Instant Pot Orange Chicken

Orange chicken is a delicious dish with Asian flavor originating in Chinese cuisine. It combines a series of ingredients that may look a bit exotic to westerners who are not used to enjoy their chicken with a fresh orange flavor. 

Still, it is a healthy (lots of vitamin C) and easy to make dish that can add joy to a boring and cold winter evening.  so why don’t you try it today? Use fresh oranges for a better flavor and plenty of vitamin C!

Since it’s not a usual dish, I thought it best to provide you with a few tips to help understand the steps better and get a perfect meal. 

Can I Use Frozen Chicken?

I have received this question for other recipes that incorporate chicken, so I thought it’s best to cover it here as well. The answer is yes, you can use frozen chicken. 

However, the recipe asks for small cubes of chicken breast, so there are two options here. You either chop the chicken and freeze it like this to be used at a later date, or you use the Instant Pot to cook the frozen chicken first.

Keep in mind that it’s best to use chicken breast, but you can replace it with chicken tights if you’re in a pinch. 

How to Zest an Orange?

In my book, zesting an orange is rather easy. But, if you’ve never done it, I should start by saying that the zest is the colored part of an orange’s peel

It’s important to understand that you don’t need to take the yellow or white part of the peel when you’re zesting – just the orange part!

Now, you can use a grater, a paring knife, or a potato peeler, but if you want the zest to integrate nicely into the food (which is the case now) I recommend using a fine grater. If you want longer strips (like for decoration purposes), a knife or a potato peeler are better choices. 

Substitutes

In the case you don’t have fresh oranges laying around, you can always use some substitutes such as dried zest (from a store or home-made), orange extract, or grated candied peel. 

How to Get The Sauce Just Right?

As you can see from the recipe, the sauce should have a nice, smooth, thick texture. To get there, you need to add a thickening agent. This is where the cornstarch comes in. 

Quick tip: If you don’t have cornstarch, you can always use flour. However, you need to double the quantity as corn starch is pure starch which has twice the thickening power of flour. 

Now, to make sure there won’t be any lumps, it’s best to mix the starch (or flour) with a bit of cool liquid before you add it to the sauce. In this case, you can use water or orange juice, but don’t add too much – a small bowl should do. 

Use a whisk to stir the mixture until you obtain a smooth paste without any lumps and add this mixture to the sauce. Continue stirring until you notice an increase in thickness. If this doesn’t happen, you can add more corn starch or flour, but do it in small increments. 

Other Tips

  • It’s best to use fresh oranges to make the juice, but the recipe also works with store-bought orange juice.
  • You also have the option to mix the boiled chicken breast with the sauce (skip the frying step). The result will be less crispy and maybe some of the flavors will be lost, but it’s a way to avoid the frying (for health purposes). 
  • You can buy orange chicken sauce from the store, but I wouldn’t recommend that. The sauce you make at home is ten times more delicious and healthier!
  • A few minutes before the chicken is fully cooked, it’s best to add all the sauce ingredients (without the thickening agent) in a separate bowl and stir everything together. Then, you should add the mixture to the fried chicken. 

Serving

This is a colorful dish and the sauce is a wonderful combination of sweet and spicy, so it works well with white rice (that you can also make in the Instant Pot) or plain pasta. But, if you want to add more color and make it a bit more interesting, I recommend adding a few steamed vegetables on the plate. It works extremely well with broccoli, green beans, or cauliflower. 

Also, don’t forget to sprinkle some fresh parsley or chives and some orange zest. The effect will be astonishing! 

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Instant Pot Orange Chicken
3.85 from 106 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: brown sugar, chicken, orange, Orange Chicken, rice wine
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 orange zested
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
Instructions
  • Chop your chicken breast into small cubes.
  • Pour oil into your Instant Pot and press “Sauté”.
  • Add chicken cubes and cook for 5 minutes, until they brown. Stir constantly to make them brown on each side.
  • Add orange juice, tomato sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, rice wine, garlic and orange zest and stir.
  • Close the lid and cook at high pressure for about 5 minutes.
  • Once done, do a quick pressure release.
  • Open the lid and press “Sauté” again.
  • Add cornstarch to thicken the sauce and stir. If the chicken has dried too much, add some more orange juice.
  • Cook for about 2 minutes, until the sauce has reached the desired texture with no lumps.
  • Add the Chicken to a serving bowl, sprinkle with fresh parsley on top and serve with rice.

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18 thoughts on “Instant Pot Orange Chicken

  1. Recipe looks great, look forward to making it. Definitely one of the healthier Orange Chicken recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. When you say rice wine, do you mean rice wine vinegar or mirin?

    1. I’m using a bottle of “rice wine vinegar”. I guess rice vinegar would get you a similar result. Let me know how it was 🙂

    2. I used rice wine which is also called mirin (a Japanese rice wine). Rice wine vinegar is a completely different ingredient.

  2. I’m confused about orange zest. I thought zest was when you take a zester and scrape/grate the orange peel. Then I read at the end of the recipe to “remove the zest”. Did you mean we should have put whole orange PEEL in?

    1. I am sorry that you didn’t like the recipe. But have you followed the ratio of ingredients and instructions properly.

  3. not bad! i followed every ingredient and step except i added 4 to 5 chunky pieces of tangering skin into pot, came out with a perfect orange taste. i also used red wine not vinegar.

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