Instant Pot Orange Chicken is a flavor-packed, kid-friendly meal made in less than 30 minutes featuring tender chicken and a sweet and savory Asian orange sauce.
Looking for more Chinese-American recipes to enjoy in your Instant Pot? Fans love Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken, Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken, and Instant Pot Mongolian Beef! Check them out along with all my Instant Pot recipes to find an easy dinner to make tonight!
The Instant Pot is a magical cooking device when it comes to developing insanely flavorful dishes FAST! And this recipe for Instant Pot Orange Chicken proves just that!
Inspired by my recipe for Copycat Orange Chicken, this easy Instant Pot Chicken Recipe delivers tender chicken coated in a sweet and tangy citrus sauce with minimal prep work. And thanks to the pressure cooker doing the heavy lifting, you don't need to stand over the stove to babysit the sauce!
Why You Will Love Instant Pot Orange Chicken
- Easy 30-Minute Recipe. From start to finish, including the time it takes for pressure to build and the pressure to be released, Instant Pot Orange Chicken is on the table in 30 minutes.
- Better than Take-Out. Instant Pot Orange Chicken is lower in fat, lower in sodium, lower in sugar, and made with wholesome ingredients. But most importantly, it tastes amazing!
- Picky-Eater Approved. Everyone loves Instant Pot Orange Chicken! It is a simple meal made with just chicken and an irresistibly sweet and tangy sauce. Nothing for picky eaters to turn their noses up to in this simple chicken recipe.
- Budget-Friendly. This easy copycat Chinese dish is made with affordable, easy-to-find ingredients and is much more economical than ordering takeout.
- Can Prepare Rice at the Same Time. Using the pot-in-pot cooking method, you can pressure cook rice along with the Orange Chicken, making Instant Pot Orange Chicken a quick and easy all-in-one meal.
Notes on Ingredients
- Chicken: Use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless thighs. Whatever you have on hand or personally prefer.
- Oil: Use a neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil to brown the chicken.
- Oranges: Using both orange juice and orange zest is key to giving the citrus sauce its intense orange flavor. For the orange juice, use 100% pulp-free refrigerated orange juice or the juice of fresh oranges. If using freshly squeezed orange juice, be sure to zest the orange before juicing the orange, as it is next to impossible to zest the orange AFTER juicing it.
- Soy Sauce: Use low-sodium soy sauce to control the overall sodium in this dish.
- Sweetener: Brown Sugar is my sweetener of choice for this recipe, as I love the way it compliments the flavor of the orange. However, honey is more traditional, so feel free to substitute honey for brown sugar in equal amounts.
- Rice Wine Vinegar: Rice wine vinegar is a mild vinegar used often used in Asian dishes. If you don't have rice wine vinegar, Mirin, or white distilled vinegar will work in its place.
- Aromatics: Fresh ginger and garlic add extra flavor to the sauce. Do not be tempted to use ground ginger powder, as the flavor is not the same.
- Cornstarch: In order to thicken the dish, it is best to use a cornstarch slurry which is simply cornstarch dissolved in water. This is added after the Instant Pot Orange Chicken has pressure cooked and will help the delicious citrus sauce coat the chicken.
Recipes Modifications/Allergy Accommodations
- Gluten-Free Orange Chicken: Use tamari or coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce, or be sure your soy sauce is labeled gluten-free.
- Corn-Free. If you have a corn allergy, replace the cornstarch with equal amounts of tapioca starch or arrowroot powder. Either will work to thicken the sauce beautifully.
- Like it sweeter? If you like a really sweet version of orange chicken, add an additional 1 tablespoon of brown sugar or honey to the recipe.
- Spice it up: The sweetness in this Instant Pot Orange Chicken is balanced with the addition of garlic and ginger, but if you would like to add a bit of heat to the dish, add 1-2 teaspoons of Sriracha or ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the orange juice mixture before pressure cooking.
