Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken with peanuts is even better than Asian Take-Outs. You'll have boneless sauteed chicken in a spicy, sweet, sour & savory sauce. Get's ready in 15 minutes & tastes super with steamed Jasmine Rice. This easy Kung Pao chicken also stores well.
Don’t miss our Asian Take-out Recipes and Instant Pot Recipes!
Note: This post has been updated with reheating directions, serving ideas, new photos and extra tips!
P. F. Chang's Kung Pao Chicken
P.F. Chang's inspired Kung Pao chicken made with the best Kung Pao sauce in so less time! Ditch the takeout this time!
This is the best Kung Pao chicken recipe you'll ever make! It's sweet, sour, spicy, savory, a bit tangy with a delightful crunch from the roasted peanuts. This recipe is made without Chinese Sichuan Peppers so it's not mouth numbing spicy. The heat is mild and tolerable.
Moreover, you can totally control the heat in the recipe by skipping the Sriracha Sauce & de-seeding the red chilies before tossing them in the sauce.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements way below the post on the "Recipe Card". The list below is just a reference.
- Chicken: Boneless chicken breasts or thighs. We always love to dice the chicken into cubes and than flash marinate with sesame oil, dark soy sauce & little salt. This process is similar to velveting the chicken and helps boost the flavor manifold. If you are in a hurry you may skip this step!
- Peanuts: Pan roasted peanuts without the outer skin. We use raw peanuts from our pantry & skillet roast them. You can also oven roast them or skip the entire process of roasting the peanuts and use store-bought unsalted peanuts instead.
- Aromatics: Finely chopped ginger and garlic.
- Sauces: Light Soy Sauce, Dark Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Balsamic Vinegar, Sriracha Sauce. You can sub the light soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos.
- Brown Sugar: Acts as a great flavor balancer and adds sweetness to this simple kung pao chicken recipe.
- Sesame Oil: We recommend the toasted sesame oil. It has an outstanding flavor and adds a huge depth of flavor when used in recipes.
- Rice Wine: You can use your favorite brand.
- Corn Starch Slurry: It's a naturally gluten free thickener that helps thicken the sauce.
- Chinese Dry Red Chilies: Do add them. They add smokiness, heat & tons of flavor to the dish. You can buy them from any Asian grocery store in your area.
- Scallions: Green parts and white parts chopped separately.
- Any neutral oil: But do not cook the full recipe in sesame oil. You'll be over whelmed, it has a very strong taste and smell. I used Avocado oil to cook and sesame oil to flavor the whole dish.
Tip: If you can get hold of Chinese Sichuan Peppers (small round peppers that looks almost like black pepper corns, they have mouth numbing heat) do add them after finely chopping them. I didn't have them handy so I skipped them in the recipe. Sichuan Peppers will make the authentic Kung Pao Chicken recipe quiet spicy and make it the way it should be.
Tips for success
- Flash marinate the chicken: This adds awesome good flavors. All you need is dark soy sauce & sesame oil.
- More flavor: It's tough to bring back the amazing Asian wok flavors in a pressure cooker. However, you can achieve some of it by sauteing the flash marinated chicken until lightly golden. This step makes a huge difference.
- Kung Pao chicken Sauce: The sauce is the soul of today's Kung Pao recipe. Make sure that you have all the sauces in your pantry before attempting this recipe. The only sauce you can skip is Sriracha if you do not prefer the heat.
- If you hate spicy food but love sweet stuffs: Skip the Sriracha, do not use Chinese Sichuan peppers and increase the amount of brown sugar in the recipe. Also, de-seed the red chilies.
- Very Spicy Kung Pao Chicken: Add Chinese Sichuan Peppers for that phenomenal mouth numbing heat and follow the recipe as such.
- The Sauce consistency: The consistency of the sauce is customizable. We love a thick sauce that beautifully coats the chicken. Thicken it according to your preference. You can also add a few dashes of water or simmer the sauce less to keep the sauce thin and flowy.
- Peanuts: Do not skip them. If you have raw peanuts skillet roast them or oven roast them. Or use store bought roasted unsalted peanuts. But, raw + skillet roasted tastes the best.
How to make easy kung pao chicken?
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements way below the post on the "Recipe Card".
Step #1 Saute Chicken
Saute the ginger, garlic & scallions for 1 minute on SAUTE kept at NORMAL.
Add the flash marinated chicken cubes and saute until lightly golden around the edges.
I flash marinated the chicken with dark soy sauce, sesame oil & little bit of salt.
Step #2 Pressure Cook
CANCEL the SAUTE function and add the water into the pot.
De-glaze the pot very well with the help of a spatula so that there are absolutely no bits and crumbs stuck at the bottom of the pot. This helps prevent the BURN error.
PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for just 1 minute followed by a quick release.
Step #3 Simmer & Thicken Sauce
Add the sauces, vinegars, sesame oil, the brown sugar & the corn starch slurry.
