Tom Kha Gai Instant Pot recipe is a quick and easy & extremely fragrant Thai Coconut chicken soup that you’ll love. The fresh aroma from the galangal, lemon grass, lime leaves & the thai chilies makes this hearty soup outstanding.
You can make it as spicy as you want or go for the sweet & non-spicy route. Don’t miss the ingredient substitutions & our Asian Take-Out Recipes!
What is Tom Kha Gai?
Tom Kha Gai means Thai Coconut Soup with chicken. Here, Gai = Chicken. This amazing Thai soup is made with coconut milk, lots of fresh ingredients like galangal, lemon grass, kéfir lime leaves, Thai chilies, cilantro, mushrooms & chicken.
You’ll love this fragrant, light yet creamy coconut milk based Thai Chicken Soup filled with citrus flavors. This hearty soup is extremely easy to make & tastes simply mindblowing.
Tom Kha Gai Ingredients & Substitutions
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements at the bottom of the post. The list below is just a reference.
- Chicken: Use skinless, boneless chicken breasts.
- Coconut Milk: Full fat unsweetened coconut milk is a must. Do not use fat free or sweetened coconut milk.
- Chicken Stock: You can use water as well. We used better than bouillon paste diluted in warm water.
- Mushrooms: You can use beach mushrooms, shiitake, Baby Bella or white mushrooms.
- Lemon Grass: You can use a stalk of lemon grass or use from the tube (available in the freezer section for herbs). Lime zest is a decent substitution.
- Galangal: This zingy, peppery, floral root smells amazing. It’s the ginger of Thai cuisine. You can buy it from any Asian grocery store. Use Ginger root if you cannot manage to find galangal in your area. Ginger is not the exact substitution as it tastes & smells hugely different than Galangal. However, it’ll make the soup taste amazing in a different way 🙂
- Kefir Lime Leaves: You can use regular lime leaves or replace it with lime zest. You can buy kefir lime leaves from any Asian grocery store.
- Thai Chilies: You can skip them if you do not prefer the heat from chilies or sub it with red pepper flakes.
- Lime Juice
- Fried Chili Oil: This ingredient is something that’ll make the soup incredible. It’s widely available in almost all American supermarkets (look in the Asian aisle). If you cannot find it skip using it or sub it with 1 tablespoon red Thai Curry Paste. This will make the Tom Kha Gai soup taste different from the original version.
Tips & Tricks
- Frozen Chicken Breasts Cook Time: You can directly add frozen chicken into the stock. In that case cook them on High Pressure For 10 minutes followed by 5 mins Natural pressure Release.
- Coconut Milk: Use unsweetened coconut milk and do not use the fate free versions. We want that fat to make the soup incredible.
- Substitutions: I included the substitutions above in the “Ingredients” section. Do not hesitate to use them if you cannot source galangal, lemon grass & lime leaves from the stores. If you are not a purist you’ll still love the soup made with substitutions. Do not expect the authentic Thai flavors but believe me the soup will still be bowl licking good 🙂
- Lime Juice: Add the lime juice after turning off the Instant Pot and allowing the soup to cool down for at least 5 minutes. If you simmer the soup accidentally after adding the lime juice the soup will turn bitter and the coconut milk might curdle.
- Mushrooms: Avoid over-cooking the mushrooms for best flavor. 1-2 mins low simmer and the residual heal is enough to cook them down to the perfect level.
- How spicy is the soup? You can make Tom Kha Gai soup as spicy as you want. We love the soup savory and spicy and hence we added diced thai chilies quite a bit & avoided adding any sugar at all. Avoid the chilies if you are not a spicy food lover & add 1 tablespoon sugar.
How to make Tom Kha Gai Recipe in Instant Pot?
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements + Video at the bottom of the post.
Step #1 Pressure cook Chicken
We’ll begin by preparing a fabulous, aromatic chicken stock first.
Add the chicken stock or plain water, chicken breasts (whole & 1/4 inch thick), chopped lemongrass, sliced galangal, lime leaves (snap a few leaves to make the flavor hefty), cilantro stalks (the majority flavor lies in its stalk). If you want you can add the cilantro leaves also. I used the leaves only for garnish.
Secure the lid of the Instant Pot, seal the valve and PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for just 6 minutes followed by 5 minutes natural pressure release (NPR). After that, release the rest of the pressure manually.
You’ll have an amazing pot of the world’s most flavorful stock and juicy tender chicken.
Set aside the cooked chicken breasts, we will slice them and add them later into the soup. Fish out all the herbs with the help of a slotted spoon and discard them. We want a clear stock.
Step# Make Tom Kha Gai Soup
Pour the coconut milk, add the diced mushrooms and hit the SAUTE function and set it al LOW heat. Simmer the soup on low for 1-2 mins. Add chopped Thai chilies if you prefer a spicy Tom Kha Gai. Turn off the Instant Pot.
Slice the cooked chicken into thin pieces about 1.5 or 2 inches long and add them back to the pot. Finally, add fried chili oil for a fantastic touch and give the soup a quick stir.
Allow the soup to rest for 5 mins and than add the Lime Juice. Never ever add the lime juice before turning off the Instant Pot, the soup will turn bitter and the coconut milk might curdle.
Serve hot, garnish with cilantro leaves, chopped Thai chilies, more chili oil, few lime leaves and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!
