Gluten Free

Instant Pot Bourbon Chicken

at a glance
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 5 servings
4.9 — Votes 20 votes

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This sticky Bourbon Chicken is reminiscent of the popular take-out dish but made with better for you ingredients for a healthier twist on Asian-inspired fare! 

two beige bowls filled with white rice topped with shredded bourbon chicken with red pepper flakes on a marble surface

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Asian-inspired food is MY FAVORITE! There’s something about enjoying a sticky, slightly sweet homemade take-out dish knowing exactly what went into it and that it isn’t going to hurt your stomach later, am I right? Major bonus when the dish is cooked in the Instant Pot for a fuss-free dinner experience! 

This recipe was a happy accident – I was throwing ingredients into my Instant Pot for a quick dinner, and the result was better than I could’ve expected! As soon as my husband took a bite, he told me that it tasted exactly like the chicken they used to give samples of at the mall food court – and he was totally right. With a few tweaks, I landed on a perfect bourbon chicken recipe that takes me straight back to my childhood, and comes together in no time!

This sticky, slightly sweet, tangy, and (mildly) spicy chicken dish actually originated in New Orleans and was named after the very popular Bourbon Street (not the bourbon whiskey that sets this dish apart from the rest!), but now, it can be found in mall food-courts and take-out Chinese restaurants all over the place!

shredded chicken in a glass bowl with a sticky bourbon glaze next to a pot of rice, two beige bowls, and a small white bowl with more sauce on a marble surface

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need in order to whip up this delicious food court staple:

  • Chicken Thighs – to start, you’ll need 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. 
  • Coconut Aminos – the bulk of our sauce is made up of coconut aminos (1 cup to be exact!), though you can totally use soy sauce if you’d prefer. Do note that soy sauce is quite a bit saltier than coconut aminos! Our favorite brand of coconut aminos (Coconut Secret) sells an 8oz bottle, so go ahead and just dump the whole thing in!
  • Bourbon – you’ll also need 3 tablespoons of bourbon here – if you’re only planning on cooking with the bourbon, don’t worry about grabbing a fancy bourbon!
  • Sweetener – for this recipe, you’ll also need ¼ cup of either coconut sugar, brown sugar, or honey – you choose!
  • Chili Garlic Sauce – 1 tablespoon of chili garlic sauce counters the sweetness perfectly and gives this delicious dish a little kick!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar add a bit of acidity to the dish to cut through the rich sauce.
  • Sesame Oil – you’ll also need 1 teaspoon of sesame oil – sesame oil is strong, and a little bit goes a long way!
  • Cornstarch or Arrowroot Starch – finally, a tablespoon of either cornstarch or arrowroot starch thickens the sauce up beautifully!
a beige bowl filled with white rice and shredded instant pot bourbon chicken with red pepper flakes on top on a marble surface with a linen napkin beside it

How to make Bourbon Chicken

The moment you’ve all been waiting for, right?! Thanks to the Instant Pot, the process is rather easy! Here’s how you’ll whip up this crowd-pleasing dish:

  1. Whisk the Sauce – in a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients (coconut aminos, bourbon, sugar, chili garlic sauce, apple cider vinegar, and sesame oil) until fully combined. 
  2. Add the Chicken + Sauce to the Instant Pot – add the chicken thighs to the Instant Pot, pour the bourbon sauce over top, then toss to coat the chicken. 
  3. Set the Instant Pot to Cook – place the lid on the pot (making sure that the pressure valve is set to ‘sealed’), and set the Instant Pot to cook for 18 minutes.
  4. Release the Pressure + Remove the Chicken – after 18 minutes, manually release the pressure by turning the pressure valve from ‘sealed’ to ‘venting,’ then remove the chicken from the pot, and set it aside.
  5. Thicken the Sauce – set the pot to ‘saute’ mode, then whisk together the cornstarch (or arrowroot starch) with ¼ cup of water, until there are no lumps. Once the sauce is bubbling, whisk in the cornstarch + water mixture. Let the sauce cook for 2-3 minutes, until it’s thickened, then turn off the heat.
  6. Shred the Chicken – shred the chicken with two forks, then return it to the pot and give everything a good stir, making sure to fully coat the shredded chicken with the sticky sauce.
  7. Serve + Enjoy – serve over rice with the veggie of your choice, and enjoy!
two beige bowls filled with white rice and bourbon chicken in front of a bottle of bourbon on a marble surface

How to Serve Bourbon Chicken

We love serving this Bourbon Chicken recipe on top of a bed of white rice, but you can certainly serve yours over brown rice, cauliflower rice (for low carb), or no rice at all, and next to a side of simple steamed or sauteed veggies (broccoli, bok choy, and green beans are all excellent options!). If you want a little extra spice, finish your bowl off with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes! 

