Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken


Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Sweet and Sour Chicken with tender bites of chicken, bell peppers, and pineapple in a sweet and sour sauce can be made hands-off in the Instant Pot in just a few minutes. To make this Chinese take-out style dish even more weeknight-friendly, cook pot-in-pot rice at the same time. 

instant pot sweet and sour chicken over rice in a bowl

Before mid-March, I never could have imagined what it might be like to have the whole world shut down for weeks and weeks on end. So many things about these past weeks have been really hard, but it has not been hard for me personally to have a wide open calendar. As an introvert and a homebody, I’m pretty content to head into a new week with nothing but time as a family in the gaps between work.

Want to save this recipe?
Get it emailed to you directly! Enter your email below.
overhead image of sweet and sour chicken in the bowl of an instant pot

One thing I have certainly missed though is the nights off from cooking. Yes, I make a living cooking and I definitely love to cook, but providing three meals for a family of five every single day…it’s a grind. There’s just no question about it. I’ve been digging deep to pull out some of our old and nearly-forgotten favorites, and to come up with totally new recipes that keep things fun (and, hopefully, keep dishes to a minimum). 

This recipe, like all of my favorite Instant Pot take-out fake-out recipes, is almost as easy as ordering take-out online. And bonus that it’s a fair amount healthier too. 

By the way, many of my other favorite Instant Pot take-out fake-out favorites are in The Ultimate Guide to 6-Minute Instant Pot Meals.

Pin this now to save it for later

Pin It Now
overhead image of sweet and sour chicken over rice in a bowl with chopsticks

Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken

Classic take-out sweet and sour chicken is deep fried and tossed in a super sweet sauce. This Instant Pot version has all the flavor in a lighter, healthier package. Cooking the chicken right in the sauce means the dish requires no frying at all and the chicken soaks up all of that delicious sauce flavor while it cooks. This version of Sweet and Sour Chicken also scraps the high amount of sugar in the take-out versions, while still delivering flavor that is balanced in its sweet and sour notes. 


  • Chicken Breast – Boneless, skinless chicken breast works best here. Cube it before combining it with sauce so the dish is ready to serve straight from the Instant Pot to your plate. The chicken will absorb sauce as it pressure cooks and stay tender. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs can work too, but they make the sauce taste almost a bit to oily / rich. 
  • Fresh Garlic and Ginger – These aromatics add a lot of nuanced flavor to the sauce. The classic take-out sauce is sometimes one dimensional with just the sweet and sour flavors coming through. With the addition of fresh garlic and ginger, this homemade sauce instantly gets a leg up on the takeout version. 
  • Canned Pineapple – It’s handy to use canned pineapple in this recipe because you get both the pineapple and the liquid (juice) to help flavor the sauce. Add the liquid to the sauce, but save the pineapple cubes to add at the end. Pineapple works so well in this dish because it has both the sweet and sour notes the sauce is known for. 
  • Ketchup, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Sugar – Hopefully you already have these staples in your pantry or fridge. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you could use white vinegar, but it doesn’t have the natural, subtle sweet flavor of apple cider vinegar. 
  • Soy Sauce – Soy sauce gives this Asian dish a subtle savory flavor. If you want to make a gluten-free version of the dish, use Tamari instead. 
  • Toasted Sesame Oil – This oil has a truly unique flavor that can make a homemade Chinese dish taste authentic. It’s a great pantry staple to have for making a variety of Asian and Asian-inspried dishes. Find it in the international aisle at your regular grocery store. 
  • Bell Pepper – Red or green bell peppers work well. Be sure to chop them into bite-sized pieces. If you want to have them almost disappear into the sauce, you can also dice them very fine. You’ll add them at the end of cooking and just simmer for a minute or two so they hold their shape. (If you pressure cook the bell peppers along with the chicken, they practically turn to mush.) 
  • Red Pepper Flakes – Just add this if you want a spicy element to the dish. I think a little spice really helps balance everything, but totally up to you if you want to add it!