Mix well and simmer the sauce on SAUTE kept at LOW. We love a thicker sauce that beautifully coats the chicken pieces well.
Finally, add the roasted peanuts, scallions & the dry red chilies. Give a gentle mix and enjoy with a bowl of rice or noodles.
Fridge: Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken lasts for 6 days in the fridge when stored in air tight containers. The sauce will thicken further when stored in the fridge.
Freezer: This recipe will last for 2 months in the freezer. Store them in portion sized freezer safe bags or containers. Thaw the dish over night in the fridge before re-heating.
You'll love this Kung Pao Chicken on a bed of white Jasmine Rice or even brown rice. Noodles are a great option as well! Here's our favorite picks:
- Instant pot hibachi fried rice.
- Chili garlic noodles instant pot.
- Instant pot green beans no steamer basket.
- Wonton soup.
- Hot and sour soup.
- Asian salad.
- Chinese egg rolls.
How to reheat
You can reheat this healthy kung pao chicken recipe in the microwave oven until warm or hot. Add a few drops of water before popping it into the microwave oven.
Kung Pao Chicken is pan seared chicken tossed in sauce with peanuts whereas General Tso's chicken is crispy fried chicken tossed in a similar sauce but without peanuts.
Kung Pao Sauce is made of Dark Soy Sauce, light soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, Sriracha sacuce, Balsamic Vinegar, Rice Wine, Brown sugar & sesame oil.
Kung Pao Chicken tastes spicy, sweet, savory, a little tangy with lots of crunch from peanuts.
More Asian take-out recipes you might like
- Instant pot pork lo mein.
- Instant pot chicken lettuce wraps.
- Instant pot drunken noodles.
- Authentic chicken lo mein recipe.
- Instant pot ramen stir fry.
- Instant pot pad Thai.
- Instant pot shrimp and broccoli.
- Thai peanut chicken instant pot.
- Instant pot sweet and sour pork.
- Instant pot egg roll in a bowl.
- Instant pot cashew chicken.
- Instant pot sweet and sour meatballs.
- Instant pot chicken teriyaki.
- Instant pot stir fry shrimp.
- Instant pot orange chicken.
- Instant pot Mongolian chicken.
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! If you try this instant pot Kung pao chicken recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I would love to hear how it turned out for you, or any changes you make. You can also follow me on Pinterest or subscribe our free NEWLETTER for new recipes every week!
Instant Pot Kung Pao ChickenPrint Recipe Pin Rate
Watch Recipe Video
- 1 pound chicken (**boneless skinless diced into ½ inch cubes, 453 g)
- 1 tbsp Garlic. (**Finely Chopped)
- 1 tbsp ginger (**Finely Chopped)
- ⅓ cup peanuts (**roasted unsalted & heaped. Read Notes if using store bought)
- 8 Whole Dried Chinese Red Chilies (4 chilies broken into ½ & 4 kept whole)
- 3 tbsp Avocado oil (**or use any neutral oil like canola, peanut, sunflower etc.)
- 3 scallions (**chopped. Green & white part separated)
For Flash Marinating Chicken (Optional)
- 1 tsp Dark Soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
For the Kung Pao Sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Rice Wine
- 1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp Sriracha Sauce
- 1 tbsp Dark Soy sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce (**regular low sodium soy sauce or tamari or coconut aminos)
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp cornstarch (**mixed with equal parts water to form a slurry)
Flash Marinate the Chicken (Optional)
- Dice the chicken into ½ inch cubes and rub it well with 1 tsp each dark soy sauce & sesame oil. Now, this step is optional. But, I'll highly recommend flash marination because it boosts the flavors a lot & keep the chicken soft & juicy.
Pressure cook the Chicken
- Set the Instant Pot on SAUTE & keep it at NORMAL. Add oil & when the oil becomes moderately hot gently release the ginger, garlic & the white part of the scallions. Saute for just 1 minute.
- Add the flash marinated chicken and saute until the chicken turns lightly golden around the edges. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the steel pot of the Instant Pot from time to time.
- Pour water. CANCEL the SAUTE function. De-glaze the pot very well with the help of your spatula scraping the sides and the bottom of the pot really well so that there are absolutely no bits and crumbs stuck at the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the BURN error.
- Now, close the lid of the Instant Pot and SEAL the valve. PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for just 1 minute.
- Once, the pressure cooking cycle is over the Instant Pot will begin to beep. Do a QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE (QPR) & open the lid carefully. CANCEL the PRESSURE COOK function.
Simmer & Thicken the Sauce
- Now, add the sauces, brown sugar, vinegars, sesame oil & the cornstarch slurry. Give everything a good mix.
- Next, simmer the sauce to thicken it on SAUTE function kept at LOW. Stir the sauce while it thickens from time to time so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the steel pot.
