Instant Pot General Tsos Chicken

general tsos chicken

Spicy and sweet, Instant Pot General Tsos Chicken is theChinese takeout favorite made healthier and faster (!). Nothing fried here, but still plenty of the rich, flavorful sauce that makes General Tsos Chicken so irresistible.

And even better? This is a complete, one-pot meal. Make pot-in-pot rice at the same time, add steamed broccoli. Dinner is done.

Hand me a Chinese takeout menu, and Ill inevitably be tempted by General Tsos Chicken. Crispy fried chicken in that sweet, savory, spicy sauce. Whos with me? But its not exactly the kind of thing I need to be eating all the time. However, this healthier version of General Tsos Chicken? Its one I can fully embrace any old night that a Chinese takeout craving hits. This one hits all the marks for delicious flavor without the deep-fried heaviness.

general tsos chicken

Plus! Like all of the recipes Im sharing this week, this version of General Tsos comes from the Ultimate Guide to 6-Minute Instant Pot Meals {Takeout Favorites}. Be sure to check out that post if you want more ideas for mix-and-match meals to make in the Instant Pot.


  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Chicken breast works best in this recipe. (I find that chicken thighs make the sauce slightly heavy tasting and a bit greasy.)
  • Stock I like to use store-bought vegetable or chicken stock to add extra flavor to the sauce. In a pinch, you can also use water.
  • Soy Sauce I tested this recipe using a regular (not low-sodium) soy sauce purchased from the grocery store. If you keep both light and dark soy sauce in your pantry, you can use a combination of those for a darker, richer sauce.
  • Brown Sugar Use either dark or light brown sugar to give the sauce its signature sweet flavor.
  • Hoisin Sauce This Chinese sauce is thick, sweet, and flavored with spices. Dont skip this. You can find it in most grocery stores in the international / Asian aisle.
  • Rice Vinegar This gives the sauce a tangy, sour flavor. This can also be found in the grocery stores international / Asian aisle.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil Like the other ingredients above, this toasty, flavorful oil will make the dish taste authentic. Look for it in the international / Asian aisle at the grocery store.
  • Garlic, Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes Its worth the extra time to get the fresh versions of garlic and ginger. They add great flavor. The ginger also contributes to the spicy flavor of the dish. But its the red pepper flakes that add most of the spice, so adjust this as youd like. (And dont forget that you can always stir more red pepper flakes into the sauce at the end of cooking. Feel free to go easy when you start, and add more after you taste the sauce.)
  • White Rice With this cook time, any white rice should work, but I find Basmati rice to be the most foolproof. More about rice in the Instant Pot in theUltimate Guide to 6-Minute Instant Pot Meals.
  • Cornstarch-Water Slurry Just whisk these two together and add them to the sauce to thicken it. Be sure to add this after cooking.
  • Broccoli Florets I love to use the steam-in-bag broccoli florets. Theyre so fast and easy. If you prefer, you can chop fresh broccoli into florets and steam them in the microwave in a bowl with 1 Tbsp water, covered with a paper towel.

general tsos chicken

How to Make Pot-in-Pot Rice

Perhaps the best part about making General Tsos Chicken in the Instant Pot? You can cook the rice at the same time. This technique has been a total game-changer for me. If youre not familiar with this method that allows you to cook two things in the Instant Pot at the same time check out this post on the Pot-in-Pot Method.

And for this Instant Pot General Tsos Chicken just put rice and water in a bowl elevated above the chicken. Use a 1:1 ratio of rice to water. When the dish is done cooking, set the rice aside, covered so it will continue to steam slightly until youre ready to serve.

general tsos chicken

Possible Variations

  • Make it vegetarian -This dish is great made with chickpeas instead of chicken. Use two 14-oz cans. Drain and rinse them first.
  • Mix up the vegetables Want to skip the broccoli? Or give this dish even more of a vegetable boost? Dice some bell peppers or carrots and you can add them with the chicken before it even begins to cook.