Pin this now to save it for later

Pin It Now
soy sauce, vinegar, pineapple chunks, ketchup, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger on a white table
canned pineapple draining into a glass measuring jar
pineapple chunks and red bell pepper pieces in a small white bowl

How to Make Instant Pot Sweet And Sour Chicken

  1. Separate the canned pineapple and juice. (Reserve the pineapple chunks to add at the end of cooking.)
  2. Combine chicken and sauce ingredients in the bowl of an Instant Pot.
  3. Add pot-in-pot rice if you’d like to cook rice at the same time. (See below for all the details on that.)
  4. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. 
  5. Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes and then release any remaining pressure.
  6. Use Instant Pot’s saute function (Normal / Medium) to bring the chicken and sauce to a simmer. Add the pineapple and bell peppers and saute for just a minute to soften the bell peppers.
  7. Add a cornstarch / water mixture and stir it into the sauce until it thickens (just a minute or two).
  8. Serve the chicken and sauce over rice. Enjoy!
adding ingredients to the bowl of the instant pot
overhead image of Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice in a bowl, next to chopsticks on a white table

How to Make Rice Using the Pot-in-Pot Method

Use the Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Method to cook rice at the same time as the sweet and sour chicken. Not familiar with this handy 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 for the Instant Pot for all of the details.

overhead image of pot in pot method for instant pot
rice in a clear bowl with a spoon

Other Asian-Inspired Weeknight Favorites

Pin this now to save it for later

Pin It Now
instant pot sweet and sour chicken over rice in a bowl next to chopsticks
3.94 from 16 votes

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken with tender bites of chicken, bell peppers, and pineapple in a sweet and sour sauce can be made hands-off in the Instant Pot in just a few minutes. To make this Chinese take-out style dish even more weeknight-friendly, cook pot-in-pot rice at the same time.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes
Natural Release: 10 minutes
Total: 26 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker
  • 2-inch tall Metal Trivet
  • 7-inch wide Glass Bowl


Sweet and Sour Chicken

  • 1 14-ounce can Pineapple Chunks in Juice, use both the pineapple and the liquid
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (see note)
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional – just add if you want some spice)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, chopped into cubes
  • 1 Bell Pepper, cubed (red or green)
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 Tablespoons Chopped Green Onions / Scallions (optional)

Pot-in-Pot Rice (optional)

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


  • Strain the pineapple so that you separate out the pineapple chunks and the liquid (juice). You should have about 1 cup of pineapple juice, but don’t worry if you have slightly more or less.
  • In the bowl of the Instant Pot, combine pineapple juice (keep the pineapple chunks separate), ginger, garlic, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, toasted sesame oil, red pepper flakes (if using), and chicken. (Note: If you don't want to add the pot-in-pot rice, skip ahead to Step #6.)
  • 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.
  • Turn on the Instant Pot’s saute function to Normal / Medium.
  • When sauce is simmering, add pineapple chunks and bell peppers to sauce and simmer for 1 minute.
  • Whisk together cornstarch and 2 Tbsp water.
  • 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.
  • Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Top with chopped green onions.


Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works best in this sauce because it naturally has both sweet and sour flavors. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use white vinegar or rice vinegar, but reduce the amount you use to 2 Tablespoons to avoid the dish getting too sour.
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 directions (including cook time) as written.


Calories: 549kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1101mg | Potassium: 871mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1111IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg

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

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $9.00
Calories: 549
Keyword: Asian, chicken dinner, Chicken Recipe, easy dinner, instant pot, kid-friendly recipe, pot-in-pot
Like this? Leave a comment below!Jump to Comments
Want to save this recipe?
Get it emailed to you directly! Enter your email below.

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Was looking for a good recipe for sweet and sour chicken and yours was the one I tried. Really turned out good. Taking it when I visit my DIL and grandson. These electronic pressure cookers (I have the Foodi bc I like having the built-in air fryer) really lend themselves well to Asian dishes.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Gail – I’ve never tried it, but it sounds promising. If you give it a shot, I’d love to hear how it works out.

  2. 5 stars
    I just got my IP and am using it almost daily. This was so good! And it was super easy. My mom and I both loved it (and she’s not always easy to please). 🙂 Can’t wait to find more recipes on your blog! Thanks!

    1. Yay!! Thanks so much Jeanne – welcome to the IP world – there are SO many things to do with it. I keep finding new ones even after all these years!

  3. 5 stars
    I’m new to Instant Pot, yours is one of the first recipes I’ve tried and it was relatively easy and very delicious! Thanks!

    1. Wonderful – so glad you liked it! Welcome to the Instant Pot world – there are SO many ways to use it! Hope you like that machine as much as I do!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! It’s delicious, easy, and consistent. This recipe is as good as your Korean Beef recipe and it has blessed our home many times! 🙂