Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Looking for some Chinese cuisine? Made with cubes of chicken, peanuts, veggies, and chili peppers, this Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken is a spicy stir fry the whole family will love!

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Chinese food is definitely a favorite for me. I love going to my favorite Chinese restaurant and ordering the Kung Pao Chicken, but I’m not a fan of the bill at the end. With my Instant Pot, I’ve found a new love for cooking, and I can make delicious dishes like this that taste just like going out to eat.

What is Kung Pao Chicken?

Kung Pao Chicken, also known as Kung Po, is a spicy stir fry dish that is made with cubed chicken, peanuts, vegetables, chili peppers, and Chinese spice powder. It has a strong flavor that is sweet, sour, and savory with a little tingle of heat from the peppers.

Kung Pao Chicken Ingredients

This recipe is super easy to make in your Instant Pot as long as you have all the right ingredients. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to make this deliciously sweet and spicy Kung Pao Chicken.

  • Chicken: I use chicken breasts for this recipe because they are easier to cut into cubes. Any boneless, skinless chicken works.
  • Chili peppers: You want dried, red chili peppers to give this dish the perfect spicy kick.
  • Peanuts: I prefer unsalted peanuts since this recipe already adds quite a bit of salt and spices.
  • Soy sauce: The soy sauce is used to create the deliciously sweet and savory sauce for your stir fry. I se low sodium to limit the salt, so it’s not too salty. You can use regular sodium if you choose.
  • Chinese Five Spice Powder: You can find this spice in the spice aisle at most grocery stores. It is definitely on Amazon, at Walmart, and Target.
  • Red pepper chili flakes: This adds just a little more zing and heat to your dish.
  • Honey: This dish is also sweet due to the honey. I prefer to get pure raw honey.
  • Vegggies: Included in this stir fry, you will need fresh green bell peppers, zucchini, and minced garlic.

Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom for a full list of exact ingredients!

Kung Pao Chicken ingredients

How to Make Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Once you have gathered all your ingredients, get that Instant Pot out! This recipe is so easy to make, and you’re going to want to make it again and again.

Step 1: Season the Chicken

Hit the saute button on your Instant Pot and add the oil. While it is heating, season your chicken with salt and pepper. Then, cut it into cubes.

Season chicken

Step 2: Saute the Chicken

Place your chicken in the Instant Pot and cook each side for about 3-4 minutes. You just want to brown the outside not fully cook the chicken.

Step 3: Add Ingredients

After the chicken is browned, hit cancel to turn the saute function off. Then, add soy sauce, honey, Chinese five-spice powder, minced garlic, and red pepper chili flakes to your Instant Pot. Mix well.

Pressure cook

Step 4: Pressure Cook the Chicken

Next, close and lock the lid on your Instant Pot and put the valve into the sealing position. Hit your manual or pressure cook button and set the time for 4-minutes.

Step 5: Quick Release

Once the Instant Pot beeps, do a quick release by turning the steam valve to the venting position. Remove your chicken and place it to the side.

Step 6: Saute the Veggies and Peanuts

Add more oil to your Instant Pot if needed, and hit the saute button. Saute your zucchini, bell pepper, red chili peppers, and peanuts for about 3 minutes or until the veggies become tender.

saute veggies

Step 7: Add the Chicken

With your instant pot still on sauté mode, add your chicken back to the pot, and cook for another two minutes so that the chicken warms up alongside the remaining ingredients.

Serve and Enjoy!

How to make Kung Pao chicken in the Crock Pot

Want to make this easy chicken recipe in the Crock Pot? It’s super simple to do! Follow these steps:

  1. Sear your chicken in a large skillet.
  2. Add the chicken and the rest of the ingredients to your crock pot.
  3. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
  4. Create a slurry to thicken the sauce and cook on high for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Add the peanuts and serve.

This recipe for crock pot kung pao chicken is similar and would make a delicious dinner.

How to make kung pao chicken in the Instant Pot for an easy dinner

Are You Supposed to Eat the Dried Chili Peppers?

It won’t hurt you if you eat them, but they aren’t typically meant to be eaten. The dried red chili peppers are placed in the dish for flavor, but not necessarily to eat. A lot of people eat them, and then their mouth is on fire. If you like just a little spice, do not eat the peppers. If you aren’t a fan of spicy food, you can leave them out.

Do I Have to Use Peanuts?

Peanuts are traditionally used in this dish, but you don’t have to use them. Another good option for this recipe would be chopped cashews or pistachios.

Kung Pao Chicken

Side Suggestions

This Kung Pao Chicken can be served over white or brown rice and topped with green onions or sesame seeds. Or, you can add other Chinese dishes. Here are some of my favorite sides to go with it:

Kung Pao Chicken

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Yield: 2-4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • · ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts (about 2-3 breasts)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 dried red chili peppers
  • 2/3 cup peanuts (I prefer unsalted)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and then in halves
  • ½ cup soy sauce, low sodium
  • ½ cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper chili flakes, dried


  1. Turn your instant pot on to sauté. While you are allowing your instant pot to heat up, season both sides with your salt and pepper. Cut and dice your chicken.
  2. Add your chicken into the Instant Pot and cook each side for about 3 to 4 minutes. You just want the outside to get brown. It’s OK if some of the insides are raw as you’ll be pressure cooking the remaining raw chicken.
  3. Once you have finished cooking your chicken for 3 to 4 minutes, add in your soy sauce, honey, Chinese five-spice powder, minced garlic, red pepper chili flakes. Mix together.
  4. Close the lid on your instant pot and close the ceiling valve by it pushing it away from you. Pressure cook for four minutes.
  5. Once your instant pot has released pressure, do a quick release by releasing the steam valve by bringing the valve toward you. Remove the chicken from your instant pot and set it aside.
  6. Turn your instant pot on to sauté mode one more time and add any more oil if needed. Add in your zucchini, bell pepper, red chili peppers, and peanuts. Sauté these for about three minutes until your bell pepper and zucchini become tender.
  7. With your instant pot still on sauté mode, add your chicken back to the pot, and cook for another two minutes so that the chicken warms up alongside the remaining ingredients.
  8. Add your Compal chicken to a bowl of rice. It is perfect over white or brown rice, and top with green onions or sesame seeds! Enjoy!

More Instant Pot Chinese Recipes

Looking for more Chinese dishes the family will love? Check out my other Instant Pot Chinese dishes, below!

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Kelley Easy Instant Pot Recipes

Hey y'all! I'm Kelley!

I am a Texan living in the woods of mid-Michigan with my husband, 4 kids and a whole farm of animals. I heard amazing things about the Instant Pot and knew that I had to give it a try. Many of these recipes are family favorites, and I want your family to enjoy them as well!