next, you’re going to whisk together the ingredients for the simple low carb friendly sauce. It has all those signature restaurant flavors: tangy, sweet, and salty with just enough of a fiery kick. Usually Kung Pao Chicken uses soy sauce and hoisin sauce but we switched those out with fish sauce and five spice powder to keep this dish keto. I used monk fruit since it’s both keto and paleo friendly but feel free to use any low carb or paleo sweetener of your choice. The best part about making this recipe at home is that you can totally customize the level of heat you use as well.
- Press the MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK button (HIGH) for 4 minutes.
- Once the chicken is cooked, you’re going to add the zucchini, bell peppers and dried red chili peppers into the pot and saute. To thicken the sauce, stir in the cornstarch and water slurry.
- Serve over your favorite rice, quinoa, zoodles or cauliflower rice for a lower carb and paleo friendly option.
WHAT INGREDIENTS CAN I SUBSTITUTE IN THIS PALEO KUNG PAO CHICKEN?
- If you’re not a fan of chicken, substitute with shrimp, beef, pork or even tofu.
- Not a fan of bell peppers? Other vegetables that would work here include asparagus, green beans, broccoli or whatever else you like. Allergic to nuts? Feel free to leave them out.
- If you’re not following a keto, low carb or paleo diet, you can use another sweetener like honey or sugar instead. And instead of xanthan gum to thicken the sauce – a cornstarch slurry works great.
- Sensitive to spice? Feel free to leave out the dried red chili peppers or use dried red chili flakes if you can’t find the peppers.
Meal prep-tips for this Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken
- Keto Kung Pao Chicken works great for leftovers or you can make a batch on Sunday meal prep and pack for your weekly school or work lunch bowls
- For easier weekly meal prep – chop all the vegetables ahead of time and store in an airtight container the night before.
- Serve with your favorite side – Jasmine rice, brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetables or zoodles
- Make lunch the day before and store in an air-tight container – These are the ones I use —-> lunch container
Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken - the perfect easy pressure cooker recipe to curb that takeout craving for busy weeknights. Best of all, this popular favorite is healthier, low carb, keto, and paleo friendly with the same classic sweet & spicy flavors as your local Chinese restaurant.
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 - 1-1/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 pieces), cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 4-6 dried red chili peppers to taste found in Asian supermarkets or the International section of a large chain grocery store - see NOTE)
- 2/3 cup roasted cashews or roasted peanuts
- 1 red bell pepper chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 zucchini chopped into halves
- Sesame seeds and chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1-2 teaspoon granulated low carb sweetener , OR honey for paleo
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (use 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder for paleo)
- 1 Tablespoon water
- Cooked rice , cauliflower rice, zoodles, quinoa or noodles
- Lunch containers
Season chicken with salt and black pepper.
Turn Instant Pot to SAUTE (skip this step and just cook on MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK (high) for 5 minutes if you are in a pinch or prefer. Allow pan to heat up for a few minutes then add oil. Cook chicken about 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.
While the chicken is cooking, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl. Pour over chicken.
Close and seal Instant Pot and set the valve to sealing.
Press MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK (high) and set for 4 minutes. Once the 4 minutes is up and the Instant Pot beeps, do a quick release. Open the lid and transfer chicken to a large serving plate or bowl.
Return inner pot back to the Instant Pot. Press the SAUTE button and add additional oil as needed. Toss in the zucchini, bell peppers, and dried red chili peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Whisk together the xanthan gum with water (or use arrowroot starch for paleo) and add into the Instant Pot. Allow the sauce to bubble and thicken up. Return chicken back to the pot and cook for another 1-2 minutes until everything is heated through.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice. For non-low carb, you can serve with white or brown rice.
- Cook rice or your favorite side and divide evenly into lunch containers. Add cooked chicken and vegetables, cover and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.