Other Chinese-Inspired Recipes

This weekend is Chinese / Lunar New Year! We always make a feast of our favorite Chinese-inspired dishes. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken with Rice Sweet, savory, saucy, and spicy (or not), Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken is a fast, easy weeknight meal.
  • Kung Pao Cauliflower Cauliflower turns golden brown and tender as it soaks up a rich, sweet sauce in this classic Chinese take-out favorite.
  • Sesame Garlic Ramen Stir-Fry Need a quick and easy weeknight meal? Look no further than this one-pan stir-fry noodle dish made with quick-cooking instant ramen noodles, tender chicken, and crisp snow peas in a savory sesame garlic sauce.
  • Baked Vegetarian Spring Rolls These spring rolls have all the crunch of the fried version and none of the guilt. Grab a pile of veggies, follow my step-by-step rolling instructions, and be crunching into your own spring rolls in no time!

Favorite Tools

  • 6-Quart Instant Pot Duo This is the Instant Pot / pressure cooker I use to test all meals on this site. It easily makes enough to serve the 5 members of our family (3 are young kids).
  • Instant Pot Rack This 2-inch rack is just the right height to hold a bowl above the other ingredients to cook using pot-in-pot method described in this recipe.
  • 7-Cup Round Pyrex Dish I test any recipes with the pot-in-pot method using this oven-safe Pyrex dish. I love it so much that I bought several. It comes with a lid, so after cooking pasta, rice, potatoes, or any other item in this bowl, I just add the lid and put it in the fridge saves time and dishes! The Pyrex 7-cup dish will fit in the 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot. In earlier recipes you will find on this site, I used the medium sized bowl that came in this Anchor 3-Piece Set of Glass Mixing Bowlswhich also worked well.
  • OXO Pressure Cooker Sling This was a tool I thought seemed unnecessary until I bought it. Place this sturdy sling under the bowl in the pot-in-pot method and you can easily lift hot items out at the end of cooking. It also works great for steaming eggs, vegetables, or cooking large vegetables or meat in the pressure cooker.

Instant Pot General Tso's Chicken

Spicy and sweet, Instant Pot General Tsos Chicken is theChinese takeout favorite made healthier and faster (!). Nothing fried here, but still plenty of the rich, flavorful sauce that makes General Tsos Chicken so good.

Chicken and Sauce

  • 1/3 cup Vegetable or Chicken Stock
  • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar ((light or dark))
  • 2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes ((this will provide a medium level of heat; feel free to add more, or adjust by adding more after cooking))
  • 1 1/2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, chopped into cubes

Pot-in-Pot Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups Long Grain Rice ((Basmati rice works really well with this method))
  • 1 1/2 cups Water

To Finish the Chicken

  • 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 10 oz Broccoli Florets ((preferably steam-in-bag broccoli))
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Green Onions / Scallions ((optional))
  1. In the bowl of the Instant Pot, combine all of the ingredients for Chicken and Sauce stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, Hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, toasted sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and chicken.

  2. Top the chicken and sauce with a 2 rack then with a 7-cup glass bowl. (Be sure that both the rack and bowl are approved for use in the Instant Pot.)

  3. Rinse the rice well.

  4. Fill the bowl with rice and 1 cups water.

  5. Close and lock the lid.

  6. Set the steam valve to Sealing.

  7. Cook on manual / high pressure for 6 minutes.

  8. When done cooking, leave the machine on Warming (most machines automatically revert to this after cooking). Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. (Tip: I like to set a kitchen timer so that I dont get distracted and forget.)

  9. Manually release any remaining pressure.

  10. Carefully remove the bowl of rice and rack and set aside, covered, to keep warm.

  11. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  12. Turn on the Instant Pots saute function to Normal / Medium.

  13. Whisk together 1 Tbsp water and cornstarch.

  14. When sauce is simmering, pour water-cornstarch mixture into sauce. Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.

  15. Turn off saute function. Taste sauce. If youd like it to be spicier, stir in some more red pepper flakes or some hot sauce.

  16. Return chicken to pot and stir to combine.

  17. Steam broccoli in the microwave.

  18. Stir broccoli and green onion into chicken.

  19. Serve chicken and sauce over rice.

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