Instant Pot Sesame Chicken

Chicken cubes in brown sauce topped with black and white sesame alongside white rice and parsley

This Instant Pot Sesame Chicken recipe is sure to delight your taste buds and fulfill your cravings!

It’s tremendously delicious and you may even prefer it to your favorite Asian restaurant meal.

Chicken cubes in brown sauce topped with black and white sesame alongside white rice and parsley

As a bonus, it’s super easy to make! With minimal effort, thanks to your pressure cooker, this recipe will be ready to eat in just 20 minutes. Keep reading for some helpful tricks and tips.

Is this Recipe Gluten Free?

This recipe is not gluten free, but can easily be altered to adhere to a gluten free diet.

How to make it Gluten Free?

First, substitute the soy sauce with tamari. Soy sauce is traditionally made from fermented soybeans and wheat, so it’s not gluten free. However, tamari is a very similar product made from only soybeans. They taste almost identical, especially incorporated in this recipe!

You’ll also want to double check your brand of cornstarch. Most cornstarch is naturally gluten free but is oftentimes manufactured on the same equipment as wheat-based starches, so be sure to check your ingredient label for potential cross-contamination.

With those two small steps, you’re on your way to a delectable gluten free meal.

Why Cornstarch?

Cornstarch is a traditional thickening agent in many Asian cuisines, versus flour which is more common in European cooking. In China, they frequently utilize a technique called velveting in which cornstarch is used to lightly coat proteins before briefly frying in oil or blanching in water.

YouTube video

Velveting chicken is a trick that sets great food apart but is fairly simple to do. To try the simplified technique in this recipe, simply coat the chicken pieces with a light layer of cornstarch before the sautéing step.

When used to thicken sauces, cornstarch should be mixed with water to create what’s called a slurry before adding it to the sauce. This helps prevent clumping and results in a silky-smooth sauce.

What Can I Substitute for Honey?

You can substitute the honey in this recipe with virtually any sweetener, including maple syrup or brown sugar. Feel free to add a little more or less sweetener depending on your taste preferences.

Can I add more honey?

Sure. Add as much as you like! You can also check our Instant Pot Honey Sesame Chicken recipe, where we are using ¼ cup of honey.

Should I Use Toasted Sesame Seeds?

Toasting sesame seeds brings out their flavor to the fullest extent. If you only have untoasted sesame seeds, you can easily toast them in a dry skillet for a few minutes. It really enhances the flavor, so is worth the effort in my opinion!

You could also try black sesame seeds, or a combination of white and black sesame seeds. Black and white sesame seeds taste very similar to each other.

Some say black sesame seeds are slightly more bitter, while white sesame seeds are a tiny bit sweeter. The balance of the two will make for a more complex flavor and it also makes for a visually appealing garnish.


As pictured, we like to serve Instant Pot Sesame Chicken with jasmine rice. Add steamed vegetables and you’ve got yourself a complete meal!

More Recipes

If you love Asian cuisine, check out the recipes for Instant Pot Orange Chicken and Mongolian Beef.

If you like chicken recipes, try this fan favorite—Instant Pot Chicken and Broccoli

This Instant Pot Butter Chicken is a great option as well.

Chicken cubes in brown sauce topped with black and white sesame alongside white rice and parsley

Instant Pot Sesame Chicken

A restaurant style chicken dish that can be prepared in Instant Pot easily… Combo of honey, soy sauce, sesame oil and red pepper flakes enhance the flavor of chicken breasts deliciously.
4.64 from 69 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: dinner, lunch
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: chicken breast, Sesame Chicken, sesame seeds
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Corrie


  • lb chicken breast skinless cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper crushed
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tbps sesame seeds


  • Add the sesame oil in the instant pot and press “sauté”
  • Add half of the amount of chicken, stir and cook for 3 minutes until browned.
  • Take it out and saute the remaining half the same way. You can add more oil if necessary.
  • Take a bowl and add honey, soy sauce, red pepper, garlic, and 1 tbsp. sesame seeds, and mix it well.
  • Put all the chicken in the pot and then add the sauce. Cover the lid.
  • Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
  • After cooking time ends, do a quick pressure release.
  • In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and water and whisk.
  • Press “sauté” and add the cornstarch mixture into the Instant Pot. Let it cook for about 1 minute to get the required thickness.
  • Enjoy. Don't forget to sprinkle more sesame seeds on top.


Calories: 204kcal Carbohydrates: 8g Protein: 26g Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 73mg Sodium: 673mg Potassium: 469mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 6g Vitamin A: 60IU Vitamin C: 3mg Calcium: 48mg Iron: 1mg
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35 thoughts on “Instant Pot Sesame Chicken

  1. 5 stars
    Within one minute of pressure cooking, I got the “burn” warning. I opened it up, added some vegetable broth, and it turned out perfect!

  2. I would need to add more water if I tried this again. Normally I make sure to have a half a cup of liquid but I trusted the recipe and unfortunately it burned :/

    1. Oh no, I'm sorry about that! The recipe works as written in my Instant Pot, but it seems some models behave differently and require more liquid. You can always modify a recipe by adding more liquid as needed.

  3. Hi! I have a question. To use the pressure cooker you’re supposed to add at least 2 cups of water, or the burn sign lights, how do we cook the chicken with so little liquid?

    1. Pressure cookers usually require about 1/2 cup liquid. This liquid comes from the soy sauce mixture and liquid released by the chicken. Some pressure cookers require a bit more liquid-- you can can always add water or broth and then drain off excess liquid at the end.

      1. I thought the same thing about this recipe, but I cooked it and it worked beautifully! It was a little too spicy though. Next time, I would use maybe 1/4 tsp of the red pepper flakes. Can always add more as needed, but taking it out is very difficult! Wonderful flavor though!

        1. Good point about the red pepper flakes, thanks for sharing that so hopefully others will read this! It can easily be adjusted according to your preference and spice tolerance. Glad you liked the recipe.

  4. No water is needed for this? My Crockpot Express pressure cooker requires a minimum of 8oz of liquid to pressurize. This recipe only has 1/4 liquid and it still works in a pressure cooker? Please advise. Thank you.

  5. How is the working without any significant liquid? My version of InstantPot which is a CrockPot Express requires at least 8oz of liquid for pressure cooking and I thought InstantPot does, too. Please advise. Without 8oz of liquid of some sort, I get error messages. Thank you.

    1. Once mixed with the other ingredients (honey, garlic, etc.) it creates a viscous sauce that is probably slightly less than 8oz. If your Instant Pot will not work with less than 8 oz, you can add more soy sauce, broth, or water to get 8 oz of sauce. Then if the sauce is thinner than you desire, you can increase the amount of cornstarch slurry added at the end. Hope that helps!

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