Orange Chicken that’s so much better than takeout! Tender chicken bites tossed in sticky sauce and citrus glaze is a kid-friendly meal that you can make in the Instant Pot any night of the week.
Copycat Panda Express Orange Chicken
Anyone else out there have a weakness for Panda Express?
I know it’s not authentic Chinese food and that there are lots of other places to get delicious takeout, but when I’m hungry and there’s a Panda Express nearby, I can’t resist the call.
Specifically, of their orange chicken. Sweet, sour and saucy chicken served on a bowl of rice hits the spot every single time.
Lucky for me–and you–it’s SO easy to make Orange Chicken at home. Using my Instant Pot, this dinner was ready in less time than it takes to drive to pick up takeout.
Homemade Orange Chicken tastes even better than the famous Panda Express dish, too. With fresh ingredients, including real orange juice and zest, this quick dinner is flavorful, satisfying and just plain delicious.
- Chicken – I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces. You can substitute chicken thighs if you prefer.
- Orange juice – Any brand of orange juice works well (no need to squeeze your own unless you really want to!).
- Soy sauce – Or substitute Tamari or low sodium soy sauce
- Tomato paste – This adds tang and helps thicken the sauce.
- Orange zest – Use a microplane grater or zester to remove the outermost layer from an orange peel (avoiding the bitter white part).
- Spices- To season this sauce, I used plenty of ground ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes!
Step by Step Instructions
STEP 1. Saute the chicken
With the Instant Pot on the “saute” setting, cook the chicken with the olive oil for 3 -4 minutes until the chicken is mostly cooked through.
STEP 2. Deglaze
Add a cup of the orange juice to the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape off any pieces of chicken stuck to the bottom of the pot.
STEP 3. Pressure cook
Put remaining ingredients for the orange chicken (except the glaze and garnishes) into the pot but do not stir. Add the lid to the pot, seal the valve and select a cooking time of 5 minutes at high pressure.
When the cook time ends, let the pot release the pressure naturally for 5 minutes, then do a quick release of remaining pressure.
STEP 4. Orange glaze
Combine the cornstarch and remaining orange juice in a bowl and whisk. Add the mixture to the Instant Pot with the chicken and give everything a good stir.
Set the Instant Pot back to “saute” and cook for a few more minutes until the sauce is thick and bubbly.
STEP 5. Garnish and serve
Serve the orange chicken over bowls of rice, topped with chopped green onions and orange zest.
We love this orange chicken on a simple bed of plain white rice. It would also be delicious over brown rice, for a heartier taste.
This is not a recipe I’d make without sugar! It’s important for the taste of the sauce, the thickness of the sauce and that classic “sticky” glaze we love in orange chicken.
This recipe was tested in a 6 quart instant pot.
Tips and Tricks
- Store leftover orange chicken in an air tight container in the refrigerator. It’ll keep for about 3 days.
- Remember to scrape ALL the pieces of chicken from the bottom and sides of your pot before adding the rest of the sauce ingredients. This step prevents getting a “burn notice” when you pressure cook the orange chicken.
More Easy Dinner Recipes
Put your takeout menu away and make perfect Orange Chicken in the Instant Pot instead!