Buckle up, foodies! I have a recipe that will blow your taste buds away. As a chef specializing in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I’ve always had a soft spot for dishes that balance sweet and sour flavors. That’s why I’m so excited to present my healthier, gluten-free Sweet & Sour Chicken recipe made for the Instant Pot.
This recipe combines juicy chicken thighs with chunky pineapple, bell pepper, onion and garlic for a tangy Chinese Sweet Sour sauce. If you’re someone who loves recipes that are easy to make, yet packed with flavor then keep reading because this one is for you.
And don’t worry – this recipe is perfect for folks who are looking to eat healthy without sacrificing taste. Whether you’re going gluten-free or avoiding sugar altogether, this dish will tick all your boxes. Plus, did I mention it’s Paleo and Whole30 compliant too?
So grab your apron and let’s get cooking!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Are you looking for a healthier version of Chinese sweet and sour chicken? Look no further because this gluten-free sweet and sour chicken for the Instant Pot is just what you need! Not only is it gluten-free and sugar-free, but it’s also made with whole ingredients that are completely paleo-friendly.
You’ll love this recipe because it’s easy to make and quick enough to prepare even on a weekday after a long day at work. With the help of an Instant Pot, you can have this tangy chicken dish in less than 30 minutes, without having to babysit the stove.
But don’t let its simplicity fool you. This recipe packs up a punch of flavor and nutrition in every bite. The chunk pineapple and bell pepper add a refreshing sweetness to balance out the tanginess of the vinegar ketchup sauce. Garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes provide depth and complexity to the flavor profile while giving your immune system a boost of vitamin C.
You’ll also appreciate that this recipe calls for chicken thighs instead of chicken breast, which can often dry out when cooked too long. Chicken thighs render tender and juicy meat that absorbs all the savory flavors of the sauce perfectly. And if you are following Whole30 or any other low-carb diets, this recipe fits the bill as it contains only 10 grams of net carbs per serving.
Whether you are looking for a healthier alternative to take-out or simply want to add some variety to your meal rotation, this gluten-free sweet and sour chicken is a must-try recipe. So go ahead and give it a go – your taste buds (and body) will thank you for it!
Let’s gather the ingredients that we will need to make this healthier gluten-free sweet and sour chicken recipe in the Instant Pot.
Chicken: You can use chicken breast or chicken thighs. I prefer using chicken thighs as they tend to be juicier than chicken breasts.
Gluten-Free Soy Sauce: I recommend using tamari sauce, which is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. If you are avoiding soy altogether, you can use coconut aminos instead.
Brown Sugar: You can use your preferred sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
Vinegar: We are going to use rice vinegar, but you can also use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
Ketchup: I used unsweetened ketchup to keep the sugar level low. You can use regular ketchup as well.
Garlic: Freshly minced garlic is always the best option.
Red Pepper Flakes: They add just the right amount of heat to the dish.
Onion: I like using yellow onion in this recipe, but white onion works too.
Bell Pepper: Any color will do just fine. I personally love red bell pepper for its sweetness and vibrant color.
Cornstarch: For this recipe, we are going to use cornstarch as a thickening agent instead of flour as it is gluten-free.
Pineapple Chunks: Canned pineapple chunks would work perfectly for this recipe. Just make sure you drain them before using them in the recipe.
Salt and Black Pepper
The Recipe How-To
Now, let’s get cooking! Below you’ll find the steps necessary to make this healthier gluten-free sweet and sour chicken recipe in your Instant Pot.
- 1.5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 can of drained chunk pineapple
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 2 tbsp of vinegar
- 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened ketchup
- 3 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of cornstarch
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Begin by seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Set your Instant Pot to saute mode and heat up some olive oil.
- Add the chicken and brown on each side for about 2 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside.
- Add some more olive oil to the pot and saute the onions, bell peppers, and garlic for a few minutes until they start to soften.
- Add back in the chicken along with any juices that were released from it.
- Drain the can of pineapple chunks, but reserve the juice!
- Now add in the pineapple chunks to the pot along with the pineapple juice from the can.
- To make the healthy sweet and sour sauce, whisk together in a small bowl: 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 2 tbsp of vinegar, 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup unsweetened ketchup. Stir well before pouring over chicken.
- Close the lid on your Instant Pot, set the valve to “sealing”, and pressure cook on high for 4 minutes.
- Once the cooking cycle is complete, do a quick release and carefully remove the lid.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp of cornstarch with some cold water until you create a slurry. Stir into the chicken mixture until it thickens up.
- Serve over rice or cauliflower rice, and enjoy this healthier, gluten-free sweet and sour chicken dish!