Video

Q Can this be made in the slow cooker?
A

Absolutely! While we love the pressure cooker for a quick dinner, the slow cooker is also a great option for nights when you don’t have the time to fuss with dinner! To prepare this easy Bourbon Chicken in the slow cooker, simply whisk together the bourbon sauce, then add it to the slow cooker along with the chicken thighs (making sure to coat the chicken). Set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, and when it’s finished, remove the chicken and set it aside, then pour the sauce into a pot on the stove over medium-high heat. While you’re waiting for the sauce to simmer, whisk together the cornstarch and water, and once the sauce is simmering, add the cornstarch mixture to the pot! Let the sauce cook for about one minute, until it’s thickened, then turn off the heat, shred your chicken, and add it to the pot with the sauce! Serve and enjoy!

Q Can I use chicken breast instead of thighs?
A

You definitely *can* use breasts instead of thighs, but we really recommend going with thighs if you’re able to. Chicken thighs tend to be a bit more tender, juicy, and flavorful and pair with the sticky, sweet sauce perfectly.

Q Is there bourbon in Bourbon Chicken?
A

There is! Bourbon actually contributes to the rich flavor in the sauce, so we think it’s a must here. Don’t worry, though, the alcohol in the bourbon reduces and evaporates, making this classic dish one that the whole family will enjoy!

a bowl of instant pot mac and cheese

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Instant Pot Bourbon Chicken

By: Brandi Schilhab
4.9 — Votes 20 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Servings: 5 servings
This bourbon chicken is perfectly sweet, tangy, and comes together in no time in the Instant Pot!

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup coconut aminos
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar brown sugar, or honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch

Instructions

  • Set the Instant Pot to ‘saute’ mode and add the coconut aminos, bourbon, coconut sugar, chili garlic sauce, apple cider vinegar, and sesame oil to the pot and whisk to combine.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, to make sure that the alcohol evaporates, then add the chicken and toss to coat. Place the lid on the pot and set to cook for 18 minutes.
  • After 18 minutes, manually release the pressure and remove the chicken from the pot. Set aside.
  • Set the pot to ‘saute’ mode again, then whisk together the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water, until there are no lumps. Once the sauce is bubbling, whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is thickened, then turn off the heat.
  • Shred the chicken with two forks, then return it to the pot and stir to coat with the sauce. Serve over rice with the veggie of your choice!

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Bourbon Chicken
Amount per Serving
Calories
382
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8.4
g
13
%
Saturated Fat
 
2.1
g
13
%
Cholesterol
 
170.5
mg
57
%
Sodium
 
1199.3
mg
52
%
Carbohydrates
 
34.3
g
11
%
Fiber
 
0.2
g
1
%
Sugar
 
14.6
g
16
%
Protein
 
35.7
g
71
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Recipe Notes

  • If you are sensitive to spice, reduce the chili garlic sauce to 1-2 teaspoons.
  • To use soy sauce in place of coconut aminos, use 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 3/4 cup of water or chicken broth in their place.
  • To make in a slow cooker, add all of the sauce ingredients to a slow cooker and whisk to combine, then toss with the chicken, and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Then, remove the chicken from the slow cooker, shred with two forks, and transfer the sauce to a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk together 1/4 cup of water with the cornstarch and stir into the boiling sauce. Let cook for about 1 minute, until thickened, then remove from heat.
Meet the Author
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Brandi Schilhab

Brandi leads our efforts on content audits, outline construction, website calendar management, and a great deal of writing. She could unashamedly watch reruns of Friends + Harry Potter movies and never get bored!⁠ ⁠ ⁠
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    Recipe Rating




  1. Jenn says

    Jenn —  09/11/2020 At 09:59

    This sounds delicious! Do you have a specific brand of Chili Garlic sauce that you prefer? Thanks!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  09/14/2020 At 09:06

      We use THIS one, Jenn!

  2. Leslie says

    Leslie —  09/13/2020 At 14:07

    I have everything to make this today except bourbon. Will it still be good without it?

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  09/14/2020 At 09:15

      Yes, it’ll still be good, Leslie!

  3. Allison says

    Allison —  09/19/2020 At 10:26

    5 stars
    Made this last week and it was so good! It lasted a few days and my husband and I found ourselves excited for dinner each night. Definitely adding this to our regular rotation! Out of curiousity, could this be done with pork tenderloin or shoulder?

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  09/21/2020 At 13:59

      So glad you loved it! We haven’t tried it, but I think it’ll work!

  4. Jaimee says

    Jaimee —  09/21/2020 At 14:45

    Picked up Jack Daniel’s whisky instead of bourbon, can I use that as a substitute for the bourbon? Super excited to make this!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  09/21/2020 At 15:36

      That’ll work, Jaimee! Enjoy!

