Instant Pot Lemon Chicken

instant pot lemon chicken | instant pot lemon garlic chicken | instant pot lemon chicken thighs | pressure cooker lemon chicken

Step-by-Step Guide on how to make Instant Pot Lemon Chicken. Not the ordinary North American Chinese lemon garlic chicken recipe, but with our easy, healthy, and tasty twists. Tender juicy chicken glossed with a caramelized zesty honey lemon garlic glaze. Quick and easy, kids-friendly chicken dinner.

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pressure cooker lemon chicken

When we helped out in my dad’s Chinese restaurant, we wouldn’t get away a day without customer after customer ordering the Beloved Chinese Lemon Chicken. Easily in the Top 10 on the menu!

Lemon Chicken is a classic favorite Chinese takeout dish. It showcases a beautiful marriage between North American and Chinese flavors. A sibling to the popular Orange Chicken.

Crispy juicy golden chicken nuggets coated with a thick sweet, savory, and tangy honey lemon garlic chicken sauce. It’s refreshingly flavorful and tasty to eat.

lemon chicken instant pot

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken

We crafted this easy lemon chicken Instant Pot recipe inspired by my dad’s restaurant. As usual, we’d like to have some creative fun with it!

You won’t need to dice, marinate ahead of time, batter, or deep fry the chicken. Rather, it’s a much easier and healthier yet tasty lemon chicken you can make at home with a few pantry ingredients.

When life gives you a lemon, make Amy + Jacky’s Instant Pot Lemon Chicken! 😉

How to Make Instant Pot Lemon Chicken

lemon chicken

Here are the ingredients for making lemon chicken in Instant Pot.

lemon chicken ingredients

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Chicken

We developed this Instant Pot lemon chicken recipe with bone-in skin-on chicken thighs because the results are better using dark meat.

You can also use boneless skin-on chicken thighs (same pressure cooking time). If you’re using skinless boneless chicken thighs, reduce the pressure cooking time by a minute.

Amy + Jacky’s Tips – Substitute: If you like, you can use chicken breasts, chicken drumsticks, or chicken leg quarters to make this lemon chicken recipe. Remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Lemon

Per Gordon Ramsay, rolling the lemon on a cutting board before slicing will soften the lemon and releases the juices.

Preparation: Slice half the lemon, then juice the remaining half.

Lemon’s Piths: If your lemon has thick pith (white and spongy part), grate out the lemon zest and juice the lemon instead of using the lemon slices. This prevents the pith from imparting bitterness to the honey lemon sauce.

rolling lemon

Unsalted Chicken Stock: We develop recipes with unsalted ingredients so we can better control the flavors. If you’re substituting it with salted chicken stock, keep in mind that the sodium level can vary a lot between different brands. Always taste and adjust accordingly.

Peanut Oil: We crafted this recipe with peanut oil because its flavor matches well with this lemon chicken. But you can substitute it with vegetable oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil.

Shaoxing Wine: Try to find one with the least amount of salt or no salt added. If you don’t have Shaoxing wine, you can substitute it with unsalted chicken stock, dry cooking sherry wine, or rice wine.

Honey: There are many types and flavors of honey with varying sweetness, richness, and flavor profiles. Try to use quality honey and taste and adjust accordingly. Some readers like to substitute it with Maple Syrup. It’ll slightly change the lemon chicken’s flavor profile. You can try it and see which one you enjoy more.

Tools for Lemon Chicken Instant Pot Recipe

Step 1

Saute Garlic in Instant Pot

First, press “Saute” button to “Sauté More” function to heat up your Instant Pot.

Note: It’ll switch to “ON” on the screen.

Instant Pot Saute More

Wait until it says “HOT” on the screen. This takes roughly 8 minutes.

Amy + Jacky’s Tip! Make sure your Instant Pot is as hot as it can be to induce a Maillard reaction.

Now, add 1 tbsp (15ml) peanut oil in the Instant Pot’s inner pot. Make sure you cover the whole bottom with oil.

Add minced garlic, then sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.

saute garlic

Step 2

Deglaze Instant Pot

Add 2 tbsp (30ml) Shaoxing wine in Instant Pot, then deglaze by scrubbing the flavorful brown bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.

Amy + Jacky’s Tips! If you don’t have Shaoxing wine, you can use unsalted chicken stock instead to deglaze the pot.

deglaze

Step 3

Pressure Cook Lemon Chicken

Add ¾ cup (188ml) unsalted chicken stock, 1 tbsp (15ml) regular soy sauce, 1 tbsp (15ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon slices, and ¼ tsp (0.25g) rosemary.

