This easy, sticky Instant Pot Orange Chicken recipe is perfect for a healthy Chinese fake away, or weeknight dinner. Make the best orange chicken in the Instant Pot, with an option to cook rice in the pressure cooker at the same time.
Panda express orange chicken is really popular in the US, and orange chicken is one of the most common takeaway dishes. Tender pieces of chicken are coated in a sticky orange sauce, and served with your favorite side dishes.
This one pot Instant Pot chicken is made in less than 30 minutes, perfect for a healthy and delicious weeknight dinner.
Why you'll love it
- Most orange chicken recipes contain a bunch of brown sugar. In this recipe we replace it with a smaller amount of honey, which makes the dish lower in sugar and calories.
- Really easy to make in 23 minutes.
- A quick and simple dish, perfect for weeknight dinners or a fake away.
- It's sweet and mild, perfect for kids and adults alike.
- Easy to adapt the recipe to suit your preferences.
- Suits most dietary requirements: this orange chicken is gluten free, dairy free, egg free and healthy.
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Chicken: I use boneless skinless chicken thighs, as they have more flavor, and are really juicy and tender. You can also use chicken breasts, but I find that they are more likely to become dry and rubbery.
Cornstarch: We use this to make a thick and sticky orange chicken sauce. You can use arrowroot powder instead, or thicken the sauce by reducing it.
Orange juice: Use freshly squeezed orange juice from 1-2 oranges, or your favorite store bought orange juice.
Seasoning: Salt and pepper are the basic seasoning. You can also add extra seasoning to improve the flavor of the dish,
Sauce ingredients: Soy sauce, sriracha, rice wine vinegar, orange zest and garlic are added to make the orange sauce.
Honey: Honey is added to help caramelize the sauce and make it sticky. It also adds a little sweetness to the dish.
Full instructions and ingredient measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
- Prepare: Prepare your ingredients by washing and dicing them.
- Sauté: Cook the chicken chunks in your Instant Pot on saute mode to seal in the juices.
- Pressure cook: Cook the chicken in the sauce for a few minutes.
- Thicken sauce: Release the pressure, and add cornstarch mixed with orange. juice. Cook on saute mode for about a minute until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve: Garnish your Instant Pot orange chicken with green onions, toasted sesame seeds or orange zest, and serve.
- You can save time by not sautéing the chicken thighs first, but if you're looking to make the best pressure cooker orange chicken, I recommend that you don't skip this step.
- If you only have frozen chicken thighs, I recommend that you thaw and defrost them before use.
If you love this, check out our collection of Instant Pot chicken recipes!
Orange chicken can be served as an entree with side dishes for lunch or dinner, or as a part of a Chinese fake away buffet. Here are some of the dishes that I like to serve it with:
- Rice: Instant Pot Mexican Rice, Carrot Rice, Thai Coconut Rice or Lemon and Garlic Rice. Plain white or brown rice also works well!
- Vegetables: Oven Roasted Green Beans, Air Fryer Asparagus, Air Fryer Cauliflower or Instant Pot Broccoli
- Sauces: Ginger Scallion Sauce, Gyoza Sauce
- Other Chinese takeaway recipes: Chow Mein with Chicken, Ginger and Spring Onion Chicken, Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry or Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice
Spicy orange chicken: Add red pepper flakes, or a pinch of cayenne pepper if you prefer spicy orange chicken. You can also double or triple the amount of sriracha used. Although the base recipe includes a small amount of sriracha, it's very mild.
With tomato sauce: Adding tomato sauce to the sauce makes it less sweet and more savory. This is a great option if you don't like sweet chicken dishes. Add about 2-3 tablespoons.
Gluten free: This dish is typically naturally gluten free! Make sure that the cornstarch, and each of the individual sauce ingredients are all marked as gluten free.
Orange chicken with vegetables: Add any diced veggies that you like. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and peppers are all excellent choices. The vegetables should be added to the pot right before pressure cooking. Keep in mind that they tend to become very soft. If you prefer crunchier vegetables, you can cook them separately, and add them to the pot after pressure cooking the chicken.
One pot orange chicken and rice
If you want, you can cook orange chicken AND rice at the same time in the Instant Pot. Before you seal the lid to pressure cook the chicken, place a trivet on top of the chicken and sauce.
Then, place an oven safe dish such as a bowl or casserole dish on top of the trivet, and add 1 cup of rice + 1 cup of water to the bowl. This is often known as the "pot in pot" method, where you cook a dish in a pot inside the Instant Pot.
Increase the timer to PRESSURE COOK the chicken and rice together for 10 minutes, and leave the pressure to naturally release for another 10 minutes.
The chicken will be a little overcooked, but if you're using chicken thighs, they should still be tender and juicy. Don't use chicken breasts for this method.
Store leftover Instant Pot orange chicken in a sealed container in a refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can reheat it in a microwave or in a pot on the stove top, and serve it warm with your favorite sides.
Orange chicken is a great option for meal prep or make ahead lunch or dinner. I like to make a double batch, and portion it out in smaller containers with rice and some vegetables. These containers are really easy to take to school or work, and reheat in the microwave before serving.
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Frequently asked questions
You can thicken the sauce by adding cornstarch mixed with orange juice or water, and cooking the sauce while stirring. The sauce should be thick and sticky within minutes.
Yes! The natural sugars in orange juice and honey is enough to make the sauce sweet and sticky.
Boneless skinless chicken thighs are best. They will result in perfect tender, juicy orange chicken.
You might also like these recipes
- Instant Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken Stew
- Air Fryer Orange Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken Pasta
- Instant Pot Chili Mac
- Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas
Instant Pot Orange Chicken
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch (UK: cornflour)
- 2 tablespoon orange juice
- Grate or finely dice the garlic cloves.
- Dice the chicken thighs in bite sized pieces. Remove any excess fat.
- Heat up the vegetable oil in the Instant Pot on the SAUTE setting. Saute the diced chicken thighs for a few minutes, until they are cooked on the surface.
- Add orange juice, ginger and garlic to the Instant Pot. Use a spoon or spatula to scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze it and prevent anything from being stuck.
- Add soy sauce, sriracha, honey, rice vinegar, orange zest, salt and pepper to the Instant Pot, and stir.
- Turn off the Instant Pot, then cover with the lid. Turn the valve to sealing. Turn the pressure cooker back on, and cook on MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK setting on high pressure for 4 minutes. The pot will take a few minutes to build pressure before it starts counting down.
- Perform a quick release of pressure according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remove the lid from the pot.
- Combine cornstarch and orange juice in a small bowl, and stir to remove any lumps. Pour this into the Instant Pot, and turn on the SAUTE setting. Stir continuously for about a minute, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Turn off the Instant Pot, and serve.
- This recipe has only been tested in a 6 qt Instant Pot.
- Store leftovers in a refrigerator for up to 4 days.