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Instant Pot Cashew Chicken is a quick & easy instant pot dinner recipe with chunks of chicken, cashews, and fresh vegetables in a homemade sauce with easy ingredients. This cashew chicken is perfect served over rice and garnished with green onions.
Instant Pot Cashew Chicken Recipe
This cashew chicken made in the Instant Pot has it all! Chunks of chicken, cashews, broccoli, red pepper, and an easy homemade cashew sauce. Everything cooks right in the Instant Pot for only 8 minutes, making it an easy & quick dinner recipe.
Be sure and serve this cashew chicken over some cooked rice (my family prefers white rice) and garnish with green onions for a delicious dinner.
What You’ll Need
You will need basic ingredients to make this recipe. There are a few Asian ingredients needed like soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and rice wine vinegar which can easily be found at any grocery store.
- Chicken Breasts – You need about 3 chicken breasts which is equal to about 1 1/2 lbs to 2 lbs of chicken. If it’s a little bit over or under that’s ok.
- Olive Oil – Cook the chicken in olive oil inside the IP on the sauté function. This gives the chicken a nice sear but it does not have to be cooked all the way through in this first step.
- Cornstarch & Salt – This is what the chicken pieces get mixed with. It provides a nice coating on the chicken that will brown up nicely when it’s cooking in the olive oil.
- Cashew Chicken Sauce – This is a mixture of low-sodium soy sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, and ginger.
- Chopped Broccoli – This is fresh, raw broccoli from the produce section. Not frozen. Cut into smaller pieces if you want softer veggies (which my kids love) or leave in larger pieces for more crisp broccoli.
- Red Bell Pepper
- Cashews – I use the lightly salted cashews for this recipe.
- Cornstarch + Cold Water – This makes the slurry which will thicken up the sauce after the 8 minute cook time.
How To Make Cashew Chicken In The Instant Pot
With only one pot needed (the Instant Pot!) this recipe is so easy to make. The hardest part is waiting for the Instant Pot to come to pressure before the cook time starts.
- Make Cashew Sauce : I like to mix all the ingredients for the sauce first so they’re ready to go. In a mixing bowl, or glass measuring cup, combine all the cashew sauce ingredients and stir with a whisk to mix well. Set aside for later.
- Cook Chicken : Make sure the chicken is cut into larger bite-sized chunks. Coat chicken in salt and cornstarch. Heat the olive oil on the sauté function in the Instant Pot. Add the chicken chunks and cook. The chicken does not need to be fully cooked during this step, you just want a nice golden browned crust on the chicken.
- Add Ingredients : Turn off sauté mode and add the chopped vegetables and cashew sauce from earlier. Stir together.
- Cook : Turn the valve to the ‘sealing’ position and set the cook time for 8 minutes. Once done do a quick release of the pressure.
- Cashews & Thicken Sauce : Add the cashews and cornstarch + water slurry to thicken the sauce. It should naturally thicken once it’s added, but if it’s not thick enough you can turn the sauté function back on and cook for a few minutes until it’s where you want it.
Tips For Success
Follow these simple tips that will hopefully make this recipe a success in your own kitchen.
- Chicken Chunks : Don’t cut the chicken too small as we don’t want it to overcook. But also, don’t cut it too large because we want it to cook fully in the cook time. I aim to cut the chicken into larger bite-sized pieces. About 1-inch to 2-inches in size.
- Vegetables : My family prefers softer vegetables in this recipe. I add the veggies in for the full cook time. If you want crispier vegetables then you can either cut the red pepper and broccoli into much larger pieces or you can cut the chicken smaller and reduce the cook time, that way the vegetables won’t have to cook for 8 minutes. Some readers have even commented that they add the vegetables at the very end, in with the cashews, and then sauté for a 2-3 minutes to get them slightly softened but still crunchy.
- Ginger & Garlic : I love using the tubes of garlic paste and ginger paste. You will find these in the refrigerated area of the produce section alongside the fresh herbs and cold salad dressing. Feel free to use fresh ginger, just make sure to peel the rough skin off with a vegetable peeler and then shred it finely on the fine side of a cheese grater or citrus zester. You can also use chopped garlic from a jar or fresh garlic cloves that have been minced or pressed.
- Garnishes & Serving : This is really good served over some white rice. Any rice that you prefer can be used. If you want it lower carb then be sure and serve it over cauliflower rice or just eat the cashew chicken as is. The flavors are really brightened when you garnish each plate with some thinly sliced green onion. I highly recommend it.
- Soy Sauce : I recommend using low-sodium soy sauce in this recipe. Once you add the cashews and the other sauce ingredients, there is plenty of salt and unless you want it really salty, I suggest sticking with the low-sodium soy sauce.
