Instant Pot Cashew Chicken–this cashew chicken is just as good as your favorite Chinese restaurant. It’s super easy and flavorful and it’s all made in the comfort of your own kitchen. The instant pot speeds up the process and helps get dinner on the table in minutes.
Get the SLOW COOKER version of the recipe here
Instant Pot Cashew Chicken
When I cooked every day for a year in my slow cooker I came across many wonderful slow cooker recipes. The slow cooker cashew chicken was one of my family’s favorite. Now that I have an Instant Pot I wanted to see if I could make cashew chicken in the pressure cooker to speed things up a bit for those days when I haven’t planned ahead. I changed a few things around in the recipe to account for the differences in IP and the slow cooker. It turned out really nicely. We served ours over rice with a side of broccoli.
Can I use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs? I love using trimmed chicken thighs for this recipe because they are so moist, tender and succulent. It makes the cashew chicken taste like something you’d eat at a chinese restaurant. However, I know there are some of you that do not like dark meat and will want to use chicken breasts. You can use chicken breasts. Just cut them into bite size pieces and use a 5 minute pressure cooking time with a 10 minute natural pressure release.
I don’t think there is enough liquid to bring the pot to pressure. Yes, this recipe doesn’t call for a lot of liquid. Only a little soy sauce and rice vinegar. However chicken releases liquid when it’s cooked. For every pound of chicken ½ cup to 1 full cup of liquid is released. I have not had issues with this recipe coming to pressure or getting the burn signal. However, if you’re worried about the Instant Pot coming to pressure you can always use the pot-in-pot method. Just get an oven safe dish* and put the ingredients inside it and place it in your instant pot on top of a trivet. Then pour a cup of water in the bottom of the pot. Add about 5 extra minutes to the cooking time for this method.
Try these other Asian Instant Pot recipes…
Instant Pot Beef Fried Rice
Instant Pot Chicken Lo Mein
Instant Pot Sesame Beef with Zucchini
Instant Pot Egg Roll BowlsPrint
Instant Pot Cashew Chicken
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 6 minutes (plus 10 minute NPR)
- Total Time: 21 minutes
- Yield: 4–6 servings 1x
This cashew chicken is just as good as your favorite Chinese restaurant. It’s super easy and flavorful and it’s all made in the comfort of your own kitchen. The instant pot speeds up the process and helps get dinner on the table in minutes.
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp minced ginger (fresh)
- 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1/3 cup cashews
- Sliced green onions, for garnish
- Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- Use kitchen shears to cut all excess fat off the chicken thighs. Then cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Place them in the Instant Pot.
- Add in the pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red pepper. Stir to really coat the chicken with the sauce.
- Cover the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is set to “sealing.” Set the manual/pressure cook button to 6 minutes on high pressure. When the timer goes off let the pot sit for 10 minutes and then move the valve to venting.
- Once you can remove the lid, do so. In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and water. Stir the slurry into the instant pot. Turn the Instant Pot to the saute function. The sauce will thicken in just a couple of minutes.
- Stir in the cashews. Serve chicken topped with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
I used my 6 quart Instant Pot for this recipe.
If you’d like to make this recipe in the slow cooker, you can click here for the recipe.
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Asian
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Read all comments and made exactly as written. Super disappointed. Ordered pizza and threw out the chicken.
I was worried about making it since there is very little liquid in the IP. I was worried about getting a burn notice. That didn’t happen and it was very good. I will make it again.
So glad to hear it!
I have a family full of picky eaters and evert one of them LOVE this dish. It has become one of the most requested dinners in our household, so much so that I **almost** know the recipe by heart. I’m just out here printing another one for my college bound kid who wants to be able to make it when he leaves home. Thanks!!!
Oh so happy to hear this! Thank you for the 5 stars Cyndi.
Kim B. says
YUM! So Good!!! Cooked Jasmine rice pot-in-pot on top of chicken & it was perfect. Delicious & so EZ to put together. A winner. Only thing I added was mushrooms.
Going to have to start doubling this recipe if I want leftovers. Oink! Oink! Ha!
Piggy piggy!! hahahaha!
Kim B. says
Karen, been making this awhile now, we love it. Can I cook my rice pot-in-pot on top of the chicken at the same time? Am using Jasmine. Thanks.
yes that would be awesome
Is there any difference in flavor or texture between the Instapot version vs. the Slow Cooker version?
They are super similar 🙂
Cynthia L Henderson says
I have picky eaters and I always have to double this recipe! They love it. Makes me happy because it is so simple and delicious. This is on permanent rotation in our house.