  5. Katy says

    Katy —  10/06/2020 At 18:40

    5 stars
    This recipe is great!! I’m not a huge fan of Asian cuisine so I was a little nervous! But this was amazing!! Highly recommend.

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/07/2020 At 08:58

      So glad you loved it, Katy! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  6. Jenna says

    Jenna —  10/11/2020 At 19:10

    Has anyone tried this recipe w/ a meat alternative, like tofu or tempeh?? Wondering how long you might instapot the protein if subbing the chicken

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/12/2020 At 09:34

      I’m not sure, Jenna…we haven’t tried it! Let us know if you do!

  7. Alison P says

    Alison P —  10/12/2020 At 17:52

    5 stars
    This came out soo good!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/13/2020 At 09:21

      Awesome! We’re so glad you loved it, Alison!

  8. Jenn says

    Jenn —  10/13/2020 At 16:01

    5 stars
    This was delicious! I accidentally used maple flavored bourbon so there was def a strong maple flavor but it was still good!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/14/2020 At 08:08

      Yay! Glad you enjoyed it, Jenn!

  9. Anna says

    Anna —  10/16/2020 At 19:42

    5 stars
    Yay, SO good!! Didn’t have chili garlic sauce on hand so just squeezed in some sriracha and garlic powder. So yummy over some spinach and jasmine rice. Thank you!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/19/2020 At 08:01

      Oh, great thinking! So glad you enjoyed it, Anna!

  10. Bonnie M says

    Bonnie M —  10/17/2020 At 21:05

    Can you use frozen chicken for this recipe and just increase the cook time?

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/19/2020 At 08:04

      Frozen chicken will definitely cook just fine, but it’ll likely water down the sauce a little bit!

  11. Maya says

    Maya —  10/17/2020 At 22:30

    5 stars
    So tasty! I made this using Trader Joe’s Chili Onion crunch and a clove a of garlic instead of the Chili Garlic sauce and it was delish! Thank for such an easy, tasty recipe. This will be going in the regular rotation!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/19/2020 At 08:04

      Yum! So glad you loved it, Maya!

  12. Robyn says

    Robyn —  10/18/2020 At 10:37

    Can we add broccoli florets somehow? If so, cook them separately and add in at end? Or cook in the instant pot?

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/19/2020 At 08:06

      I’d go ahead and cook the broccoli separately, Robyn! Enjoy!

  13. Jessica says

    Jessica —  10/18/2020 At 18:12

    The flavor on this is amazing but for some reason mine came out SUPER salty. I even used coconut amino (didn’t use soy). I might use water to cut the coconut amino next time!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/19/2020 At 08:07

      Oh no! So sorry, Jessica! This dish is definitely on the salty side!

  14. Danielle S says

    Danielle S —  10/21/2020 At 11:46

    5 stars
    This is amazing, it tastes like there is butter in it. I can’t wait to make it again. I didn’t have a full 2 lbs of chicken thigh but I know what I’ll be buying this weekend. Thank you so much for another great recipe.

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/21/2020 At 12:46

      So glad you enjoyed this one, Danielle!! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  15. Rachel says

    Rachel —  10/22/2020 At 16:37

    Super easy and delish! I used plain chili sauce and no bourbon and it was still really good.

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/23/2020 At 08:15

      So glad you enjoyed it, Rachel!

  16. Kayla says

    Kayla —  10/26/2020 At 17:17

    My recipe for this turned out extremely salty. I ended up adding at least 4 cups of water and it was still extremely salty, I couldn’t finish it. I used liquid coconut aminos.

    • Kayla says

      Kayla —  10/26/2020 At 17:22

      Just figured it out, used liquid aminos instead of coconut aminos. Will definitely try again soon with the correct ingredients!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/27/2020 At 08:05

      Ah, I’m so sorry!! Yes, definitely give it another try with coconut aminos!!

  17. Sierra says

    Sierra —  10/28/2020 At 12:44

    5 stars
    MUST TRY! Fantastic flavor, thank you:)

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  10/28/2020 At 13:51

      Wahoo! We’re so glad that you loved it, Sierra!

  18. Sara says

    Sara —  01/18/2021 At 19:06

    5 stars
    Made this recipe tonight in the crock pot. So good and so simple. The flavors were outstanding. Thank you!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  01/19/2021 At 11:21

      Awesome! We’re so glad. Thank you for sharing this with us, Sara!

  19. Nicole says

    Nicole —  01/22/2021 At 09:13

    SO excited to try this this weekend — we just did the Chicken Tikka last night and it was amazing. Thinking of doing a double batch and freezing half. Do I need to change anything or do anything special when freezing? Assuming I should add the bourbon at time of cooking? Thanks so much for all your recipes, we have yet to make one from your blog or your cookbook that wasn’t a hit!