Variation & Substitution Ideas
There are a few ways to switch up this recipe or substitute some of the ingredients if needed.
- Vegetables : Use any vegetable you want. I think the red pepper and broccoli is the best combination but you can also use snap peas, use all broccoli, or add another color of bell pepper in there.
- Ginger : You can use fresh ginger or ginger paste from a tube for this recipe. If you want to make it even easier then try substituting the fresh ginger with ground ginger.
- Make It Spicy! : Add some red chili flakes or cayenne pepper into the sauce.
Cashew Chicken FAQ’s
- How Long Does It Take For The Instant Pot To Come To Pressure?
- Although the cook time is only 8 minutes on this recipe, it does take about the same amount of time for the Instant Pot to come to full pressure before the cook time will start. So if you’re in a hurry, plan ahead and prepare for that extra time.
- What Is A Quick Release?
- You will need to do a quick release when the cook time is over. That simply means that you switch the valve from the ‘sealed’ position to the ‘venting’ position. Let the steam come out until all the pressure is gone. Once the pressure is gone you will be able to open the lid. No need to wait a certain amount of time before moving the valve.
- How To Store Leftovers
- Store leftovers in an air-tight container, in the fridge, for up to 3-4 days.
- I heat leftovers up in the microwave with some rice.
- Can I Freeze Cashew Chicken?
- Yes you can! You have two options here.
- You can prepare the recipe (the chicken coated in cornstarch, the sauce, and chopped veggies) and add it all into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag OR you can freeze the cashew chicken once it’s cooked and cooled.
- To thaw, put either the frozen cashew chicken mix or the cooked cashew mix into the fridge to thaw overnight.
- Cook the uncooked cashew mix in the Instant Pot according to directions below.
- If it’s been frozen and cooked already, simply heat it up on the stove top and serve over rice. You may need to add additional broth or water.
- What If I Want Crispier Vegetables Instead of Soft Vegetables?
- This is the most common complaint I get about this recipe. Some people want the softer vegetables (which is what my family prefers) while others want crispier vegetables that are not totally softened. You have several options here.
- The recipe as is produces soft vegetables.
- If you want crispier vegetables :
- You can either cut the vegetables into much larger chunks.
- You can cut the chicken smaller and the vegetables into large chunks so that way the vegetables won’t have to cook as long in order to cook the chicken. If doing this method, make sure the chicken is cut small and reduce the cook time. I would suggest about 6 minutes.
- Add in the chopped vegetables with the cashews and the slurry mixture at the end of the cook time. Press the sauté button and let the mixture cook and thicken for a few minutes, or until the veggies are where you want them.
Try These Other Instant Pot Dinner Recipes
Perfect Instant Pot Baked Ziti : One of the best Instant Pot recipes out there! Turns out perfect each time and everyone loves this.
Instant Pot Santa Fe Chicken Burrito Bowls : Shredded chicken with corn, beans, and spices made in the Instant Pot. Serve over rice and top with all the toppings for easy burrito bowls made at home.
Potato Corn Chowder : So creamy and comforting! This potato corn chowder is delicious and easy to make too.
Instant Pot Honey Chicken : Chunks of chicken in a homemade honey sauce.
Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice : The perfect side dish for tacos or enchiladas. You can also make this for the burrito bowls linked above.
Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes : Don’t take up precious oven space! Make mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot instead.
Instant Pot Cashew Chicken
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½-2 pounds)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic or garlic paste or 3 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon ginger (fresh ginger or dried ground ginger)
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- Cut chicken breasts into larger bite-sized chunks. Put the chicken chunks into a mixing bowl and add the salt and cornstarch. Stir together until chicken is coated in the cornstarch. * You can also use a gallon sized Ziploc bag to do this. I do it this way, as it's easy and I don't have to dirty a bowl.
- Mix together all the cashew chicken sauce ingredients and stir with a whisk. Set aside.
- Add the 1 tablespoon olive oil into the insert of the Instant Pot. Press the sauté button. Dump the chicken chunks in and let cook for about 4-6 minutes. The chicken does not have to be cooked through, it should be cooked on the outside and have a golden brown crust. Turn off the sauté function.
- Add the cashew chicken sauce (that you set aside from earlier) into the instant pot along with the chopped broccoli and red pepper. Stir together. Put the lid on and turn the valve to the 'sealed' position.
- Press 'manual' and set the cook time to 8 minutes.
- Do a quick release by moving the valve into the 'venting' position and let the pressure and steam come out. Add in the cashews and the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. * To make the cornstarch slurry mix together the 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water and stir with a fork.
- Serve over rice and garnish with sliced green onions.