Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken is made with tender chicken, fresh veggies, sweet pineapple, and a perfectly balanced homemade sweet and sour sauce, for a fast and healthier spin on your favorite take-out dish!
Delicious served over Instant Pot Brown Rice or Cauliflower Rice.
You can permanently put down the take-out menu, and in less than 30 minutes enjoy a more wholesome version of Sweet and Sour Chicken thanks to the Instant Pot.
This simple recipe for Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken is lower in sodium, fat, and sugar, yet just as delicious as your favorite take-out Sweet and Sour Chicken.
And thankfully this recipe only requires a few simple ingredients and comes together without much effort--making it almost as easy as calling for take-out!
Did I mention you can prepare the rice at the same time to serve with the Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken? I told you this is one super simple, super delicious Instant Pot Chicken recipe!
Notes on Ingredients
One reason I love preparing this recipe for Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken at home is that I can control the quality of the ingredients. Using lean chicken, fresh peppers, fresh pineapple, and a naturally sweetened sauce makes this dish not only taste better, but it is better for you!
- Chicken: You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders. Whatever you prefer or have on hand.
- Apricot Jam: This may sound like an odd ingredient but trust me on this. The apricot jam has a similar flavor to that of Chinese Duck Sauce, minus the added sugar, sodium, and preservatives. It is a great substitute and gives this sweet and sour sauce a perfect flavor. I prefer using a version sweetened with only fruit juice, as a brand like All-Fruit, to control the level of sugar.
- Peppers: Use red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, not green bell peppers. You can opt to use either large or mini peppers.
- Pineapple: Fresh pineapple slices are best for this recipe, as canned pineapple chunks tend to fall apart when pressure cooked.
- Chicken Broth: Use low-sodium store-bought or homemade chicken broth, to keep the sodium level down. For this recipe, you only need ½ cup of broth if using a 6-quart model and ¾ cup of broth for an 8-quart model. The peppers, onions, and pineapple release a lot of liquid, therefore along with the soy sauce, vinegar, jam, and stock, you will have more than enough liquid to achieve pressure.
- Soy Sauce: Use low-sodium soy sauce. If you need this dish to be gluten-free, replace the soy sauce with tamari, liquid aminos, or gluten-free soy sauce.
- Oil: Select a neutral oil like canola, vegetable, or peanut oil.
- Cornstarch: A cornstarch slurry is necessary to thicken up the sauce. If you have an allergy to corn, feel free to use equal amounts of tapioca or arrowroot starch.
How to Make Instant Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute, add in the oil, and let heat for a couple of minutes.
- Once the oil is heated, add in the cubed chicken and saute the chicken until lightly browned on all sides--about 2 minutes.
- Turn the Instant Pot off by hitting cancel.
- Add in the chicken broth and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot. This will help to prevent a burn notice.
- Add in the apricot jam, garlic, ginger, peppers, onions, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar and stir to combine.
- Secure the lid on the inner pot and be sure the vent knob is sealed.
- Set to high pressure and cook for 5 minutes on high pressure.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes before releasing pressure.
- At this point, the sauce is very thin and needs to be thickened. Turn the Instant Pot back to saute and let the mixture come to a bubble.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and water until fully dissolved and add whisk into the inner pot.
- Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens up.
- Turn the Instant Pot off and serve the sweet and sour chicken over brown rice, cooked quinoa, or cauliflower rice, and with green onions as desired.
Cooking Rice at the Same Time
As I mentioned earlier, you have to option to cook rice along with the chicken using the pot-in-pot cooking method. Keep in mind that you must use white rice, not brown rice, for the correct cooking time.
To prepare the rice at the same time as the sweet and sour chicken, place equal amounts of rinsed long-grain white rice and water in a stainless steel bowl. Place a trivet above the chicken mixture 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 works well.
- Substitute for Apricot Jam: If you don't have jam on hand, you can replace it with ¼ cup ketchup and ¼ cup brown sugar.
- Adding Spice: This sauce is on the sweeter side, which is GREAT for kids, or those with sensitive palates. Personally, I like to add Sriracha after dishing it out so that each person can control the heat level. If you this recipe to be spicier as a whole, add ½ tablespoon Sriracha or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes before pressure cooking.
- Hate Peppers? The peppers add flavor and balance to the sauce, however, feel free to omit them if you despise them.
- Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
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If you enjoyed this simple Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken
- ½ tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 onion diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 red pepper diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 yellow pepper diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup fresh pineapple diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½-3/4 cup chicken broth/stock see note
- ½ cup apricot jam
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 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 just until lightly browned on all sides--about 2 minutes. Turn the Instant Pot off.
- Add ½ cup chicken broth if using a 6-quart Instant Pot and ¾ cup broth if using an 8-quart Instant Pot. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot.
- Add the peppers, onions, pineapple, apricot jam, soy sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar, and garlic to Instant Pot and thoroughly stir to incorporate ingredients.
- Close the Instant Pot, be sure the vent knob is sealed, and set to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Hit manual or pressure cook and use the +/- buttons to adjust until it reads 5.
- Once cook time has elapsed, let the pressure release for at least 10 minutes.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to saute and let the mixture come to a bubble. Whisk together the cornstarch and water together until dissolved and then whisk into the bubbling sauce. Bring to a boil and let the sauce thicken, stirring constantly. This should only take a couple of minutes. Once thickened, turn off the saute function.
- Serve the Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa, and top with green onions if desired.
This recipe was originally published in 2017 but has been updated in 2021 with new tips.