Instant Pot Cashew Chicken with golden fried cashews, boneless tender chicken smothered in a delicious home-made savory sauce. This is the Best Instant Pot Cashew Chicken you’ll ever make with fresh ingredients. It’s time to ditch the Asian take-out!
Easy Instant Pot Cashew Chicken
Imagine crispy golden fried cashews and juicy chicken bites doused in a savory sauce that tastes gazillion times better than your favorite Chinese take-out!
Because it’s MSG free and made with all good stuffs just like this Instant Pot Chicken Fried Rice.
You just need some awesome steamed bowl of Jasmine rice to satiate those typical Chinese take-out pangs 😀
Or Instant Pot Cashew Chicken and noodles is a great idea too – what say?
Our Cashew Chicken sauce has a little zing to it from sriracha sauce and a few dashes of red pepper flakes.
It’s so good and satisfying in every way that our Friends and family love to lick off the last drop of sauce.
This recipe is perfect for weeknight dinners and meal preps.
Once you try this Instant Pot Cashew Chicken with rice you’ll never go back to Chinese take-out order again. I guarantee!
Don’t miss the tips shared in the post.
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements way below the post on the “Recipe Card“. The list below is just a reference.
- Skinless Boneless Chicken: Use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs. I used organic farm fresh chicken breast pieces.
- Hoisin Sauce: You can buy this at any Asian grocery store or at major American Supermarkets in the Asian Aisle. Don’t skip it or sub it with any other sauces. Hoisin is the star ingredient today.
- Dark Soy Sauce: This is one of our most favorite Asian sauces with a huge depth of flavor, a dark color and a lovely texture. It’s a thick sauce unlike the light soy sauce or Tamari.
- Soy Sauce: You can also use regular soy sauce or light soy sauce or even Tamari. I will highly recommend the low sodium variety.
- Sriracha Sauce: It adds magic to the Instant Pot Cashew Chicken Recipe. A little zingy and a bit spicy. Greatly recommended.
- Rice Vinegar: Adds a slight sweet sour base to the recipe.
- Whole raw Cashews: Unroasted and unsalted. You’ll be shallow frying them in oil until lovely golden in color. So yum and so crsipy. Do avoid the salted roasted cashews from the store. You can however add the store bought unsalted roasted cashews only if you cannot find raw cashews at any store.
- Red Pepper Flakes: This adds a bit of a kick to the recipe. However, if you are totally heat intolerant skip adding them.
- Cornstarch Slurry: A quick slurry made by mixing cornstarch and water. This will help thicken the amazing sauce.
- Chinese Dry Whole red chilies: Totally optional. They add a subtle punch, a feeble smokiness and makes the dish aesthetically beautiful 🙂
- Any neutral oil.
Tips & Tricks
- Saute the Chicken: Sauteing the chicken until lightly golden around the edges helps mimic that Asian restaurant style wok flavor. We don’t want the recipe to taste like some boiled food anyways!
- Fry the Whole Raw Cashews until golden: This will give the recipe an amazing nutty flavor that’s so irresistible. The cashews become crispy and so addictive that you’ll eat them as such 😀
- Pressure cook the chicken first and than add sauces: We have tried the other way round, i.e. pressure cooked the chicken along with the sauces. The result was not very impressive. The sauces lost their potency to some extent. Hence, adding them after the pressure cooking cycle and than thickening them is the best thing to do. We were totally impressed with the outcome.
- The Sauce: If you love a sweet and savory sauce do add 2 tbsp brown sugar. I added none and we love a savory sauce for Cashew Chicken. The sauce also thickens gradually as the dish cools down so, adjust the consistency of the sauce accordingly.
- Thicken the sauce: The cornstarch slurry does a fabulous job in thickening the sauces. You can keep the sauce flow-y or really thick – choose what you love. Simmer the sauces more to thicken more.
- Add the dried red chilies at the end: This will prevent the dish from becoming very spicy or mouth numbing. At the same time it will lend a slight kick. You can totally skip adding them too.
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements way below the post on the “Recipe Card“.
Step #1 Shallow fry the Whole Cashews
Shallow fry the raw cashews in oil until golden.
Do this in the Instant Pot set on SAUTE at NORMAL settings.
Golden crispy cashews adds tons of flavor to the dish and without a doubt they are much better than the store bought roasted cashews.
Step #2 Saute the Chicken
Now saute the cubed flash marinated chicken. Use the same settings in your Instant Pot.
Half way through add the red pepper flakes and saute the chicken until lightly golden.
The golden sauteed chicken bites helps mimic the restaurant style wok flavor. So so good! Don’t skip sauteing the chicken.
Step #3 Pressure Cook
CANCEL the SAUTE function.
Add liquid and de-glaze the pot very well scraping the bottom and the sides with the help of your spatula. This is to prevent the BURN error.
Close the lid, seal the valve and pressure cook on HIGH for just 1 min if using farm fresh organic chicken breast pieces or 3 mins for regular chicken.
Do a quick pressure release (QPR) once the pressure cooking cycle is over.
Step #4 Simmer with sauces
Add sauces and corn starch slurry. If you prefer a sweeter sauce add 2 tbsp brown sugar now. This recipe contains no brown sugar and will reward you with a savory sauce.
Turn on the SAUTE function and set it on LOW.
