This Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken is a set it and forget it meal! Packed with sweet pineapple, bell peppers, and a tangy sweet sauce, this meal is drool-worthy and the perfect weeknight dish to have for quick dinners or easy ready-to-go lunches.

sweet and sour chicken over a bed of white rice with green onion in a grey speckled bowl with wood chopsticks I love set-it-and-forget-it meals. Because with a toddler running around and endless dishes, cleaning, and laundry to do, it’s nice to be able to throw everything into one pot and let it do the cooking, while I get other things done around the house.

This Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken requires only 10 minutes of prep and 10 minutes of active cooking time. That’s only 20 minutes of work!

I don’t know about you but I can get behind a 20-minute meal!

This meal is super satisfying when paired with rice – the protein and the veggies help to keep you full and satiated.

With the sweet and tangy pineapple glaze, sautéed veggies and hearty chicken – you’ll be be craving this more than you know!

Ingredients You’ll Need 

Instant pot sweet and sour chicken ingredients shown. Chicken thighs in the center surrounded by other ingredients in small bowls. Pineapple chunks, garlic cloves, yellow onion, soy sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, green and red bell pepper, olive oil, pineapple juice, cornstarchNotes on Ingredients

chicken thighs: chicken thighs have a higher fat content which works well with dish since they’re aren’t any other sources of fat. But if you prefer chicken breast, you can easily substitute.

garlic: adds aromatics to the dish! also nothing better than the smell of garlic (Am I right?!) 

green and red bell peppers: I love the colors of red and green bell peppers in this dish but you could use orange or yellow bell peppers too. Trader Joes also sells frozen multicolored bell peppers, which you could easily use and would cut down on prep time.

pineapple chunks: You could use fresh pineapple, frozen, or jarred/canned. I personally used canned / jarred because it tends to be cheaper, and comes with extra juice for later in the recipe! If you use fresh or frozen and don’t have pineapple juice for the cornstarch slurry, just use water instead.

apple cider vinegar: ACV offers a tangy sour taste that contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the dish! You can substitute with rice wine vinegar.

ketchup: Adds sweetness and umami to the dish!

soy sauce: also adds umami flavor!

brown sugar: adds sweetness, can substitute with coconut sugar or any other sweetener.

cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce. You could also use arrowroot powder instead.

garnishes: I love topping this dish with sesame seeds and green onions for an added crunch and flavor.

Equipment You’ll Need (affiliate links – if you make a purchase I receive a small commission)

Instant Pot 

How to Make Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Instant pot sweet and sour chicken how to make step by step process shown. 5 steps. mixing ingredients together and adding to instant pot.
  1. Saute: In the Instant Pot, add olive oil and set to Sauté. Let oil heat for two minutes. Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Add chicken and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until chicken is slightly browned and onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and let sauté until fragrant, about one minute.
  3. Add bell pepper, pineapple chunks, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and brown sugar.
  4. Pressure cook. Secure lid onto Instant Pot. Close the steam vent (should be on sealing). Set to high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow natural pressure release for 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes, use quick release valve to release steam. Once pressure is released, open lid and stir.
  6. Make sauce. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and pineapple juice until slurry is formed. Stir cornstarch slurry into chicken mixture.
  7. Set Instant Pot to sauté, stirring occasionally, until mixture is bubbling and thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
  8. Let it thicken: Let stand for 5-7 minutes for sauce to continue thickening.
  9. Serve warm, with rice. Optional: Garnish with sesame seeds and/or green onion.

Expert Tips

  1. If you don’t want to dirty a cutting board, simply cut chicken straight into the Instant Pot, using kitchen shears. Just be sure to wash your hands (and the shears) thoroughly afterwards.
  2. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can make this recipe in the slow cooker! Just add all ingredients (except olive oil, corn starch and pineapple juice) to slow cooker and set to low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. After chicken is done cooking, add cornstarch slurry to slow cooker to thicken mixture.
  3. If you can’t get fresh bell peppers or pineapple, frozen or canned work as well!

Recipe FAQs 

What if I don’t have an Instant Pot?

No worries – this dish is made perfectly in the slow cooker or sautéed on a pan (just might take a little longer!). Use all the same ingredients and cook chicken accordingly and sauté vegetables and add in the glaze sauce! Will still be just as good! 

What if I want to thicken the sauce or it came out too runny? 

The most common way to thicken it is with starch, such as cornstarch or flour (which we’ve already added!) Another way to thicken the sauce is to cook it for a longer time, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate, so you could try letting it sit for a little longer if it looks too runny.

Is Sweet and Sour Chicken the same as Orange Chicken? 

Nope! Both dishes are sweet, however, orange chicken is sweet and tangy rather than sweet and sour. In addition, orange chicken has a brighter feel to the sweetness thanks to the orange juice used to sweeten it.sweet and sour chicken served in grey speckled bowl with white rice and chopsticks

Storage and Preparation 

If you have any leftovers, you can store them in the fridge to enjoy later. Just place the sweet and sour chicken in an airtight container and consume within 3 to 4 days. 

Recipes That Pair Well

While this is a balanced meal, you can also serve with these other Asian-inspired dishes: 

Crispy Thai Brussel Sprouts 

Vegetarian Pad See Ew 

Green Tea Marinated Salmon with Asian-Inspired Slaw 

bowl of sweet and sour chicken served with white rice, green onion. hand holding chopsticks

For more Instant Pot dishes, check out my other recipes below!

Instant Pot Vegetarian Pho (Vietnamese-Inspired Noodle Soup)

Instant Pot Jackfruit Tacos

Instant Pot Cream of Mushroom Soup

If you like this recipe, please be sure to comment and give it a 5 star rating below. If you make it, share it on Instagram and tag me @karalydonrd and I’ll re-share it with my followers! If you want to save this recipe for later, be sure to pin it on Pinterest

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sweet and sour chicken over a bed of white rice in a bowl on a dark background

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken


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  • Author: Kara Lydon
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8 1x

Description

This Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken is a set it and forget it meal! Packed with sweet pineapple, bell peppers, and a tangy sweet sauce, this meal is drool-worthy and the perfect weeknight dish to have for quick dinners or easy ready-to-go lunches.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs, cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces (from can or jar, reserve juice – see below)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • Rice, for serving
  • Optional: sesame seeds and green onion for garnish

Instructions

  1. In the Instant Pot, add olive oil and set to Sauté. Let oil heat for two minutes. Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Add chicken and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until chicken is slightly browned and onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and let sauté until fragrant, about one minute.
  3. Add bell pepper, pineapple chunks, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and brown sugar.
  4. Secure lid onto Instant Pot. Close the steam vent (should be on sealing). Set to high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow natural pressure release for 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes, use quick release valve to release steam.
  6. Once pressure is released, open lid and stir.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and pineapple juice until slurry is formed. Stir cornstarch slurry into chicken mixture.
  8. Set Instant Pot to sauté, stirring occasionally, until mixture is bubbling and thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
  9. Let stand for 5-7 minutes for sauce to continue thickening.
  10. Serve warm, with rice.
  11. Optional: Garnish with sesame seeds and/or green onion.

Notes

How to make sweet and sour chicken in the slow cooker:

  1. Add all ingredients (except olive oil, corn starch and pineapple juice) to slow cooker and set to low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. After chicken is done cooking, add cornstarch slurry to slow cooker to thicken mixture.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: instant pot sweet sour chicken, sweet sour chicken in instant pot

This recipe was retested, reshot and revamped to bring you the most delicious recipe! The original post was published in 2020. 

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