Substitutions and Variations
are always great ways to put your own spin on a recipe and customize it to your liking. Here are some ideas for how you can change up this recipe and make it your own.
Firstly, if you’re looking to make this recipe vegan or vegetarian, you could swap the chicken out for tofu or tempeh. Simply press your tofu to remove excess moisture, cut it into cubes, and marinate it in the sweet and sour sauce before cooking in the Instant Pot.
If you prefer a spicier dish, add additional red pepper flakes or diced fresh jalapenos to the recipe. The heat will balance out the sweetness, creating the perfect balance of flavors.
For a lower-carb option, serve the sweet and sour chicken over cauliflower rice instead of regular rice. It’s a healthy substitution that won’t impact the flavor profile of the dish.
If you’d like to make this recipe Whole30 compliant, use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and swap out the brown sugar for coconut sugar or omit entirely.
Finally, don’t be afraid to switch up the vegetables in this recipe. You could substitute the bell peppers with broccoli, snap peas, or zucchini instead. The possibilities are endless – let your imagination run wild!
In summary, there are several substitutions and variations that you can make to this recipe, catering to different dietary needs and preferences while keeping the Chinese sweet and tangy flavors intact. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your ingredients!
Serving and Pairing
Now that you’ve made your sweet and sour chicken, it’s time to enjoy it! This dish is delicious on its own or paired with your favorite sides. You can serve it over steamed rice or quinoa, which will soak up the tangy sauce perfectly.
If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, you can serve it over a bed of shredded lettuce or spinach for a healthier option. This will add some extra greens to your meal and make it feel even more fulfilling.
To add some texture to the dish, try serving it with stir-fried vegetables such as broccoli, bell peppers, and carrots. The crunch of the vegetables will complement the tenderness of the chicken.
For those who prefer spice, pair this sweet and sour chicken with some Sriracha sauce or red pepper flakes. The heat will balance out the tanginess of the sauce resulting in an explosion of flavors in your mouth.
Alternatively, you could serve this dish alongside Asian-inspired appetizers such as crab rangoon or egg rolls for a complete meal experience.
Overall, this healthier version of sweet and sour chicken pairs well with various sides, so feel free to get creative and experiment with different combinations!
Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating
Here’s the thing about this healthier gluten-free sweet and sour chicken recipe: it’s so delicious that you’ll want to make a double (or triple) batch just to keep on hand for easy, quick meals. Luckily, this recipe is perfect for making ahead of time and reheating.
To make ahead of time, simply cook your chicken and sauce according to the recipe instructions. Allow it to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. You can store it in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to eat, you can easily reheat your sweet and sour chicken in the microwave or on the stovetop. To reheat in the microwave, simply transfer a portion of chicken to a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through. To reheat on the stovetop, place your chicken in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.
You may notice that the sauce thickens up as it cools and is stored in the fridge. This is totally normal! To loosen up the sauce when reheating, you can add a splash of chicken broth or water to thin it out.
One thing to keep in mind is that while this dish is best served fresh, it still tastes great when reheated. The crispy chicken might lose some of its crunchiness upon reheating, but the flavors of the tangy sauce remain intact.
In conclusion, feel free to make this healthier gluten-free sweet and sour chicken recipe ahead of time for easy weeknight dinners or meal prepping. Just store it properly and don’t be afraid to reheat leftovers – they’re just as tasty as the fresh dish!
Tips for Perfect Results
When it comes to making the perfect Sweet and Sour Chicken in your Instant Pot, there are a few key tips and tricks that can make all the difference in creating a delicious and healthy meal. As a chef specializing in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I have tried many variations of this recipe, and I’ve come up with some helpful tips to ensure that you end up with the best results possible.
First, when it comes to seasoning the chicken, be sure to use salt and pepper generously. This will help bring out the flavor of the chicken itself, instead of just relying on the sweet and sour sauce for flavor. Additionally, consider marinating the chicken before cooking it. Letting it sit in a mixture of soy sauce and pineapple juice for even just 15 minutes can add an extra layer of depth to your dish.
Another tip is to avoid overcrowding your Instant Pot. If you try to cook too much chicken at once, it won’t cook evenly, which could result in raw or overcooked pieces. Instead, cook the chicken in batches if necessary, making sure to fully clean the pot between each batch to prevent burning or sticking.
To create a crispy texture on the chicken before adding it to the Instant Pot, try coating it in cornstarch or tapioca flour. This will give the chicken a nice crust when you sauté it on the stovetop before pressure cooking.
