Sweet, sticky, and simple Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken for your healthy dinner menu!
This healthy chicken recipe is a wholesome twist on the ultra-appealing teriyaki chicken stir fry that was my earliest gateway into Asian food. It’s made with more natural ingredients, you can adapt it for teriyaki chicken breasts or thighs, and the teriyaki chicken sauce is just 8 ingredients, including the water (which I don’t think counts, do you?).
I was introduced to Japanese teriyaki chicken via our hometown’s favorite (only?) Japanese takeout joint. It was in the corner of a nondescript strip mall. The only notable décor was large-scale photos of the menu items plastered to the walls and bottles of Kikkoman soy sauce on the tables.
What the restaurant lacked in atmosphere, it more than made up for in food. My go-to order was the teriyaki chicken with a big side of sticky rice. The memory of it still makes my mouth water. I’ll forever consider teriyaki chicken a comfort food.
I suspect you’ve encountered teriyaki chicken in some capacity, be it a favorite takeout spot of your own, a mall food court, or a recipe you saw printed on the back of bottled teriyaki sauce at the grocery store.
If your experience has been like mine, with very few exceptions, most teriyaki chicken recipes are laden with sugar, sodium, and other ingredients meant to be consumed in moderation versus as a healthy dinner.
For today’s Teriyaki Chicken recipe, I drew inspiration from that perfect plate of Japanese teriyaki chicken I remember from my youth, then gave it a wholesome makeover. (Just like with this Teriyaki Salmon.)
Serve it with rice and a side of veggies, and you have yourself a knockout dinner that beats the pants off of takeout every single time!
Without my expressly setting out to do so, making healthy versions of Asian takeout favorites has become a little side hobby of mine.
In fact, as I’m typing this, I took a quick peek at my recipe index and…well, we have some evidence: Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli (and um, Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli plus this stove top Healthy Beef and Broccoli), Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry, Pineapple Chicken, General Tso’s Tofu, Crockpot Orange Chicken, and Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken, not to mention all of these healthy stir fry recipes.
Clearly, I am in this takeout fake-out food game for more than the fortune cookie.
How to Make Teriyaki Chicken
The base recipe for this Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken is my Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken. (Did I mention I like teriyaki chicken?)
Like the original recipe, this one is made of simple, homemade ingredients. You don’t need to make Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken with bottled sauce. Instead, swap the store-bought sauce for a quick mix of:
- Soy Sauce. I like and recommend low sodium.
- Rice Vinegar. A staple in any stir-fry sauce. This provides the acid that balances the teriyaki sauce’s sweetness.
- Honey. This replaces some of the brown sugar (most restaurant sauces are LOADED with sugar).
- Brown Sugar. We do still need a bit for the quintessential teriyaki chicken flavor, but again, this far less than what you’ll find in a bottle or at a restaurant.
- Fresh Garlic and Fresh Ginger. To bring the teriyaki sauce to life.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the teriyaki chicken marinade into a thick, glossy sauce that coats every forkful.
How to Cook Teriyaki Chicken in the Instant Pot
One mega advantage this easy pressure cooker teriyaki chicken recipe has over my slow cooker version is that everything cooks in one pot. (This is the Instant Pot that I have and recommend.) Instead of reducing the teriyaki sauce on the stove, you can do it right in the Instant Pot itself! Thank you sauté mode.
- Place the chicken in the Instant Pot. You can use chicken breasts, go for Instant Pot teriyaki chicken thighs, or even use frozen chicken.
- Stir the sauce ingredients together. Easy peasy.
- Pour over the chicken, seal, and cook! The amount of time will vary based on if you used breasts or thighs, as well as if your chicken is fresh or frozen.
- Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and shred it with two forks. At this point, it will be fall-apart tender.
- Switch the Instant Pot to sauté, then add the cornstarch slurry. Let it bubble and thicken into a glorious, hopelessly addictive teriyaki sauce.
- Stir the chicken back into the sauce, and serve!
How to Serve Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken
- Keep it simple: serve Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken with rice. Use brown rice for a higher fiber and protein content. You can make this in advance in the Instant Pot or on the stove while the teriyaki chicken cooks.
- While the chicken cooks, I like to steam or sauté a side of broccoli, then pile it all together with the teriyaki chicken and rice to make Instant Pot teriyaki chicken bowls.
- For a lower-carb version, use cauliflower rice or even broccoli rice.
Using Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot
The other Instant Pot advantage is that you can use frozen chicken.
- General guidelines I recommend for fresh/frozen can be found in this simple guide to cooking Instant Pot Chicken!
Making this Teriyaki Chicken recipe, I can’t help but smile at the thought of high school Erin sitting down to a bowl. I’m confident she’d approve, now adult-Erin certainly approves, and I know that you and your family will too!
Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts about 3 medium breasts (see blog post above for tips on using chicken thighs or frozen chicken)
- 2/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch stirred together with 1/4 cup water to create a slurry
- Thinly sliced green onions
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Prepared brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice
- Lightly coat the bottom of a 6-quart Instant Pot with nonstick spray. Arrange the chicken breasts in the bottom.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, honey, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger. Pour over the chicken.
- Close and seal the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH (manual) pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then immediately vent to release the remaining pressure. Carefully open the lid. Turn the Instant Pot OFF. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let it cool a few minutes. Once you can safely handle it, shred the chicken with two forks or cut it into bite-size pieces.
- Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE. Once the liquid begins to simmer, slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Continue whisking to ensure the sauce is smooth and does not have any lumps. Continue to cook and whisk until the sauce thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Turn the Instant Pot OFF. Add the chicken back to the pot and toss to coat in the sauce. Serve hot with prepared rice and a sprinkle of green onions and sesame seeds.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Rewarm gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, with a splash of water or chicken broth if you'd like to thin the mixture back out a bit.
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