This Instant Pot Sesame Chicken is ready in about 30 minutes. Tender chicken pieces coated in a glorious sweet sesame sauce with a little kick of spice, better than any takeout!
Skip the takeout and make your Asian-style dishes at home! Not only are they super easy to make, they taste so much better. We love takeout/fake-outs like my Garlic Pork Stir Fry and Ginger Glazed Chicken Ramen. This is one of my Asian-Inspired recipes you’ll definitely want in your collection!
Sesame chicken recipe
It’s definitely that time of year folks. The holidays are coming up, it’s probably dark when you come home from work, and the last thing you feel like doing is standing over a hot stove for 45 minutes cooking dinner.
If you have kids, whether they’re doing in person school or virtual, there are projects, homework to be checked, tests to study for… so dinner needs to be something quick and easy.
But not JUST quick and easy, you want deliciousness too right? It can be a challenge to find a recipe that encompasses all 3, and I hope I’ve shared quite a few here on the website that fit the bill 🙂
And I’m back with another one! This sesame chicken hits all the same flavor notes as the fried sesame chicken from your favorite takeout place, but you don’t have to deal with breading and frying the chicken.
Let the pressure cooker do the work for you! Literally, it’s a dump and cook recipe. No sauteing (unless you want to for a crispy-ish texture), just add the chicken and sauce and pressure cook.
Then all you have to do is simmer the sauce for a few minutes to thicken it up, and dinner is finished!
We love to serve this sesame chicken with some fluffy white or jasmine rice and some steamed broccoli, but you can serve it up any way you want… it’s your meal 🙂
How to make sesame chicken in the Instant Pot
- Add chicken to pot. No need to saute anything first, just add the chicken, salt, pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger and sriracha to the pot and stir.
- Cook. Pressure cook on high pressure for 3 minutes, then turn the valve to venting to do a quick pressure release.
- Thicken. Select “saute” and add the sugar, oil and vinegar. Stir, then in a separate bowl combine the cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir into the chicken and sauce and keep cooking and stirring until sauce is thickened.
- Garnish and serve. We like to top this chicken with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
Additional cooking tips
- CHICKEN TYPE – our family (specifically the kids), prefers white meat chicken, so we normally use boneless skinless chicken as written in the recipe. If you like chicken thighs, you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs and slice them into the same sized pieces as directed in the recipe.
- PRESSURE RELEASE TYPE – I use a quick pressure release (for help with other pressure cooker lingo, check out my Instant Pot Terms guide), so the chicken doesn’t overcook.
Variations of this recipe
- HONEY – if you prefer a honey flavor, substitute an equal amount of honey for the brown sugar.
- SPICY – feel free to add more sriracha, or a pinch of red pepper flakes to this recipe to kick it up a notch.
- MILD – I don’t feel this chicken is that spicy, but if you’re sensitive to heat, you can omit the sriracha sauce.
- CRISPY-ISH – to get a semi-crispy texture on the chicken, add the cubed chicken to a resealable plastic bag and add about 2 Tbsp cornstarch. Give it a shake and massage to coat the chicken in the starch. Select “saute” and add about 1-2 Tbsp of vegetable/canola oil to the pot. Once hot, add chicken and brown in batches for about 2-3 minutes per batch. Add all the browned chicken to the pot and proceed with the written recipe, reducing the pressure cooking time to 2 minutes.
- STIR FRY – no pressure cooker, no problem! You can absolutely make this on the stovetop in a large skillet. I’ve included those directions down in the recipe notes section of the recipe card.
- SLOW COOKER – if you’d rather use your crockpot, I’ve also included those directions down in the recipe notes.
Making sesame chicken ahead of time
I found that this sesame chicken tastes best when made right before serving, but you can absolutely prep ahead of time.
Mince the garlic and ginger and store in the refrigerator. Slice the green onions and store in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze this sesame chicken! Let the chicken and sauce cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat gently in a saucepan, skillet or microwave.
Leftover chicken should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 4 days.
Shop the recipe
- Instant Pot – I recently upgraded to this model and I love it!
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- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into approximately 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup soy sauce reduced sodium is best
- 3 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp sriracha sauce
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger or ginger paste
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- sliced green onions
- Add cubed chicken, salt, pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger and sriracha to the Instant Pot. Stir to combine.
- Secure lid, making sure the valve is set to “sealing”. Select manual or pressure cook and use the +/- buttons to set it to 3 minutes.
- Once pressure cooking is finished, turn the valve to “venting” to perform a quick pressure release.
- Open lid and select “saute”. Add brown sugar, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Stir to combine.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir into chicken and sauce. Continue cooking, stirring with a wooden spoon until sauce is thickened to your liking. This usually takes me about 2-3 minutes.
GARNISH AND SERVE
- Serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. We love to have this alongside white or jasmine rice and steamed broccoli.
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SLOW COOKER DIRECTIONS
- Add cubed chicken, salt, pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger and sriracha to the insert of a slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 2-3 hours.
- Add brown sugar, sesame oil and rice vinegar and stir.
- Whisk together cornstarch and water until smooth, then stir that mixture into the chicken and sauce in slow cooker.
- Cook, uncovered, on HIGH for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until sauce has thickened to your liking.
- Serve and garnish as written.
- If you need or want to cook the chicken longer, you can cook whole boneless skinless chicken breasts on LOW for 6-8 hours, although this will likely be a shredded sesame chicken.
- Add 2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil to a large skillet or wok and heat over MED HIGH heat.
- While oil is heating up, whisk together soy sauce, ketchup, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Set aside.
- Once hot, add cubed chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 3-4 minutes until chicken is browned and mostly cooked through. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to brown the chicken in batches.
- Remove chicken to a plate.
- Add garlic and ginger and cook about 30 seconds, stirring very often. Stir in sauce you whisked together earlier.
- In a small mixing bowl whisk together cornstarch and water until smooth, then stir that mixture into the sauce in the skillet. Add browned chicken back to the skillet, along with any accumulated juices on the plate.
- Cook, stirring often, until sauce is thickened to your liking.
- Serve and garnish as written.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.