So glad to hear that is pleases even picky eaters! I always love to hear that!
Do you use raw cashews or roasted?
I used raw
We really enjoyed this recipe. It was easy to put together with ingredients that we had on hand, and tasted fantastic. We served over jasmine rice with tatsoi leaves. Yum!
Thanks for the 5 stars Ellie!
Have had an instant pot sitting in a box for 2 years because I was one of those scare-d-cats. But came across your blog and have embraced it. Love your easy to follow directions. Recently bought the stackable pots. (See you’ve got me hooked!) Could I do this recipe in them, cooking rice in one and the chicken in the other, or is there not enough time cooking?
If so, chicken on bottom or rice on bottom?
Thanks a million!!
I think you could do that. I would increase the cooking time to 20 minutes and put the rice on the top. Make sure to put 1 cup water in bottom before you add the trivet and pans.
This was great! Like another reviewer, I added a tiny bit of fresh jalapeño, and it had nice heat. I did 1/2 cup of white rice with about 3/4 c of water in a glass bowl on top of a trivet. I used two small-to-medium chicken breasts, but kept the sauce amounts the same, and cooked for 5 min. I added 1/2 of a red pepper, but it turned to much, so I’ll leave that out, next time. Thanks for the yummy “Take Out!”
You’re welcome Belinda!
Any idea how you would alter this for the 8 quart instapot?
I would add in a half cup of chicken broth to up the liquid amount. You may need to increase cornstarch amount.
I followed the recipe just as it’s written in my 8-quart instant pot and it was fine. I will probably double the recipe next time in order to have enough leftovers for a second meal.
Mary Heidt says
Could you use truvia brown sugar in this recipe? I am diabetic and will account for the ketchup but I was wondering about the brown sugar.
Yes you can!
Tosha Woods says
I make this often. My husband loves it!
Glad he loves it! Thanks Tosha!
Really good and easy
Glad you liked it Margareta!
This is an excellent recipe. I’ve made it a number of times and it is my favorite for the Instant Pot. I always have plenty leftover for several more meals. Served over rice, it is so delicious. I highly recommend this recipe. I use raw cashews to further cut down on salt.
Glad you like it Susan 😊
My husband described this as “a home run dinner”! I used chicken breasts and added a chopped red onion while cooking. While the sauce was thickening I added diced celery, carrots and red pepper as well as a can of water chestnuts. I have an 8 quart Emerald Lagasse pressure cooker and there was plenty of liquid with the ingredients as listed. It’s easy to make gluten-free which is a bonus. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the awesome recipe!
Wow your version sounds so tasty!
WOW! Just Wow.
Made this tonight and it was amazing. I left out the red pepper (because, kids) and had to double the slurry because the sauce wasn’t thickening quite right. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly and it came out picture perfect.
As soon as I started the IP, I started a pan of jasmine rice on the stove, which finished just as the 10 minute NPR finished (so perfectly timed). I also used raw cashews which I toasted quickly while the meat was cooking. The kids left off the cashews (oh well, more for the hubs and me).
Ridiculously easy and absolutely delicious. 14/10. Will be adding this to the regular rotation.
Yum so glad you liked it!
Your picture looks so much better than what came out. Tasted really good and the family loved it, I just wish it presented as well as the photo!
Thanks for sharing!
Oh shoot! Sometimes that happens! Glad it still tasted good
Added a 10 oz steamable bag of Asian Medley veggies as well as a small can of water chestnuts. Gave a bit more substance to meal – very tasty. Great recipe that will be using often.
Tim I love that idea! Great way to get more veggies in.
Are the cooking instructions the same if I half the receipe?
Yes but you’ll need enough liquid to come to pressure. Read this for more info: https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/how-to-halve-instant-pot-recipes/
I used boneless skinless chicken breast because that was what I had, and used hoisin sauce instead of ketchup only because I’ve been trying to use up a bottle. It was wonderful. Thanks for the recipe!
You’re welcome Laura!
Sonia Tena-Kellins says
I have a question. I don’t have ground red peppers..as a spice. Can I substitute something else?
You can just leave it out or use cayenne pepper.
I have the 8 quart. How much liquid would you recommend? Also I was wanting to add celery and some carrots. Would they be able to cook in with the chicken? Also using chicken breasts Instead.
I would add in a half cup of chicken broth to up the liquid amount. You may need to increase cornstarch amount. Or you could use pot in pot method. You’ll need to increase cooking time if you do it that way though. I would add the carrots and celery in with it.