How to Make Instant Pot Orange Chicken
While this recipe for pressure cooker orange chicken is incredibly easy to make, if you are unfamiliar with cooking in an instant pot or the functions of your instant pot, be sure to start with How to Use an Instant Pot for the best results on this and future recipes. And follow the recipe card for detailed instructions!
Step One: Saute the Chicken. Sauteeing the chicken is optional but adds a nice texture to the chicken and the overall dish.
Step Two: Prepare the Orange Sauce. This sweet and tangy citrus sauce makes the dish! Because this recipe uses orange zest and orange juice, it makes sense to use freshly squeezed orange juice. Use a Microplane to zest your orange first and then slice it in half and juice the orange.
Step Three: Deglaze the Inner Pot. In order to prevent a burn notice, is it crucial to add liquid and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the inner pot. Simply add the prepared citrus sauce to the inner pot and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the bottom of the inner pot while stirring the sauce into the chicken.
Step Four: Add Rice (Optional). If desired, you can use the pot-in-pot cooking method to cook the rice above the chicken. To do this, place rinsed long-rain white rice in a stainless steel bowl with an equal amount of water. Place a trivet above the chicken and set the bowl on the trivet. The rice needs a bit longer to account for the stainless steel bowl, so the cooking time of 5 minutes with at least 10 minutes of natural pressure release cooks the rice perfectly.
Step Five: Pressure Cook. This recipe only needs 5 minutes of cooking time under pressure. But it is crucial to keep in mind that you MUST allow for at least 10 minutes of natural pressure release. That means to just leave the pressure cooker be, do not try to open the lid or release the pressure.
Step Six: Thicken the Sauce. To give the orange sauce its classic thick, sticky consistency, it is best to turn the pressure cooker back to saute and thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry. It will only take a couple minutes and the effort is well worth it!
If you made rice along with the Instant Pot Orange Chicken, serve the orange chicken over the rice for a delicious, hearty, and healthy 30-minute meal. Alternatively, you can serve this orange chicken over cauliflower rice, Instant Pot Brown Rice, or Instant Pot Jasmine Rice.
You can pair the chicken and rice with steamed vegetables on the side or toss the veggies into the chicken and orange sauce to add flavor to the vegetables as well.
- Refrigerate: The best way to store leftovers is to allow the orange chicken to cool, and then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: If you won't be enjoying the leftovers within 4 days, store the cooled orange chicken in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Reheat: If needed, thaw the orange chicken in the refrigerator. Reheat by sauteeing on low heat on the stove, using the saute function on the Instant Pot, or for 1-2 minutes per serving in the microwave.
More Easy Instant Pot Meals
- Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Instant Pot Mongolian Beef
- Instant Pot Spaghetti
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
- Instant Pot Hamburger Helper
If you tried this easy recipe for Instant Pot Orange Chicken, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Instant Pot Orange Chicken
- ½ tablespoon canola oil or olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 1 inch chunks
- ¾-1 cup orange juice see note
- 2 teaspoons orange zest ~the zest of one large navel orange
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root grated
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute, add in the oil, and let heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Once the oil is heated, add the cubed chicken to the inner pot and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned on all sides. Turn the Instant Pot off.
- In a small bowl, combine orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl to combine. Add this mixture to the inner pot and using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pot, while stirring the sauce into the chicken. *Use ¾ cup orange juice for a 6-quart Instant Pot & 1 cup of orange juice for an 8-quart Instant Pot.
- Place the lid on the pressure cooker, be sure the vent knob is sealed or locked, and set it to cook on HIGH pressure for 5 minutes. Do this by hitting the manual or pressure cook button and using the +/- buttons to adjust until it reads 5.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes to keep the chicken tender. It is okay to leave on keep warm.
- Once the pressure has been released, remove the lid from the inner pot. Hit cancel to turn off the keep warm function and then hit saute. Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water until dissolved. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the bubbling sauce. Stir/whisk constantly, until the sauce has thickened. It won’t take but a minute or two. Once thickened, turn the Instant Pot off.
- Serve with steamed rice or cauliflower rice.