  20. Kathy says

    Kathy —  03/08/2021 At 18:09

    5 stars
    Made this tonight with chicken breast and it was so good! Definitely going to add this one to the menu regularly!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  03/09/2021 At 09:20

      So glad to hear that, Kathy! Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Dania says

      Dania —  07/08/2022 At 15:14

      What’s a sub for sesame oil

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  07/13/2022 At 10:57

      Hi Dania, avocado oil or olive oil are great subs for sesame oil if you don’t have any on hand or prefer to use something else. You just won’t get the slight toasted sesame flavor from the oil, but that’s ok! -Team F&F

  21. Jill says

    Jill —  03/15/2021 At 20:24

    Made this in my crock pot, for 8 hours as noted. My crockpot doesn’t have a heat setting, but claims its “smart” so should cook at the right temp given the time that’s chosen. Maybe its not “that” smart. My chicken was WAY over cooked. In fact I didn’t know it was possible to dry out chicken thighs as much as mine did. All in all the sauce helped and I thought it was good, just don’t think it needed 8 hours by any means 5 probably would have sufficed.

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  03/16/2021 At 11:01

      Oh no! So sorry that happened, Jill. Thank you for letting us know!

  22. Jenny says

    Jenny —  03/22/2021 At 16:42

    5 stars
    Another hit. I was seriously scared of my instant pot because my chicken breasts never turned out so well in the past. But thighs make such a difference. This sauce is delicious. Serving over rice tonight.

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  03/23/2021 At 07:52

      So glad you liked this recipe, Jenny! It’s one of my favorites too!

  23. Sarah H. says

    Sarah H. —  04/06/2021 At 18:02

    5 stars
    After 3 years, I finally pulled my Instant Pot from the attic and tried this recipe for my first go using the machine. It was ssooo easy to follow and the chicken was so flavorful! Pull apart tender. Instead of over rice, we put it on hamburger buns like a pulled chicken sandwich. Love love!
    P.S. I didn’t have chili garlic sauce, so I just used tomato paste and chopped garlic. Worked great.

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  04/07/2021 At 08:44

      That’s amazing, Sarah! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Oooh, having this on hamburger buns is a great idea!

  24. Sidney says

    Sidney —  07/07/2021 At 20:43

    5 stars
    This recipe is fantastic! I was looking for something fast and easy after work and the Fed and Fit team nailed it again! The chicken was so flavorful and juicy with very minimal hands-on time. I’ll definitely be doubling up for the next work potluck!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  07/09/2021 At 13:00

      We’re so glad you loved it, Sidney! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  25. VICKI DONOVAN says

    VICKI DONOVAN —  10/19/2021 At 11:45

    4 stars
    Looks great but there was no Pinit button to click so couldn’t addd to Pinterest

  26. Lindsay Y Butler says

    Lindsay Y Butler —  05/11/2022 At 19:57

    This is now our go-to recipe when we have people over or serve a group – or for family dinner. It’s been labeled the “best chicken I’ve ever had” by multiple guests.

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  05/13/2022 At 15:32

      That is so great, Lindsay! We love to hear that. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  27. Lindsay Y Butler says

    Lindsay Y Butler —  05/16/2022 At 07:21

    This is now our go-to recipe when we have people over or serve a group – or for family dinner. It’s been labeled the “best chicken I’ve ever had” by multiple guests.

  28. Genna says

    Genna —  08/26/2022 At 06:13

    I made this in the slow cooker, and 1 Cup of coconut aminos made it way too salty. I will definitely try again and reduce to maybe 1/4C or 1/2C.

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  08/26/2022 At 10:00

      Oh no! We’re so sorry, Genna. This dish can definitely be on the saltier side. We find that Coconut Secret brand is less salty than some others. -Team FF

  29. Erin says

    Erin —  08/30/2022 At 19:50

    5 stars
    This recipe was so easy and delicious! However, I assume it’s not supposed to be really spicy? I could only find chili garlic hot sauce…oops…If you like some heat I recommend this sauce. Can’t wait to try again but turn down the heat a bit!

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  09/01/2022 At 09:05

      Hi Erin! Oh yes, the chili garlic hot sauce will give a touch more heat than regular chili garlic sauce. I hope you enjoyed the extra kick! Thank you for taking the time to share with us. We appreciate it! -Team FF

  30. Melissa says

    Melissa —  10/05/2022 At 07:13

    This is one of the top three favorite meals in my family! I plan on doubling the recipe. Do I need to change anything about the cooking process when I add mor ingredients or chicken?

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  10/11/2022 At 10:09

      We are so glad to hear that, Melissa! Thank you for taking the time to share with us. You shouldn’t have to change anything in the cooking process to double the recipe. -Team FF

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