- We love a thicker sauce. However, you may keep the sauce consistency the way you want.
- When the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency add the roasted unsalted peanuts (**Read NOTES below), the dry red Chinese chilies. Give everything a gentle mix.
- Garnish with the green part of the chopped scallions and serve with steamed white Jasmine rice or Noodles.
- Measuring Units Used, 1 cup = 240 ml & 1 teaspoon = 5 ml.
- Store Bought Peanuts: Use unsalted roasted peanuts.
- How to skillet roast peanuts? Over medium heat skillet roast the peanuts until they slightly begin to turn golden or light brown. Due this stirring often.
- Chinese Sichuan Peppers: An Authentic Kung Pao chicken will always have Sichuan Peppers. These tiny roundish peppers look similar in shape and size as regular black pepper corn and they have a mouth numbing heat. Use them if you can. It'll make the dish very spicy! I didnot use any.
- Non-spicy Kung Pao Sauce: Avoid breaking the chilies, use them whole. Or if you really want to break them than do de-seed them & discard the seeds. The heat lies in the seeds.
- For a sweeter sauce: Up the amount of brown sugar according to your preference.
This is such a great recipe! I made a few changes based on the fact that I did not have the ingredients, did not want it too hot and wanted to add in more veggies. I did not have light soy sauce so I used only regular soy sauce. When sautéing the chicken, I added mushrooms, carrots and had to substitute sweet onions instead of the scallions. I did not add in the Chinese Red Chilies and it was plenty spicy. It took 40 mins from start to finish, pulling out the ingredients to serving. I had done the rice in the instant pot the night before and heated it up in the microwave with a little water. Lastly, I did not roast the peanuts since the first time I made this, it was a disaster browning them. I kept burning them. I could not get a picture of the final dish since we all dived into it so quickly!!! Enjoy this wonderful recipe!!!
Foodies Terminal says
Hello Tracey! So glad that you enjoyed the recipe and made it your own 🙂 Thanks a lot for the amazing feedback, it certainly made my morning 🙂 Totally appreciate it! Hope you'll also enjoy the other recipes from the blog as well! Have a wonderful weekend Tracey and take care 🙂 - Meghna xoxo.
Paul Kern says
Delicious! Definitely better than take-out.
Foodies Terminal says
Thanks much Paul for your lovely feedback. So glad that you enjoyed the recipe 🙂
How can we substitute this with tofu instead?
Foodies Terminal says
Hey Jamie honestly speaking we've not tried the exact same recipe with Tofu as yet. However, we often make Teriyaki Tofu and love the flavors, so I think that this recipe too is definitely going to be a huge hit with tofu. I would recommend that you slightly crisp up the tofu around the edges by sauteing the tofu chunks/squares in oil on SAUTE kept at NORMAL settings. Use a little more oil and tongs to flip sides. Than proceed with the recipe. I'm sure you'll love it and yeah nothing changes if you use tofu, even the cook time. Hope you enjoy the recipe Jamie, would love your feedback if you try it with tofu 🙂 Take care Jamie. - Meghna.
This is a keeper! I absolutely loved it. I have added some extra vegetables like peppers, mushrooms and broccoli (they needed using up) and it was really delicious. Thank you for the recipe!
Foodies Terminal says
We are so glad that you loved the recipe so much Marina <3 Thank you so much for your lovely feedback and for giving the recipe a try 🙂 Hope you try our other recipes from the "Asian Take-out Recipes" Category. Take care Martina 🙂 - Meghna.
This recipe was absolutely fantastic! I didn’t have the dried chili’s but the sriracha was hot enough. Just the right balance of sweet and heat. Also, easy to prepare.
Foodies Terminal says
Thanks much Sheila for your lovely feedback 🙂 We are so glad that you loved the recipe so much. Next time if you intend to add dry red chilies do break them into half and de-seed them, otherwise the dish will become very spicy. And never simmer the chilies with the sauce. You may add them add at the end as a garnish just for aesthetic purpose 🙂 Hope you give our other Asian Inspired take-out recipes a try. And take care Sheila. - Meghna.
Madeline Bailey says
This was a terrific recipe. I didn’t have the dried chilis but the sriracha added plenty of heat. I tossed in some red bell pepper and onion when the sauce was simmering which didn’t cook it quite enough but still tasted good. The sauce is terrific and it doesn’t take much time to prepare. Glad to have found this site. Thank you.
Foodies Terminal says
Hey Madeline I am so glad that you loved the recipe so much, thanks much for giving it a try 🙂 Next time after adding the bell peppers and onions and after completing the whole cooking process turn off the Instant Pot, put back the lid, seal the valve and allow the kung pao chicken to rest for at least 5 mins, max 10 mins. The residual heat will help tenderize the veggies 🙂 Let me know when you try this process 🙂 Keep visiting this little space Madeline for more wonderful and easy recipes and take care. - Meghna.