Instant Pot General Tso Chicken

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This Instant Pot General Tso Chicken is packed with rich flavors from dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and hoisin sauce.

» You might also like this Instant Pot Chicken Fried Rice.

General Tso chicken in a bowl with rice

No matter where you get Chinese takeout from in the United States, there is one dish that will always be on the menu. General Tso’s chicken! This Americanized chicken dish is sweet, tangy, and has a little bit of heat that is simply irresistible. 

By making it in the Instant Pot, you can make a great version of the dish in less than 15 minutes. It’s healthier and cheaper than takeout. What could be better than that?

Ingredients You Need

Ingredients for General Tso chicken
  • Chicken – Chicken thighs work best in this recipe, but chicken breast can also be used.
  • Cooking Oil – Choose an oil with a high smoke point, like canola, avocado, or peanut oil.
  • Garlic – Adding fresh garlic will give the chicken a nice savory flavor.
  • Ginger – Fresh ginger works best, but you can use ½ teaspoon of ground ginger instead.
  • Chicken Stock – Using chicken stock to deglaze the Instant Pot will add an extra layer of flavor to the dish.
  • Cornstarch – Adding a bit of cornstarch to sauce will make it thicker.

For the Sauce

  • Dark Soy Sauce – Dark soy sauce has a stronger umami flavor than regular soy sauce, but tamari can be used as a substitute if you can’t find dark soy sauce.
  • Rice Vinegar: gives the sauce a nice sweet tang. Apple cider vinegar is an awesome substitute in a pinch.
  • Honey & Brown Sugar – Using a combination of these two sweeteners will make the texture of the sauce thicker while giving it a nice caramel-like flavor.
  • Hoisin Sauce – Hoisin will give the sauce a nice thickness and umami flavor. Oyster sauce can also be used if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Red Pepper Flakes – The sauce tastes better with a bit of heat, if you like it.

For Garnish

  • Green Onions – Fresh green onions will give the chicken a nice brightness. 
  • Sesame Seeds – Use roasted sesame seeds for the best flavor.
General Tso chicken in a bowl with rice

Using Pot in Pot to Cook Rice

Did you know that you can cook the rice at the same time as the chicken in the Instant Pot? This pot-in-pot technique saves time and effort.

All you need is a bowl that is heat-proof, such as a Pyrex or stainless steel bowl. Put equal parts rice and water in the bowl and set it on the trivet above the chicken. This is where the recipe differs. You will cook it for 4 minutes, as described, but you will allow an 8 minute natural release instead of opening the pot immediately.

Bowl of jasmine rice

When the cook time is over, use some mitts to remove the bowl of rice and set it aside to continue steaming while you finish the chicken.

There is some controversy over whether to use a glass bowl in the Instant Pot, so proceed at your own risk. It’s safer to use stainless steel.

Cooking rice in the Instant Pot is so easy that you won’t cook it any other way once you try it. Here are easy recipes for jasmine rice, basmati rice, and sushi rice.

How to Make Instant Pot General Tso Chicken

Turn on sauté mode on the Instant Pot and add in the oil.

When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and cook them for 2-3 minutes. You’re not trying to cook it all the way through here, just give it some color and form some browned bits on the bottom of the pot that will build more flavor.

Turn off sauté mode. Add the garlic and ginger to the Instant Pot and let it sit in the warm pot for 30 seconds to become aromatic. Then pour in the chicken stock and deglaze the pot to remove all the browned bits from the bottom.

In a bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients. Pour it into the Instant Pot. If you’re cooking your rice at the same time, put the trivet in and the rice bowl on top.

General Tso sauce

Close the lid and set the valve to sealing. Press the pressure cook or manual button and set the cook time to 4 minutes. It will take about 5 minutes to pressurize. After the cook time is up, you can do a quick pressure release and remove the lid. If you’re also cooking rice, give it an 8 minute natural release time.

Turn back on sauté mode. As it heats up, mix the remaining cornstarch with cold water and pour it into the pot. Let it sauté for 3 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Cancel sauté mode.

Serve the chicken and sauce over rice, garnished with sesame seeds and chopped green onion.

General Tso chicken in the Instant Pot

Why Use An Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.

If you don’t have one yet, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot for more information.

Questions About the Recipe

Can I make this recipe with other cuts of chicken?

Absolutely! You can use chicken breast or thigh meat for this recipe. Thigh meat will be juicier, but it’s your choice. We have a lovely General Tso chicken wings recipe that you should definitely try. They’re also made in the oven, so it’s a great option for those that don’t have an Instant Pot.

Can I cook the chicken from frozen?

If you have frozen cubed chicken you want to use, you can cook it from frozen, but you will have to give it 10 minutes cook time to make sure it gets cooked through. Whole frozen chicken breasts or thighs shouldn’t be used in this recipe.

General Tso chicken in a bowl with rice

Tips and Notes

  • You can use chicken breast or chicken thighs for this recipe, but chicken thighs have better texture and are more moist.
  • Make the dish more spicy by adding red pepper flakes or Sriracha sauce.
  • If you like a lot of sauce, you can double the sauce recipe and cook as normal. The sauce is really tasty, so you might just want to do that. I like to reserve the extra sauce to toss chicken wings in for another meal.

Looking for more Asian inspired chicken recipes? Try these.

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General Tso chicken in a bowl with rice

Instant Pot General Tso Chicken

This Instant Pot General Tso Chicken is packed with rich flavors from dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and hoisin sauce.

Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot

4.85 from 32 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Pressurize Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 486 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoon ginger grated
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup water

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For garnish

  • Green onions chopped
  • Sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • Turn on saute mode on the Instant Pot. Add in the oil. When hot, add the chicken and saute for 2-3 minutes. You’re not trying to fully cook the chicken. Turn off saute mode.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and let sit for 30 seconds to become aromatic. Pour in the chicken stock and deglaze the pot to remove any browned bits.
  • In a bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients. Pour it into the Instant Pot.
  • Close the lid and set the valve to sealing. Press the pressure cook or manual button and set the cook time to 4 minutes. It will take about 5 minutes to pressurize. After the cook time is up, do a quick pressure release and remove the lid.
  • Cook the rice either on the stove top or in the Instant Pot with the chicken. If cooking in the Instant Pot, place a bowl with the rice and water on the trivet above the chicken mixture. Cook for 4 minutes and allow an 8 minute natural release of pressure.
  • Turn back on saute mode.
  • Mix the remaining cornstarch with cold water and pour it into the pot. Let it boil for 3 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. You can add more cornstarch for a thicker sauce, if you want. Cancel saute mode.
  • Serve the chicken and sauce over rice, garnished with sesame seeds and chopped green onion.

Notes

  • You can skip the initial cooking of the chicken, it just builds more flavor.
  • If you use frozen chicken for this recipe, you’ll need to cook it longer, for 10 minutes instead of 4.
  • Use chicken breast or chicken thighs for this recipe, but chicken thighs have better texture and are more moist.

Nutrition

Calories: 486kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 46gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 216mgSodium: 1140mgPotassium: 677mgFiber: 1gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 352IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Chicken
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General Tso chicken in a bowl with rice

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