This easy recipe for instant pot orange chicken takes next to no time, and is much healthier than traditional orange chicken with barely any added sugar. It’s tangy, a little sweet and a little spicy and absolutely delicious. Your next instant pot meal!
What’s so good about orange chicken made in an instant pot?
For one, the ease! It’s such a simple recipe to make, and can all be done in one magic pot.
The flavors are a great mix of sweet and a tiny bit spicy and a little tangy. It’s a crowdpleaser, and the level of heat is such that this is still a very kid friendly dish
It’s healthy! A lot of orange chicken recipes call for anywhere between 1/2 cup to 1 full up of added sugar. This just uses 2 tbsp of white and 2 tbsp of brown.
This is also made with sautéed chicken breast instead of the deep fried chicken thighs that are the norm with this recipe, so that makes a big difference calorie wise.
It’s bright and vibrant, and a lot of fun to make and eat.
What ingredients do you need to make orange chicken?
Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken that you cut into large-ish 1.5-2inch cubes. We like to use chicken breasts, but you can use thighs instead.
Orange Juice: I use no sugar added orange juice, since the recipe is sweet enough anyway. This is the main body of the sauce and gives the orange chicken its signature flavor.
Ginger and Garlic: Hallmarks of Asian cuisine, they add so much flavor. You can modify the amount of garlic based on preference. I used six cloves, you can go down to four.
Apple Cider Vinegar: for a little tang
Ketchup: To add a little tomato undertone, and a little extra sweetness
White sugar and brown sugar: for sweetness, feel free to use either/or.
Sweet Chili Sauce: For a little heat, you can substitute sriracha instead if you like!
Zest of one orange: This adds a lot of brightness to the dish and enhances the orange flavor.
To thicken the sauce: Cornstarch dissolved in a little extra orange juice.
How to make orange chicken in an instant pot:
The first step is to slightly brown the chicken pieces. You can do this in some hot vegetable oil either in the instant pot itself, on sauté mode, or in another pan on the stovetop.
After the chicken has cooked for 2-3 minutes and started to turn golden brown, all the remaining sauce ingredients are added to the instant pot.
Turn the instant pot on to high pressure for 5 minutes. Note, this will take longer than 5 minutes to cook because the instant pot needs around 10 minutes to come to pressure and start counting down.
Once the instant pot has beeped that the cooking time has ended, let it sit for around 10 minutes during which time the pressure will be naturally releasing.
After 10 minutes, you can switch the vent to pressure release and force release any remaining pressure to open the lid.
Mix the cornstarch and orange juice together to form a slurry, and add this to the sauce. Stir to combine, switch the pot back to sauté mode and simmer for 2-3 minute to let the sauce thicken.
How can I make this without an instant pot?
When browning the chicken, cook for longer, around 6 minutes until chicken is fully cooked through. Then, add all the sauce ingredients INCLUDING the cornstarch slurry and bring to a simmer for a few minutes until sauce has thickened.
Can I make this in a slow cooker?
Yes! Brown the chicken pieces on the stove top, then place in a slow cooker with all the sauce ingredients. Cook on low heat for 4 hours, but check at 3 hours. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the lid, turn the slow cooker or crockpot to high, and add the cornstarch slurry. Simmer for a few minutes until sauce has thickened, then turn off slow cooker.
What to serve orange chicken with:
I served this with brown rice, and the nuttiness of the rice really complemented the dish. It was a great healthy side!
I also steamed some broccoli and served that alongside. Broccoli works so well with Asian inspired dishes.
You can serve this with any type of rice, like plain white rice or jasmine rice.
This would be really great with noodles too, or even quinoa for a healthier take.
Instant Pot Orange Chicken
- Instant Pot
- 2 lb chicken breasts, cut into 1.5-2 inch cubes 900 g
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced I used all 6, if you prefer less garlic you can use only 4
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- zest of one orange
For the slurry to thicken the sauce:
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- Pat dry the chicken thoroughly, heat the vegetable oil in either in the instant pot on saute mode, or in a regular pan on medium high heat on the stove. Cook the chicken 2-3 minutes, stirring throughout until starting to turn golden brown then remove the chicken. If using the instant pot, make sure theres no chicken bits stuck to the bottom so you don't get a burn notice. If there are any stuck bits, add a splash of orange juice and stir to deglaze.
- Add the sauce ingredients to the pot, the orange juice, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, white sugar, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, orange zest and sweet chili sauce. Stir to coat the chicken evenly with the sauce.
- Close instant pot lid, make sure vent is closed, and select high pressure, 5 minute cooking time. After the cooking time is over, naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then switch the vent to release and force release any remaining pressure.
- Mix together the cornstarch and the orange juice, and add to the instant pot, stir gently to combine with the sauce. Turn instant pot to saute mode and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Turn off the instant pot, the orange chicken will thicken further if you let it stand for 10 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped chives or green onions and extra orange zest. Serve with white rice, brown rice, or noodles. Enjoy!
If you liked this recipe, you might like: