Chinese-inspired food anyone? This Instant Pot Cashew Chicken is a delicious family friendly meal that is faster to make than to order in! Talk about a perfectly satisfying weeknight meal – in more ways than one!
I’m telling you guys, this dish is just as good as your favorite Chinese restaurant! It’s super easy, super flavorful, and it’s made in one pot in the comfort of your own home! It is the perfect dump and cook meal, and preparation takes almost no time at all!
I really love instant pot recipes and I’ve been wanting to try this cashew chicken for quite some time! This dish is such a staple Asian recipe (also one of my favs!) full of bold flavors and fresh ingredients. I swear it truly hits the nail right on the head when you’re craving take-out but know you’re going to feel guilty about it the next day!
What Is Cashew Chicken?
Traditionally, cashew chicken is a Chinese-American dish with a combination of chicken and cashews, smothered in a lightly browned garlic sauce or a thick sauce made from chicken stock, oyster sauce and soy sauce. It is typically served over rice or noodles.
- Chicken thighs – Boneless and skinless, cut into bite size pieces.
- Brown sugar – For a sweet element in our sauce.
- Soy sauce – I always prefer for low sodium options.
- Garlic – Fresh is best! Remember the rule: 1 1/2 tsp of jarred garlic is equal to 1 fresh clove.
- Ginger – Fresh and minced. Such an important element in this sauce.
- Red pepper flakes – For some added heat!
- Cornstarch – This will be the thickening agent in our sauce.
- Rice wine vinegar – This is less acidic than regular white vinegar and has more of a mild, sweet taste.
- Pepper – For seasoning and to taste.
- Sesame oil – To add a little flavor when sautéing the chicken.
- Olive oil – I like a nice neutral oil for cooking chicken.
- Water – We’ll need a little water on hand today for our sauce!
- Cashews – Wouldn’t be cashew chicken without them now would it?
How To Make Cashew Chicken In The Instant Pot
- Prepare sauce: In a small bowl whisk together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, garlic. red pepper flakes, and ginger; set aside.
- Prepare chicken: Sprinkle 1 tbsp of cornstarch over the chicken, followed with pepper – and toss well. Ensure the pieces of chicken are well coated with cornstarch.
- Saute: Turn the instant pot to the “saute” function and add the olive and sesame oils. Once the oil is hot you can add the chicken and brown for 3 minutes. When browned, hit “cancel” on the instant pot.
- Cook: Pour the whisked sauce over the chicken and stir. Ensure that the pieces of chicken are evenly coated with sauce. Close the lid on the instant pot, turn the valve to “sealing” and cook on “manual” for 6 minutes.
- Depressurize: Once cooked, turn the valve to “venting” and do a quick release, wait for the instant pot to depressurize and when finished, remove the lid. Whisk together remaining cornstarch and water to create a “slurry” and pour over the chicken. Add cashews and stir until well combined.
- Finish: Turn the instant pot to “saute” one more time, and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Serve: Garnish with a sprinkle of green onions, sesame seeds, and serve warm over rice.
Can I Use Chicken Breasts Instead of Chicken Thighs?
I love using chicken thighs for this recipe because they are so moist and tender. However if you’re not a fan of dark meat you can absolutely use chicken breast instead. Cut them up into bite size pieces and use a 5 minute pressure cooking time, with a 10 minute natural pressure release.
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s super easy to make and only takes about 30 minutes!
- You can prepare a side dish at the same time!
- It’s packed full of awesome flavors and is rated more than okay on the good ole scale of calories!
- It is made in one pot – meaning only one pot to clean!
How To Serve
There is a pretty simple list of what to serve this dish with! Here are a few options:
- White or brown rice – I have a great recipe here for quick and easy instant pot rice.
- Vegetables – Any kind of vegetables will work here, I like such things as asparagus, broccoli or even bok choy!
- Noodles – You can’t go wrong with cashew chicken over noodles!
Chicken, any which way you cook it, is super versatile. If you’re looking for some ideas as to what to do with leftover cashew chicken, there a few different options. Use the cashew chicken as a topping over a salad or pasta. Combine it with some chopped veggie and make lettuce wraps, a stir-fry, or fajitas. Heck, if you want to stay on the healthy side, just serve it with a side of veggies! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Mushroom Arugula Warm Salad
- Roasted Green Beans
- Cheesy Chicken Pasta
- Easy Fried Rice
- Asian Chopped Chicken Salad
Cashew chicken is going to last in the fridge, properly sealed in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I recommend freezing any kind of chicken to extend it’s shelf life. Sealed in an airtight container, cashew chicken will last about 3 months.
Craving More Asian Inspired Dishes? Try These Recipes:
- Sticky Honey Soy Chicken Wings
- Chinese Chicken Skewers
- Spicy Baked Mexican Chicken Egg Rolls
- Crockpot Chinese Pork with Noodles
- Chinese Style Meat Buns
- Egg Drop Soup
- Pad Thai
- Slow Cooker Pepper Steak
Craving More? Follow Along:
Instant Pot Cashew Chicken
- 1/4 cup soy sauce low sodium
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar packed
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp ginger fresh, minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 lbs chicken thighs boneless and skinless, cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tbsp cornstarch divided
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 3 green onions chopped
- 21 tbsp sesame seeds
- In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
- Sprinkle 1 tbsp of cornstarch and pepper over the chicken and toss well, making sure each pieces of chicken is coated in cornstarch.
- Turn the Instant Pot to the "Saute" setting and add the sesame oil and olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and brown for 3 minutes. Press "Cancel" on your IP.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir so that all the chicken is coated evenly. Close the lid on the Instant Pot, turn the valve to "Sealing" and cook on "Manual/High Pressure" for 6 minutes.
- Turn the valve to "Venting" to do a quick release, wait fort the IP to depressurize. When it's safe, remove the lid. Whisk the remaining 1 tbsp of cornstarch with the 2 tbsp of water to make a slurry, then stir it in with the chicken. Add the cashews and stir everything together.
- Turn the Instant Pot to the "Saute" setting and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until sauce thickens.
- Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds and serve over rice.
Tips & Notes:
- Cashew chicken is going to last in the fridge, properly sealed in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I recommend freezing any kind of chicken to extend it’s shelf life. Sealed in an airtight container, cashew chicken will last about 3 months.