Amy + Jacky’s Tips! As you add the dried rosemary, rub them with your fingers to “activate” the aroma and flavor.

Give it a quick stir, then place 4 to 8 chicken thighs on top of the lemon slices.

lemon chicken in Instant Pot

With Venting Knob in Venting Position, close the lid, then turn Venting Knob to Sealing Position.

Pressure Cooking Method: Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 5 minutes, then Natural Release for 10 minutes.

Instant Pot Pressure Cook at High Pressure 5 minutes

After 10 minutes of Natural Releasing, carefully turn the Venting Knob to Venting Position to release the remaining pressure.

Once the Floating Valve drops, remove the lid.

Step 4

Thicken Chicken Gravy

Set aside the pressure cooked lemon chicken thighs in a large mixing bowl.

Press “Cancel” button, then “Sauté” button to heat up the chicken gravy in Instant Pot.

Stir 3 tbsp (63g) honey into the chicken gravy in Instant Pot.

thicken gravy

In a small mixing bowl, mix 2½ tbsp (22.5g) cornstarch with 3 tbsp (45ml) cold water. Mix it in one third at a time until desired thickness.

Taste the lemon garlic chicken gravy, then season it with more honey, salt, and black pepper if necessary.

instant pot lemon chicken thighs

Step 5

Optional Flavor-Boosting Step: Broil Chicken with Air Fryer Lid or Oven

Amy + Jacky’s Tips! If you like, you can brush more lemon sauce on the chicken before you broil. Then, continue to brush some more sauce on the chicken during the caramelizing process.

Option 1 – Oven or Toaster Oven

Place the lemon chicken thighs on an oven tray under the “Broil” function (or the highest temperature setting) for a few minutes until the honey lemon sauce is caramelized.

Option 2 – Air Fryer or Air Fryer Lid

Place air fryer basket with the tray on the middle rack in Instant Pot.

Layer lemon chicken thighs on the air fryer tray in Instant Pot.

Place the Air Fryer Lid on Instant Pot.

Press “Airfry” button, set Temperature to 400°F and Cooking Time to 15 minutes.

Then, air fry the second batch of lemon chicken in Instant Pot.

Amy + Jacky’s Tips! For reference, it takes roughly 7 to 11 minutes and preheat time to caramelize the lemon chicken with Instant Pot’s Air Fryer Lid. You can open the lid to check the progress.
Step 6

Garnish and Serve Instant Pot Lemon Chicken

If you like, drizzle some more honey lemon garlic sauce on the chicken thighs.

Then, you can garnish the juicy tender lemon chicken with lemon slices, fresh rosemary, Italian parsley, cilantro, lemon zest, or finely sliced green onions.

instant pot lemon garlic chicken

What to Serve with Lemon Chicken

For a complete Chinese meal, we often serve a few main and side dishes, especially during dinner time. It often includes meat, seafood, eggs, and vegetables, served with rice. Some families like to begin or end the meal with nourishing Chinese soups. As a bonus, you can wrap up the meal with some Chinese desserts, snacks, or fruits.

Here are some tasty easy Chinese dishes you can serve with lemon chicken:

Enjoy Juicy Caramelized Instant Pot Lemon Chicken!

4.96 from 65 votes

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken

Author: Amy + Jacky
Easy to make Instant Pot Lemon Chicken with a few healthy pantry ingredients. Not the ordinary North American Chinese lemon garlic chicken. Tender juicy chicken glossed with a caramelized honey lemon garlic glaze. Quick and easy, kids-friendly chicken dinner.
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Servings 4 - 6
Total Time 45 mins
Rate this Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 - 8 (1⅓ - 2⅔ lbs, 600g - 1200g) skin on chicken thighs , bone-in or boneless
  • 1 (120g) lemon , slice half & juice the other half (~1 tbsp or 15ml)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) peanut oil (substitute: olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 3 (10g) garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) Shaoxing wine (substitute: unsalted chicken stock)
  • ¾ cup (188ml) unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) regular soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.25g) dried rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons (63g) honey
  • Salt & ground black pepper to taste

Thickener

  • tablespoons (22.5g) cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) cold water

Optional Garnish

  • Fresh rosemary, Italian parsley, cilantro, green onions
  • Sliced lemon, lemon zest

