Instant Pot Sweet & Tangy Chicken (Paleo, Gluten-Free)

Today’s recipe from Instant Pot sweet and tangy chicken comes from Dr.Karen Lee’s latest cookbook No Thaw Paleo Cooking In Instant Pot. Made with frozen chicken thighs, this dish is paleo and gluten-free friendly and can be modified to be keto suitable as well. This dish is similar to sweet and sour chicken and the meat is served in lettuce cups with finely sliced crunchy vegetables.

We all agree that plain chicken is well, too plain. But not when you add all sorts of goodies on top and wrap it up in buttery lettuce with a sweet and tangy sauce. That’s exactly what you can make following this delicious, paleo-friendly recipe.

Cooking frozen chicken thighs or breast in the Instant Pot together with citrusy, Asian-inspired sauce results in super tasty meat that you can serve in a few ways.



The author presents sweet and tangy chicken wrapped in lettuce wraps for a low-carb, paleo version. Alternatively, you can serve it over cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles. If you don’t follow a paleo or low-carb diets, you can simply serve the chicken over regular or brown rice or quinoa. Try out turmeric jasmine rice recipe.

We hope you enjoy this delicious Instant Pot sweet and tangy chicken. Make sure to check out our review No Thaw Paleo Cooking In Instant Pot cookbook here, or find it on Amazon here. You might also like these keto smothered pork chops recipe by Dr. Karen S. Lee. 

Find more delicious paleo Instant Pot recipes here. 

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Instant Pot Sweet Sour Chicken

Instant Pot Sweet & Tangy Chicken

  • Author: Dr. Karen S. Lee
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 28 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Asian


Paleo and gluten-free friendly, this Instant Pot sweet and tangy chicken is juicy and delicious. Similarly to sweet and sour chicken or pork, this dish can be served over rice or noodles or wrapped in lettuce wraps or with cauliflower rice for a low-carb, grain-free version.



¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ cup (60 ml) tamari or coconut aminos

2 tbsp (30 ml) raw honey (omit for keto)

1 tbsp (15 ml) mirin or rice vinegar

1 lb (454 g) frozen boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tbsp (30 ml) avocado oil

1 cup (160 g) diced onion

1 tbsp (9 g) finely minced or pressed garlic

2 celery, diced (2 oz [57 g])

2 carrots, diced (2 oz [57 g])

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp (9 g) grated orange zest

1 tbsp (8 g) tapioca flour

2 tbsp (30 ml) water

3 scallions chopped (½ cup [25 g]), divided

½ tbsp (8 ml) toasted sesame oil

1 tsp white pepper

1 or 2 small heads of bib, butter or baby romaine lettuce leaves

1 cucumber, julienned

½ cup (58 g) sliced radishes

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tsp black sesame seeds


  • Turn on the Instant Pot by pressing the “Pressure Cooker/Manual” button and set the timer for 6 minutes on HIGH pressure. Insert the inner pot and add the orange juice, tamari (or coconut aminos), raw honey and mirin. Stir. Add the frozen chicken thighs and spoon some of it on top of the chicken.
  • Close the lid tightly and move the steam release handle to “Sealing.”
  • When the timer ends and the Instant Pot beeps, carefully turn the steam release handle to “Venting,” press “Cancel,” and allow the Instant Pot to depressurize quickly until the float valve drops down. Open the lid carefully.
  • Using tongs, carefully take out the chicken, place them on a cutting board and dice the meat into small pieces. The chicken pieces might be stuck together, but you should be able to cut through them easily. Set the chicken aside. Reserve the cooked liquid in a small bowl.
  • “Sauté” and set to “More.” Insert the inner pot and wait until the panel says “Hot.” Add the avocado oil in the inner pot and coat the bottom evenly. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for 1 minute or until it is soft. Add the garlic, celery, carrots, ginger, sea salt, black pepper and orange zest. Stir well.
  • Add the diced chicken pieces and the reserved cooked liquid back into the inner pot and stir. Press the “Pressure Cooker/Manual” button and set the timer for 10 minutes on HIGH pressure.
  • Meanwhile, mix the tapioca flour and water in a small bowl to make a slurry and set aside.
  • When the timer ends and the Instant Pot beeps, press “Cancel” and allow the Instant Pot to cool down naturally for 10 minutes. Then, carefully turn the steam release handle to the “Venting” position for the steam to escape and the float valve to drop down. Press “Cancel,” and then “Sauté.”
  • Open the lid carefully and stir in the scallions (reserve 1 tablespoon [3 g] for garnish), toasted sesame oil and white pepper. Add the tapioca slurry into the inner pot while stirring for 1 minute or until the sauce thickens. Press “Cancel,” ladle about 1 cup (240 ml) of sauce into a bowl and reserve for serving.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken into the lettuce wraps, add the garnishes and serve immediately. You can drizzle the reserved sauce, if needed.


You can adjust the sweetness by omitting or reducing the honey amount to make them Keto or low-carb friendly.


  • Serving Size: 2-3 lettuce cups with chicken
  • Calories: 327
  • Sugar: 16.4 g
  • Sodium: 1417.2 mg
  • Fat: 12.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Fiber: 2.9 g
  • Protein: 29.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 82.7 mg

Reprinted with permission from No-Thaw Paleo Cooking in Your Instant Pot by Dr. Karen S. Lee, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Donna Crous


Instant Pot Sweet & tangy Chicken (Paleo, Gluten-Free)

Instant Pot Recipes
By Instant Pot Eats

About Instant Pot Eats: Published by a seasoned food blogger and cookbook author, Irena Macri, and a team of cooking experts and enthusiasts, this blog is dedicated to delicious Instant Pot recipes you can make using your trusted pressure cooker.

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  1. My Instant Pot would probably show “burn” without more liquid and a sugar based sauce during pressurized cooking cycles. Do you have a secret to prevent that?

    1. My personal tip would be to add 1/2 cup of water or more orange juice and make sure to stir through really well so there are no bits stuck to the bottom. Once cooked, set to Saute and reduce the sauce down to sticky and thick again. I will check with the recipe author and see if she has different advice.

  2. I totally agree with you….plain chicken is too plain.
    Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe. I am definitely going to try this out.

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