Ok; I had my doubts that this would be good. The ingredients just looked….weird. Ketchup in cashew chicken??
But I made it since I had a package of chicken thighs that needed using. And wowza—THIS WAS FREAKING AMAZING! Definitely a keeper recipe for me! Thank you so much!!
Haha! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Carol I Newman says
It took about 42 minutes from start to table. 10 minutes to prep, 12 minutes to build pressure, 20 minutes cooking time including sauce thickening.
Recipe looks wonderful but I’m little confused about cooking time. At top of recipe it states cook time is 8 minutes (plus 10 minute NPR), but in step 3 of recipe it states set cook button to 6 minutes…which is correct? Absolutely LOVE your recipes!!!
Hi Jan, sorry for the confusion. I just fixed that typo.
The recipe still says to seal and cook for 6 minutes…. it’s not corrected
It’s supposed to be 6 minutes, not 8 minutes.
Awesome, Karen! Only had breasts but it was still delicious! Used fresh sweet peppers from the garden, too. Wonderful recipe! And so dang easy to throw together! Thank you for sharing this–it was better than the Chinese restaurant food I had delivered last week!
Wow! That’s awesome to hear. Thank you!
I LOVE the “jump to recipe” option. Iwishevertbody would do that.
I like it too! If people want to read more they can, if they need to get to the recipe fast they can do that too.
Just made this tonight, it was delicious. I used no sugar added ketchup and the Splenda brown sugar blend as some substitutions as I cannot add sugar (limited amounts) to recipes. All good. I also cooked it in the steamer basket which allowed me to remove it while I whisked in xanthan gum (cornstarch substitute) . Perfect amount of sauce, enjoyed by all.
Thanks for sharing your experience!
Molly G says
I made this tonight and is was well liked by my family! The sauce was a little too sweet for me, but it wasn’t bad, I just prefer more savory sauce. I added chopped red and green pepper and water chestnuts during the step when you sauté to thicken the sauce to add veggies and everything turned out really well! Thank you for the great recipe!
I love water chestnuts! Good call!
David Muma says
We bought an Instant Pot Ultra 60 (6qt) There is no manual setting. Only pressure cook and the time. What would you suggest for liquid amount so as not to get the great (Burn) message across the display. Not a lot of support for this model yet on the Web. Any thought s would be appreciated. Thanks…
Use the pressure cook button in place of any recipe that says “manual” button. They are the same thing. Just named differently. You could double the amount of liquid to prevent burn signal.
I’m new at this, if I double the recipe do I double the ingredients and the time??
Double ingredients and keep the time the same.
Can you use frozen chicken breasts? How much longer in the Instant Pot?
No, not for this one. Because of step 1: Use kitchen shears to cut all excess fat off the chicken thighs. Then cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Place them in the Instant Pot.
Jan simpson says
I made this last night. I used chicken breast, no salt buillon and water, very low sodium soy sauce, and no salt ketchup. I also had to make my own hoisin sauce ( low sodium), but it all had a good flavor. I would not add the cashews until I was ready to plate this dish. I did not like the very soggy nuts. Thanks for the recipe- it was my first IP to cook.
Hi Jan, I’m glad you could make this work for you!
If you wanted to cook the rice in the IP, could you do it at the same time as the chicken? Or would you have to cook it separately? If same time, when would you add?
I would add the rice and water to the pot. Then place the chicken and ingredients in a pot that fits inside your instant pot. Use a trivet to place the pot into the pot. If you’re using white rice it should work.
This is interesting, I’ve never heard of doing this. I have basmati rice, would this method work do you think? Does it change the cooking time at all? I have chicken breasts, so would probably cook for 4-5 minutes.
Yes I think it would! Use 1.5 cups water to 1 cup of rice.
I made this recipe tonight but tweaked it. I first cooked frozen chicken breast in the ip then cut it into bite sized pieces…mixed the rest of the ingredients in sauté and it was yummy!!! I don’t know how 1/4 cup of soy sauce would have been enough liquid but this way was yum!
Michelle Amundson says
That is my thought. I am trying and hope to not get the “burn” notification.
Pam C says
I make it a couple times every month. It is one of our favorites. Quicker than to order in and tastes better.
Raw or roasted cashews? What is the spice level if made exactly to recipe? We like it to hurt a little but still keep the flavor balance.
This isn’t spicy at all Linda! And I believe I used roasted cashews!
Just made this tonight and it’s awesome! It’s the first thing I’ve made in my new instapot. I added shredded carrots, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and 2tbsp peanut sauce. It turned out so well! I will definitely be making it again soon. Thank you!