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Instructions 

  • Saute Garlic in Instant Pot: Use "Sauté More" to heat up Instant Pot. Wait until it says "HOT" on the screen.
    Add 1 tbsp (15ml) peanut oil in Instant Pot. Make sure you cover the whole bottom with oil. Add minced garlic, then sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Deglaze Instant Pot: Add 2 tbsp (30ml) Shaoxing wine in Instant Pot, then deglaze by scrubbing the flavorful brown bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
  • Pressure Cook Lemon Chicken: Add ¾ cup (188ml) unsalted chicken stock, 1 tbsp (15ml) regular soy sauce, 1 tbsp (15ml) lemon juice, lemon slices, and ¼ tsp (0.25g) rosemary. Give it a quick stir, then place 4 to 8 chicken thighs on top of the lemon slices.
    With Venting Knob in Venting Position, close the lid, then turn Venting Knob to Sealing Position. Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 5 minutes, then Natural Release for 10 minutes. Remove the lid.
  • Thicken Chicken Gravy: Set aside chicken in a large mixing bowl.
    Press "Cancel" button, then "Sauté" button to heat up the gravy in Instant Pot. Stir 3 tbsp (63g) honey into the gravy.
    In a small mixing bowl, mix 2½ tbsp (22.5g) cornstarch with 3 tbsp (45ml) cold water. Mix it into the gravy one third at a time until desired thickness.
    Taste the gravy, then season it with more honey, salt, and black pepper if necessary.
  • Optional Flavor-Boosting Step: Broil Chicken
    If you like, you can brush more lemon sauce on the chicken before you broil. And continue to brush some sauce on the chicken during the caramelizing process.
    Option 1 - Oven or Toaster Oven: Place lemon chicken on an oven tray under "Broil" function (or highest temperature setting) for a few minutes until the lemon sauce is caramelized.
    Option 2 - Air Fryer or Air Fryer Lid: Place air fryer basket with tray on the middle rack in Instant Pot. Layer chicken on air fryer tray in Instant Pot. Place Air Fryer Lid on Instant Pot. Press "Airfry" button, set Temperature to 400°F and Cooking Time to 15 minutes. Then, air fry the second batch of lemon chicken in Instant Pot.
    Amy + Jacky's Tip: It takes roughly 7 to 11 minutes + preheat time to caramelize with Air Fryer Lid. You can open the lid to check the progress.
  • Garnish and Serve: Drizzle some more honey lemon garlic sauce on the chicken. Garnish the juicy tender chicken with lemon slices, fresh rosemary, lemon zest, or finely sliced green onions. Enjoy~

Notes

1. Chicken Thighs Substitute: We used bone-in skin-on chicken thighs because the results are better with dark meat. You can use chicken breasts, chicken drumsticks, or chicken leg quarters. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • Boneless skin-on chicken thighs: use same pressure cooking time
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: reduce the pressure cooking time by a minute
2. Lemon
  • Rolling lemon: Per Gordon Ramsay, rolling the lemon on a cutting board before slicing will soften the lemon and releases its juices.
  • Lemon's Piths: If your lemon has thick pith (white and spongy part), grate out the lemon zest and juice the lemon instead of using the lemon slices. This prevents the pith from imparting bitterness to the honey lemon sauce.
3. Unsalted Chicken Stock: We develop recipes with unsalted ingredients so we can better control the flavors. If you’re substituting it with salted chicken stock, taste and adjust accordingly.
4. Peanut Oil Substitute: We crafted this recipe with peanut oil because its flavor matches well with lemon chicken. But you can substitute it with vegetable oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil.
5. Shaoxing Wine: Try to find one with the least amount of salt or no salt added. You can substitute it with unsalted chicken stock, dry cooking sherry wine, or rice wine.
6. Honey: Different types of honey have varying sweetness, richness, and flavor profiles. Try to use quality honey and taste and adjust accordingly. Some readers like to substitute it with Maple Syrup.
Rate Amy + Jacky's Recipe: If you've tried our recipe, rate the recipe in the Comments section. Thank you!
Calories: 358kcal
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American, Asian, Chinese
Keyword: instant pot lemon chicken, instant pot lemon chicken thighs, instant pot lemon garlic chicken, lemon chicken instant pot, lemon chicken thighs instant pot, pressure cooker lemon chicken

Nutrition

Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 211mg | Potassium: 359mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 119IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
instant pot lemon chicken | instant pot lemon garlic chicken | instant pot lemon chicken thighs | pressure cooker lemon chicken
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