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Cashew chicken instant pot recipe for busy weeknights

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Ever crave that perfect balance of savory and sweet, brought to life by your favorite Chinese restaurant's Cashew Chicken? Well, imagine the best part of that dish, but amplified with the magic of an Instant Pot! You're in for a treat as I unveil my Cashew Chicken Instant Pot recipe. It's the kind of dish that satisfies those taste buds and leaves you with memories of a great recipe.

Cashew chicken on a plate

Why Cashew Chicken in an Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot has revolutionized our weeknight dinners. Among a plethora of instant pot recipes, the Cashew Chicken stands out, especially for those who love a medley of juicy chicken, crunchy cashews, and a sauce that's to die for! Whether you’re a fan of white rice, jasmine rice, or even cauliflower rice, this dish pairs perfectly. No more waiting for the weekend to visit the Chinese restaurants; now, the flavors you love can be part of your quick weeknight meal repertoire!

cashew chicken in front of instant pot
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Cashew Chicken Instant Pot Recipe

Serves: 4 

Prep: 10 min 

Cook: 8 min. 

Ingredients for making cashew chicken


1 tbsp. flour 

2 tbsp. cornstarch 

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced into 1-inch pieces

2 tbsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup red bell peppers, diced small

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. red pepper flakes 

1 cup roasted cashews, halved 

3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp. Asian chili garlic sauce

3/4 tsp. minced ginger

Green onions for garnish 

step-by-step instructions:

  1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine the cornstarch, flour, salt, pepper, and chicken.
  2. Seal the bag securely and shake well until the chicken is coated with the mixture.
  3. Turn on your Instant Pot and set it to sauté mode. Add the sesame and olive oils.
  4. Once heated, add the chicken pieces. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until the chicken is almost fully cooked.
  5. Add the broccoli, bell peppers, and garlic to the pot. Stir well to combine.
  6. In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, chili-garlic sauce, and ginger.
  7. Pour this sauce mixture into the Instant Pot and stir to combine with the chicken and veggies.
  8. Close the Instant Pot lid securely and ensure the vent is set to "sealing."
  9. Adjust the Instant Pot setting to manual mode and set the timer for 8 minutes.
  10. Once the cooking cycle is complete, carefully open the vent for a quick release until all the steam has escaped.
  11. Open the lid and stir in the halved roasted cashews.
  12. Add the green onions, stirring once more to combine.
  13. Serve your delicious Cashew Chicken immediately and enjoy!
Cashew chicken process

Tips for Perfect Cashew Chicken Every Time

Chicken Choices:

When deciding on the type of chicken to use, it boils down to personal preference and the texture you're aiming for:

  • Chicken Breasts: A staple in many kitchens, chicken breasts are lean and give a firm bite. They are excellent for those who prefer a milder flavor and a meatier chew. The key to using breasts is to monitor them to avoid overcooking, as they can become dry.
  • Chicken Thighs: These are the go-to for many when it comes to dishes that require cooking for a longer duration. Thighs are juicier due to their higher fat content, resulting in a more succulent dish. The richer flavor from the thighs infuses the dish, providing a deeper, more savory taste.

The Saute Function:

One of the best parts about the Instant Pot is its multi-functionality:

  • Golden-Brown Goodness: Utilizing the saute function before pressure cooking does more than just cooking the chicken; it sears the meat, locking in the juices and ensuring every bite has that golden-brown goodness. It’s this initial searing that elevates the dish from good to great, encapsulating flavors that remind you of your favorite restaurant.

Sauce Secrets:

A dish's soul often lies in its sauce, and our Cashew Chicken is no exception:

  • Hoisin Sauce: This sweet and salty sauce, made from soybeans, fennel seeds, red chillies, and garlic, adds depth and a touch of sweetness to the dish. A small dash can elevate the taste profile, making it reminiscent of a rich stir-fry.
  • Oyster Sauce: An excellent choice for those looking to add a salty, umami kick to their dish. Derived from oysters, this sauce is thick and aromatic, providing an undercurrent of seafood richness without overpowering the chicken.

Natural vs. Quick Release:

  • Quick Release: This method rapidly releases the steam, making it a time-saver. It's great when you're hungry and in a hurry. However, with the rapid change in pressure, the chicken might not absorb the sauce as intensely.
  • Natural Pressure Release: This is a gentler method where the Instant Pot cools down slowly, allowing for a more gradual release of pressure. During this time, the chicken continues to cook slightly, absorbing more of the delicious cashew chicken sauce. It's worth the wait if you're aiming for maximum flavor infusion.

Cashew chicken instant pot Meal Prep Friendly:

In today's fast-paced world, meal prep has become a lifesaver for many:

  • Storing and Reheating: The flavors of the Cashew Chicken meld beautifully when stored, making it taste even better the next day. Ensure you store it in an airtight container to maintain its freshness. When ready to eat, a gentle reheat ensures the dish retains its original taste and texture, making it perfect for those busy nights or next-day lunches.
Chinese food on plate

FAQ cashew chicken instant pot

1. Can I use bone-in chicken?

Certainly! You can use bone-in chicken, but ensure it's cut into bite-size pieces. Cooking time might vary slightly, so keep an eye on it!

2. Can I add other vegetables?

Absolutely. Snow peas, green pepper, and water chestnuts are delightful additions. Just make sure to add them towards the end so they retain their crunch.

3. What if I get a burn notice on my Instant Pot?

A burn notice typically means there isn’t enough liquid at the bottom of the pot. Always ensure your sauce is well combined, and there's no ingredient sticking to the pot's bottom.

4. How can I thicken the sauce further?

If you desire a thicker sauce, consider using a mix of arrowroot flour or more corn starch with a little water and add it to the pot before the pressure cooking cycle.

5. Can I make this dish low-carb?

Definitely! Replace the honey with a keto-friendly sweetener and serve over cauliflower rice. You can also consider using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

Key Takeaways

  • Flavor Variations: Play around with sauce ingredients. Dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and fresh ginger can transform the dish's character.
  • Chicken Choice Matters: Whether you prefer chicken thighs or breasts, the Instant Pot ensures juicy chicken every time.
  • Vegetable Additions: Don't hesitate to add more veggies for added crunch and flavor.
  • Rice Choices: Pair with brown rice, jasmine rice, or even cauliflower rice to cater to different dietary preferences.
  • Storage is Simple: This dish can be stored in an airtight container and is perfect for the next day's meal prep.

Cashew chicken instant pot Conclusion

The journey of crafting the perfect Cashew Chicken Instant Pot recipe has been nothing short of delightful. Every bite takes me back to my favorite Chinese restaurant, with the added satisfaction of having made it at home. It's the ideal blend of savory, sweet, and sensational. And the best part? It’s a breeze to prepare on busy nights and better than Chinese take out. Now, each time those cravings strike, I know I’m just a few easy steps away from a deliciously satisfying meal. Here’s to making memories, one pot of Cashew Chicken at a time! Give it a try, and I'm sure it'll become a family favorite for you too. And if it does, drop me a star rating; I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy cooking!

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