Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken

Perfect Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken, with a sticky-sweet sauce and a little kick!

Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe
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Everyone in our family is crazy over Asian cuisine, especially the kids.

In fact, as much as Lt. Dan loves stir fry or a steamy bowl of ramen, he often rolls his eyes when we ask the kids where they want to go out to eat. The answer is always a resounding, “Anything Asian!”

Although we think they should get to have a say in family plans, we sometimes steer them toward barbecue or other ethnic cuisines, just to mix things up.

At home it’s the same. If I ask either of my kids what they want me to cook for dinner it’s almost always Chinese Hot Pots, Korean Pajun Veggie Pancakes, Beef Bulgogi, Cantonese Lo Mein, Thai Panang Chicken Curry, and so on.

Perfect Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

Now that I’ve (finally) bought an Instant Pot, I decided to try cooking some beloved Asian dishes in it, and I think I’ve got a winner!

Today’s Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken, is so fast and easy to make. Plus, it’s a healthy sesame chicken recipe, compared to takeout sesame chicken.

Our Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken is not deep fried, so you lose the fat and calories from breading and fry oil, yet it still offers bold spicy-sweet flavors, and a deep nutty sesame note.

Best Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

What’s the Difference Between Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken?

People often get these three dishes confused, due to their similarities. All three are traditionally deep-fried chicken recipes, bathed in a sticky-sweet glaze.

Think of sesame chicken as the “mother” recipe. It’s salty, sweet, and light on heat, with rich undertones and sesame seeds sprinkled over the bites of chicken.

The glaze is usually brown to reddish-brown from the addition of soy sauce, brown sugar (or honey for Honey Sesame Chicken Recipes,) and sometimes tomato.

General Tso’s is very similar. However, it usually does not contain sesame seeds, but does offer a good  bit of spice from the addition of chiles. Of the three, General Tso’s chicken is the most likely to be served with additional vegetables mixed in, like bell peppers and onions.

Orange chicken is usually the sweetest of the bunch. It is not normally spicy or covered in sesame seeds. However, it does have a unique orange essence from the inclusion of orange peel and/or orange juice.

Simple Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

Although there is a stand-out element in all three dishes, they are very much alike, so recipes do overlap at times.

In today’s Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe, I’ve included all the best attributes of classic sesame chicken, yet have cut the fat and added a touch of spicy heat.

Does this make it General Tso’s Chicken? Nah.

Making Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

How to Make Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken

Start by sautéing onions, garlic, and ginger in sesame oil.

Coat chunks of chicken breast in cornstarch and then brown them in the oil.

How to Make Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

Add the ingredients for the sauce and stir to coat the chicken.

How To: Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

Then lock the lid into place and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook for 3 minutes.

Directions: Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

Once it’s done, safely release the steam and remove the lid.

Sprinkle your perfect pressure cooker sesame chicken with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve it with rice, or steamed vegetables for a low(er) carb meal!

Easy Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

PS – You can also make rice in your Instant Pot.

If you want to make the chicken and the rice in the pressure cooker, I would make the rice first, then clean out the pot and move onto the sesame chicken.

The Best Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe

Check out our video tutorial below!

Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe
4.8 from 5 votes

Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken Recipe - An easy pressure cooker version of classic Honey Sesame Chicken with a kick, similar to General Tso's Chicken.
Servings: 6
Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken
Amount Per Serving (6 ounces)
Calories 346 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 96mg 32%
Sodium 655mg 27%
Potassium 664mg 19%
Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 18g
Protein 33g 66%
Vitamin A 2.9%
Vitamin C 16.9%
Calcium 4.2%
Iron 7.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



  1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes, and toss the cubes with cornstarch to coat. Prepare all the herbs and vegetables.

  2. Set the Instant Pot on Sauté. Pour in the sesame oil. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the chicken pieces. Stir and brown for 3-5 minutes, until the chicken pieces are golden on most sides.

  3. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, sherry, chili garlic sauce, and 2 tablespoons water to the Instant Pot. Stir well to coat the chicken.
  4. Cover and seal the pot. Set on Pressure Cook High for 3 minutes. Turn off the pressure cooker, and perform a Quick Release. Once the steam valve button drops, and it is safe to open, remove the lid. Stir the sesame chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve warm with rice, quinoa, or with steamed vegetables.

Recipe Video

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26 comments on “Instant Pot Chinese Sesame Chicken

  1. PGLposted February 13, 2019 at 8:47 pm Reply

    Photos show red pepper flakes in the sauce, but ingredients list doesn’t. Also, chicken needs to be split into two batches in order to brown appropriately .  

