Instant Pot General Tso’s Chicken


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general tsos chicken over rice on a white plate

Spicy and sweet, Instant Pot General Tso’s Chicken is the Chinese takeout favorite made healthier and faster (!). Nothing fried here, but still plenty of the rich, flavorful sauce that makes General Tso’s Chicken so irresistible. 

And even better? This is a complete, one-pot meal. Make pot-in-pot rice at the same time, add steamed broccoli. Dinner is done. 

Hand me a Chinese takeout menu, and I’ll inevitably be tempted by General Tso’s Chicken. Crispy fried chicken in that sweet, savory, spicy sauce. Who’s with me? But it’s not exactly the kind of thing I need to be eating all the time. However, this healthier version of General Tso’s Chicken? It’s one I can fully embrace any old night that a Chinese takeout craving hits. This one hits all the marks for delicious flavor without the deep-fried heaviness. If you’re craving a noodle-based fakeout meal, try my Hoisin Ginger Rice Noodles.

adding water to rice in the instant pot

Plus! Like all of the recipes I’m sharing this week, this version of General Tso’s comes from the Ultimate Guide to 6-Minute Instant Pot Meals {Takeout Favorites}. Be sure to check out that post if you want more ideas for mix-and-match meals to make in the Instant Pot. 


  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast – Chicken breast works best in this recipe. (I find that chicken thighs make the sauce slightly heavy tasting and a bit greasy.)
  • Stock – I like to use store-bought vegetable or chicken stock to add extra flavor to the sauce. In a pinch, you can also use water. 
  • Soy Sauce – I tested this recipe using a regular (not low-sodium) soy sauce purchased from the grocery store. If you keep both “light” and “dark” soy sauce in your pantry, you can use a combination of those for a darker, richer sauce. 
  • Brown Sugar – Use either dark or light brown sugar to give the sauce its signature sweet flavor.
  • Hoisin Sauce – This Chinese sauce is thick, sweet, and flavored with spices. Don’t skip this. You can find it in most grocery stores in the international / Asian aisle.
  • Rice Vinegar – This gives the sauce a tangy, sour flavor. This can also be found in the grocery’ store’s international / Asian aisle.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil – Like the other ingredients above, this toasty, flavorful oil will make the dish taste authentic. Look for it in the international / Asian aisle at the grocery store.
  • Garlic, Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes – It’s worth the extra time to get the fresh versions of garlic and ginger. They add great flavor. The ginger also contributes to the spicy flavor of the dish. But it’s the red pepper flakes that add most of the spice, so adjust this as you’d like. (And don’t forget that you can always stir more red pepper flakes into the sauce at the end of cooking. Feel free to go easy when you start, and add more after you taste the sauce.)
  • White Rice – With this cook time, any white rice should work, but I find Basmati rice to be the most foolproof. More about rice in the Instant Pot in the Ultimate Guide to 6-Minute Instant Pot Meals.
  • Cornstarch-Water Slurry – Just whisk these two together and add them to the sauce to thicken it. Be sure to add this after cooking.
  • Broccoli Florets – I love to use the steam-in-bag broccoli florets. They’re so fast and easy. If you prefer, you can chop fresh broccoli into florets and steam them in the microwave in a bowl with 1 Tbsp water, covered with a paper towel. 

broccoli florets in a clear dish

How to Make Pot-in-Pot Rice

Perhaps the best part about making General Tso’s Chicken in the Instant Pot? You can cook the rice at the same time. This technique has been a total game-changer for me. If you’re not familiar with this method that allows you to cook two things in the Instant Pot at the same time check out this post on the Pot-in-Pot Method.

And for this Instant Pot General Tso’s Chicken – just put rice and water in a bowl elevated above the chicken. Use a 1:1 ratio of rice to water. When the dish is done cooking, set the rice aside, covered so it will continue to steam slightly until you’re ready to serve.

rice in a clear dish with a wooden spoon

Possible Variations

  • Make it vegetarian -This dish is great made with chickpeas instead of chicken. Use two 14-oz cans. Drain and rinse them first. 
  • Mix up the vegetables – Want to skip the broccoli? Or give this dish even more of a vegetable boost? Dice some bell peppers or carrots and you can add them with the chicken before it even begins to cook. 

Other Chinese-Inspired Recipes

This weekend is Chinese / Lunar New Year! We always make a feast of our favorite Chinese-inspired dishes. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken with Rice – Sweet, savory, saucy, and spicy (or not), Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken is a fast, easy weeknight meal.
  • Kung Pao Cauliflower – Cauliflower turns golden brown and tender as it soaks up a rich, sweet sauce in this classic Chinese take-out favorite.
  • Sesame Garlic Ramen Stir-Fry – Need a quick and easy weeknight meal? Look no further than this one-pan stir-fry noodle dish made with quick-cooking instant ramen noodles, tender chicken, and crisp snow peas in a savory sesame garlic sauce.
  • Baked Vegetarian Spring Rolls – These spring rolls have all the crunch of the fried version and none of the guilt. Grab a pile of veggies, follow my step-by-step rolling instructions, and be crunching into your own spring rolls in no time!