Finally, don’t be afraid to play around with the ingredient proportions in the sweet and sour sauce. Depending on how tangy or sweet you like it, you may want to adjust the amounts of pineapple juice, vinegar, or sugar in your recipe. And if you’re looking for a healthier version, try using coconut sugar instead of brown sugar.
By following these tips and incorporating your own personal preferences into the recipe, you’ll be amazed at how easy and delicious Sweet and Sour Chicken can be made right in your Instant Pot.
Now that you have gone through the ingredients, steps, tips and tricks, you may still have some questions about this delicious recipe. So, let’s head to the FAQ portion of this article, where I’ll be answering some common questions asked about sweet & sour chicken instant pot recipe.
Is sweet and sour sauce from the Chinese gluten free?
Before making Sweet and Sour dish, it is crucial to ensure that the ingredients used are gluten-free. To do so, it is essential to double-check that the sweet and sour sauce is thickened using cornstarch and not wheat. Furthermore, make sure that the soy sauce employed is gluten-free as well. Alternatively, you can make your homemade gluten-free sweet and sour sauce by utilizing the following recipe.
What brands of sweet and sour sauce are gluten free?
We have a 2 kg jar of gluten-free Chinese sweet and sour sauce available from Knorr.
Is sweet and sour chicken good for you?
While sweet and sour sauce doesn’t contain a significant amount of essential vitamins and minerals, it does offer a small amount of vitamin C with 5% of the recommended daily value. However, it is high in sodium, providing 7% of the daily recommended intake.
Does Chinese sweet and sour chicken have gluten?
Chinese sweet and sour chicken does not usually have any gluten in it. Gluten is a type of protein that can be found in wheat, rye, and barley and is commonly found in bread and other wheat-based food items. The traditional recipe for sweet and sour chicken consists of chicken chunks, vegetables, and a sauce that balances sweet and sour flavors.
How many carbs are in Healthy Choice sweet and sour chicken?
This dish provides 10% of the daily recommended amount of fat and 8% of potassium. It also contains 24% of the daily recommended amount of carbohydrates, 11% of dietary fiber, and 22g of total sugars.
So there you have it, folks. My gluten-free sweet and sour chicken recipe for the Instant Pot is a healthier alternative to the classic Chinese sweet and sour chicken dish. With no gluten, no added sugar, and lots of vitamin C from the chunk pineapples, this recipe is perfect for those who are looking for a nutritious meal.
Whether you’re following a paleo, Whole30, or any other gluten-free diet, you can enjoy this tangy and flavorful dish that tastes just like takeout, but without the guilt. The sauce is thickened with cornstarch rather than the usual wheat flour, making it suitable for those who have a gluten allergy or intolerance.
The Instant Pot makes this chicken dish easy to prepare by reducing the cooking time and ensuring that the chicken stays tender and juicy. You can also make this recipe in a slow cooker or stir-fry it on high heat for crispy chicken bits.
So why not try my healthier version of sweet and sour chicken today? Your taste buds (and your body) will thank you. Enjoy!
Healthier Gluten-Free Sweet & Sour Chicken for the Instant Pot Recipe
- 1 1/2 lbs diced chicken
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, gluten free
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup vinegar, of your choice. (I used white wine rice for a milder taste)
- 1/2 packed brown sugar or 1/2 healthier sugar such as coconut sugar
Balance of ingredients
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 -2 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 cup bell pepper, sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 (20 ounce) can of chunked pineapple drained reserving juice
- 1 (20 ounce) can chunk pineapple, drained reserving juice
- Dice chicken into 1" pieces.
- Add 2-3 T. cornstarch and mix.
- Turn Instant Pot to saute and add 1-2 T. oil to the pot.
- Let heat up to hot and add chicken pieces to pot in batches and saute to brown chicken a bit.
- Remove chicken from pot, add 1 T. oil and add veggies and saute for a few minutes and add ginger and garlic, stir and heat or 1-2 minutes.
- Add sauce and continue stirring to get stuck on stuff off the bottom.
- Add pineapple and chicken.
- Stir and lock the lid down and push the pressure cook button and set for 5 Minutes.
- When it beeps after the 5 minutes, let sit for 10 minutes and then quick release your steam.
- Push cancel button and then saute button.
- Mix 2 T. cornstarch and 2 T. water to make a slurry and when contents have been brought to a boil, mix in slurry and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
- Cauliflower rice:
- Take a head of cauliflower and roughly chop and put in food processor and pulse until rice consistency.
- Add oil to 1 T. oil to skillet and saute until softened.
- Serve chicken over cauliflower garnish with green onions and sesame seeds if you want.
- I recommended in the video for a 9-minute cook but 5 would have been plenty.
- Add whatever veggies you want.
Add Your Own Notes
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