This Kung Pao Chicken is full of spicy and tangy flavor, and gives you all the delicious taste of take-out with much healthier ingredients! You’ll love that this simple dinner comes together so easily in the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker.
It’s a fakeout takeout kind of recipe!! I love taking those restaurant staples, and finding easier, healthier, and tastier ways to make them at home. My General Tso’s Chicken, Korean Beef Bowls, and my Instant Pot Egg Roll in a Bowl are just a few favorites.
I have been slow-cookin up a storm the past few months. Days are busy and I am not able to spend as much time in the kitchen. Quite honestly, me and my Slow cooker and Instant Pot are in a really strong relationship right now. I’m just enjoying her so much more than I ever have! It just simplifies my life so much. This healthy relationship is good for you too! More easy recipes that can be cooking while you’re running around in the afternoons or evenings.
I love this recipe because Chinese takeout has always been a tough one for me. As a nutritionist, I try my best to always eat wholesome foods and ingredients. At the same time, I love the taste of Chinese food and want to find ways to make it healthy! I will often like the taste, but find myself sick after eating it. By making this myself, I can put in REAL ingredients that agree with my stomach. Anyone else hear me on this one?
How to make Kung Pao Chicken in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
Let’s gather up these ingredients:
- Chicken breast (cut into small bite size pieces)
- Avocado oil
- Green onion
- Garlic cloves
- Coconut aminos (or GF Tamari Soy Sauce)
- Rice vinegar
- Red bell pepper
- Whole dried Chinese red chiles
- Hoison Sauce
- Chili Garlic Sauce
- Arrowroot starch
- Honey or brown sugar (optional)
- Cashews or peanuts
Only a few steps required for this simple set it and forget it recipe!
For the Instant Pot, start by selecting the saute function on the IP. Once hot, add in the oil and cook the white part of the green onion and chopped ginger. After 2 minutes, add in the chicken pieces. Cook until lightly browned on all sides and select cancel. Stir together the coconut aminos and rice vinegar, pour in the pot. Be sure to de-glaze the pan with the liquid so nothing is sticking!! Now toss in the zucchini and bell pepper. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
Use a quick release. In a separate bowl, combine the hoison sauce and chili garlic sauce with arrowroot starch. If using soy sauce, add some brown sugar or honey to the sauce to sweeten it up. Coconut aminos most likely adds just the right amount of sweetness to the sauce! Remove the lid, and pour in the sauce. Select the saute function, and stir until sauce is thickened (cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Serve over rice or cauliflower rice. Top with sliced green onion, peanuts, and chopped red chili peppers.
Slow Cooker variation:
Here is how to make in the slow cooker. You will want to brown the onion, garlic, and ginger on the stovetop. Sprinkle the cut chicken with arrowroot starch, then add to the pan and cook for a few minutes per side. Add the chicken, onion, garlic, and ginger to the slow cooker. Top with bell pepper and zucchini.
In a bowl, mix together the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and hoison sauce. Pour on top of the chicken. Set on low for 4-5 hours. With 30 minutes left, add in diced chilies. Serve with rice and top with green onion and peanuts or cashews.
Adaptations and Variations:
- Coconut aminos: is a GF version of soy sauce, but it is also sweeter. You can also use GF Tamari Soy Sauce, but this will most likely require a bit of honey to sweeten the dish just a bit.
- Chinese chilies: The dried chilies are typically found in the Asian section of your grocery store. You can use crushed red chili pepper (chili flakes) in it’s place. Or omit altogether if you don’t want to make it spicy.
- Chili Garlic Sauce: can also be found in the Asian section of the grocery store. You can also replace with Sriracha sauce.
- Hoison Sauce: Use gluten-free hoison sauce for a GF variation of this recipe. In place of hoisin sauce, you can also use fish sauce with a bit of honey.
- Arrowroot powder: is a GF thickening agent to help make the sauce just right. You can use Xanthan gum, tapioca starch, or cornstarch.
- Bell pepper and zucchini: Feel free to swap thee out with another veggie! Green beans or broccoli are also a good option.
Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken
Less than 15 minutes of prep time is all you need to make this simple Kung Pao Chicken. This set it and forget it recipe comes together so easily in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot!
- 1.5 lb chicken breast
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 bunch green onion (white and green parts, diced and separated)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 1 large red bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 small zucchini (diced)
- 1/3 cup coconut aminos Tamari Soy Sauce (GF)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce*
- 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 6-8 whole dried Chinese red peppers (diced)
- 1 tbsp honey** (optional)
- 1 cup peanuts or cashews
For the Instant Pot:
Select the saute function on the IP. Meanwhile, prepare your chicken. Cut your chicken breasts into 1-2 inch pieces or cubes. Once the pot is hot, add in the avocado oil. Saute the white part of the green onion, ginger and garlic for 1-2 minutes.
Toss in the chicken and lightly cook on each side (about 5 minutes). Select cancel. Pour the coconut aminos or GF Tamari in the pot and the rice vinegar. De-glaze the pan by using a wooden spoon and ensuring nothing is sticking to the pot.
Now add in the diced bell pepper and zucchini. Secure the lid. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Use a quick release and remove all steam from the IP.
In a separate bowl, mix together the hoisin sauce, chili garlic sauce, and arrowroot starch. Pour into the IP on top of the chicken mixture. Select saute, and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the dried chilies. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice and top with peanuts or cashews, and the green onion.
For the Slow Cooker:
Begin by heating up a large skillet to medium high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with arrowroot powder. Add the oil and saute the chicken, white part of the green onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Place all ingredients in the slow cooker.
Toss chicken mixture, bell pepper, and zucchini in the slow cooker.
Meanwhile, make your sauce: mix together coconut aminos, vinegar, chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, and honey (if using) Pour over chicken in slow cooker.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until chickened is tender. If sauce is not thicken, add another TBSP of arrowroot with a TBSP of water and pour back in. Toss in the diced chilies.
Serve over rice with peanuts or cashews, and top with green onion.
*If following a GF diet, Hoisin sauce does come in a GF variation.
**Only use honey if the sauce needs to be slightly sweetened. If using coconut aminos, you most likely won’t need a sweetener.