Simmer the sauce until it thickens to the desired consistency that you prefer.
Finally add the fried cashews and whole red chilies.
Give everything a good mix and serve hot with steamed Jasmine rice or a side of noodles. Enjoy!
The Instant Pot Cashew Chicken lasts for 5 days in the fridge when stored in moisture free air tight containers.
You can also freeze it in individual freezer safe bags or containers for upto 1 month.
Skip the whole Chinese dry chilies if you decide to freeze it.
The sauce thickens gradually as the dish cools down.
I generally prefer to sprinkle a few drops of water and than re-heat it in a microwave oven until it becomes warm.
However, if you choose to re-heat the Cashew Chicken on the stove top I would highly recommend that you fish out the chilies first and than re-heat it with a few sprinkles of water and than add back the chilies at the end.
This will prevent the dish from becoming spicy!
For frozen cashew chicken go ahead and thaw it over night in the fridge first and than follow the above re-heating instructions.
The delicious Instant Pot Cashew Chicken tastes best on a bed of steamed white Jasmine rice or with Noodles stir fry like this Instant Pot Ramen Stir Fry.
More Asian-Take Out Recipes
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- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs diced into 1/2 inch cubes (I used organic farm fresh chicken breasts)
- 1/2 cup Cashews (read NOTES below)
- 4 tbsp any neutral oil
- 1 tsp red chili flakes (Optional)
- 5 Whole Dried Chinese Red Chilies (optional)
For the Sauce
For Flash marinating the chicken (Optional step)
Thickener (Cornstarch Slurry)
- 1/4 cup water
- Flash marinate the cubed chicken pieces with light soy sauce and sesame oil. This step is totally optional. It gives the chicken a nice color and kind of works like velveting the chicken.
- Set the Instant Pot on SAUTE and set it on NORMAL. Add 2 tbsp oil and when the oil becomes moderately hot gently release the whole raw cashews and shallow fry them until nicely golden in color. Stir the cashews often while frying them. Set the golden fried cashews aside.
- Now, add the rest of the oil and saute the flash marinated chicken pieces until they are lightly golden around the edges. Add the red pepper flakes half way through while sauteing the chicken.
- Next, CANCEL the SAUTE function and add the water to the pot. De-glaze the pot very well by scraping the sides and the bottom of the pot with the help of your spatula. This will help to prevent the BURN error. There should not be any bits and crumbs stuck at the bottom of the pot.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot and seal the Valve. PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for just 1 min in case of organic farm fresh chicken or 3 mins in case of regular chicken.
- Once the pressure cooking cycle is over the Instant Pot will begin to beep. Immediately do a QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE manually by moving the valve from the SEALING to the VENTING position. Open the lid carefully when the metal pin on the lid drops.
- CANCEL the Pressure cook function and set the Instant Pot back to SAUTE function and keep it on LOW.
- Add all the sauce ingredients like Hoisin, Sriracha, Dark Soy, Light Soy, Rice Vinegar and also the cornstarch slurry (the thickener). If you prefer a sweet sauce add 2 tbsp brown sugar now (I didn’t add any). Give everything a good stir and simmer until the sauce thickens. The simmering time totally depends on how thick or how thin you want the sauce to be. I simmered the sauce for about 2-3 mins approximately. We prefer a thick sauce.
- When the sauce reaches the consistency that you prefer add back the golden fried cashews and the Chinese dry red chilies. Give everything a good stir and enjoy with some Jasmine rice or noodles. The sauce will thicken further as the dish cools down. Enjoy!
- Measuring Units Used, 1 cup = 240 ml & 1 teaspoon = 5 ml.
- Sauce Consistency: Cashew Chicken tastes best in a thick sauce that beautifully coats each chicken piece. However, if you prefer a slightly thinner sauce simmer down the sauce less and stop when you reach the right consistency.
- For Sweet and Savory Sauce: Today’s recipe results in a savory sauce. However, if you prefer a sweet and savory sauce add 2 tbsp brown sugar with all other sauce ingredients and cook down the sauce.
- Chinese dry whole red chilies: You can buy them from any Asian grocery store ore even order from Amazon. They add a slight zing to the recipe wihout making it spicy and also makes the dish aesthetically beautiful. If you can’t find them skip suing them.
- Raw whole cashews: These are the star ingredient of todays recipe. Do not use the store bought roasted and salted cashews. If you cannot manage to find the raw cashews do use store bought roasted unsalted cashews. The cashews add a crispy bite, a whole lot of nuttiness to this amazing dish. And the best flavor is acheived from raw cashews.
- Chicken cooking time: Organic farm fresh boneless skinless chicken breats or thighs = 1 mins HIGH PRESSURE/QPR and Regular Chicken = 3 mins HIGH PRESSURE/QPR.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Adds a slight zing to the recipe. Skip using them if you are totally heat intolerant.
- Doubling the recipe: The cook time will remain the same even if you double the recipe.
- Storing Tips: The Instant Pot Cashew Chicken lasts for 5 days in the refrigerator when kept in moisture free air tight contaner.
- Freezing Instruction: Freeze the dish in individual portion size freezer safe bags for upto 1 month. Avoid the Chinese dry red chilies. Thaw over night in the fridge and re-heat in the microwave oven. The cashews will become softer.