Great recipe. If you add a little more red pepper and a minced jalapeno it tastes just like Thai cashew nut chicken you get at a Thai restaurant with a 4 on the spicy scale
Liko Puha says
Thank you Karen. Delicious. I did brown the chicken first. For next time, I will rinse the cashews first, add more corn starch to make the sauce thicker, and add some broccoli for color and texture. It is a keeper for sure. Mahalo, Liko
Kim Haydon says
I recently purchased an instant pot Duo Plus. I wanted to try your recipe for cashew chicken but in the user manual that came with the instant pot it states to always add at least 18 ounces of water or liquid to the inner pot so enough steam can be generated to cook under pressure. However your recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar. What do you suggest? Thank you. Kim
Hi Kim, is yours a 6 quart? That’s what I used and it worked fine. Sometimes chicken releases liquid when it’s cooked so that adds to the liquid. If you’re worried about it coming to pressure you can always do the pot in pot method. Just get an oven safe dish and put the ingredients inside it and place it in your instant pot on top of a trivet. Then pour a cup of water in the bottom of the pot. Add about 5 extra minutes to the cooking time for this method.
This is a very American-ized take on Cashew nut chicken, made it last night. I recommend more soy sauce and adding onions, bell peppers for more taste.
How much more soy sauce would you add?
I added some pineapple chunks, pineapple juice and broccoli at the end when sautéing to thicken! So delicious!!!!
I think that somewhere you said don’t use chicken breasts in this recipe. I just spent an hour de-fatting my chicken thighs and ended up with about a pound of fat and unusable chicken. Why can’t you use a less disgusting part of the chicken? Otherwise this recipe is DaBomb!!
You can use chicken breasts. But it just won’t taste as good. It won’t be as tender and moist. If you do end up using breasts then the cooking time will only be 5 minutes.
I’ve noticed a big difference in fatty clumps between “bargain” thighs and premium brands. The premium brand thighs are much better trimmed – less waste & less time spent getting remaining fat deposits out of the meat. Also, I recently invested in kitchen shears – huge time saver over using a knife (and I keep my knives *sharp*).
Bev Adams says
I shop at Hy Vee, the meat department will debone and save bones and skin. Just ask. I boil the bones and skin with carrots, celery and onion. Then strain it for chicken broth. Usually, I have enough meat from the bones to make chicken and noodles.
We just got our instant pot this week. Last night, I cooked half of a turkey breast in it and the other half in the oven. The full breast was too big for the instant pot. The instant pot was done in 22 minutes, while the oven was 2.5 hours. Both were very tasty.
Thanks for the tip! Will have to try that 🙂
Instead of cooking the (1”) cubed thighs for 8 minutes on high, QPR, I cooked them 4 min on *low*, NPR for 12 mins. Then took the meat out so it wouldn’t overcook while boiling/thickening the sauce with the slurry. Results in *very* tender, perfectly cooked chicken.
If I wanted to add chopped vegetables (broccoli and a bell pepper), when would be the best time to add them in? Do you have a recommendation on how to cook them in the instant pot? I’m a newbie!
Good question! For more tender vegetables I’d add them at the end when you make the cornstarch slurry. They’ll get overdone if you cook them from the beginning!
This recipe looks and sounds delicious! I’m kinda unsure about making it though. All the recipes I’ve tried have a lot more liquid in them to get the cooker up to pressure.
If you’re unsure you can always put 1 cup water in the bottom of your pot, place a trivet on top, then pile the chicken ingredients into a oven safe dish that fits inside your instant pot. Then place the dish on top of the trivet. This will ensure the pot reaches pressure!
No worries -the chicken releases additional liquid. (I made this in the mini & no problem coming to pressure.)
This looks amazing! Are the cashews salted or unsalted? Thanks!
I used salted
I make this in the slow cooker but brown my hicken first. Can I brown it first in the instant log on sauté then cook for the 8 min?
yes that would be so good.
This looks so good. I would really like to try it! I am a newbie too. One question, is 1/4 cup soy sauce all the liquid needed to pressure cook in the instant pot!
Yes, it worked for me!
I’m a newbie to instant pot. You mention in your recipes to make sure it is on high. How do I know if it’s on high or not? I’ve read and reread my book and can’t figure this one out.
I have two instant pots and one gives the option of changing the pressure from low to high and the other does not give the option. I’m guessing you have the second one. Don’t worry about it because it will be cooking on high pressure!