Instant pot teriyaki chicken is meltingly tender chicken bites in a sweet and salty teriyaki sauce. Homemade teriyaki sauce and chicken thighs bites make this a quick and kid friendly chicken dinner.
You can check out all of my instant pot mini recipes here.
I have been on a mission to create quick and easy pantry meals that adults and kids both love! This recipe comes together with chicken thighs and pantry stapes to make the teriyaki sauce. I always have a pack of chicken thighs in the fridge or freezer, and a bag of rice can always be found in my pantry.
It turns out, when you cook chicken thighs in the instant pot in just 5 minutes, they become super tender and juicy. The meat is soft and coated in a silky salty-sweet sauce; what’s not to love here?
How to make instant pot teriyaki chicken:
First, gather all of the sauce ingredients: brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, fresh ginger, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and garlic. Pretend this photo has a garlic clove in it, and that your child didn’t grab it and insist on playing with it while you were taking a photo. Homeschooling is going great, thanks for asking, hah!
Whisk together all of these ingredients, except for the cornstarch. We’ll dissolve the cornstarch later and stir it into the already cooked chicken. The scallion is for serving later.
Now, use kitchen shears to trim off most of the fat from 1.75 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You can use chicken breasts instead, if you like. Using scissors to cut up chicken is my favorite time-saving technique in the kitchen.
Before adding the chicken to the instant pot, drizzle 1 tablespoon of cooking oil on the bottom to prevent sticking. Then, pile in the chicken and pour the teriyaki sauce on top.
Please note that I’m cooking with the instant pot 3 quart mini because I cook for two, but this recipe works in a regular instant pot, too!
Place the lid on the instant pot, turn the valve to ‘SEAL’ and then pressure cook on HIGH for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, let everything rest for 5 minutes (natural pressure release), and then manually open the pressure valve to release the remaining pressure. Please be careful, the steam coming through the valve is very hot–I usually wrap my hand in a towel and use a wooden spoon to open the valve.
Once you remove the lid from the instant pot, whisk the 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoons of cold water, and then pour into the pot with the chicken.
Now, turn the instant pot to SAUTE and add 5 minutes. Depending on your instant pot model, you’ll have to turn off the pressure function first by pressing OFF. The saute function lets you cook with the lid off of the instant pot, like you’re using a regular stovetop. It’s one of the many reasons I love the instant pot–it has so many functions!
Once the cornstarch mixture comes to a boil, the sauce will thicken and coat the chicken. It’s so silky and smooth! Please note that cornstarch must first be dissolved in cold water before being boiled in order to achieve this. Do not add the cornstarch directly do the pot without dissolving it in cold water first.
What is teriyaki sauce?
Teriyaki sauce is a Japanese cooking sauce consisting of soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine. The combinations of salty, sweet, and acidic is the perfect vehicle for tenderizing meat that is cooked quickly.
I’ve seen variations of teriyaki sauce that contains honey, pineapple juice, and other sweeteners. I’m keeping it simple by using brown sugar, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.
Along with soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice wine vinegar, I’m also adding freshly grated ginger, garlic and sesame oil to the sauce. The freshly grated ginger and garlic can be substituted with 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, if you lack fresh. The sesame oil brings a nuttiness to the dish, and I love to drizzle extra sesame oil on my final dish, too!
Why I prefer chicken thighs in the instant pot
My love for chicken thighs is unparalleled–it is my favorite cut of chicken to cook with. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs have slightly more fat than chicken breasts, which keeps the meat moist as it cooks. I use kitchen shears to cut off most of the fat, because I don’t like it in my final dish, but it’s up to your preference.
Once you make dark meat chicken in the instant pot, you won’t go back! However, you can use chicken breasts as a substitute here, if that’s what your family prefers. Keep the cuts to about 2-inch chunks–anything smaller might overcook.
Pressure cooker teriyaki chicken
This dish comes together after just 5 minutes of pressure cooking, and then a quick saute to activate the cornstarch slurry. The cornstarch thickens the teriyaki into a sauce that coats the pieces of chicken.
Pressure cooking small bites of chicken guarantees a juicy bite of chicken that is meltingly tender. The first time I made this recipe, I almost ate all of the chicken right out of the pressure cooker!
I’m positive after you make this instant pot teriyaki chicken thighs recipe just once, it will immediately go into your easy weeknight dinner rotation. I’ve also added it to my list of quick dinners to make and drop off at friends’ houses that have just had a baby, or otherwise need help getting dinner on the table!
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce*
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1.75 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (canola, avocado, vegetable, your choice)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- For serving: cooked rice, scallions, toasted sesame seeds
- First, make the homemade teriyaki sauce: in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Next, use kitchen scissors to trim off most of the excess fat on the chicken thighs. Then, cut the chicken thighs into 2" chunks.
- Remove the lid from your instant pot mini, drizzle in the cooking oil. Add the chicken, and pour the teriyaki sauce on top.
- Close the lid on the instant pot, turn the valve to SEAL, and press PRESSURE COOK. Toggle to HIGH pressure. Set the timer for 5 minutes. The instant pot will take about 5-10 minutes to come up to pressure, and then the 5-minute timer will begin to count down.
- When the instant pot timer goes off and the 5 minutes is over, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. This is a natural pressure release. Then, use a wooden spoon to carefully open the pressure valve to release the remaining pressure.
- Do not open the instant pot until all of the pressure releases and the valve drops down, indicating it's safe to open.
- Whisk together the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Whisk together very, very well to dissolve all of the lumps.
- Remove the lid from the instant pot, give everything a stir, and then add the cornstarch mixture. Stir to combine.
- Now, press OFF on the instant pot. Then, press SAUTE and set the timer for 5 minutes. Let the mixture come up to a bubble so that the cornstarch mixture can thicken the sauce. You'll know it's done when the sauce becomes thick and glossy and coats the chicken.
- Serve the chicken over rice, and top with sesame seeds and scallions, if desired.
*Use gluten-free soy sauce to make this meal entirely gluten free.
**I'm cooking in a 3-quart instant pot mini.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 517Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 242mgSodium: 1013mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 51g