This Instant Pot General Tso’s Chicken is a healthier spin on the takeout dish made in one pot with pantry staples you already have on hand.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Cornstarch – you can also use potato starch or rice flour to thicken the sauce.
- Chicken breasts – chicken breasts are the leaner option but diced chicken thighs would be a great alternative.
- Hoisin sauce – sweet soy sauce (known as kecap manis) will provide a similar taste but garlic teriyaki, oyster sauce and bean pasta are other good substitutes.
- Soy sauce – tamari or coconut aminos can be used in place of soy sauce.
- Brown sugar – use a combination of white sugar and molasses to make your own brown sugar.
- Rice vinegar – apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar are good alternatives here.
- Sesame oil – sesame oil will add a nutty taste to your dish, so any nut oil will work in replacement, but try to use sesame oil for the most authentic flavour.
- Garlic – fresh minced garlic is best but jarred minced garlic will work in a pinch.
- Vegetable oil – sunflower oil, olive oil and avocado oil are other options if you don't have vegetable oil on hand.
- Red pepper – use any colour bell pepper you like.
- Green onion – leave this out altogether if you don’t like green onion.
- Sesame seeds – leave this out altogether if you don’t have any on hand.
- Chili flakes – sriracha would also bring some spice to this dish or you can forego the heat altogether for a milder dish.
- Jasmine rice – any long grain rice like basmati rice can be used instead.
How to make General Tso's chicken
- Cook the rice.
- Mix together the sauce.
- Sauté the chicken.
- Add in the sauce and peppers.
- Garnish and serve over rice.
What is General Tso's sauce made of?
This sauce is super easy to make and uses pantry staples you likely already have lying around the house. It tastes just as good but doesn’t contain any of the additives you’d find in a store-bought or restaurant General Tso’s sauce.
All you need to make the sauce is:
- ½ cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic
Whisk it all together in a small bowl then pour it into the Instant Pot with the sautéed veggies and red pepper. Easy-peasy!
Frequently Asked Questions
General Tso’s chicken is generally made up of battered chicken and veggies in a sweet, sour and spicy sauce with a bit of kick that’s usually served over rice. To make this recipe a bit healthier, I didn’t bread the chicken and used a homemade sauce made with pantry staples. It’s just as delicious but with way less calories than the version you’d get from a takeout restaurant!
General Tso's is the perfect trifecta of sour, sweet and spicy, so there’s definitely a bit of kick to it. To make this dish spicier, it’s sometimes cooked with red chili peppers to engulf that heat into every bite, so if you're a fan of heat, give that a try!
The main difference between General Tso’s and orange chicken is that General Tso's offers a spicier finish thanks to the chili flakes. Orange chicken also tends to be a lot sweeter than General Tso’s chicken.
Now, you may be wondering why make this in an Instant Pot instead of on the stove? Well, it's a great alternative to the traditional stovetop method. Cooking in an Instant Pot is typically quicker and because it's made in one pot there is less clean up involved – talk about a win-win situation!
Storing and reheating
If you want to turn this delicious dinner into the next day's lunch then keep reading! Store each individual serving in an airtight container after it has fully cooled down. Once you've refrigerated your servings, they will last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge, which turns these yummy leftovers into a delicious meal prep dish.
When you're ready to eat your General Tso's chicken, take your individual serving out of the fridge and microwave for 1-2 minutes until warm. Once warmed up, you're ready to enjoy your meal! I suggest sprinkling a bit of water over top before reheating so the rice and chicken don’t dry out.
Freezing this recipe
Unfortunately, this entire dish won’t freeze very well as the peppers will get soggy when they defrost. You can try freezing the chicken separately though! When making it in the Instant Pot, follow the steps as normal but don’t add in the red peppers. After the dish has cooled completely, store it in airtight glass containers for up to 3 months.
Let it defrost in the fridge overnight then reheat in the microwave, in the Instant Pot or in a pan on the stovetop with a bit of extra sauce.
More takeout-inspired recipes
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on packing this Instant Pot General Tso's Chicken up for lunch!
- The Instant Pot DUO Plus 60 is the version I use in this recipe.
- Restock your freezer with free-range chicken from Butcher Box!
Instant Pot General Tso's Chicken
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 4 medium-sized chicken breasts, diced (about 1 lb)
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- chili flakes, for garnish
- 2 cups cooked jasmine rice (about 1 cup dry, cooked according to package directions)
- In a large bowl, mix chicken and cornstarch together. Meanwhile, preheat Instant Pot on saute mode and cook rice according to package directions in a rice cooker.
- Mix hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil and garlic together in a small bowl.
- Add vegetable oil to Instant Pot and saute chicken until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add sauce and red peppers, then cook another 3-4 minutes until peppers are tender and chicken is heated through.
- Top rice with chicken and peppers, then garnish with green onions, sesame seeds and chili flakes. Serve and enjoy!