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Healthy Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

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For a quick healthy weeknight dinner, try this Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Thighs with Bok Choy. Deliciously simple with all of the flavors you love in your favorite Chinese takeout.

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken on a Blue Plate with Baby Bok Choy

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Kung Pao Chicken is traditionally a perfect combination of salt, sweet and spicy flavors. Often served as a stir fry. 

Our version is a bit simpler, using a pressure cooker to make cook chicken thighs in a sweet and spicy sauce. That also happens to be tender and juicy.  Add the bok choy and you have a simple dish you will love.

Kitchen Tools

I make this Kung Pao Chicken recipe in a 6-quart Instant Pot.

If you love to cook with your Instant Pot, you might like to view our other Instant Pot recipes!

Sliced Baby Bok Choy on Green Cutting Board

Ingredients for Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Thighs with Bok Choy

No special ingredients are needed in this simple dish. Gather the following:


  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs


  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • chopped fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • fresh cilantro (optional)

Pantry Staples:

  • canola oil
  • chicken stock
  • dry sherry or rice wine vinegar
  • lower-sodium soy sauce
  • granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  • garlic cloves
  • baby bok choy
Browned Chicken Thighs in Instant Pot

How Spicy is Pot Kung Pao Chicken?

In short, as spicy as you want. In this simple recipe, the heat comes from the red pepper flakes. To spice it up, add more. You can even completely eliminate it. Although — if you were asking my advice — try just a pinch!

What to Serve with Kung Pao Chicken

Although this dish is not a traditional stir fry, I still like to serve it over rice. Be that white basmati, brown, or even minute rice. 

Or, be creative and serve it over a grain like farro or even noodles.

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Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Thighs with Bok Choy on a Blue Plate
Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken on a Blue Plate with Baby Bok Choy

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Thighs with Bok Choy

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

For a quick healthy weeknight dinner, try this Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken Thighs with Bok Choy. Deliciously simple with all of the flavors you love in favorite Chinese takeout.


  • 4 (8 ounce) bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry or rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 pound baby bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)


  1. Season the chicken thighs evenly on both sides with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the pressure cooker. Select the saute setting and wait for the pot to heat. Once hot, add the chicken to the cooker and brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and press "cancel" on the Instant Pot.
  2. Add chicken stock, red pepper flakes, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and garlic to the Instant Pot; stir to combine. Return the chicken thighs to the pressure cooker. Cover and lock the lid into place. Set the vent to "sealing," select the Manual/ High Pressure, and set it for 20 minutes. Once cooked, quickly release the pressure on the valve.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm. Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Set the Instant Pot to the saute setting. Once the cooking liquid comes to a boil, pour in the cornstarch mixture. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens; 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the sauce from the pressure cooker into a separate bowl and add the baby bok choy and 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot. Cook stirring constantly until the bok choy wilts; 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. I like to serve this Kung Pao Chicken Thighs over brown basmati rice and sprinkled with fresh cilantro. Divide the bok choy and chicken thighs between 4 bowls and top with the garlic sauce.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 1394mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 12g

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    1. Hi Stanley, the cilantro is used to garnish the cooked chicken! I’ve updated those instructions to be more clear. Hope you like them!

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