Today I’m sharing my new (and oh-so-delicious) Instant Pot Garlic-Sesame Chicken recipe! It’s got a delightful sticky and slightly sweet sauce, like you’d have on chicken wings. We love garlic and sesame sauce on wings, and this is an entrée version of garlic sesame chicken made with chicken thighs. Pressure cooking the chicken with the sauce infuses the meat with serious flavor. I developed this recipe as part of the Allrecipes Allstars Tastemakers program. Rate, review, and photograph my recipe for Instant Pot® Garlic-Sesame Chicken Thighs on Allrecipes here, see the full garlic sesame chicken recipe along with some of my cooking tips below, or Jump to Recipe directly.
For more easy Instant Pot dinner recipes like this, you’ll love my cookbook, Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Beginners! Get your copy now (available in both paperback and digital formats), and check out some sneak peek recipes from the cookbook and my other Instant Pot recipes here.
How to make garlic sesame chicken in the Instant Pot
We make this with 4 or 5 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs depending on how many servings we would like (the other ingredients and instructions remain the same either way). 5 thighs fit nicely in my 6-quart Instant Pot (affiliate link). Start by seasoning the chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste.
Select the Sauté function on your Instant Pot (or other multi-function pressure cooker). Heat sesame oil in the pot, and add the chicken thighs and sauté them until browned on the first side (3 to 4 minutes). Add the garlic and flip the chicken, sauteing until the other side is browned and the garlic is fragrant (3 to 4 minutes more). Hit Cancel on your Instant Pot and transfer the chicken to a plate using tongs or a slotted spoon.
Pour 1/4 cup of water (reserving 2 tablespoons for later) into the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom. In a small bowl whisk some soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and honey together until the mixture is smooth. Return the chicken to the pot and pour the soy/hoisin/honey sauce over the top.
Close and lock the pressure cooker lid and select high pressure (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) for 10 minutes. It will take between 6 and 10 minutes for pressure to build before the 10 minute timer starts counting down.
After the cooking time ends, allow the pressure to release from the pot naturally for 5 minutes, then release remaining pressure carefully using the manufacturer’s quick-release method. Unlock and remove the lid, then remove the garlic sesame chicken thighs with tongs or a slotted spoon and set them aside.
How to make thick, sticky sauce in the Instant Pot for garlic sesame chicken
At this point you’ll notice that the remaining sauce in the Instant Pot is thinner than you’d want for a garlic sesame chicken. The way to thicken sauces in the Instant Pot is to mix in a cornstarch slurry after pressure cooking and allow the sauce to sauté for a few minutes. Cornstarch slurries are a mixture of cornstarch and a liquid (like water or stock) in varying ratios depending on how thick you want the sauce (more cornstarch will produce a thicker sauce). We do this step after pressure cooking because Instant Pots require a certain amount of liquid to do their thing, and too thick a liquid would burn quickly and not produce the needed steam to cook what’s inside the pot. It is also important to sauté the sauce with the cornstarch slurry for a bit so that you cook off some of the cornstarch taste. You want it to thicken your sauce but not change the sauce’s flavor.
To create the cornstarch slurry for the Instant Pot Garlic-Sesame Chicken, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a small bowl (a 1:1 water and cornstarch ratio). I use a small whisk to do this. Note for future Instant Pot recipes: for a thinner sauce, you could do a 2:1 ratio of water and cornstarch.
Turn on the Sauté function again and whisk the cornstarch slurry into the sauce in your pot.
Simmer until the sauce thickens (about 2 minutes) then cancel the Sauté function.
Return the chicken thighs to the sauce, sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds, and toss everything together so it’s mixed and the chicken is well coated with the garlic-sesame sauce.
We like to serve the garlic sesame chicken with white rice, and garnish it with a few more sesame seeds and chopped green onions.
Here’s my Instant Pot Garlic-Sesame Chicken recipe! If you love the flavors of garlic and sesame together too, this one will become a family favorite!