    • Sommer Collierposted February 19, 2019 at 12:34 pm Reply

      Hi PGL,

      The red you are seeing is coming from the chile garlic sauce. You can definitely split the chicken into batches if you want, but it does not need to be fully caramelized or crisp on the outside. It’s pressure cooked and bathed in sauce, therefore browning it a little in one batch is fine. Happy Cooking!

  2. Betsyposted January 27, 2019 at 7:00 pm Reply

    This was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. 

  3. Alishaposted January 23, 2019 at 4:28 pm Reply

    Can I use xanthan gum or almond or coconut flour instead of cornstarch? Would that change anything?

    • Sommer Collierposted January 24, 2019 at 8:52 pm Reply

      Hi Alisha!

      I haven’t tried xanthan gum, but I know from experience you can use arrow root in the same proportions. Hope this helps!

  4. Erinposted January 10, 2019 at 10:11 pm Reply

    The sauce in the recipe tastes fantastic, however while cooking I received the burn error several times while cooking. Since I couldn’t tell if my dish was cooking or not I ended up with very dry, over cooked chicken. I would try this again but on the stovetop.

    • Jeaniceposted February 22, 2019 at 10:51 pm Reply

      I received a burn notice too. How do you avoid that with this recipe?

  5. Dave Sposted January 7, 2019 at 8:10 pm Reply

    I was surprised to see you saute with sesame oil since it has a low burning point. Wouldn’t it be better to saute in canola and add the sesame oil with other liquid ingedients after sauteing the chicken, garlic, ginger, etc.?

    My other question was about low sodium soy, which I do keep on hand with regular. Would the dish be way too salty with regular soy?


    • Sommer Collierposted January 8, 2019 at 1:19 pm Reply

      Hi Dave,

      The sauté setting on an Instant Pot is pretty low, so you don’t have to worry about burning the oil.

      Yes, I think I might reduce regular soy sauce a little bit so it’s not overly salty. Maybe use 1/4 cup?

  6. Tim Staufferposted January 3, 2019 at 7:58 pm Reply

    If I had doubled the chicken and the sauce do I double the pressure time too?

  7. Alposted December 18, 2018 at 11:43 am Reply

    Can I omit or replace the sherry?

    • Sommer Collierposted December 19, 2018 at 4:15 pm Reply

      Hi Al!

      Yes, you can swap it for water or broth, but it does really add to the flavor. You can buy small bottles of cooking sherry at your local grocery chain.

  8. Dara Keyesposted September 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm Reply

    If converting to a slow cooker, how much time should this cook?

    • Sommer Collierposted September 18, 2018 at 12:31 pm Reply

      Hi Dara,

      I would say 2-3 hours in the slow cooker. Let me know how it turns out. :)

  9. Eveposted August 17, 2018 at 2:00 pm Reply

    Between the sherry and the scallions there is something that just says “3 tbsp”. Is that just a typo or is there another ingredient?

    • Sommer Collierposted August 22, 2018 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Hi Eve,

      Thanks for pointing this out! We are in the middle of switching our recipe format to a new system and there have been some glitches.:( The recipe should be fixed now. :)

  10. Maryposted June 27, 2018 at 6:32 pm Reply

    Your Chinese Sesame Chicken sound wonderful , but I do not have and instant pot . Can I use a Dutch oven pan in place of an Instant Pot ?

    • Sommer Collierposted July 11, 2018 at 2:36 pm Reply

      Hi Mary! Yes, you could definitely convert this to a slow cooker recipe. :)

  11. Rayleneposted June 21, 2018 at 9:36 pm Reply

    This was a huge hit tonight. I doubled it and there was not one crumb left!

    • Sommer Collierposted June 26, 2018 at 12:32 am Reply

      Hi Raylene,

      Yay!! I’m so glad to hear it. :)

  12. Gaye Garrettposted May 17, 2018 at 7:10 pm Reply

    I am using an 8 qt and keep getting a burn notice until I add extra water. It takes about three times to get the pressure cooker to work without getting the burn notice. Any ideas on what I am doing wrong? Otherwise the taste is fantastic. We love it!!

    • Sommer Collierposted May 25, 2018 at 2:27 pm Reply

      Hi Gaye,

      Hmmm… Mine is a standard 6 quart, and after testing this recipe multiple times, I’ve not had that same issue. It must have to do with the size. If it were me, I would figure out how much extra liquid you need, then make that adjustment with all the pressure cooker recipes you try. Good Luck!

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  14. Kimberly Roederposted April 15, 2018 at 5:36 pm Reply

    I got my Instant Pot for Christmas and finally tried it out. I love Sesame Chicken and this was so quick and easy. It was delicious too! I might go a little lighter on the Spicy Garlic Chili next time but it wasn’t so spicy that it made me cry like some spicy foods.

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