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instant pot kung pao chicken over rice in a white bowl
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3.82 from 27 votes

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. Use the pot-in-pot method to cook the rice and it all comes together in the pressure cooker in just a few minutes.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: instant pot, pot-in-pot
Servings: 4
Calories: 535kcal
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.25


  • Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker
  • Pressure cooker rack
  • Pressure cooker-safe bowl


Kung Pao Chicken and Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp Grated Ginger (see note)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped (see note)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3 Tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 20 oz Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, chopped into large pieces

Pot-in-Pot Rice:

  • 1 cup Medium-Grain White Rice
  • 1 cup Water

To Finish:

  • 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 4 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 cup Peanuts
  • Chopped Green Onions (optional)


  • Make the sauce by combining ginger, garlic, 1/2 cup water, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes.
  • Combine sauce and chicken in the bowl of an Instant Pot. (Note: If you don't want to add the pot-in-pot rice, skip ahead to Step #5.)
  • Top it with a rack that is approved for use in the Instant Pot.
  • Combine rice and 1 cup of water in a bowl that is approved for use in the pressure cooker. Place the bowl with rice on top of rack.
  • Close and lock the lid. Set steam valve to Sealing.
  • Cook on manual / high pressure for 4 minutes.
  • When chicken and rice are done cooking, leave pressure on natural release for 10 minutes and then manually release any remaining pressure.
  • Carefully remove the bowl of rice and rack, leaving chicken in the bowl.
  • Turn on the pressure cooker’s saute function to normal / medium.
  • Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch and 2 Tbsp water together until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture, Hoisin sauce, and toasted sesame oil to chicken.
  • Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce thickens. (Be careful not to cook any longer than a minute or two so that the chicken doesn’t overcook.)
  • Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Top with peanuts and chopped green onions.


Ginger and Garlic - If you’re looking to save time, you can certainly skip one or both of these aromatics, but the sauce won’t be quite as flavorful.
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: 535kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 800mg | Potassium: 586mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 71IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 3mg