FAQs – Instant Pot Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
No, Tom Kha Gai Soup is not freezable. It tastes best when made fresh every time.
Yes Tom Kha Gai is Keto.
Is Tom Kha Gai is naturally gluten free.
Yes, Tom Kha Gai Soup is healthy.
Tom Kha Gai Instant PotPrint Recipe Pin Rate
Watch Recipe Video
- 1.30 pounds Chicken Breast (**3 chicken breasts about 1/4 inch thick each. Use boneless and skinless.)
- 13.66 oz Coconut Milk (**full fat & unsweetened. 403 ml / 2 cups. I used “Thai Kitchen” coconut milk. )
- 2 cups chicken stock (**I used 1 tbsp bouillon paste diluted in 2 cups warm water.)
- 8 oz mushrooms (**227 g. Read NOTES below for details. I used Baby Bella & quartered them.)
- 8 slices galangal (**or use ginger. Peeled & thinly sliced pieces.)
- 1/4 cup Lemon grass (**chopped. Read NOTES below. )
- 8 Lime Leaves (**or zest from 1 whole lime.)
- 1 cup cilantro (**use the stalks, keep the leaves aside for garnish. )
- 2 tbsp Lime Juice (**you can use more. Read NOTES below.)
- 1/2 tbsp Fried Chili Oil (**try to use the oil part more. I used “Laoganma” fried chili in oil.)
- 4 Thai Chilies (**Skip if you do not prefer spicy food.)
- Cilantro (**use the leaves that you preserved from the stems.)
- 4 Lime Leaves (**skip if you don’t have them.)
- Add the chicken stock, chicken breasts, cilantro stalks, galangal, lemon grass & lime leaves (snap a few leaves for more flavor) into the steel insert of the Instant Pot.
- Secure the lid of the Instant Pot. Seal the Valve and PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for 6 minutes.
- Once, the pressure cooking cycle is over wait for Natural pressure release (NPR) for 5 mins and than release the rest of the pressure manually by moving the valve from the sealing to the venting position. Open the lid carefully.
- With the help of a slotted spoon fish out the cooked chicken breasts and all the herbs from the stock. You can also strain the stock and put the strained stock back in the pot.
- Thinly slice the cooked chicken breasts and set them aside.
- Now add the coconut milk into the chicken stock and give a quick stir.
- Hit the SAUTE function & set it on LOW heat.
- Add the rinsed and quartered mushrooms into the pot and gently simmer for 1-2 mins. Also, add the chopped Thai chilies into the pot if you prefer spicy food, otherwise leave them out.
- Add back the thinly sliced cooked chicken breasts into the pot. Give everything a quick mix.
- Now, add the Chili oil scooping it out from the fried chili in oil bottle. Give everything a good mix. TURN OFF the Instant Pot.
- Allow the soup to rest for 5 minutes. Than, add the lime juice and mix well.
- Add a few more lime leaves for extra flavor and freshness. Serve the Tom Kha Gai Soup hot garnished with cilantro leaves and more chopped Thai chilies. Enjoy!
- Lemon Grass: Make some indentation in the lemon grass stalk with the help of a kitchen knife and than chop the lemon grass. The indentations helps infuse more flavor into the stock. You can also smash the lemon grass stalk with the back of a knife and than chop it.
- Galangal: This zingy, peppery, floral and extremely aromatic root may look like ginger but it’s very different. It tastes, smells and flavors up the food differently. There’s no appropriate & exact sub for galangal, however, you can replace it with ginger. The Tom Kha Gai soup will still be delicious but not authentic. Peel & than slice.
- Lime Leaves: You can sub the leaves with the zest from 1 whole lime.
- Cilantro Stalks: The maximum flavor of the herb lies in its stalks. Use them to make the stock. Keep aside the leaves to add them later into the soup as a garnish.
- Chili Oil: Fried Chili in oil is readily available in almost all American grocery stores (check in the Asian Aisle). Use it if you can, it totally face-lifts the soup. Try to scoop out the oil floating on top of the jar and add it to the soup.
- Chili Oil Sub: You can use about 1/2 tbsp red thai curry paste instead of the chili oil. Add the curry paste while adding the mushrooms. This will add a whole new dimension to the soup. However, do not expect it to be an authentic version. This is something that we love but it’s no way authentic.
- When to add the Lime Juice? Add the lime juice always after turning of the Instant Pot and allowing the soup to rest for at least 5 mins. If you simmer the soup after adding the lime juice the soup will turn bitter and the coconut milk might curdle. Double check so that your Instant Pot is turned off and the soup is not simmering or bubbling anymore.
- Tom Kha Gai consistency: This Thai coconut soup with chicken is meant to be eaten soupy or brothy. It’s meant to have a thin consistency.
- Storing Tips: The Thai Coconut Chicken soup will last for 5 days in the fridge when store in an air tight container. The mushrooms will shrink and cook down more once you re-heat the soup.
- Can you freeze Tom Kha Gai Soup? No this soup is not freezable. It tastes fabulous every time you make it fresh and from scratch.
- For mild sweetness: Add 1 tablespoons sugar after adding the coconut milk. Do not use more sugar as coconut milk is mildly sweet naturally. We skipped using any sugar in today’s recipe. We love the soup spicy and savory.