Pressure Cooker Chicken Thighs in Orange Sauce is tender, savory and perfect for sauce lovers. It’s a grain-free, dairy-free, processed sugar free dinner that cooks in about 15 minutes in the pressure cooker, lid on to lid off! Make it ahead of time and re-heat later.
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I just want to get this out of the way right at the very beginning - This is not a recipe for Orange Chicken like from your favorite Chinese food place!
I repeat, this is not a recipe for Orange Chicken. What is it, then? It is a recipe for the most tender, flavorful, sauce-ful Pressure Cooker Chicken Thighs in Orange Sauce that you will ever have in your life.
That’s a promise.
How long to cook chicken thighs in the pressure cooker?
Pressure cooker chicken thighs, or Instant Pot chicken thighs if that’s what tool you have, cook very quickly. If you want to cook boneless chicken thighs just through but still keep them whole (so that they don’t fall apart or shred) you can set the timer for 3 minutes and then manually release the pressure. That will be enough!
If you want to shred them completely, set the timer for 7-10 minutes.
I wanted tender chicken that was almost falling apart but not completely shredded, so I set the timer for 5 minutes, and then I let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes.
That gave what you see in the pictures - Large chunks of tender chicken that easily came apart but didn’t fall apart on their own.
I think I could have even just manually released the pressure after the timer went off and they would have been perfect, and quicker!
Making Pressure Cooker Chicken Thighs in Orange Sauce
Step 1 - Make the sauce
This orange sauce comes together very quickly in the Vitamix or other high powered blender.
Real talk, though, I’ve used a lot of blenders in my clients’ home kitchens, and none of them compare to the power of a Vitamix. It just make sauces smoother than anything else I’ve tried.
You’ll want to let the blender run for at least a full 30 seconds, if not a full minute, so that you can completely blend the dates into the sauce so it’s as smooth as can be. You could always run the sauce through a mesh strainer to be sure you get out any little pieces, but I don’t think that’s necessary.
Step 2 - Brown the chicken
Lay your boneless, skinless chicken thighs out and season each side with salt and pepper. You can trim any extra skin or fat that you see, but I leave them as they come more often than not. Raw chicken thighs look like a real mess and if you start trimming too much, you won’t have anything left.
I find it’s better to sear them off and cook them through without thinking about it too much. They are flavorful and tender for a reason! And all that yucky looking stuff melts away when you cook them.
Turn your Instant Pot or other multi-use pressure cooker to “saute” on high, add a little oil, and sear each side of the chicken thighs. You aren’t trying to cook them through, so just do a couple minutes on each side.
PRO TIP: Make sure your pot and the cooking oil are good and hot before adding the chicken! When you try browning chicken in oil that is not hot enough when you add it, that’s when chicken sticks.
I had to work in two batches to make them all fit.
Step 3 - Cook
Once your chicken thighs have been browned, add them all back to the pressure cooker bowl and pour in the sauce with the “saute” setting still on. Use a spoon to scrape up any bits on the bottom as the sauce begins to bubble.
This is called “deglazing the pan” and it makes sure you keep all those lovely flavors that developed while searing the chicken.
When that’s done, cancel the saute function and put the lid on. Make sure the pressure valve is set to sealed!
Turn on the “pressure cook” function and set it to “high pressure”. Set the timer for 5 minutes, and walk away.
It took about 5 minutes for my Instant Pot to come up to pressure, and then the timer started.
Step 4 - Make the sauce
Once the timer goes off, you can either manually release pressure right then, or let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, and then release manually the rest of the way. The extra 5 minutes will give you a bit more tender, pull apart chicken, but if time is an issue then just release manually.
Remove all the chicken onto a plate, leaving the sauce in the pressure cooker.
Once again, turn the pressure cooker to the saute function (or turn the burner back on with the pressure cooker on it.)
Mix together the warm water and corn starch to make a slurry, and add that to the sauce.
Whisk that into the sauce and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened.
I made this Pressure Cooker Chicken Thighs in Orange Sauce on a Sunday, and we had it for dinner on Monday night. It reheated perfectly! It’s a delicious and healthy make-ahead meal. Perfect for meal prepping on the weekend.
It also makes a wonderful meal-prep lunch to take with you to work!
And since it’s all done in an Instant Pot < (on sale!) or other Multi-function Pressure Cooker, this recipe is a great one to PIN for summer trips. You can easily make this in a hotel, a house rental, or even a camper!
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