Favorite Tools

  • 6-Quart Instant Pot Duo – This is the Instant Pot / pressure cooker I use to test all meals on this site. It easily makes enough to serve the 5 members of our family (3 are young kids).
  • Instant Pot Rack – This 2-inch rack is just the right height to hold a bowl above the other ingredients to cook using pot-in-pot method described in this recipe.
  • 7-Cup Round Pyrex Dish – I test any recipes with the pot-in-pot method using this oven-safe Pyrex dish. I love it so much that I bought several. It comes with a lid, so after cooking pasta, rice, potatoes, or any other item in this bowl, I just add the lid and put it in the fridge – saves time and dishes! The Pyrex 7-cup dish will fit in the 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot. In earlier recipes you will find on this site, I used the medium sized bowl that came in this Anchor 3-Piece Set of Glass Mixing Bowls which also worked well.
  • OXO Pressure Cooker Sling – This was a tool I thought seemed unnecessary until I bought it. Place this sturdy sling under the bowl in the pot-in-pot method and you can easily lift hot items out at the end of cooking. It also works great for steaming eggs, vegetables, or cooking large vegetables or meat in the pressure cooker. 

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Instant Pot General Tso's Chicken over rice on a white plate
4.25 from 8 votes

Instant Pot General Tso's Chicken

Spicy and sweet, Instant Pot General Tso’s Chicken is the Chinese takeout favorite made healthier and faster (!). Nothing fried here, but still plenty of the rich, flavorful sauce that makes General Tso’s Chicken so good. 
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes
Natural Release: 10 minutes
Total: 24 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker
  • Pressure cooker-safe metal trivet and bowl


Chicken and Sauce

  • 1/3 cup Vegetable or Chicken Stock
  • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (this will provide a medium level of heat; feel free to add more, or adjust by adding more after cooking)
  • 1 1/2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, chopped into cubes

Pot-in-Pot Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups Long Grain Rice (Basmati rice works really well with this method)
  • 1 1/2 cups Water

To Finish the Chicken

  • 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 10 oz Broccoli Florets (preferably steam-in-bag broccoli)
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Green Onions / Scallions (optional)


  • In the bowl of the Instant Pot, combine all of the ingredients for Chicken and Sauce - stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, Hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, toasted sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and chicken. (Note: If you don't want to add the pot-in-pot rice, skip ahead to Step #5.)
  • Top the chicken and sauce with a 2” rack then with a 7-cup glass bowl. (Be sure that both the rack and bowl are approved for use in the Instant Pot.)
  • Rinse the rice well.
  • Fill the bowl with rice and 1 ½ cups water.
  • Close and lock the lid.
  • Set the steam valve to Sealing.
  • Cook on manual / high pressure for 6 minutes.
  • When done cooking, leave the machine on Warming (most machines automatically revert to this after cooking). Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. (Tip: I like to set a kitchen timer so that I don’t get distracted and forget.)
  • Manually release any remaining pressure.
  • Carefully remove the bowl of rice and rack and set aside, covered, to keep warm.
  • Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Turn on the Instant Pot’s saute function to Normal / Medium.
  • Whisk together 1 Tbsp water and cornstarch.
  • When sauce is simmering, pour water-cornstarch mixture into sauce. Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn off saute function. Taste sauce. If you’d like it to be spicier, stir in some more red pepper flakes or some hot sauce.
  • Return chicken to pot and stir to combine.
  • Steam broccoli in the microwave.
  • Stir broccoli and green onion into chicken.
  • Serve chicken and sauce over rice.


Optional Pot-in-Pot Rice - Feel free to skip the pot-in-pot rice here. Just skip over the steps to add the trivet, bowl, and rice. Follow all other instructions (including cook time) as written.


Calories: 553kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 1474mg | Potassium: 1005mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 582IU | Vitamin C: 66mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $8.00
Calories: 553
Keyword: Chinese, fakeout takeout, instant pot, pot-in-pot
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. Hi Jess,

    Is 1 1/2 cups rice the maximum you can put in the glass 7 inch Pyrex dish? have you ever tried 2 cups rice + 2 cups water?


    1. Hi Allison – yes! I’ve gone up to 2 cups rice + 2 cups water and it has worked just fine. Any more than that and it seems that the rice doesn’t cook as evenly with the times listed, but 2:2 should be okay.

      1. great thanks!

        random question for you – have you ever noticed the pressure cooker countdown timer has started counting down before pressure has actually been reached? I noticed that with my machine last week and I think it’s happened before. It is something that others have noticed too. I suspect it’s where the recipe doesn’t have a lot of liquid. It does come to pressure, but the timer starts too early for some reason.

        1. Yes! I have seen that happen, and I agree – I’ve read that it can be caused by the lack of liquid, but I think it can also be caused by an issue with the sealing ring. If there is something stuck in it or if it’s degraded and needs to be replaced then the IP won’t seal but the timer will activate and start counting down. I’ve only had to replace my sealing ring once, but I started getting really mixed results in the weeks leading up to realizing that I needed to replace it.