Put down the takeout menu and enjoy a healthier version of your favorite Chinese-American dish with this easy recipe for Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken!
Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken is a delicious, simple chicken breast recipe for the Instant Pot. Made with a sweet and tangy homemade sweet and sour sauce, peppers, pineapple, and tender chicken, this is a family-favorite 30-Minute Dinner Recipe!
I love using my Instant Pot to create take-out recipes at home. From recipes like this Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken to Instant Pot Orange Chicken to Instant Pot Mongolian Beef, the electric pressure cooker works fast to create an insanely intense sauce. And not only do these homemade versions save you money, but they also are much better for you!
Reasons to Love Instant Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken
- Better for You. This recipe for Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken is lower in sodium, fat, and sugar than traditional sweet and sour chicken, yet tastes just as delicious.
- Ready in 30 Minutes. From start to finish, with minimal hands-on prep, dinner will be ready to enjoy in less than 30 minutes! In fact, preparing Instant Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken is almost as easy as calling for take-out!
- Quality Control. Like chicken thighs, better than chicken breasts? Don't like peppers in your sauce? Want to keep this dish refined sugar-free or gluten-free? No problem! When you make Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken at home, you get to be in charge of what goes into it.
- Can Prepare Rice at the Same Time. Using the pot-in-pot cooking method, you can pressure cook rice along with the Sweet and Sour Chicken! Perfect for a quick and easy all-in-one meal.
Notes on Ingredients
- 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 the perfect flavor. I prefer using one sweetened with only fruit juice, such as All-Fruit, to control the level of sugar, but any version you have on hand will work.
- Peppers: To add a bit of sweetness and color to your sweet and sour sauce, use sweet red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers. I don't recommend green peppers, as they don't lend the same sweetness to the sauce.
- Pineapple: Fresh pineapple slices are best for this recipe, as canned pineapple chunks tend to fall apart when pressure cooked.
- 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.
- Chicken Broth: Use low-sodium store-bought chicken stock, homemade chicken stock, or instant pot chicken broth, to keep the sodium level down.
- Soy Sauce: To control the level of sodium, use low-sodium soy sauce.
- Oil: Select a neutral oil like canola or vegetable 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 arrowroot or tapioca starch.
- Gluten-Free Sweet & Sour Chicken: If you need this dish to be gluten-free, replace the soy sauce with tamari or gluten-free soy sauce.
- Substitute for Apricot Jam: If you don't have jam on hand or you don't want to use it, replace it with ¼ cup ketchup and ¼ cup brown sugar that has been mixed.
- Adding Spice: This sauce is on the sweeter side, which is GREAT for kids, or those with sensitive palates. 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, Onions, or Pineapple? The added vegetables and fruit add flavor and texture to the sauce, but Sweet and Sour Chicken is delicious even without this addition. Feel free to omit them if you (or your picky kids) despise them, but you will need to add ¼ cup of broth to account for the liquid content they lend to the sauce.
Tips for Making the Best Instant Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken
While this is an incredibly simple recipe, 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. You will find the full recipe in detail in the recipe card below.
Tip #1: Saute the Chicken. Sauteeing the chicken is optional but adds a nice texture to the chicken and the overall dish.
Tip #2: Deglaze the Inner Pot. To prevent a burn notice, is it crucial to add liquid and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the inner pot. To do this, add in the chicken stock and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the bottom of the inner pot while stirring the sauce into the chicken.
Is That Really Enough Liquid?
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.
Tip #3: Combine the Sauce BEFORE Adding. For best results, whisk together the apricot jam, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and ginger together in a small bowl. This will help ensure the flavors evenly permeate the dish.
Tip #4: Add Rice to Make it a Full Meal. 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.
Tip #5: Let Pressure Release Naturally. To keep the chicken tender (and the rice fluffy if you opt to cook rice as well), be sure to let your pressure cooker be for at least 10 minutes after the cooking time has elapsed.
Tip #6: Thicken the Sauce. To give the sweet and sour 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 opted to prepare rice along with the chicken, dinner is done! Simply serve the Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken over the rice and top with green onions if desired. Otherwise, you can serve the sweet and sour chicken over cauliflower rice, Instant Pot Brown Rice, or Instant Pot Jasmine Rice.
- Refrigerate: The best way to store leftovers is to allow the sweet and sour chicken to cool, and then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freeze: I don't recommend freezing Sweet & Sour Chicken as the peppers and pineapples can break down when frozen and then thawed in the sauce.
- Reheat: 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 Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- Instant Pot Burrito Bowl
- Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
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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 medium onion diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 medium red pepper diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 medium yellow pepper diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup fresh pineapple diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½-¾ cup chicken broth/stock see note
- ½ cup apricot jam/preserves
- 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 for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned on all sides. 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, and pineapple to the inner pot.
- In a small bowl, combine the apricot jam, soy sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar, and garlic. Add this mixture to the inner pot and stir to incorporate.
- 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 the Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa, and top with green onions if desired.